A North Carolina native, Janice Bryant Howroyd left her hometown in 1976 and got a temp job in California, which introduced her to the need for job placement services. Then her entrepreneurial spirit flared up. She launched Act 1 Personnel Services in 1978 and has since dedicated her efforts to building an organization committed to keeping the humanity in human resources.
Howroyd is an advocate for balanced education and entrepreneurship in the workforce. Her active industry involvement gives her an understanding of the challenges faced by global workers and business owners alike.
In addition, her expertise on workforce optimization and entrepreneurship has made her a much sought-after speaker. She is also the author of “The Art of Work: How to Make Work, Work for You!” in which she distills more than 30 years of experience into a work/life balance guide.
As the founder, chairman and CEO of one of the country’s largest workforce management firms, Howroyd provides customers scalable advantages to excel through advanced technology and other service offerings.
Her passion for establishing lifetime relationships with job seekers, client companies and professionals within the human capital industry has enabled her to turn a successful domestic business into a world-class global enterprise.
Today, The Act 1 Group, Inc. is a reflection of her vision. Through her commitment to market-leading innovation and identification of market needs, Howroyd is able to expand her business, remain as the chief decision-maker of a workforce management firm and to match job seekers with companies where there is opportunity.
During the recent economic downturn, companies generally were not hiring as many people as they had been, but Howroyd was able to help her business customers increase their efficiency by using the most proficient human resource strategies possible. By continuing to inspire employees to excel in a business model that is agile and forward thinking, she will keep the Act 1 Group growing financially despite future market challenges.
How to reach: The Act 1 Group, Inc., www.act1group.com
As executive vice president and CMO of Global Cash Card, Michael Purcell has faced both trouble and triumph throughout his journey as an entrepreneur, which began in the staffing industry.
It was during this time that Purcell realized there had to be a better way to distribute payroll to employees across the nation. Though this was uncharted territory, he knew that an electronic pay system would save time and money for employers and employees. This creative spark helped to transform a traditional staffing business into a cutting-edge business.
Breaking into the pay card industry was no easy feat. In its inception, no one knew what a pay card was or if it was even legal. There was no product, no demand and there were no clients. As time passed, the innovative idea of a pay card finally caught on, but there was still the challenge of client trust to overcome.
What sets Global Cash Card apart from its competitors is flexibility and client service. Off-the-shelf software does not fit the diversified needs of many companies. As a solution, Global Cash Card developed an in-house software system, and it is the only company in the industry that provides a live demo of the system.
Global Cash Card’s unique value is that there is no charge to the company to implement the system. The formula of success equals customer service and a flexible system is exemplified by the fact that the company has been able to acquire one new client every day for the last three years, with more than 15 percent coming from competitors.
The company continues to innovate and was the first company in its industry to create a mobile app and help companies become 100 percent paperless. As the company continues to grow, Purcell’s goal is to be at the forefront of the newest payroll technology.
How to reach: Global Cash Card, www.globalcashcard.com
Throughout Stephen Gordon’s distinguished 25-year financial and investment banking career, he’s served in executive leadership positions with rapidly growing and successful financial services firms focusing on investment banking, retail banking and commercial banking.
During the worst economic cycle in decades, Gordon recognized that the lack of available credit and liquidity was severely stifling the growth of small and midsize businesses and entrepreneurs, thereby impeding job growth, business expansion and economic recovery.
At the height of the financial crisis, through his vision, leadership and perseverance, Gordon raised millions of dollars to recapitalize a small bank based in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, which he rebranded as Opus Bank. Gordon, who is chairman, president and CEO of Opus, created a community bank with a clean balance sheet and positioned it to infuse capital funding and liquidity back into its local economies.
In the two years since its recapitalization, Opus Bank has grown tenfold to 54 locations in California and Washington. This success has resulted in Opus Bank becoming the fastest growing bank in the Western region.
The bank’s growth was aided by two rapid follow-on acquisitions and additional capital infusion, which required a clear vision and relentless focus on driving out inefficiencies and redundancies, while maintaining an unfailing focus on the client and the community. This growth has allowed Opus to provide billions of dollars in capital funding through 750 loans to small and midsize commercial businesses, entrepreneurs, real estate investors and professionals.
To achieve Gordon’s vision of returning to the old days of banking, where bankers respected their clients and clients relied on and respected their bankers, Opus has broadened its business lines to include advanced treasury management and payment solutions, fiduciary banking and other highly valued features that deliver efficiencies for clients. These business lines complement the bank’s more traditional business lines: retail banking, residential lending and income property banking.
How to reach: Opus Bank, www.opusbank.com
A large part of Anand Nallathambi’s career has been working for subsidiaries of insurance company First American Corp. He has held several executive and CEO positions over the years, and in 2010 he was appointed CEO of CoreLogic Inc. He guided the company through its separation from First American Corp. to become publicly traded.
Since the separation, Nallathambi has developed a world-class executive team and repositioned the company to be the leading provider of data services and solutions in its markets. Following the separation of CoreLogic from FAC, Nallathambi developed a bold strategy for transforming the company into a higher-growth, higher-margin leader.
The four key elements of this strategy included refocusing CoreLogic on its core operations, transforming the organization from a fragmented and distributed model to one integrated team, reshaping the cost structure and reducing costs, and reinvesting in products, services, technology and people.
As part of his plan to overhaul CoreLogic, positioning the company to lead in the markets it serves, Nallathambi reorganized the company into three core segments to further drive focus and accountability. The operating segments were Data and Analytics, Mortgage Origination Services, and Asset Management and Processing Solutions.
Over the course of 2011 and 2012, CoreLogic exited five non-core businesses and sold or exited numerous smaller units. Although these units collectively generated significant revenue, their business models lacked significant data, intellectual property and scalable returns to support Nallathambi’s long-term strategy.
To drive margin expansion and create funds to reinvest in the business, Nallathambi launched Project 30 — CoreLogic’s enterprise-wide productivity improvement program — to significantly reduce technology and corporate shared services costs. Through 2012, Project 30 has delivered $82 million in total savings.
Many of the company’s recent accomplishments are due to Nallathambi’s ability to build confidence in CoreLogic employees, clients and investors. He made difficult decisions to dramatically improve productivity and operational execution.
How to reach: CoreLogic Inc., www.corelogic.com
The goal of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is to be able to manage all customer touch points on one system to improve both the end user and consumer experience — and Jonathan Ord is an expert in it.
Ord had a friend in the automobile industry who expressed frustration with the multiple systems he was using to track one customer at his dealership. Through continued conversations with this friend, Ord went to work creating a CRM for the dealership space. In 2001, Ord co-founded DealerSocket Inc. with the goal of helping auto dealers manage every interaction and touch point with their customers on one platform.
In order to put his vision and plan into motion, Ord, who is also CEO, took out a mortgage on his home and started DealerSocket in his garage. Initially his customers felt the software didn’t interface well with the sales force on the floor. Thus, he offered to work without pay at a dealership for a year to gain a better understanding of his customers’ needs.
Ord aspired to help the automotive industry and make all customers fans of DealerSocket and its products. In the first year of business, 15 clients were signed, and in the second year, the number grew to 38. Today, DealerSocket serves more than 3,000 dealers in the U.S., Canada and Australia, and supports 100,000 active users.
Even during the near collapse of the automotive industry from 2006 to 2008, Ord continued to improve his products so that dealers could survive and carry on. As a result of its persistence, DealerSocket now has 20 percent U.S. market penetration and is striving for more.
The vision and plan for DealerSocket is to continue to be the No. 1 CRM for auto dealerships through customizing CRM for large dealer groups, expanding into other countries, and developing or acquiring products that make sense for the company’s software suite.
How to reach: DealerSocket Inc., www.dealersocket.com
In 2009, Dominic Gallello was tasked to turn around a company known for expensive and difficult-to-use software. The mismanaged and ailing MSC Software, founded in 1963 to assist with simulations for the space program, had not updated its products in far too long, customer churn rates were high, and there was no spark at the company.
Gallello set out to build and communicate to employees a comprehensive strategy framework that reduced general and administrative expenses from 19 to 11 percent in the first year. He cut $40 million from operating expenses in his first two years. Gallello expanded R&D by 40 percent, brought on more than 40 doctorate-degreed employees through hiring and acquisition, and initiated the development of a next generation computer aided engineering (CAE) system to be brought to market this year.
In less than five years as CEO and president, the company has embraced his vision, and his team is highly motivated to develop the solutions for existing and new customers. At MSC, he leveraged the synergy between the improved morale and the new technology to help customers change the world — which is precisely what the company is doing: The company was instrumental in simulations of the entry descent and landing for the Mars Rover Curiosity mission.
Gallello introduced a culture of “You never stop learning at MSC.” He encouraged managers and individual contributors to pursue professional development and funded their efforts.
He started a high-potential employee program (“Managing your Career”) to build future leaders and a management development program (“Managing by Influence”). Gallello believes that personal success should be celebrated, but must also come with responsibility.
He and his family have personally funded construction of five orphanages in Romania in the past five years and they call more than 100 children their own. Gallello also is funding the development of a farm in Romania for teenagers who cannot find jobs after high school.
How to reach: MSC Software Corp., www.mscsoftware.com
Although he was able to surround himself with talented professionals, Joseph Renton seemed to experience every possible problem when starting up a company in 1995. He had launched Systems & Software Enterprises (SSE) and utilized the technology consulting business to fund the development of new hardware products.
There was a lack of available capital, an ever-changing technology market and an aviation industry with tremendous barriers to entry for his in-flight entertainment efforts. But through it all, he never once accepted any venture capital money.
He was determined to see his vision through on his own terms. He knew he had to stay ahead of the innovation curve and that bringing in outside ownership would slow the process of finding creative solutions.
Undeterred, Renton used his relationships with bankers and clients to secure funding and even took out another mortgage on his house to see his company through its most difficult times. He knew that he had built a product that was superior to the competition and was willing to take necessary risks to prove that.
Renton focused on providing his team with interesting projects and establishing an entrepreneurial climate within the company, and he has found that the effort goes much further toward creating employee satisfaction than salary alone.
In 2001 his firm began marketing its first in-flight entertainment systems to major airlines. Soon after that release, 9/11 occurred, effectively bringing the avionics industry to a standstill. Rather than abandoning his vision during these slow times, Renton reinvested in development so his firm would be better positioned than its competition once everything returned to normal.
SSE rebounded stronger than ever, and after a decade of providing successful hardware systems, SSE was acquired by Zodiac in December 2012. However, as a true entrepreneur who is never satisfied, he used the time off to gain clarity and to prepare ways to create value in his next opportunity.
How to reach: System & Software Enterprises, www.imsco-us.com
When she took the helm of Carl Warren & Company nine years ago, Caryn Siebert was facing the challenges of a company suffering substantial losses and outdated infrastructure. She went to her first board meeting and honestly and directly told the board members that under her turnaround plan, it would be three years before the company would break even.
Siebert, leveraging her knowledge of Six Sigma and prior experience as a CEO, was successful, and she took the employee-owned third party claims and litigation management company back into black ink.
Before Siebert came to Carl Warren & Company, the organizational structure consisted of branches that acted as separate profit centers. She recognized that this configuration was damaging to the business — the branches continued to compete against each other for clients and profits.
To eliminate this situation without significant staff layoffs, Siebert decided to restructure the company by forming business lines focusing on specific services like public and insurance claims. That way, offices are working together to best allocate resources and assist clients across geographic areas.
Carl Warren & Company realized significant growth, and in 2009, was named one of the “Best Companies to Work For” in OC Metro magazine. However, as the economic recession took hold, clients wanted cheaper rates and expenses continued to increase.
Siebert knew she could not cut employees or high-level services. Instead, she decided to expand the company into a new market segment, bringing workers’ compensation in its product mix. Revenues increased to $30 million that year.
Siebert’s aptitude for instilling loyalty — there is an almost 100 percent employee retention rate — extends even further in terms of her client relationships. With customized programs, certificates of guarantee and years of experience, the company has a strong client base that only continues to grow.
How to reach: Carl Warren & Company, www.carlwarren.com
Every member of Dr. Vinod Jivrajka’s family is an entrepreneur, so it’s no surprise that Jivrajka is being recognized for excellent entrepreneurship skills. Born in Mumbai, India, Jivrajka started medical school at age 17, after which he came to the U.S. and began working for hospitals in New Jersey and Kentucky.
He eventually moved to Compton, Calif., after attending a conference in Los Angeles and falling in love with Southern California. After two years, he became a partner with two doctors with whom he would work for the next 25 years. Though the practice was the busiest group in the region at the time, he couldn’t sit still. The entrepreneur in him wanted to try something different.
Until the 1980s, there was no concept of a management care organization. Jivrajka saw an opportunity to innovate the industry. After decades of practicing as a physician, he realized the operational efficiencies a medical management company could achieve by overseeing both the management group and the medical group.
He borrowed money using the equity of his personal home, persuaded his slightly skeptical friends to buy in, and founded AppleCare Medical Enterprises in 1996, which includes two AppleCare Medical Groups, a management services organization, a hospitalist medical group and an insurance agency. By 1999, the company had grown by 10,000 percent.
Jivrajka, who is founder, president and CEO of AppleCare, successfully recruited 22 employees to start with him, of which 12 are still at AppleCare today. By making doctors’ interests the management company’s interests, AppleCare successfully created a work environment that put doctors first, which enabled it to gain doctors’ trust, confidence and loyalty.
He has led the growth of AppleCare to 185 management employees cooperating with almost 1,000 affiliate doctors servicing more than 75,000 AppleCare members. The company celebrated its 10th anniversary in April.
How to reach: AppleCare Medical Enterprises, www.applecaremedical.com
Heidi Golledge can speak to the benefits of an early start in entrepreneurship. While a student, she began selling candy bars via fundraisers and would give all her earnings to her single-parent mother to help pay household bills. She later began selling rabbits to pet stores, and earned enough money to purchase a computer.
With that entrepreneurial background and her education, she began brokering home loans, but despite some lucrative periods, she wanted her own show. She saw an opportunity to partner with companies like Monster.com to offer another layer to the recruiting business that would allow more visibility to job opportunities via multiple channels. She met her future business partner and in 1999 the two started CyberCoders.
The company has developed into a leading, worldwide recruiting firm that utilizes technology and highly skilled recruiters to match people with companies.
Golledge later bought out her partner to take the company in a strategic direction that brought financial risk — an online career community (“job blog”) that would eventually be known as the CareerBliss arm of CyberCoders. She was determined to offer a way for people to learn about a company’s culture before seeking a job there to make sure that the culture fit the person’s needs and career path. The risk paid off and CareerBliss produced 100 percent year-over-year growth in revenue for the last three years.
Built on a recession-proof business model, CyberCoders has opened or expanded multiple offices during the recent economic downturn. While others were laying off employees, CyberCoders was opening offices and hiring more people, taking advantage of top talent.
Inspired by her family values, Golledge makes them her business values as well. She treats employees like family and looks to make them feel successful and happy. Golledge believes that a happy person is a productive person, and she has zero tolerance for disrespect in the workplace.
CyberCoders, www.cybercoders.com; CareerBliss, www.careerbliss.com