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New class of CEOs share their greatest professional achievements

CEOs were asked: Welcome to the newest class of CEO Roundtable. What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment?
CEOs were asked: Welcome to the newest class of CEO Roundtable. What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: Welcome to the newest class of CEO Roundtable. What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment?

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My greatest for-profit professional accomplishment has been the development of Miramar Park Commerce in Broward County. Working with Ed Ansin (my father), Jim Goggins and our team, we have built over 5,000,000 square feet since 1985. Our companies, Sunbeam Properties and Sunbeam Development, have and continue to handle all aspects of the business park: development, marketing, leasing and management. The park is home to more than 160 companies and thousands of employees, including a wide array of national and local companies such as Spirit Airlines, Nissan, Caterpillar, ADT, GE, Toyota , JL Audio and HEICO. It is considered one of the most aesthetically appealing campus-style business parks in the country.

Andy Ansin, vice president, Sunbeam Properties

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At one point I would’ve responded [to this question] with a particular singular event. Perhaps it was a historic restoration project, or one of several major gifts I had solicited to transform an institution, or my work to launch a new agency project. As I reflect today, it isn’t a singular item, but rather, being fortunate to lead an organization where we are able to focus on larger communal issues. In the past, we looked at stopgaps. Today we are developing creative solutions in big-issue areas — issues such as creating greater dignity in aging, developing opportunities for vulnerable populations, connecting younger generation to add faith, charity and community values as part of their focus. Equally, it’s in knowing that when my kids describe what I do, it’s in terms of my role in helping others.

Michael Balaban, president and CEO, Jewish Federation of Broward County

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Prior to joining the Lime team, my greatest professional accomplishment was during the time I was a banker. I’m the immigrant grandson of a sanitation worker who worked for the Panama Canal for over 40 years. Not knowing how to read or write, he raised his five children with his wife in his tiny house on the banks of the Panama Canal. He was the only father figure I had growing up.

Fast-forward to 2011. I walked up the steps of the Panama Canal Administration, a building my grandfather had only seen from a distance, alone as the executive for my bank to discuss and close opportunities, meeting with the treasurer and CFO of the organization and its staff. On my lapel: my grandfather’s 40-year retirement pin. I shared his story with everyone at the meeting. Proud of my humble beginnings, life came full circle that day, and I continue to use this as motivation in my role at Lime today.

Uhriel Bedoya, Florida general manager, Lime Scooters

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My biggest achievement relates to where I am at this moment in my life — running a successful architecture and design firm with my partner, teaching architecture at Florida International University, and having a balanced life with my family. We are lucky to live in a city that is going through a major cultural transformation that includes architecture and design. I like the challenge of being a part of this transformation and the responsibility of shaping the city for generations to come. Designing projects in Miami gives us the opportunity to address and respond to different cultural identities and to challenges within the community such as sea-level rise or improving the quality of life. My biggest achievement relates to where I am at this moment in my life — running a successful architecture and design firm with my partner, teaching architecture at Florida International University, and having a balanced life with my family. We are lucky to live in a city that is going through a major cultural transformation that includes architecture and design. I like the challenge of being a part of this transformation and the responsibility of shaping the city for generations to come. Designing projects in Miami gives us the opportunity to address and respond to different cultural identities and to challenges within the community such as sea-level rise or improving the quality of life.

Claudia Busch, founding principal of Berenblum Busch Architects

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My greatest professional accomplishment was and continues to be building and nurturing a culture that lives and breathes integrity. Integrating this core principal throughout all processes and thought requires continuous assessment and feedback from all stakeholders. With this core value, we’ve been successful at building trust within our community of insureds, attracting top talent, and defining effective strategic and operational paths to our future.

Anita Byer, CEO, Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk

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My greatest professional accomplishment is completing the Ritz Carlton Residences, Miami Beach. This project clearly shows how you can transform an existing structure into an amazing ultra-luxury residential building that forever will serve as a landmark reference to the Mid Beach.

Ricardo Dunin, founding partner of Lionheart Capital

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I have been fortunate to have been given the leadership role for several opportunities involving the turnaround of various companies in different industries and business sectors. These successful turnarounds collectively are my greatest professional accomplishment. In every single case, these turnarounds were achieved by minimally supplementing, not replacing legacy staff. New visions for each entity were developed, clear mission statements were articulated, and the corresponding tactical and strategic action plans were executed by the respective teams to return the companies to health and substantive prosperity. Why were these opportunities so immensely rewarding? Because of the great sense of pride, accomplishment, and professional satisfaction each of the teams felt in bringing these companies back from the abyss, and the subsequent passion and sense of ownership each developed for their respective success story. All of the teams I reference were able to show that they were the solution to the problem, not the problem. Success is all about the collaborative and cooperative efforts of a passionate and dedicated team that aligns effort and hard work to a clear and achievable goals. In every one of the instances I reference, that was exactly what occurred.

Carlos Fernandez-Guzman, president and CEO, Pacific National Bank

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It’s hard to pick between the Red Cross Sarah Hopkins and the SFBJ Top 25 Influential Women awards. I consider these the greatest so far in my career as they represent recognition of the community leaders that I genuinely care for the South Florida community and encourage the employees in our firm to be active participants in community events that elevate our residents.

Christine Franklin, president, Cherokee Enterprises, Inc.

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I am most proud of building a great team of talented and diversified individuals that work together every day to accomplish a common goal. More than the success of any project or transaction, developing a strong business family provides great satisfaction.

Arnaud Karsenti, managing principal of 13th Floor Investments

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My greatest professional accomplishment has been to be an entrepreneur and immigrant at the same time: coming to a new country with two kids, and taking on a business and making it grow. You have to take care of the kids, adapt to a new culture, get to know the market and be able to fulfill its needs. It was a challenge, but being part of the Miami community was a blessing. The community is very warm and welcoming.

Yaeli Merenfeld, president, Anny’s Bread Factory

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Working successfully in private equity, lending and real estate for more than 20 years has been rewarding, but I am most passionate about my work in education. My professional success has put me in a unique position to give back and be a changemaker in education. Some of these endeavors have included founding the LBA Academy, the first business charter high school started by a business association in the United States, to serving as board chairman at Miami Dade College and as a member of the Board of Advisors at the University of Miami School of Business Real Estate programs.

Bernie Navarro, founder and president, Benworth Capital Partners

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I am passionately driven by a continuous determination to improve and have impact. As such, I subscribe to the perpetual belief that the next accomplishment will be my greatest. Our company’s greatest accomplishment is the ability to invest into and help grow businesses that will have tremendous impact on our society while provide our investors strong financial returns.

Sanket Parekh, founder and managing partner, Secocha Ventures

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My greatest professional accomplishment occurred while I was an executive at Burger King Corporation. During my tenure as president of the Latin America / Caribbean region, I led teams that in a 10-year period successfully surpassed McDonald’s and KFC in the number of locations throughout Mexico with over 400 — making it the market leader in quick-service restaurants — and also successfully launched Burger King in Brazil in 2004 in the face of existing daunting competition and built the base of locations that has allowed the current owners to expand rapidly to hundreds more. Those two major events (Mexico and Brazil) helped me to get promoted in 2007 to executive vice president of global operations — with responsibility for operations support, supply chain, restaurant technology and food safety on a worldwide basis in over 80 countries.

Julio Ramirez, president and CEO, JEM Global Consulting

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It would be easy to point to the $60 million Capital Campaign and Renovation project. That was certainly a significant achievement as we rallied the community to reinvest in the Broward Center. But the impact of the Broward Center on the community is more about the individuals whose lives we affect. The students participating in our education programs who emerge with more confidence and literally find their voice. The memorable moments we create for people and the important conversations that occur following a performance that inspire a better decision, a deeper commitment, or simply restore someone’s faith in humanity. What we do through the arts every day can truly be a powerful and positive force for our community.

Kelley Shanley, president and CEO, Broward Center for the Performing Arts

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I was the lead lawyer on behalf of two million Florida children who depend on Medicaid in a decade-long fight to secure the rights to medical and dental care provided by federal law. After a 94-day trial against the state in federal court and a sweeping decision in favor of the children, the State of Florida entered into a comprehensive settlement that has resulted in substantial improvements in the access to medical and dental care for Florida children on Medicaid.

Stuart Singer, administrative partner in charge of the Fort Lauderdale office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner

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Serving as a voice and advocate for children and families who are unable to advocate for themselves and helping to create better public policies for all Florida families, because all children deserve the same opportunity to be successful in school and in life.

Evelio C. Torres, president and CEO, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. Meet the current members of the roundtable.

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