The global music and entertainment industry is a behemoth. In 2016 alone, revenues for this sector were estimated at $17.2 billion, which is more than a third of industry revenues for this sector worldwide. It is a highly competitive industry where slackers will never thrive. Leadership roles in this industry are predominantly occupied by males, but hard-driving women such as entrepreneur, talent manager and producer Desiree Perez have proven themselves worthy of a seat at the table. The face of the industry is changing, but not as quick as Des Perez and her peers would like.

Des Perez and her Mission Possible

Des Perez is part of an exclusive circle of the industry’s biggest movers and shakers. Mention Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and her name inevitably comes up. That’s because Perez has been a critical part of Jay-Z’s push to expand his business interests in the industry for at least 22 years. Like many successful businesses, Carter’s empire consists of various corporate entities, handling different opportunity niches from talent development to music production and concert tour management. But regardless of the niche, Des Perez has been and continues to be part of the frenzy, optimizing profits for the company and its investors while ensuring maximum development of the talent entrusted in her care.

Perez has played an important role in helping Jay-Z evolve from rapper to business mogul. She is at home in backroom negotiations, but she has displayed as much grace and power in boardroom maneuvering as well. She was involved with SC Enterprises, ROC Nation and other Shawn Carter business interests. Perez and her husband, Juan Perez, are reportedly part of the powerful Hova Circle of Influence, which is a collective of influencers and investors involved in the music and entertainment industry.

According to insiders, Des Perez is Jay-Z’s secret weapon when it comes to making critical business decisions and entering into high-level, high-pressure negotiations. Perez exudes confidence, charisma and a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to jumping on business opportunities that would add to corporate profitability. No wonder Jay-Z has kept her close as a trusted business associate all these years.

The Art of her Deals: A Sampling

Desiree Perez has had a string of successes that have netted substantial returns for her clients. Perez gets the credit for negotiating a $25 million Samsung collaboration to promote Rihanna’s Anti tour. The deal enhanced Rihanna’s standing as a bankable A-list performer and entertainment superstar. Powerful women tend to congregate together, and Des Perez has become entrenched as an influential presence in Rihanna’s inner circle. Rihanna’s star as a performer, style icon and commercial model will continue to rise in the coming years, and Des Perez will be right beside her, providing financial and business guidance designed to take her career to even greater heights.

Back in 2008, Roc Nation entered into a $150-million deal with Live Nation, and Des Perez was in on the transactions. When that deal was set to expire, Desiree Perez, chief operating officerof Roc Nation, was dispatched for a power powwow with Sir Lucian Grainge of Universal Music. The music industry eagerly awaited an announcement of a partnership between these entertainment powerhouses, which would surely impact the industry in new ways. No announcements have been made as of this writing.

However, Live Nation and Jay-Z have announced a renewal of the existing agreement for a period of 10 years. Des Perez was on Jay-Z’s negotiating team, so this is touted as another rewarding deal for Roc Nation and the artists represented by the organization.

Rocking the Roc Nation Connection

Roc Nation was established in 2008 and has since evolved into one the most important entertainment companies in the world. It is a full-service business, working with music producers, songwriter and recording artists on issues such as artist management, brand building and brand management, music publishing and promotions, concert and tour production and other services. Roc Nation collaborates with industry experts, including technology, fashion and management experts, to enhance its clients’ careers and reputations. The company’s stable of stars includes the likes of Rihanna, Big Sean, Shakira, J. Cole, and Meek Mill. Given Des Perez’s negotiating skills, these stars are in a good place when it comes to contract management.

Roc Nation Sports is an offshoot Jay-Z’s love for sports. He was already involved in the sports industry as part owner of an NBA team, and he sought to extend the talent management services offered to artists to sports personalities. Juan Perez, Des Perez’s husband, heads Roc Nation Sports, and Des Perez is deeply entrenched in contract negotiations and management for sports celebrities with high-flying careers. Sports stars signed up with Roc Nation Sports include boxing’s Miguel Cotto and Andre Ward, baseball’s Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, CC Sabathia and football’s Geno Smith, Dez Bryant and Ndamukong Suh among many others. In the sports world, negotiating contracts is a blood sport, but Des Perez has never met a contract she couldn’t crunch. Her reputation as a tough negotiator has stood her in good stead while facing down industry bigwigs to the advantage of clients of Roc Nation Sports.

Myth vs. Reality in the Music and Entertainment Industry

To understand the significance of Des Perez’s accomplishments in the music industry, consider how difficult it is to gain a foothold in an industry that is traditionally run by men. To fawning fans, the entertainment industry is one of glitz, glamour and gajillions of earnings every year. It is difficult for non-insiders to appreciate the hard work and the hustle behind every successful performer because the audience is presented with a sanitized and romanticized version of performers and their performances.

What many fail to see is the guiding hand behind the artists, their performances and their concert tours. Given even less attention are the experts who make numerous business decisions and recommendations to ensure successful and profitable events. Des Perez has had a hand in the production and management of some of the biggest events involving today’s top artists. Performers like Rihanna reap the accolades, the applause and the Instagram followers as they should. Rarely are the show runners and the management team ever given credit for pulling off near-miracles in support of the stars. That has been the case for Des Perez all these years, and that is fine by her.

It has been a tough jog to the top for Desiree Perez, but she is one tough lady who has weathered the storms of the entertainment industry and emerged stronger and smarter. She may be seen hobnobbing with big-name celebrities, but she does not count herself as one. Jay-Z may be the face of Roc Nation, but Des Perez is its heart: compassionate and steady when she has to be yet tough and shrewd when it comes to Roc Nation and other businesses in which she is involved.