Gianluca Gibbons is putting local talent in front of global executives
Bermuda is at the forefront of every business in which Gianluca Gibbons is involved.
Most recently he has been promoting the island through Sydney Palmer LLC, the brand consulting company he launched in the US last year.
The work took him to Washington last month for the 2022 US Africa Leaders Summit where, on the invitation of Erica Hill, CEO of E Hill Entertainment, and Nikkole-Charlene Wilkerson, founder and CEO of TheAFEC.com, he met with mayors, political leaders, bank presidents, investors and business heads.
It was an “historical moment” Mr Gibbons said, as it was the first meeting the United States Government had with leaders from Africa in Washington DC since the onset of Covid-19.
“I had the opportunity to speak with Ibrahim Magassa, originally from Côte d'Ivoire [Ivory Coast] and the founder and managing director of Algest Investment Bank,” Mr Gibbons said.
“He spoke passionately about his unwavering belief that Africa is the future of the world. Having already funnelled billions of investment dollars into the infrastructure development of African cities he has effectively positioned himself as an open door to investing in the continent.”
Most impressive was the quote Mr Magassa shared with him, Mr Gibbons said: “The one who will win Africa will be the one who will win the entire world. This is not ‘Yes we can’, it’s ‘Just do it.’
“The conversation and his presence in general left me very inspired and equally in awe of the magnitude of his words and actions.”
The summit also allowed him to meet Reta Jo Lewis, the president and chairman of the Export Import Bank of the United States, who showed interest in further conversation about Mr Gibbons’s plan to “leverage entertainment to teach financial and business literacy to young professionals”.
“The aim is to incubate these experiences as I continue to develop my own business ventures and high-profile relationships with the ultimate goal to bring valuable opportunities to the talent of Bermuda,” the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur and entertainer said.
“I want people in Bermuda to know that I'm not just taking my talent outside the island to improve myself. For me, it's very much that people know I'm Bermudian. And I want Bermudians to know where I am so that as opportunities arise there's an open understanding that Gianluca wants to bring these things back to Bermuda. So if you have an idea or you're interested then connect with it; be abreast so that when I come and knock on your door you’re not saying, ‘Who are you and what have you done?’ It's more like ‘OK, great. Let's get to work.’”
He worked as a musician and freelance consultant for seven years before starting his own company. On his recent trip to Washington he expressed his idea of showcasing the talent here through conferences and panels on island.
“I find that [Bermudians] are very talented. They're doing very well but, because they often don't have enough exposure to the industry standard of the global market, once they get out of the island in many cases – unless it’s sport or reinsurance – they find that they’re not a competitor.
“So my goal is to bring those resources to the island of Bermuda by leveraging these contacts.”
Through his discussions with “high-end business leaders and celebrities” as well as “executives at Netflix”, Mr Gibbons is certain the interest is there.
“It’s just a matter of putting the right pieces together and the manpower on the ground in Bermuda, and that door can open and stay open,” he said.
Particularly encouraging during his time in the US capital was a round table talk where he was one of about 50 people in attendance.
“Half of the table were US political and business leaders, specifically Black mayors of the United States, and then the other side were ministers and business leaders from the continent of Africa, talking about increasing investments between Africa and the US. And I was able to be in the room, to meet, connect with them, talk with them about my business ventures and create future partnerships.”
It helps, as the industry is “very relationship-driven”, said Mr Gibbons.
He insists that the work hasn’t distracted him from his music or his other business interests.
“In the Bermuda economy, it's very common for somebody to have one specific vocation and then hobbies. The message is ‘Find one thing to do; don't be a Jack of all trades!’ But the LA market is very different in the sense that once you get to a certain position in your career, especially if you're entrepreneurial, it's very rare that somebody does one thing because everything you do feeds the other.”
Recently, he has been busy in the studio recording with WizKid and Tyler, the Creator and managing a Nigerian Afrobeat artist.
“So the music, I'm still active in it, it's just that I don't have to just do the music. I have my MBA; [I’ve travelled, I speak] different languages, I’ve worked in PR and branding and entrepreneurship. You just take advantage of the resources you have around you. So I get to have a colourful career.”
He’s also in the process of finding funding for the start-up he discussed with Ms Lewis at the US Africa Leaders Summit and is thrilled that various celebrities are interested in being a part of it.
“I can't really say the names because we haven't put pen to paper yet but we really have some strong confirmations,” Mr Gibbons said.
“It's not often as a Bermudian that you get to experience that level of exposure and connections. So all that I'm doing – with the financial literacy, the business consulting, the artist management – [by] 2023 or 2024 at the latest, my aim is to start bringing a lot of these people and resources to the island.”