Q. What’s your role at Persis?
President and Founder, started in 1999
Q. When your clients and staff talk about Persis, invariably one of the first things they say about Persis is that you’ve assembled a stellar staff. What’s your secret?
I think the key to any company’s success is its people.
We have always been keen to identify exceptionally talented people, understand the focus area and environment in which they can thrive, and then engage them when the circumstances are ripe.
This is a process of matching projects with appropriate talent. Companies generally apply the same talent pool to all projects that they tackle, whereas we have the luxury of fine-tuning our talent to the specifics of the project. This helps us staff every project with much better focus on the problem domain.
Q. What do you look for in individuals?
Attitude first. Aptitude next. Experience last.
I truly believe anyone can succeed in any position if they are willing to work hard enough at it, so it’s really all about the "drive." Communication skills also play a big part; so much of being able to solve problems and collaborate with other people comes down to being an excellent communicator.
Q. In one sentence, what would you say that Persis is really good at?
We are very good at solving very complex problems in far less time than larger companies need.
Q. If you were at a PTA picnic and someone asked you why a company should hire Persis, what would you say?
I’d say it all boils down to three things:
1. We have a long history of delivering complex solutions in short time frames with Six Sigma performance across a broad spectrum of technologies. We have an even more prominent history of rescuing distressed projects awarded to FORTUNE 100 Global IT companies.
2. We can start with minimal or no requirements and rapidly arrive at a final product that not only meets the client's intent but is also “market relevant” in terms of time and technology.
3. We can work on almost any terms — fixed cost, T&M, or fixed resource models (fixing monthly costs).
Q. Do you have a philosophy that helps you accomplish so much in short timeframes?
We are very good at building prototypes. Our rapid prototyping abilities help clients see/experience what the real thing will be like. In some cases, prototypes help companies see what they need and want (and don’t need and don’t want).
The key to building successful prototypes is not to try to think of everything up front. As you develop the prototype’s features and interactions, it evolves in a way no one could possibly have designed from the start. This is the main reason we use Agile/Scrum methodologies.
Q. What are your three favorite Persis projects?”
1. Personal Calling for OnStar. Just push a button to talk with an OnStar Advisor. This was a “rescue effort,” developed with a team of 6 people in 4 to 5 months. By the way, our team of 6 replaced a team of nearly 80 from a FORTUNE 500 global IT firm.
2. Crash notification. Not only did this project have a life and death impact, it was technologically challenging and it was a true innovation — never accomplished before. The results had a profound impact on our client’s ability to develop a significant lead in the market. (Read about it)
3. Remote Diagnostics & Reflash. This had never been done by an OEM before, and no other OEM has it even now, though we developed the technology in 2005 and 2006. (Read about it.)
Q. What type of project would you love to be working on, but aren’t?
I’ve always wanted to develop remote monitoring for diabetics that would offer proactive information to patients. For instance, it could tell them to pull over and eat when they are driving and their blood sugar levels suddenly drop. There have been too-numerous fatal accidents due to diabetics passing out behind the wheel.
Q. What’s your typical day like?
In a small company, to a certain extent you never know what the day will bring. I could be making an urgent call to assemble expertise to address a client need. I could be focusing on talking with companies that could benefit from the unique way Persis goes about solving problems and developing prototypes, or I could be arranging access to capital. (Or I could be taking out the trash.)
Q. What’s your background? How did you get into this field?
I had a triple major (physics, civil engineering, mathematics) at the University of Toledo. I was hired by a company that models glass, where I did programming that would help make their manufacturing more efficient. This work led to being hired by Ford to do body surface modeling. So as you can see, it was serendipitous that I got into programming.
Q. What one thing are people always surprised to learn about you?
Many people are surprised about my devotion to my children. I guess many people don’t think that a business owner with so many demands would be as focused on his children as I am.
Q. What would your dream job be?
Founding Persis is it, but there’s another project I am deeply involved in: raising capital for a carbon fibers manufacturing plant.
Carbon fibers are 60 times lighter than steel and 10 times stronger. They’re highly conductive and they never corrode. Carbon fibers are used in a variety of products, such as the blades of wind turbines. If carbon fibers could be used more effectively in cars, then cars could be lighter without sacrificing safety. They could also be more fuel-efficient. In fact, six pounds of steel can be replaced with just one pound of carbon fiber. Making electric cars lighter can significantly increase their range without recharging.
Q. What’s your favorite movie and why?
"Gladiator." It wasn’t really about battling other gladiators; it was about finding ways to overcome every challenge to reach an ultimate goal. In a way it is not all that different from what we do at Persis.