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A Tale of Two CEOSby Stephanie Davis Smith | Men's Book Atlanta magazine | September 14, 2012
Atlanta moguls Joel Katz and Ryan Gunnigle work an elevator ride away from each other. Both just relocated successful, global businesses to Buckhead’s 200 Terminus Building. Here, a C-Suite case study.
Joel Katz helms the largest entertainment law practice in the world. Surprise! It’s not headquartered in New York or L.A.—it’s in Atlanta. As Chairman of the Entertainment and Media Group at Greenberg Traurig, he leads 1,000 lawyers in 35 offices around the globe, including 80 alone in the Atlanta office. His client list is a who’s who of A-listers that span every musical genre: Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Michael Jackson, George Strait, and the list goes on. He’s the kind of jovial charmer who can regale you with stories about having dinner last week in Bilbao, Spain, with Julio Iglesias and their King, or how Justin Timberlake loves that bowl of bubble gum in his office. Yet you never feel intimidated. Katz explains, “everything I do is to put people at ease. People need to feel comfortable with me because they’re trusting me with their careers,” he says. “This office inspires calm. Our business is wild every day. So to move through it, I need a calm space.”
To be Ryan Gunnigle, you have to be smart as a whip. That’s a given. To turn a homegrown company like Kids II into a global leader—with products filling the shelves at Walmart, Toys R Us and Target stores worldwide—you have to be a brilliant businessman. But like Greenberg Traurig’s Joel Katz upstairs, that aptitude comes coupled with a playful spirit. This duality has enabled Gunnigle to successfully lead an innovative, design-driven infant-and-toddler-product company for nearly 15 years and still maintain the quirky corporate culture he’s created in their Buckhead workplace. A product designer himself in the early days, he knows how his people think. In fact, the University of Alabama alum was inspired and began collaborating at Kids II long before he became the president and CEO. He understands the importance of creating an environment that attracts and retains top talent. And when it comes to interior design, as evidenced here, it appears Gunnigle does just that.
To read the full article and see photographs of the offices, pick up the Fall 2012 issue of Men's Book or click here!