Executive in Residence
Gerry brings a deep knowledge of consumers, food and beverage, distribution, entertainment, and hospitality to his work with the with Vision Fund. Over the past 35 years he’s honed his skills as an operational leader, most recently as CEO of both Extended Stay America and AMC Theatres. His other roles have included president of Global Consumer Products at Starbucks and executive roles at PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble. Gerry also has over 12 years’ experience with nine public companies as an independent board director.
Roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done—that’s my philosophy for work and everything else.
What's your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done—that’s my philosophy for work and everything else. I get that work ethic from my family, who emigrated from Cuba when I was a baby. That’s why I’ve always combined my interest in marketing with a firm grounding in finance and operations. Marketing thrives on big ideas if—and only if—you do the work it takes to bring that big idea to life.
What got you interested in the operations side of business?
When I was young, I worked at my grandparents’ grocery store in Miami, and we always paid close attention to what our customers wanted. We were very focused on all of the details, because we knew that if our customers had good experiences they’d come back—and the way to ensure a good experience is to keep the whole business running at top form. It’s a simple formula. I’ve learned a lot more about business since then, but I think that it all comes back to understanding your customers and building the systems and structures that let you deliver for them. For me, that all comes back to operations.
What excites you about leading the Operating Group at the Vision Fund?
Our people—both inside the Operating Group and across every corner of the firm. At this stage of my career, leading this Operating Group is a dream assignment. I’ve always wanted to leave things better than how I found them, and I have an inner business compass that has never led me wrong. That’s what got me excited about the Operating Group and working across the portfolio: it’s an opportunity to work with some of the world’s most innovative, exciting companies and help them figure out how to fully achieve their potential—their own visions. I get to roll up my sleeves as part of a dream team and work on making good things even better. What’s not to love?
What's the secret to successful operations?
Great people. People who care and want to achieve superior results through execution. If I had to choose between superior strategy with mediocre execution and so-so strategy with superior execution, I'd go with superior execution, every time. If you're executing well, you're going to have success, period. And that success is an enabler—it lets good things happen.
What should founders expect when they work with you?
They should expect me to ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to their answers. They should expect a real, full-contact discussion where we respect each other enough to challenge assumptions and wrestle with ideas. Once we’ve done that, we can start making decisions and start acting on them. We can measure results, learn from the journey, reward the winners, and repeat the process. Lastly, they can expect my team and me to stand by them every time they need it. We’ll be the first ones to roll up our sleeves and get after it.