Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues inside a packed ballroom at The Mayfair at Coconut Grove on October 1, Mariano Martinez took the reins as 2019-2020 chairman of ChamberSouth. For Martinez, leading ChamberSouth for the coming year is yet another opportunity to leverage his leadership and people skills, and give back to his community.
Martinez, vice president of business development for U.S. Century Bank, one of the largest community banks in Miami, joined ChamberSouth seven years ago at the recommendation of a former boss, who introduced him to past Chamber chair Joe Gallaher.
“He told me, ‘I think you guys will get along really well…I guarantee you’ll be chair of that organization one day,’” Martinez says, smiling.
A recipient of ChamberSouth’s 2016 Rising Star Award, Martinez was tapped for the executive committee in 2018, serving as treasurer. He then became the only person in the Chamber’s 89-year history to become chairman before having served three full years as a board member.
After graduating from Christopher Columbus High School, Martinez was already honing his leadership skills at Florida International University, where he received a BBA degree in business management and chartered the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, serving as its president in 2005.
Martinez later became a founding member of BNI Pinnacle, a business networking referral group. BNI’s motto, “Givers Gain,” is a philosophy Martinez has embraced throughout his life and career.
“BNI has been a great way to expand my relationships and grow my business,” Martinez says.
“The more you connect yourselves to others and create good relationships, the more of an advantage you’ll have.”
Martinez’s approach to both life and work relies on equal parts integrity, passion and positivity. “Negativity leads to failure; positivity leads to success,” he says. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. “They are your teachable moments. Learn from them, and never make the same mistake twice.”
As chairman of ChamberSouth, Martinez hopes to grow membership through a continued emphasis on programming.
“Social and networking events help our members build lasting relationships,” Martinez says. “And a full calendar of breakfast and luncheon seminars and panel discussions offer members valuable learning opportunities throughout the year.”
Martinez also hopes to cultivate and enhance the Chamber’s relationships with other business associations within the Chamber’s footprint, which encompasses South Miami, Pinecrest, The Falls, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Kendall and West Kendall.
“My goal is to bring the business communities of South Dade together and find more ways for all of us to connect, understand each other and develop relationships,” he says.
When asked what the biggest challenges are facing South Miami-Dade, Martinez replies without hesitation: Traffic.
“Commuting to work and just getting around town is growing more difficult by the day, so transportation is a critical issue – not just for those of us who live and work in South Dade but for everyone in South Florida,” Martinez says. “We’re working with our members and local government to address this but, unfortunately, solutions won’t happen overnight.”
– Peter B. Laird