With a new strategic plan in hand, Hugh S. (Beau) Cummins III, Sun Trust Banks Inc.’s co-chief operating officer, has been elected chair of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta for a two year term, replacing former Coca-Cola Co. executive Clyde Tuggle who has co-founded Pine Island Capital Partners, an investment firm focused on small and medium-sized companies.
Mr. Cummins told Global Atlanta that the council’s current strategic plan incorporates objectives it has held since its founding in 2010 to provide a forum for informed discussion of the global affairs that impact metro Atlanta and support the city’s transformation into a global hub.
As recently as Monday of this week, however, the plan was tweaked at the council’s board meeting to focus on themes of “disruption and disruptors” in addition to issues dealing with national security and international relations, Atlanta-based businesses and the city’s business orientation, leadership and professional growth and global health and development.
He said that by focusing on “disruption” the council itself would be affected and seek to help converge what he termed the city’s “natural swim lanes” to align diverse international initiatives with common goals.
He acknowledged that the bank has been involved internationally for decades because so many of its clients are involved globally. “Our clients, and we serve tens of thousands of businesses,” he added, “are all involved internationally in one form or other — either selling globally, sourcing globally or hiring globally.”
In response to a question concerning current political skepticism about international business, he pointed to the optimism exhibited today by the bank’s many clients. “An interesting lens through which to look at current affairs,” he said, “is that our clients haven’t been this optimistic about their businesses for years.”
Mr. Cummins also indicated that he considered Atlanta as a regional economic force and that the council’s perspective would extend beyond the city or state’s boundaries.
More specifically, he described Atlanta as a growth engine for the Southeast region generally because of the economic impact of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the city’s ties to the ports of Savannah and Charleston, Georgia’s inland port and the supply chains that stretch across the region.
In addition to his regional perspective, he said that he would welcome the opportunity to learn from the national network of World Affairs Councils about their best practices.
Meanwhile, however, he plans to stay on course with the Atlanta council’s tried and true programs including its CEO series and women in global leadership programs, which are popular components of its leadership and professional growth objectives. The council’s young leaders programs also will continue to be supported as will the council’s focus on global health issues, one of its mainstays.
Ambassador Charles Shapiro, the council’s president, told Global Atlanta that he looked forward to working with Mr. Cummins and the council board in implementing the new strategic plan saying, somewhat tongue in cheek, that he was encouraged to raise the council “to the next, next level.”
“I say next, next level,” he added, “because when I was hired four years ago, I was encouraged to raise the council to “the next level.”
Following a prestigious career at the U.S. State Department during which he served as the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela 2002-2004, Mr. Shapiro was hired as president of the council away from the Institute of the Americas, a think tank at the University of California, San Diego.
During the past four years, the council has held a wide range of programs focused on current events throughout the world. It also has supported young leaders programs such as the full day of panels held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta with businesspeople from globally active companies large and small.
Both Mr. Cummins and Mr. Shapiro said that the council was fortunate that its previous chairs would remain on the board including founding board members Dennis Lockhart, the former president and CEO of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, who was the council’s chair from 2010-2013, David Abney, chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service Inc., who served as chair from 2013-16 and Mr. Tuggle, who served as chair from 2016 until June 11.
The dean of Atlanta’s Consular Corps, currently Miguel Aleman, the consul general of Peru, is to join the board while the council’s executive committee in addition to Mr. Cummins, and Mr. Taylor, will include Atlanta businessmen Frank Blount and Jeff Bowman, along with Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University and Richard Phillips, dean of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
The World Affairs Council of Atlanta is a membership and grant supported non-partisan organization affiliated with Georgia State University, the J. Mack Robinson College of Business and the World Affairs Councils of America.
To learn more about the World Affairs Council, click here.