Our Arizona Coyotes are back on the ice and the season is in full swing. We had the opportunity to do a Q&A with President & CEO Xavier Gutierrez. He shared some of his thoughts on leading the team as well as living and working in our community.
Tell us about your role with the Coyotes
I was named the first Latino President & CEO in NHL history on June 8, 2020 and oversee all business operations, strategic planning, significant organizational decision-making and government relations for the club.
You recently moved here from California, how has that adjustment been for your family?
It’s been wonderful and very challenging at the same time. On the one hand, the people in Arizona are incredibly welcoming and warm and we feel like this is a place that has really opened up their arms to us. My son Xavi has been able to attend Phoenix Country Day School in person from day one, which has been wonderful for his transition. However, it has also been quite challenging for us because we made the move in the middle of COVID and just as the summer heat wave began. We haven’t been able to welcome new friends to our home, and to attend events or support the wonderful charities in this community as much as we would like. We are looking forward to becoming a more involved member of our new community post-Covid.
Family is obviously important to you, how do you balance your family with the team and your family at home?
Family is very much a priority for me and for the entire organization, and our owner Alex Meruelo leads by example in this regard. The decision to move here and take on a new adventure was a family decision in our household. It can be tough to balance family and work as this role is all consuming. We, at the Arizona Coyotes are fully dedicated and committed to winning, so it’s not easy sometimes to balance spending time with family. I really appreciate my wife Jericca in helping me to stay grounded and mindful of the great things this new professional opportunity is bringing to our entire family.
What advice would you give to parents who have a high-pressure job when it comes to balancing it all?
The biggest thing is to constantly communicate with your entire family and continue to check in to see how they are doing. It’s also important to be mindful and to always listen; I’m always reminding myself to be a better listener. When you listen, you can tell when things are going well, when they are not, and when you need to address a situation. What I constantly tell parents is, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions of your children and spouse, and to make sure to listen to them. Don’t listen for the sake of responding, listen for the sake of hearing.
5. What is your favorite part of being a part of the Coyotes?
My favorite part is the opportunity to have a platform and a voice to make a difference in the lives of others. That’s my passion and that is what I had envisioned this opportunity would bring to me personally at this point in my life and career. What has been extremely important to me, especially during this pandemic, is the opportunity to help others, to talk, engage and give people a sense of hope, inspiration and support.
What are some of your favorite things to do with your family?
My wife is an amazing cook so sharing meals with each other and those closest to us is what gives me joy. I can’t wait until we can have people over to our home and enjoy meals together. Jericca loves to cook and it’s the way she engages with others, and ultimately that’s what we enjoy the most; sharing meals, laughing and enjoying each other’s company while we give thanks for the wonderful things we are blessed with in our lives.
Where in Arizona/the Valley would you like to explore that you haven’t had a chance to do so yet?
I haven’t been up to Flagstaff and I hear that especially during the summer that’s where you should go since it’s a little cooler up north. We did spend some time in Sedona in the fall, and that was wonderful, but we are looking forward to visiting and experiencing Flagstaff soon.
Anything else you’d like to share with us about you, the team and your family?
I would like to share how grateful I am for this opportunity, and how much I appreciate everything about this experience—even the challenges. It’s definitely been difficult taking on this role in the middle of a pandemic and taking on an organizational turn-around has also brought on some high-profile challenges. I feel incredibly grateful, honored and blessed to be in this role and to create an organization that not only our rabid fan base, but the entire community can be proud of. I try to lead this organization with the idea that we are truly blessed to be in sports because we have a platform to help make an impact on the world around us. I am very appreciative and thankful for that opportunity.