Roderick S. Walker, class of 1970, has Bachelor and Masters degrees in electrical engineering and an SM from MIT's Sloan School of Management. He was one of the cofounders of Technology Solutions in 1988; it now has 750 employees and expects revenues of $140 million. The company does multimillion dollar systems integration projects for large corporations.
Walker's first job was at a one-year old start-up company; he followed the idea of "high-risk, high-return" he'd learned at the Sloan School. After 15 years, he left to become a partner at one of the Big 6 accounting firms in Chicago, where he and 7 colleagues ran a large systems integration practice. When the head of the group was fired, they all left to form their own company. Startup funding came from the family of one of the founders; they were cash-positive within five months and later turned to venture capitalists to finance additional expansion.
The company's strategy is to acquire a dominant market position in certain niches. One line of specialization, for example, is call centers (the places where your calls to 800-number marketing offices are answered). Technology Solutions has 200 people specializing in this area alone, designing and installing software systems for phone centers. More is involved than just software; the company helps its customers lay out their business vision, define what they hope the calling center will do for the customer, and determine how they will accomplish this objective and measure their performance.
Skilled professionals--particularly technology project managers--are critical to the company's success. Since anyone good in this field can easily find employment, Technology Solutions has to work hard to find and hold good people. One way to do this is to allow company staff to live wherever they like. Although headquarters are in Chicago, the company has employees living in 30 or more states around the country. The company strives to hold down turnover by having interesting work, an above-average compensation package, and a healthy corporate culture.
Return to Table of Contents
Proceed to Next Company Portrait href="http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/www/newsoffstaff.html"