Bruce Ballengee – Founder & CEO, Pariveda Solutions

Bruce has an unwavering dedication to the vision of a firm built on growing people to their fullest potential. Despite industry skeptics suggesting such a firm could never succeed being so different, Bruce pushed forward building an organization that provided something different and unique to its employees and clients.

Bruce founded Pariveda in October 2003 during the worst IT recession in history. An idea drove Bruce to believe that in any professional practice, talent represents the best sustainable hope for long-term success. Bruce financed the company with his own assets, crafting a unique and sustainable business model based on talent development. The business model is built on concepts counter to conventional industry wisdom: a) recruit for passion, character, and potential versus skills and experience, b) focus on small, short duration projects, not large, long projects c) seek long‐term client relationships instead of transactions, d) develop people as solution architects, not specialists, e) teach everyone sales and relationship skills, f) focus on geographies and communities, not industries or technologies, g) bring new ideas to clients to consider as you look holistically at their business, and h) build a firm to last forever (ESOP), not a company to be sold.

Bruce’s vision was to create a different kind of consultancy which is the driving force of our success today. Pariveda has grown to over 525 people based in 9 offices in major U.S. cities with 2016 revenue of $97 million. Our consultants seek to be more than just problem solvers. They aspire to become trusted advisors and partners to our clients with novel solutions to enduring problems, seeking knowledge to benefit our clients while building their careers. Bruce created a company based on the idea that talent can be differentiating. This differentiation through talent is essential to Pariveda in developing a highly adaptable, sustainable enterprise on the premise that the only constants in business are complexity and change, especially in IT consulting.

Bruce champions Pariveda’s commitment to giving back to the communities we serve. We’ve given nearly 130,000 hours of community service since inception. We consider this an essential part of our culture and is a pillar of each employee’s career development pathway. It also allows us to join freely in with our communities, and provide opportunities for improvement and service to the people around us. Achieving one’s fullest potential has everything to do with our cultural commitment to philanthropy.

Bruce serves in many organizations. He is a member of the Baylor University Angel Network and the Stewardship Board Chairman of the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center. He is also a member of the Native Plant Society of Texas, the Native Prairie Association of Texas, and he is certified as a Master Naturalist in the North Texas chapter (NTMN).

Tell me about your early career.
I went straight through undergrad and an MBA in Finance and Economics to being a banker, but wound up starting in consulting with now-Accenture. I spent almost my entire career in the consulting industry – IT and management consulting – with stints leading an IT department at Sprint, and as CTO of a software company.

How did the concept for Pariveda Solutions come about?
When I was planning to leave consulting to go back to school for a PhD in MIS, people around me had asked for me to start a new company so we could work together. So, I was called to start Pariveda. My conditions for starting it were the fundamental principles and architectural design of our business model that I laid out for people. You can call them conditions of agreeing to start up a new consulting firm. These non‐negotiables came from decades of experience and much thought about how a superior consulting business model could be invented to replace what we traditionally see in firms of all sizes in our industry.

How was the first year in business?
We managed to sell and deliver about $1 million in net revenue within our first four to five quarters (10/2003 inception date).

What was your marketing strategy?
We reached out to our existing relationships and asked how we could help. That garnered us some small, starter projects. Today, we’re seen over 90% repeat and referral.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
In the multiple thousands of percent, which is not all that hard when you are starting with $1. Through this year, we’ve made the Inc. 5000 ten years in a row (every year we’ve been eligible). According to Inc. Magazine, that puts us in the 99.5% of companies in terms of growth rate, and over 99% of it has been organic.

How do you define success?
Sustainable growth. Growth that builds strong foundations for future growth through lifetime relationships with clients and employees while we all grow together as individuals. Collective and individual growth integrated in systematic, synergistic ways.

What is the key to success?
Genuine team work. People proactively asking, “How can I help you?”

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The fulfillment that comes from giving our time and talents. It is an neverending source of joy for me.

What are some quotes that you live by?
Not necessarily “live by” quotes, but mighty handy. These are paraphrases:

“All models are wrong, some are useful.” – George Box
“The stock market has predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions.” – Paul Samuelson
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb

I appreciate wisdom wrapped in dry humor.

What are some of your favorite books?
In fiction, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, In nonfiction, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and James Brian Quinn’s Intelligent Enterprise.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur or corporate executive, the hardest days are the ones when I’ve been tasked with laying ­off employees. This happen to me three times at other companies, and twice at Pariveda.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The underlying assumption that there will be a tomorrow, and at some point in the future, that tomorrow can be better and may turn out to be the best tomorrow ever.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Success in business is an infinite game of will – the willingness to persist, despite the odds, and the willingness to adapt and pivot when needed in the face of those odds.