What most notably stands out about your leadership style or what is an example of leadership success you can share with our readers?
Something I learned from my father was being honest enough to know what you don’t know, astute enough to hire people who do and then smart enough to let them do their job. That’s not to say — either in the case of my father or me — that you aren’t involved or ask questions to make sure the best decisions are being made. I think that’s healthy and important. But it’s a cliché for a reason: “Hire good people and let them do the job you hired them to do.”
What impact has COVID-19 or the disruptions of the past 18 months had on you as a leader?
I think we all learned the value of being flexible and nimble. We have all been operating in an extraordinary and unprecedented environment that is constantly changing. For those in leadership positions, it has required decision making based on the best available information at the time while also recognizing that the ground can shift quickly and you may have to adjust quickly because of that. It has placed an even greater emphasis on creativity, collaboration and communication. In our particular business — professional football — we learned that the teams that navigated this dynamic landscape and adjusted the best to changing circumstances and new challenges would likely be the most successful. We are all better for the experience but certainly hope never to go through it again.
One example from earlier this season came right before a key road game at Cleveland. Positive COVID tests late in the week meant we had to play without our head coach, play caller and quarterbacks coach. But nobody blinked or panicked, and as a team we rose to the occasion to score a convincing victory on the road. There have been many examples of that kind of adaptability in the last 18 months.
What do you feel we can be doing as a business community to empower economic growth here?
When it comes to economic development, we all know the goal is to attract quality companies that bring high-paying jobs to our state. Arizona has had the advantage of a low corporate tax structure as well as a regulatory environment with a light touch, and continuing both is important. Governor Ducey and the Arizona Commerce Authority have done a great job in both of those areas.
Another critical factor in the decision-making process for these companies is whether Arizona has a robust, educated workforce from which to draw their employees. It’s just one more reason that improving the quality of education is so vitally important to the long-term success of our state. In working with Greater Phoenix Leadership and analyzing the data in this area, it is clear there are staggering student achievement gaps and racial inequities where it comes to access to education in our state (and many others). And it’s why private-, public- and policy-sector leaders have a responsibility to assist in developing a long-term game plan to reverse this trend. We would all benefit from an approach that includes targeted investment into programs that work, real-time data to analyze, and transparency and accountability relative to the return on the public investment. In addition to simply being the right thing to do, it’s a key driver in ensuring Arizona’s economic growth.
What is new and notable for your company’s near future that will impact our economy?
One area of our business that continues to grow in prominence and is one on which we place great emphasis is regarding content delivery. Just like they do in other areas of their daily life, our fans want to consume information and content about our team, not when we dictate but when they choose. They want it when they want it and how they want it. And, perhaps most importantly, they want it where they want it. That may be on their TV screen but, increasingly, it’s on their phone or tablet and perhaps soon a device we are not yet considering.
So, we are very mindful of this when it comes to content creation and also when we enter partnerships that affect how we engage with our fans. The sports betting partnerships we have with Bet MGM and Gila River are excellent recent examples of that. This is an area where we know many of our fans have an interest and one where they are actively engaging with our product. It makes sense to connect with them and meet them where they are.
Name of Leader: Michael Bidwill
Position of Leader: Owner & President
Company Name: Arizona Cardinals Football Club
No. of Years with Company: 25
Main Local Office Address: 8701 S Hardy Dr., Tempe, AZ 85284
Phone: (602) 379-0101
Number of offices in Greater Phoenix: 2
Year Established Locally: 1988
City Nationally Headquartered: Tempe