Hildy J. Teegen, Ph.D.
Education Foundation Chaired Professor in International Business and
Executive Director of the Folks Center for International Business
Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina
Hildy Teegen, Ph.D., is the USC Education Foundation Chaired Professor in International Business and Executive Director of the Folks Center for International Business, after serving six years as the Dean of the Moore School of Business, all at the University of South Carolina.
Prior to joining USC in September 2007, she was founding director of The George Washington University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Teegen also held a joint appointment at GW as Professor of International Business at the School of Business and Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School.
Dr. Teegen is a member of the Academy of International Business, the Academy of Management and of the Sustainability Advisory Panel of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank. In addition, she was a member of the Continuous Improvement Review Committee and of the Globalization of Business Education task force of the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business, as well as the co-author of the Globalization of Management Education report of the AACSB. She also served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at ESAN University in Lima, Peru. Her research concerns how businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations negotiate partnerships for business and societal success.
She is a former director for the corporate boards of Cox Industries and Premo Ventures and for the Center for International Private Enterprise (Washington, D.C.). Dr. Teegen is a Liberty Fellow (SC), a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and was inducted into the Young Presidents Organization in 2010.
Peter J. Brews, Ph.D.
Dean, Darla Moore School of Business
University of South Carolina
Peter J. Brews, Ph.D., is the dean of the Darla Moore School of Business. Brews, a native of South Africa, brings more than 25 years of international business education experience to the position, having taught at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business before UNC. At UNC Kenan-Flagler, Brews taught global context to full-time and executive MBA students and global strategy to students in the OneMBA, a program he suggested to the school soon after joining in 2000. In 2006, he was named associate dean of OneMBA and served in this capacity for seven years. Prior to UNC, he was assistant professor at Duke University for six years, teaching strategic management and global business strategy in Fuqua’s full-time and executive MBA programs.
Brews started his career in banking and finance before charting a course in academia. He started as lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was visiting professor at various U.S. universities before serving as an assistant professor at Babson College for a year prior to Duke. Brews earned his undergraduate degree in business and an LL.B and higher diploma in corporate law from the University of Witwatersrand. He went on to earn a master’s degree in industrial administration from Purdue University and two doctorates in business administration from the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Pittsburgh.
He has written extensively about strategic management for Internet-generation companies and over the past decade has developed a deep understanding of the struggle for productivity worldwide, focusing on how nations, firms and individuals are coping with the fast changing, complex, highly competitive global environment of the early 21st century. Companies often invite Brews to share his views on the structure and evolution of the global economy and how globalization and the Internet and information technology are altering business practice and corporate competitiveness. The companies span industries and include The Boeing Company, Eastman Chemical Company, Caterpillar, Inc., Progress Energy, Siemens AG, Lucent Technologies Asia/Pacific, The Mandarin Hotel Group of Hong Kong, Ford Motor Company, LG of South Korea and Barclays Bank PLC. He is an editorial board member for the Journal of Asia-Pacific Business and has earned numerous teaching awards for his graduate level instruction.
The Honorable Stephen Benjamin
Mayor, City of Columbia
At 29 years old in 1999, Benjamin was appointed to Governor Jim Hodges’ cabinet as director of the state’s second largest law enforcement agency, the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Mayor Benjamin has continued his service to the community in serving on numerous boards for nonprofit organizations such as the Columbia Urban League, Benedict College, the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and as a founding board member of the Eau Claire Promise Zone. He also served as a founding member of Choose Children First and chief legal counsel for Midlands Crimestoppers.
In 2009, Benjamin drew national attention by representing prominent radio host Tom Joyner and securing a pardon for Joyner’s great uncles wrongfully convicted in the death of a 73-year-old Confederate veteran and executed in 1913. In a landmark decision, the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons voted unanimously to grant the posthumous pardon, the first for South Carolina in a capital case.
Reelected by a 30 percent margin in November 2013, Mayor Benjamin’s administration has been characterized by his firm belief in Columbia’s potential and intense focus on job creation. In his first term alone, his leadership helped cut unemployment in the metro by roughly half and secured billions of dollars in new regional capital investment in the midst of a national recession.
Combined with the rebirth of Main Street, these accomplishments have drawn national attention and accolades including his being awarded an Aspen Rodel Fellowship and receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Francis Marion University. He has twice been named to The Washington Post’s “The Root 100 List” (2011 and 2013) as well as the 2014 GRIO 100 and was honored to receive a 2014 Triumph Award from the National Action Network as their 2014 Public Servant of the Year.
As part of his commitment to fostering a world class police department in the City, Mayor Benjamin introduced the “Justice for All” initiative in 2014, which implemented new training, competitive pay, diverse representation and community engagement to strengthen the foundation of trust and accountability that exists between our communities and law enforcement agencies.
President Obama’s administration has also commended Mayor Benjamin on his work on behalf of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). The city’s MBK efforts, in addition to Mayor Benjamin’s leadership, have led to Columbia being seen as a nationwide leader in implementing and upholding the missions of the program.
Mayor Benjamin was asked to speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where he talked about the importance of instilling in his daughters that they can do anything they set their minds to, even becoming President of the United States.
In December 2017, Mayor Benjamin initiated city ordinance 2017-109, which banned the attachment of bump stocks and trigger cranks in the City of Columbia, making Columbia the first city in the nation to do so. He is a firm believer in common sense bipartisan leadership and endeavors to implement policies and programming that provide the best course of action for city residents.
In addition to serving as Mayor of Columbia, Mayor Benjamin also serves as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and as Chairman for Municipal Bonds for America. He teaches a class at the University of South Carolina Honors College and Columbia College titled “Columbia, South Carolina: Building a Great City” and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.
Mayor Benjamin is married to the Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, Chief Administrative Judge (Common Pleas) for South Carolina’s Fifth Judicial Circuit. The two are the proud parents of daughters Bethany (13) and Jordan Grace (11).
Follow Mayor Benjamin on Twitter and Instagram: @SteveBenjaminSC.
President and Founder, ROI Research on Investment | Gazelle.ai
As President of ROI, Steven led the growth of ROI Research on Investment from a two-person start-up in 2003, to a Profit Magazine “Hot 50” company, having posted revenue growth over 300% and becoming Canada’s 26th fastest growing company in 2007. Steven was further recognized as a Finalist in the Ernst & Young International Entrepreneur of the Year Competition in 2008.
Steven is recognized as a thought leader in international economic development. Under Steven’s leadership, ROI has developed world-class expertise in investment attraction, benchmark assessment and target industry analysis. Since 2003, ROI has worked with more than 350 economic development organizations from around the world and has facilitated over $25 billion of investment, generating over 200,000 new jobs.
Steven has trained international economic development organizations on the fundamentals and best practices related to investment prospecting, business retention and attraction, as well as advanced nurturing and engagement techniques. Steven has further written several guidebooks and manuals for enhanced investment attraction efforts on behalf of global investment attraction organizations.
Prior to founding ROI, Steven was Partner and Executive Vice President at CAI Corporate Affairs International, a boutique site selection practice. During his 10 years with CAI, Steven led the site selection and incentive negotiation efforts for large multinational organizations including Bridgestone/Firestone, Electrolux, Ericsson, ABB and SC Johnson, among others. While with CAI, Steven was part of the management team awarded the Gold level Achievement Award in the Private developers Economic Development category by Business Facilities magazine.
More recently, Steven has been leading an ambitious R&D effort to harness the power of big data and artificial intelligence in the world of investment attraction. Having built a team of PhD level mathematicians, economists and senior software engineers, Steven is exploring the capabilities of learning algorithms to detect companies in their earliest stages of expansion planning. Entitled “Gazelle.ai,” the platform was released as a prototype in January 2017. Since its release, the platform has been adopted by over 100 EDO’s in over a dozen countries, 15 US states and 6 Canadian provinces, among others.
Steven has been a featured speaker at numerous economic gatherings. Over the past two years, Steven has presented at: Select USA, the International Economic Development Council, State International Development Organization, the Florida Economic Development Council Annual Conference, Council for Community and Economic Research, Global Carolina Connections, Ports to Plains Alliance, and the Texas Economic Development Council, among others.
Steven has been published across multiple media platforms on a variety of topics related to trade, FDI and corporate investment/attraction and has served on a number of charitable and business-related boards.
International Business Development Manager
Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina
Colin Kiser is the International Business Development Manager for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Originally from Virginia, Colin attended college in South Carolina, achieving is B.A. from Columbia International University.
Colin joined the EDPNC team in 2016, beginning as a Business Recruitment Manager where he learned the process of recruiting companies to North Carolina from start to finish. Having come from a private industry sales background, results have always been a focus in his work for EDPNC. After almost three years in recruitment, Colin developed an affinity for working with International companies and working with them in their site selection decisions. This prompted his move to the Business Development team, where he now oversees and manages the European and India Foreign Direct Investment offices and initiatives. Customer service and strategic results are core to Colin’s professional philosophy as he advises international firms on their next investment into the US.
Colin lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife and two children. On weekends, you can find him hiking or playing soccer.
Corporate Human Resources
Americas Talent Management Specialist
Caroline is driving her career forward at BMW Group as the Talent Management Specialist for the Americas region. In her role, she consults, develops and steers strategic HR marketing and talent management initiatives for BMW Group entities from Canada to Argentina.
She previously served as a Human Resource Planning Analyst and steered long-term human capital resource planning for Plant Spartanburg. She started at BMW in the Global Leader Development Program (GLDP), an international, 18-month program aimed to cultivate top talent and prepare participants for an international career. She has also completed work assignments at BMW Headquarters in Munich, Germany, and at BMW Group’s newest plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Caroline is a three-time Clemson University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and International Trade, Bachelor of Science in Marketing, and a Master of Business Administration. She also earned her second Masters in International Business from IESEG School of Management in Paris, France.
South Carolina is her home and the world is her oyster, as Caroline has visited over 30 countries, studied on four different continents and is currently learning her fourth language. She stays involved in the Upstate community through volunteering at Greenville Literacy Association, acting as an Upstarter for the Upstate Alliance and currently serves as President of the Clemson University MBA Alumni Council.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling, watching Clemson football, improving her tee shot and sipping new red wines.
President of North American Operations
Job Impulse, Inc.
Kyle Bevel is the President of North American Operations for Job Impulse, Inc., and has been since the company’s North American inception in 2014. Job Impulse, originally founded in 2006, expanded to the North American region in 2013/2014. Through this time, he has been responsible for the operation, growth and expansion of Job Impulse in North America to reach today’s footprint of eight offices (six in the United States and two in Mexico). This has been done utilizing the success of several divisions focusing mainly on the partnership with clients to recruit, train and place highly-skilled and qualified associates in many sectors of industry throughout the East Coast of the United States and in Mexico.
Beginning his career in Rochester, New York, Kyle worked as a facility supervisor while attaining his degree in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management. Soon after in 2006, he was responsible for opening a new manufacturing facility in Greenville, South Carolina, where he would eventually relocate. Building up this new facility while also training employees from five other satellite locations in other countries, this was a learning experience on working in the global market from several perspectives. Handling Visas, short term work assignments and foreign training development were high on the list of priorities.
Shortly after the worldwide economic decline, Kyle would leave manufacturing to begin working at Job Impulse. Partnering with the company’s founder, Alexander Wittker, they initiated the startup of Job Impulse in America. Job Impulse, originally founded in 2006 in Mainz, Germany, was looking to expand into the US market. With the US Headquartered out of Greenville, South Carolina, Job Impulse has grown to eight offices within the past 4.5 years and has plans to expand by two offices per year for the next five years. Job Impulse focuses heavily on supporting their clients across many countries, as they often assist with client relocations, new location development, and relocation of assets from one country to another. During this time, Kyle has been responsible for working with more than 250 companies that have had personnel needs in regard to recruitment, training, development and coordination across many countries and industries.
While achieving the “Fastest Growing Business” award in 2018 for South Carolina companies, Kyle has been dedicated to the growth of Job Impulse and their partners. Now with recent expansions into Canada, new opportunities await the Job Impulse team and, as usual, Kyle is excited to meet those challenges head on. With more than 15 years of experience in manufacturing, leadership, and personnel development on a global scale, he is sure to keep Job Impulse moving in the right direction.
Chief Executive Officer
Bluestar USA, Inc.
Alicia Conners is CEO of Bluestar USA, a French-owned company that has been providing forensic products to the US law enforcement community for the last 15 years. Bluestar’s latent blood reagent has been instrumental in solving high-profile criminal cases across the globe.
Prior to joining Bluestar USA, Ms. Conners was a successful Executive Recruiter servicing a diverse clientele to include manufacturing, civil engineering and insurance industries. In this role, she had opportunities to work with several foreign companies looking to expand their footprint in the US.
With a passion for learning, Alicia thrives on taking on new challenges. Her desire to research, staying informed of new tools, processes and standards within new industries has served her well as CEO of Bluestar.
Having moved eleven times in twenty-three years, Alicia has earned expert status on corporate relocation and taking on new perspectives. She is the mother of four and resides in Columbia.
The Honorable Robert “Bobby” M. Hitt III
Secretary of Commerce
State of South Carolina
Robert “Bobby” M. Hitt III was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve as Secretary of Commerce in January 2011. Aiming to cultivate a team-first approach to economic development, Secretary Hitt mobilized the state’s many partners and allies, empowering them to assist in a variety of efforts, including building and site certification, infrastructure improvement, international trade growth, supplier development, workforce development and statewide brand establishment and promotion through the ‘Just right’ campaign. As a result, Team South Carolina has achieved unprecedented industry recruitment success.
Since 2011, S.C. Commerce has recruited approximately $37 billion in capital investment and more than 132,000 new jobs. Now a premier brand state, multiple world-class companies have made significant investments in South Carolina during Secretary Hitt’s tenure, including BMW, Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental, Giti Tire, LPL Financial Holdings, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Michelin, Samsung, Toray, Volvo Cars and more. As one of the nation’s leaders in foreign direct investment, S.C. Commerce markets South Carolina’s positive business environment to the global economy.
Consequently, the Palmetto State has achieved an export sales record in each year of Secretary Hitt’s tenure, topping $34 billion in total export sales for the first time in 2018. Additionally, South Carolina has consistently ranked first in the nation in the export sales of both completed passenger motor vehicles and tires. To build on this success and to complement the efforts of each of the state’s five international offices, the International Strategy and Trade division was established at S.C. Commerce in 2015.
Seeking continued growth of South Carolina’s target industry clusters, S.C. Commerce established partnerships with several organizations under Secretary Hitt’s leadership. The agency now collaborates with the S.C. Council on Competitiveness to advance the state’s aerospace and logistics industries, as well as the S.C. Automotive Council and the S.C. Biotechnology Industry Organization to advance the automotive and life science industries, respectively.
S.C. Commerce also prioritizes efforts to support the state’s small and existing companies. Understanding the importance of bringing business to business, the agency has spearheaded the coordination of many B2B events, including subcontractor outreach sessions for major construction projects and supplier matchmaker sessions for some of the state’s biggest industries. S.C. Commerce also operates a product and service locator database known as SourceSC, allowing South Carolina companies to connect with in-state suppliers and vendors.
As Team South Carolina seeks to build on momentum generated since 2011, continued collaboration remains a critical piece of Secretary Hitt’s strategy. The recent creation of a Council for Innovation Initiatives and a Coordinating Council for Workforce Development will help advance efforts in both areas, while eliciting the expertise of leaders from a variety of public and private organizations.
Before his time as Secretary of Commerce, Hitt served as manager of Corporate Affairs at the BMW Manufacturing Company in Spartanburg County after 17 years as managing editor of The State and Columbia Record newspapers.
Executive Director, Attack Simulation
Adam Bulava is Executive Director of Attack Simulation at JPMorgan Chase. In this role, Adam and his team are responsible for managing the firm’s internal and industry cyber exercise engagements, global red teaming operations and social engineering assessments. Adam works closely with business leaders, technology teams and Cybersecurity staff to design and deliver targeted engagements that lead to measurable improvements across the firm’s people, process and technology controls.
Adam joined JPMorgan Chase in February 2015 coming from the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center where he led national-level cybersecurity exercises and cyber operational response planning for critical infrastructure owners and operators, state and local governments and primary federal departments and agencies. While at DHS, Adam was appointed to serve on the US President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee where he worked to enhance public-private cyber incident response coordination mechanisms and steady-state threat information sharing programs.
Adam has a BS in International Affairs and Security Policy from The George Washington University and currently resides in Washington, DC, with his wife and two young children.
Partner and Co-Chair, Manufacturing & Distribution Industry Team
Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein LLP
Sam Moses is a corporate and economic development attorney who represents U.S. and international companies, including manufacturers, distributors, industrial developers and renewable energy businesses. He advises on a variety of transactions and coordinates business expansion and incentives projects for companies throughout the United States.
Prior to joining Parker Poe, he served as managing director of the State of South Carolina’s European Office in Germany, advising European investors on U.S. site location projects. He also managed South Carolina’s export development program for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, advising U.S. companies on international trade and market entry strategies. In 2002, he was selected to serve as a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Frankfurt, Germany, during which he worked for Credit Suisse First Boston and Gleiss Lutz, a leading German law firm.
Since 2010, Sam has been involved in business expansion and incentives projects resulting in more than $6 billion in capital investment, as well as the creation of more than 6,000 jobs in various industries, including food processing, automotive, powertrain, metalworking, advanced materials, electronics, renewable energy, chemicals, agribusiness and aerospace.
Sam has received multiple accolades from the legal and business communities over the years for his advising in the area of international business and economic development. Most recently he was ranked in The Best Lawyers in America,® whose rankings are among the highest standard in the legal industry. He is one of the Co-founders of the Global Carolina Connections Annual conference. Sam stays active in multiple professional organizations including the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States, where he has just finished his term on the Board of Directors.
Board of Directors and CEO for the US division since 2017, Diego Bonardi is the Managing Director of FOMAS, Inc. in York, South Carolina. With 20 years of experience in the forgings and machining industry in Europe initially and then 15 years in South Carolina facilities, Mr. Bonardi realized that the requirements of the forging process are the key to selecting the appropriate equipment and sequence for cost effective and high-quality production of forgings.
Diego Bonardi joined FOMAS, Inc. (previously known under the Ajax Rolled Ring), following the acquisition in 2014 by FOMAS Group. Under his leadership, Mr. Bonardi oversees all operations related to the seamless rolled ring facility, including heat treating and machining for global OEMs; driving the expansion of machining capability; and, remodeling of the facility to accommodate increased customer demand and turnkey solutions.
Prior to joining FOMAS, he held positions and responsibilities since 2004 in South Carolina to include roles as an experienced consultant in automation and software engineering in industrial automation, for quality control systems for rendering an aluminum forging, and for a fully operational machining division in a manufacturing facility.
Mr. Bonardi has obtained various company certifications (ISO/TS 16949, CQI-9) and has established new lab facilities including advanced analysis procedures to fulfill new automotive business requirements on heat-treated, non-ferrous alloys and related machine products.
In addition, he has previous experience in Italy as a Software and Automation Development Engineer, where he was responsible for the start-up of robotic progressive mechanical and hydraulic presses for automotive plants in Europe (France/Spain/UK).
He has a Bachelor of Science in Software and Automation Engineering from The Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy.
K-Flex USA L.L.C.
Giuseppe Guarino is President and General Manager of K-FLEX USA, located in Youngsville, NC, a fully-owned subsidiary of Italian conglomerate L’Isolante K-Flex S.p.A. Giuseppe provides direction and leadership toward the achievement of the company’s mission and strategy, and has been the catalyst for the growth and expansion of the North American elastomeric insulation market.
In 1994, he moved to the Detroit Metropolitan area from Italy, where he attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Throughout his career, Giuseppe has had management responsibilities across multiple industry sectors in manufacturing, distribution and sales for domestic and international organizations.
Married with two children, Giuseppe lives in Raleigh, NC.
More information is available on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/giuseppeg2guarino
Kevin Smith, Ph.D.
Chief Financial Officer/Vice President, Finance & Administration
EuWe EUGEN WEXLER US Plastics Inc.
Kevin has been Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for EuWe Eugen Wexler US Plastics Inc. in Williamston, South Carolina, since 2016, which was the first greenfield start-up operation for the EuWe Group in the US. His role is to establish and provide leadership for the administrative functions by managing finance, human resources and IT activities.
Prior to joining EuWe, Kevin was CFO in the medical device industry. In addition, Kevin has more than 10 years of experience as general manager providing financial and operational management leadership for Tier 1 and Tier 2 German automotive suppliers.
Outside of the office, Kevin enjoys spending time with his two daughters, travelling and teaching business and German classes.
Kevin received undergraduate degrees in Economics, Political Science and German from Southern Methodist University with the award “Academic Scholar” before obtaining his Master’s Degree and PhD in Business at the University of Mannheim, Germany. While in Germany, he published his dissertation, co-authored several articles in international business journals and newspapers, and gained valuable international experience in Germany with Robert Bosch GmbH and Ernst & Young.
Director, Senior U.S. Economist
Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research
Joseph Song is a director and Senior U.S. Economist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. He provides in-depth research and timely analysis on U.S. macroeconomic trends and monetary policy to the sales force, traders and clients. Song is responsible for assisting in the development of the U.S. economic outlook and macroeconomic models with a primary focus on the U.S. labor market.
Prior to joining BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, Song was a U.S. economist in the Fixed Income Research Group at Nomura Securities International. He started his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as a research associate in the Research and Statistics Group.
Song has a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics and chemistry from Williams College and a master’s degree in data science from New York University. He is based in New York.
Oliver Hecking, CPA
Rödl & Partner USA
Oliver Hecking is a Partner at Langford de Kock LLP, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Rödl Langford de Kock LLP Greenville, South Carolina (both “Rödl & Partner USA”), where he specializes in international taxation and auditing for European, primarily German, speaking companies in the U.S. Oliver assists foreign companies with their first U.S. market entry and is also a frequent speaker on various international tax and accounting topics.
Oliver has more than 20 years public accounting experience in the U.S. Before joining the Carolina Practice of Rödl & Partner USA in 2009, Oliver worked in several offices around the world, including Atlanta, Georgia; Nuremberg, Germany; and Moscow, Russia.
Areas of Expertise
- Attest services (audits, reviews and agreed-upon procedures) in accordance with US-GAAP, IFRS and German GAAP
- US-GAAP/IFRS/German GAAP conversions
- International taxation and planning
- Corporate and individual taxation planning
- Specialized in consulting with European companies that conduct business in the U.S.
- Assistance with market entry which includes site selection
- Frequent speaker on accounting, tax and general business aspects of establishing subsidiaries in the U.S. market
Elisa Fay, CPA
Rödl & Partner USA
Having more than 25 years of public accounting experience, Elisa Fay is the National Partner in charge of the U.S. tax practice at the Atlanta, GA, office of Rödl & Partner. German-based mid-size companies are primarily counted among her clients, whom she assists in all matters in relation to the U.S. tax system. Her range of services include international structuring, international and U.S. taxation and planning, and state and local tax analysis. In addition, she assists clients in compliance matters with regards to U.S. tax filing requirements and in resolving disputes with various taxing authorities.
After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Accounting in 1993 and a Master’s degree in Taxation in 1997 at Georgia State University, Elisa was licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Born in Atlanta, she now lives in Peachtree City, GA.
Prior to joining Rödl & Partner in January 2008, Elisa had spent more than 11 years as a tax consultant and business advisory consultant for KPMG LLP. She spent two years in KPMG’s Washington National Tax office in Washington D.C. and another year in KPMG’s National Advisory Center in New York. Her diverse client base included companies such as Sony, AT&T and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP
Elizabeth Gibbes leads Parker Poe’s International Business Practice, helping to coordinate how the firm serves clients around the world. She understands the needs of international companies like few attorneys in the Carolinas. As a dual-national of German descent, her clients benefit from legal counsel that considers their cultural perspectives and values along with their business and legal needs. In 2019, Elizabeth was appointed as Honorary Consul of Germany for South Carolina and Georgia.
Elizabeth counsels foreign-owned companies in the manufacturing and distribution industry on immigration and corporate matters, serving as outside “general counsel” or assisting with specific legal issues as they arise.
For international companies interested in doing business in the U.S., the first question is often, “How do I start operating in the United States?” Elizabeth’s broad knowledge of corporate law helps investors answer some of the initial –and most critical – legal questions, such as the type of entity that should be established and how it would interact with the parent company or affiliate. Elizabeth helps her clients ensure that their organizational documents and commercial contracts address the issues particular to their industry and market. These documents include intercompany agreements, supply chain commercial documentation, terms and conditions, and commercial transaction contracts. She also handles corporate transactions, including leases and asset/stock acquisitions or dispositions.
A secondary question that impacts inbound foreign-based companies is: “How do I get my executive and management team there?” Elizabeth helps companies throughout the world secure temporary or permanent employment authorization for their workforce in the United States. As she guides clients through the immigration process, Elizabeth stays alert to related issues that could lead to audits or penalties, including compliance with applicable state and federal Employment Eligibility Verification documentation and requirements.
Elizabeth approaches her client relationships with a desire to be a part of their team. When talking with clients about their legal concerns, it’s “we” and “ours,” never “yours.” In this way, Elizabeth becomes part of the solution by providing efficient counsel and mitigating clients’ potential risks.
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP
Hector Ibarra has more than 18 years experience in international business transactions, economic development, and general business law matters. He works closely with foreign and domestic companies seeking to relocate or expand their businesses, with an emphasis in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Prior to joining Parker Poe, Hector was general counsel for a packaging distribution company, where he managed international acquisitions, subsidiary formation, joint ventures, strategic planning and finance.
Before moving to North Carolina, Hector served as counsel for the Mexican Federal Senate, overseeing all procurement and commercial contracts and serving on the Foreign Commerce and International Senate Committees. He was also deputy general counsel for the General Bureau of Standards in Mexico City, handling legal matters, compliance and enforcement functions.
Hector has spoken frequently on navigating and understanding tariffs. He is an active member of the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Evan Slavitt is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for AVX Corporation, an international NYSE-traded public corporation, where he oversees all legal and environmental matters.
Before joining AVX, Mr. Slavitt was a partner in Bodoff & Slavitt, LLP, where he concentrated his practice in complex commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense. Mr. Slavitt is a frequent author and lecturer on legal matters as well as the author of one work of fiction.
He is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Yale University (B.A. and M.A. in economics) and Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Slavitt was an assistant U.S. attorney from 1983 to 1987.
Director, Global Business Development
South Carolina Department of Commerce
Nelson Lindsay joined the South Carolina Department of Commerce as the Director of Global Business Development in October of 2015. In this role, Lindsay is responsible for all project management activity and for the recruitment of new industry to South Carolina. He also works with existing industry to further assist in their growth.
A South Carolina Certified Economic Developer, Lindsay most recently served as Richland County’s first director of economic development. In this capacity, he worked to recruit new industry to the community as well as assist existing industry with expansions. Prior to this appointment, Lindsay served as the director of economic development for Kershaw County for more than 14 years.
Lindsay holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Wofford College, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of South Carolina. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.
He is married with three children.
Executive Assistant to Chairman
Keer America Corporation
Bob has spent much of his time in the classroom as a chemistry and biology instructor both at university and public high school levels. Throughout this time, he has worked in Lancaster, Lexington and Oconee counties in South Carolina as well as Ocracoke Island, NC. In addition to his time in the classroom, Bob has worked aboard Intracoastal Waterway tugboats with Stevens Towing out of Yonges Island, SC, and held a 100 Ton Master’s Certificate.
While teaching at USC in Lancaster, he also served as a member of Lancaster County Council, holding the position of chair for two years.
After more than 30 years in the classroom, Bob retired in 2017 but has recently rejoined the workforce with Keer America, a large textile firm in the Indian Land area of Lancaster County and based out of Hangzhou, China. With Keer, he serves as the executive assistant to the chairman.
He holds a BS in biology from the University of South Carolina and an MEd. from Southern Wesleyan University. Bob has received teaching awards while at Ocracoke School, White Knoll High School, West Oak High School and USC Lancaster. He has written a lab manual for chemistry and has been published in Cruising World magazine.
Bob and his wife live in Lancaster County and spend time outdoors and on the road.
Executive Vice President
GITI Tire (USA) Ltd.
Julianto Djajadi is Executive Vice President of Business Operations, North America, for Giti Tire (USA). He leads and provides corporate leadership in marketing, information technology, supply chain, logistics and business development.
Djajadi joined the company in 2005. He has held various management roles within Giti Tire (USA). With guidance from Giti Tire’s principals, he and other senior management of Giti Tire (USA) successfully led the team in growing the business in North America, steering the business to mitigate antidumping/trade barriers and establishing a green field manufacturing plant for passenger and light truck tires in South Carolina, USA.
Prior to joining Giti Tire USA in 2005, Djajadi was in the electronics industry for thirteen years and six years in the financial industry with assignments in the USA and Asia. Throughout his professional career, he has held various leadership positions in information technology, corporate accounts, business development, business process reengineering and supply chain.
Djajadi held Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) from 2003 to 2007. He attended the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he earned a Bachelor degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California.
Alex is a partner at JunHe’s New York office and a member of the firm’s Strategy Committee. Alex has been practicing law in New York since 2003.
Alex has significant experience in corporate, M&A, finance and FDI matters involving China. He also advises US clients on complying with China’s rapidly developing laws in areas such as anti-bribery, anti-monopoly, labor and employment, and national security. In addition, Alex acts as outside general counsel for many Chinese clients doing business in the U.S. (including some of China’s largest developers, banks and manufacturers) and links them with U.S. lawyers and other professionals.
Clients report that “Alex has superb instincts, utmost discretion, a keen judgment, a unique ability to de-mystify the complex, and a phenomenal ability to bring in all the expertise that is needed, but never more than what’s needed.” Because “he’s always exactly where you need him, when you need him” and “extremely creative and responsive,” clients “would recommend Alex in a heartbeat” and “just can’t imagine doing anything legal in China without his counsel.”
Alex frequently speaks and writes on China-related legal and business issues, and has been interviewed by leading Chinese and U.S. media. He is an adjunct professor at Fudan University’s Fanhai International School of Finance in Shanghai, and co-chairs Practising Law Institute’s annual seminar on Doing Business in and with Emerging Markets in New York. Alex reads history avidly, studies Spanish and German and travels the continents.
Healthcare SC, LLC
Chad Reinsel is leading the startup of one of the largest mattress manufacturing plants in North America, a 650,000-square-foot facility in Winnsboro, SC, that operates as part of China-based Healthcare Co. Ltd., the world’s largest producer of memory foam mattresses and components.
The parent company puts out more than 1 million units a month from its facilities that include factories in Thailand, Serbia and a 6-million-square-foot plant in China. Healthcare Co. retails under its own MLILY brand and sells OEM products to major retailers that include Walmart, Amazon and Mattress Firm.
Mr. Reinsel, a graduate of The Ohio State University, joined Healthcare SC in February after eight years with Corsicana Bedding Inc. in Corsicana, Texas, where he served as director of operations for the privately held company that produces more than 30,000 units a day at 12 factories, making it the largest unit-producing mattress firm in the United States.
Prior to that Mr. Reinsel spent 12 years with Flexible Foam Products, the nation’s largest producer of polyurethane foam products for the automotive, furniture and bedding verticals, serving as general manager in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and plant manager in Spencerville, Ohio, and Portage, Wisconsin.
Senior Vice President
Head of Greater China Desk
Wells Fargo Bank
William Wang is a senior vice president and Head of Greater China Desk at Global Advisory Specialty Division of Wells Fargo Bank, a position he has held since November of 2017.
In his role, William partners with Global Advisors and Regional Commercial Banking Offices across the entire U.S. to support business development and relationship management with U.S. subsidiaries of Greater China companies, as well as U.S. parented companies with operations in China. William has successfully led to establish connections and develop relationships with many Greater China companies in the US, and advised US companies for China banking needs and strategies.
Prior to his current role, William was Co-Head of China Desk at Wells Fargo’s Global Banking Group between 2015 and 2017. William’s previous roles include Institutional Trade Sales Consultant at International Trade Services Group (ITS) of Wells Fargo, responsible for Global Financial Institutions (GFI) U.S. and Canada markets between 2010 and 2015; Relationship Manager for GFI U.S. Banks between 2006 and 2010; GFI International Leadership Program between 2004 and 2005.
Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2004, William held various positions in textile and apparel industries with a strong focus on international trade for over a decade, where he worked in China, Panama and other countries.
William holds a B.A. in English from Nankai University in Tianjin, China, and an M.B.A. in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. William is also a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP).
A native from China, William speaks fluent Mandarin and intermediate Spanish.