When Francisco J. Sánchez left his position as Under Secretary for International Trade with the US Department of Commerce, he said goodbye to his dream job.
The position had allowed him to indulge his passion for public service (inherited from his mother, a social worker who started one of the first Headstart programs in the country) and his devotion to business (modeled after his father, who ran a family candy company for twenty-five years).
But Sánchez was also able to identify an unfilled niche—providing guidance and resources to small and medium companies looking to expand globally. As founder and chairman of CNS Global Advisors (CNS), he now offers those services.
“Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the US, so accessing and trading with foreign markets is essential to growing our own economy and keeping it strong,” Sánchez explains. “Our mission is to help connect clients with the right global partners so they can do just that.”
Led by Sánchez since 2013, the CNS team has secured a number of trophy clients and high-caliber engagements. CNS’s clients include top-tier law firm Holland & Knight, US private equity fund Pt Capital, and several foreign private equity funds that are investing directly into infrastructure and businesses within the United States and broader Americas.
To meet the needs of a growing client base and increasing market demand, Sánchez launched the CNS Investment Banking Practice Group to focus on private placements for issuers in the energy and agriculture industries with securities offered through CNS’s New York-based broker-dealer Weild & Co., operated by former NASDAQ Vice Chairman David Weild. The CNS Investment Banking Practice Group relies on its experience and actionable contacts with energy developers and agricultural producers in the Americas to bring high-impact investments to market.
Parallel with the firm’s advisory services, Sánchez and the CNS team is working in collaboration with Delphos International and Roman Arch Clean Energy Finance to develop an investment vehicle focused on financing the conversion of inefficient, legacy streetlights into highly efficient LED streetlights within select Latin American markets—a win-win-win strategy for the environment, municipal governments, and investors.
“I never expected to be a partner in an LED streetlight financing company,” Sánchez admits. “We began working to address a simple market need, but the opportunity arose to be able to assist our client and, ultimately, their customers with a value-creating solution.”
Although born in the United States, Sánchez didn’t speak English until he was four years old. Being bilingual has served him well, leading to his first job after graduate school with the international consulting firm of the late Harvard professor Roger Fisher (author of Getting To Yes) and acting as a Spanish-speaking spokesperson on numerous occasions while working in the White House.
His language abilities have also made him acutely aware of the how likely it is that miscommunication can become a problem during various casual and business exchanges. As an example, he cites a negotiation CNS was handling that included parties from three different continents. An Asian firm was making one particular demand that appeared to be unreasonable to the other parties.
“Rather than flatly refusing, I took a deep breath, took time to understand what their real objective was, and proposed alternative solutions,” Sánchez says. “It’s critical to clarify and refocus the conversation in order to separate inappropriate cultural assumptions from legitimate concerns.”
Based on CNS’s variety of clients and projects and his own broad experience, Sánchez has become increasingly aware of the need for a clear business focus. This includes learning how to say “no” to potential clients who, for a variety of financial, regulatory or business reasons, may not be adequately prepared for sophisticated global expansion. Through an extensive due diligence process the CNS team assesses client expectations and evaluates whether the firm’s services can exceed expectations and provide the client with an appropriate return.
“There are no solo success stories, especially in global business,” Sánchez points out, “so we do everything we can to choose good partners and to be the best partner we can be for our clients.”
Francisco Sánchez’s Career Landmarks
(2014–2017) Sánchez is on the board of directors for Archer Daniels Midland, a US global food processing and commodities trading corporation; Suniva Inc., a US manufacturer of innovative solar cells and modules; and Moffitt Cancer Center. Recently, he was admitted into the National Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame.
THE US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
(2010–2013) As Under Secretary for International Trade, Sánchez led the International Trade Administraiton and the US Government’s efforts to improve the global business environment by helping US businesses compete abroad. He was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009.
THE US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
(2000–2001) As Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs during the Clinton administration, Sánchez served as the Department’s lead covering domestic and international aviation, international trade, and a range of other international cooperation and facilitation issues.
THE WHITE HOUSE
(1999–2000) Sánchez served as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Chief of Staff to Special Envoy to the Americas.