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Morocco Day CEO Summit: Potomac CEO Mark Cowan discusses how foreign business can succeed in DC


On March 29th in Washington, D.C. the Moroccan American Network & AV Actions hosted the 4th Edition of the Morocco Day Business Forum for a summit of CEOs, elected officials, and international business executives. The event featured a meet and greet with the panelists, and two sessions focused on how to help Moroccan businesses identify opportunities for success, both at the local and federal levels of government in Washington, D.C.


Potomac CEO, Mark Cowan, spoke about how Moroccan small businesses can capitalize on their strengths to do business with the Federal Government. “You need to focus on what makes you different – why is your company in a better position to serve the Administration than all the other firms?”


Preparation is key, Cowan says. “Collecting market information, road-mapping what success will look like for your company, and understanding the cultural differences of working with and targeting American consumers can make or break your initiatives before they ever get off the ground. You must be creative, and persistent in your outreach to the Federal Administration in order to rise above the noise of the crowded FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) environment”.


Another key point that Mr. Cowan was quick to point out and emphasize, is just how often working in Washington, D.C. can be relationship-centric. Knowing the right people in the right places can go a long way towards setting you and your company up for success. If you don’t have those relationships yet network to get them. Attend evening events hosted by industry groups or agencies you want to be involved with. You must develop the relationships and then work to maintain them.


Once you have established relationships in the government, it is important to distinguish between the working styles and cultures of the different agencies you will be working with, in addition to the differences between political appointees and career bureaucrats, as the two factions often have quite different motivations for their work. Bureaucrats are often driven by a love for country and by doing what’s best for the citizens of the US. Political appointments are more short-sighted in their goals and tend to be motivated by the advantages afforded them in the next political battle rather than doing what’s right by the greater good.


Overall, Cowan stressed three major takeaways from his experience in doing business with Administrations in Washington: 1) Advanced Preparation is key and necessary 2) Networking is paramount to getting your foot in the door, and 3) Always understand the cultural differences between yourself and with whom you wish to do business, in addition to the nuances between the parties within the administration. It is no easy task to dissect and analyze these forces, but if you can you may be able to break through the cacophony of the Washington, DC business environment to find success in unlikely places. To learn more about Morocco Day and the 2019 CEO Summit, click here.

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