Antonio M. Alvarez III, MBA ’91
Cornell connections through the generations
A citizen of the world, Antonio M. Alvarez III was born in the Philippines and educated in the U.S., France, and Belgium, and has conducted business in all major European countries, several Asian countries and across the United States. A specialist in corporate restructuring, he founded and leads the European arm of Alvarez & Marsal, a firm co-founded by his father Antonio Alvarez II in 1983. While he usually calls Paris or London home, some of his strongest ties, and fondest memories, relate to Ithaca and Johnson.
Alvarez warmly recalls scenes from his MBA days: developing a regression-based financial model to evaluate baseball players in Sy Smidt’s class, playing basketball with Joe Thomas, and hanging out with classmates in Collegetown. “I really feel terrific about Cornell and how it’s prepared me, both in terms of its culture and values, and in terms of what I learned in my classes and through the relationships I had with my professors,” he says.
“My fondness for Cornell had a big impact on my son’s applying to and decision to attend Cornell,” he adds. Antonio Pierre Alvarez IV, who was born and educated in France, is a rising senior in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “And he is loving his experience at the Dyson School.”
Father and son feel so strongly about Cornell, in fact, that Alvarez gave generously not only to Johnson, but to Dyson as well. “My son is so passionate about the school that it moved me to create a scholarship,” adds Alvarez, who brings his children and relatives on visits to Ithaca — where he recently bumped into Professor Hal Bierman, noting: “He’s still doing what he does, which is great to see.”
Since graduating from Johnson, Alvarez has specialized in saving failing businesses — first in the United States, and then in Europe. At Alvarez & Marsal, he was instrumental in introducing the idea of restructuring to the European market.
“In the U.S., Chapter 11 allows for companies to have a second chance and negotiate with their creditors to restructure debt burdens while reorganizing operations more efficiently. This is much harder to do in countries across Europe for a variety of social, political and economic reasons,” he says.
“We’ve helped pioneer Europe’s move toward a recovery-reorganization model, towards saving businesses, whereas before we came over, there were more liquidations [and] distressed sales in a bankruptcy,” says Alvarez. “We’ve been successful in creating a market and moving it towards a more-progressive approach to troubled situations.”
Alvarez adds that his international background has served him well in his mission to salvage and rebuild foundering businesses. “That has helped the different parties view me as being the most-neutral person, and gain the trust of people from ... different countries, in taking them through a very challenging process.”
Alvarez sees technology as the biggest current business challenge. Whether it’s access to competitive-price information in retailing, the ability to inexpensively create media content, or the capability to quickly parse social-media sites for customer sentiment, says Alvarez, the power of information is flattening industries. “With every single thing you can think of, there are ways to apply technology to improve the business; and, with that, there will be greater productivity gains and customer-satisfaction gains,” says Alvarez. “So, if you’re not technologically savvy, if you’re not investing in technology, if you’re not going to own technology and understand how technology can be applied to your business, then you really haven’t met the future.”
He’s very excited about Dean Soumitra Dutta’s vision and the new Cornell NYC Tech campus. “Cornell is playing right along with this technology trend, and I think it will help position Cornell as a leading school.”
On the theme of paying it forward, Alvarez also has been writing and performing music (www.a3worldwide.com) – “People who have gotten involved in what I’m doing have coined it ‘pay it forward,’” he says. “It’s all about making the universe a better place and applying some of the things I’ve learned in business that have been effective … being the … neutral individual, someone who builds bridges and saves companies, and trying to pass that along to others. I’ve been humbled by the number of people who have been inspired by what I’m doing. It’s touching people, getting people to help others.”