Interview

AITech Interview with Ed Szofer, President, Co-Founder, and Chief Executive Officer of SenecaGlobal

When one is creating something new, or transforming existing systems, solving complex technology challenges is a must.

As technology evolves, businesses proactively leveraging new capabilities are better positioned to drive product and service innovations. A key factor in being able to move forward quickly is access to highly skilled technology experts. Even with announced layoffs at big tech firms, it can be difficult for growth-stage companies to find the right professionals needed to meet development timelines. To better understand the impact of tech talent on business success, AITech Park interviewed Ed Szofer. In this exclusive interview, the President and Co-Founder of SenecaGlobal talks about how the company focuses on solving complex technology challenges for clients so they can stay focused on strategic planning and operations.

Below are the interview highlights:

Ed, please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us about your esteemed career so far.

I am the president, CEO and co-founder of SenecaGlobal where I focus on strategic planning, corporate management and operations. Recently, our firm celebrated its 15th anniversary, during which time we’ve achieved consistent growth and built a reputation for creating quality solutions that solve complex technology challenges for our clients.

I’m a lifelong Chicagoan and am very proud of SenecaGlobal and the other Chicago-based firm I helped build and take public (one of Wall Street’s most successful IPOs in 1996) – Whittman-Hart. After the IPO, WH grew from about $50M to nearly $500M within four years with about 5,000 employees worldwide. 

How did SenecaGlobal come into existence? What are its key features and services?

The idea for SenecaGlobal was borne over dinner in 2007. Our conversation centered around the question: what if we created an IT services firm with a people-first culture that focused on solving complex technology challenges for growing companies? Along with my co-founders Rao Tummalapalli and Swaminathan Mani, we put the culmination of lessons learned during years of IT and leadership experience to create a SenecaGlobal – a firm that enables innovators in underserved mid-market companies to move forward faster and generate ROIs.

Tell us about the solutions offered by SenecaGlobal. What makes the company stand out in the market?

SenecaGlobal is a leader in innovation outsourcing for complex software development, managed services and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. The company helps our clients – many in the HealthTech, SecurityTech, FinTech and manufacturing/logistics industries – develop and bring innovative solutions to market faster. Our agile team consists of world-class innovation technologists and business executives who have deep domain expertise.

What would you say is the factor that drives success and growth wherever you go? What’s the secret behind your success at Whittman-Hart?

The key to success for any business is understanding what your clients need, which can be harder than it sounds. Mid-market companies are where innovative ideas come to life. Big consulting firms prefer to work with larger companies, which is why SenecaGlobal – and likewise when I was at Whittman-Hart – focuses on providing top-notch software development, cloud managed services and NetSuite implementation and managed services to growth-stage companies. We are the engine behind their success which in turn makes us successful.

The world of software development is continuously transforming, especially with modern technologies in the picture. How is SenecaGlobal aligning its offerings with these disruptive technologies?

This is what SenecaGlobal does best. We solve complex technical issues for our clients. To do that, we stay at the forefront of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and tools that enable secure, efficient Software-as-a-Service (Saas) applications.

What is innovative outsourcing? How does it differ from traditional outsourcing?

Traditional outsourcing often focuses on creating value for clients while maximizing billable hours. We take a different approach. Innovation outsourcing looks at the big picture of what a client is trying to create or update. We provide experts who have business process experience and proactive problem-solving skills to enable our clients to focus on strategic planning and execution. We handle software development, quality testing, cloud management and NetSuite optimization that enables our clients to accelerate their pace of innovation and time to market. Despite recent downsizings at big tech firms, finding the right tech talent continues to be a challenge, which is why many companies turn to SenecaGlobal to get things done.

As a distinguished leader, what advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into the industry?

My advice for those starting a new venture is not to get overwhelmed by all the decisions – big and small – they need to make. First and foremost, I encourage them to be very clear on what problem they are trying to solve and what the users of the solution want. Then seek out experts in the areas where you are not well versed to guide decisions about business operations and solution development. Also, if you think you’ve raised enough capital for an operating runway of 18-24 months, think again and double it.

How do you plan to scale SenecaGlobal’s growth strategy in 2023 and beyond? Do you have any plans to expand?

SenecaGlobal continues to grow at a rapid pace. In 2022, we grew revenue from new clients by 400% and 22% overall revenue growth from the previous year. Our recent customer traction is reflective of our market-specific initiatives, top software developer talent and industry experts in SecurityTech, HealthTech, FinTech and ERP.

Our growth strategy is to continue to focus on those markets where our clients rely on us to develop and scale their product innovations, resulting in faster time to market and competitive advantage. As the global economy becomes more complex, our customers consider innovation outsourcing an integral part of their strategy for growth.

How do you spend your downtime? What are the hobbies that you enjoy pursuing?

I’m very close with my immediate and extended family. My wife Diane and I have three adult children and five grandchildren under that age of 5. They keep us very busy. When I’m not on Grandpa duty, you’ll often find me on the links or boating on Lake Michigan. Diane and I (along with friends) love to travel and we usually find a way to fit a few rounds of golf at new and challenging courses.

Ed Szofer

President, Co-founder, and Chief Executive Officer of SenecaGlobal

Edward V. Szofer is the president, chief executive officer and a co-founder of SenecaGlobal, where he leads strategic planning, corporate management and operations. Under his leadership, SenecaGlobal has achieved consistent growth and built a reputation for creating high-quality solutions that solve complex technology challenges for clients. Ed is a proud, lifelong Chicagoan who began his career at Arthur Andersen & Co. (today’s Accenture) and has a long history of developing highly profitable national and global organizations. As president, chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors of Whittman-Hart (NASDAQ:WHIT), he helped take the company public. Within four years, the firm achieved revenues of nearly $500 million with more than 5,000 employees worldwide. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

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