Cathy A. Opsitnick Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2010
Pittsburgh Pacesetters 2010
Honoree

When Cathy A. Opsitnick first applied at Management Science Associates Inc., the odds were stacked against her.

Her high school training in computer processing and programming qualified her for the position. But she only had a high school diploma. She was female. She was 17. Few firms would entertain such an idea.

Opsitnick’s determination shined early on, and she convinced the data analysis company to hire her. That determination and vigor continued. Now, nearly four decades later, she serves the company as president and CEO.

Opsitnick quickly became an indispensable part of the company by submitting quality work and taking on leadership roles early on in her career. In 1973, she was elected to the company’s employee committee. Eventually, she was presenting data analysis results to large clients like H.J. Heinz Co.

In the 1990s, she transitioned smoothly into an executive position. Her leadership capabilities and history with the company helped her navigate such challenges as implementing sustainable growth opportunities across multiple countries and preventing jobs from being outsourced to India.

Opsitnick’s vision and leadership can be exemplified through many situations. For instance, she invested in an ERP system so the company could obtain timely, detailed, accurate reports for decisions both internally and for clients. While MSA’s auditor said the investment would be expensive and risky, Opsitnick successfully led the company through the implementation, which allowed MSA to expand its employee and revenue numbers.

The business model also allowed the company to enter into new ventures. MSA developed a scrap steel reporting system that is now used by most public steel firms. The company also entered into the casino industry, landing six of the 10 top casinos as clients.

MSA continues to grow steadily despite the recession and outsourcing trends in data analysis companies. To combat those hurdles, MSA has coped by using rapid innovation and price cuts.

During the recent recession, the company added to its employee base by 1 percent each year and its revenue by 2 percent annually.

When Opsitnick is not finding ways to improve the company, she enjoys devoting time to women in business and technology innovation in the Pittsburgh area.

How to reach: Management Science Associates Inc., (412) 362-2000 or www.msa.com