An interview by Anthony Brincat
a^2 + b^2 = c^2
Although he holds a B.S. in Computer Science, with a minor in Mathematics (two of MY favorite subjects) he’s no computer GEEK! In fact, David began his career as a software engineer at what is now J.P. Morgan Chase. He also spent several years as a consultant in the financial arena. He was later employed by DRT Systems, the technology subsidiary of Deloitte & Touche, and subsequently obtained international experience developing customer and marketing databases in the automotive industry.
All of this led up to David becoming the President of Proximo, an information services firm founded in 1997 that specializes in helping clients maintain information that is necessary to run their organizations more efficiently.
Anthony: Technology, technology, technology – how in the world do we keep up? Which leads me to my first question – in a world that changes technologically every few seconds, how do you ensure Promixo and its teams are staying relevant?
David: I guess one of the maxims of owning a business is “never get complacent.” In 16 years at Proximo, the tech landscape has changed so much, it’s almost unrecognizable. I think one of the important things to remember is that you’ve got to find the places in the newest areas and figure out where your core strengths can be used within. Maybe not everything’s a perfect fit, but if you can find how you can play in a new space while not going too far outside your core competency then you can stay fresh and dynamic.
Anthony: Having been through many hardware and software implementations over the years, I have found one of the most important aspects of a successful rollout is follow-up. How do you ensure your clients have the support they need once they are running new software or on a new platform?
David: Yes, it may sound cliché but “customer service is king.” We put management controls in place during a project to make sure that clients are communicated with well. Although the dynamic changes when the project is “over,” we try to be a part of the post-implementation process for at least a number of weeks that makes sense. This helps to ensure that the customer has the support they need and a good overall experience. This is very important for repeat business and long-term client relationships are very important to us.
Anthony: What impact has social media and social networking had on the information technology industry?
David: Social has changed the landscape of data. I think social media and “big data” have gone hand-in-hand. While data has always been “big,” the addition of so much consumer-generated content has given us a volume never before seen. Collecting it was easy, but now people are figuring out how to structure and mine it to make it useful to a business. We like to say we help turn the unstructured into the structured, so you can treat it all the same. There is value in all of that data, if you can look at it in the aggregate and not try to read every tweet out there….
Anthony: How do you ensure the solution Proximo provides delivers value, improves your client’s performance and minimizes IT risk?
David: I’m personally big on looking at return on investment, up front, during the proposal stage. Sometimes the client knows what that ROI is already, but sometimes they are looking for justification. There are many things any given company can do, but what will deliver the most value, in terms of the cost, people, new revenues, etc. I like to have those conversations up front, as well as have very well-defined projects, going in. This way everyone is shooting for a specific target we all understand. Without that target, people afterwards wonder if they got what they expected, which happens when they didn’t know what to expect.
Anthony: As the “Supplier Diversity Chair” for NGLCCNY, what are your specific goals during the next 6 to 12 months?
David: Oh, that’s a tough one! As always at the Chamber, we always would love to do more than we can, as an organization run primarily by volunteers. Our overall strategic goals remain the same – grow the number of certified LGBT businesses and give them the tools needed to succeed with that certification. Specifically, we have goals of five new certified businesses per month and the development of a new program to connect these businesses in a peer group setting.
Anthony: Where does the Information Technology engine reside in the world and what do think will be the next significant platform in coming years?
David: Easy answer: everywhere! Data and the processes that use it are now internal, hosted externally, and in the Cloud. I expect the “next platform” isn’t a single specific platform, but the integration of all of these. A company will run pieces of their overall architecture where it makes sense, and an “app” used by the customer or employee will pull in the data needed from wherever. It may take us a while to get there, but I think we’re headed there.
Anthony: Information Technology has really impacted flexible working in a way that supports diversity, inclusion and retention. Has Proximo worked on any projects or is there any focus on new ways to support home-based/remote working?
David: Yes, in a way. We’ve help to gather data for clients on D&I. We’re proud to have been working with the Asia Society for the past two years on their Asian Pacific American Corporate Survey. We help their participating companies to collect and help analyze employee responses on the workplace. Regarding remote working, so many of our systems nowadays are hosted or cloud-based that they are accessible from anywhere. We have many clients that have far flung employees that can access what we create for them anywhere.
Anthony: Do you think the Gay and Lesbian community does enough to educate our youth about HIV/AIDS?
David: I’ll caveat this by saying I’m no expert in this field, but I’ve seen a lot of advertising, targeting youth and even people of my age. Ads in magazines, subways, billboards, as well as direct outreach in bars and on the street. I know some people that do this type of work, and they’re working hard to help make a real difference.
Anthony: Finally, would you kindly explain the mathematical equation above and provide an example of its impact and significance?
David: (Laughs). Let’s see, there was once a guy named Pythagoras…the sum of the squares of the sides equals the square of the hypotenuse. I don’t know much more but apparently he really liked triangles, right ones specifically. Best to consult Wikipedia like everyone else!
Written by Anthony Brincat, NGLCCNY Member & Volunteer Correspondent, Media Communications Committee. Anthony is a Senior HR Manager at Allen & Overy LLP, a multi-national law firm.
Photography Credit: Vaughn Stewart, NGLCCNY Member & Volunteer Photographer, Media Communications Committee. Vaughn is Principal and Chief Photographer at Vaughn Stewart Photography.