In our last member spotlight, we had the pleasure of connecting with Nuhad Karaki, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Inceptre Corporation, who shared information about his background, role at Inceptre and experience as a member of ACG National Capital.
This week we had the luxury of speaking with CEO, board member and business consultant, Alan Friedman, whose passion for business, technology and race cars have put him in the pole position of success.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was extremely fortunate to be with the same company, Planning Systems Inc., for 37 years before starting my own consulting practice. I started as one of the first employees and worked my way up to senior-level executive roles and finally CEO in 1997. The company was employee-oriented and the opportunity it presented was key to both my career and work-life balance, enabling me to help my wife with our special needs child. Ultimately it was great place for me to grow with.
When I became Pres./CEO in 1997, our company expanded its strategic vision from value added engineering/IT services to include technology. We sought to preserve the value in our long term customer base and 300+ employees in services and expand by moving our technology out of the lab and into products. We were quite innovative in the laboratory-to- product challenge, and made some acquisitions to expand our technology portfolio.
In 2005, our company was acquired by the British company QinetiQ. We were combined with Foster-Miller Inc. into the Technology Solutions Group of QinetiQ-NA, and I continued to run PSI as subsidiary. We saw some good growth in this period, again primarily in the technology area.
In 2009, I took the opportunity to move into consulting and board work. I enjoy the challenge of helping companies to realize better results with their technology. Recent projects include major OEM licensing for a new manufacturing technology, strategy work on a very interesting pharmaceutical and advisory assignments on military sensor and some wireless mobility technology. I have also begun some investing activities in technology companies, and in general like to leverage my technical and business backgrounds to help achieve greater success.
What’s been a highlight of your career that helped you get to where you are today?
Obviously getting a start with a solid, career-oriented company like PSI was very key. This allowed me to develop business skills OTJT and do a wide range of business work, including M&A, on top of my scientific education.
Now I feel extremely fortunate to have a heavy business and technical background. Having this background has helped me step into the driver’s seat when it comes to thinking about strategy for an organization and how to maximize the potential. It has set me apart from many counterparts who are either business or technology focused.
Can you describe your relationship with ACG National Capital? How has being a member factored in your career?
I joined the chapter when I was Pres./CEO of PSI, and enjoyed the expanded networking and speakers. It was helpful to me as I was able to listen to other people share their business experiences and approaches to success. I was also able to network with a lot of business executives that were wrestling with similar things that I was focused on.
I truly appreciate how the chapter keeps a good balance of people. It’s a reasonable size of members, not a cast of thousands, in which I can network with at the nice mix of events.
We understand you were recently named to the ACG National Capital Board of Directors. What are your ambitions and/or expectations while serving as a Board Member?
Businesses will soon be faced with some difficult challenges, especially with the upcoming federal budget cuts and insourcing. The programs that ACG offers can serve as a good portal for members to transmit new ideas for success to help deal with these challenges. One of my goals is to help design programs that attract speakers to help facilitate a forum for different ideas and thought processes to be shared.
Any stories or anecdotes you’d like to share?
My consulting practice is called Focus to Win Business/Technology. I created the name based on my sports car racing hobby. I view business leadership like driving a race car – its totally demanding and requires an overwhelming commitment – concentration and focus. When I’m at the wheel there is simply no bandwidth available for anything but the immediate challenge.
In business, particularly in the government space, it’s easy to get diverted – it’s such an immense market. Having a concise strategy, setting the vision and building all the pieces underneath to achieve goals – getting to the checkered flag – is what business leadership is all about.