Managed services News
Transformation Lead CEO: ‘Scary’ How Much Hypergrowth We’re Seeing
‘It is attainable, there‘s something in there for you, it’s not just coding in a dark room with headphones on three monitors. We can have more people that look like me in the room and I’ve always made sure that if I am the first one in the room that I’m not the last one, that I always bring others with me,’ says Georgette Fraser-Moore, president and CEO of Transformation Lead, on diversity in the workplace.
Georgette Fraser-Moore, president and CEO of Transformation Lead LLC, has never been in a more fortunate position. She’s seeing a lot of growth, hiring more than ever and bringing more and more business into her portfolio.
“I think we’re at this really interesting place and it’s scary at the same time because I’ve never had this hypergrowth yet as a CEO, as an entrepreneur, as a woman in business who bootstrapped pretty much everything,” she told CRN.
Atlanta-based IT services provider Transformation Lead, which also has consulting offerings, mostly servicing large corporations, nonprofits and government agencies.
But as a CompTia board director, a member of the Forbes Technology Council and a professor in the computer information systems department at Georgia State University, Fraser-Moore is no stranger to leadership.
“It really all fits together,” she told CRN. “I have several passions, but my big career passions have to do with innovation, helping streamline how business and technology has been done for years, and I get to do that in all of my roles.”
And teaching is her way of giving back.
“I remember someone said, ‘You‘ve done so much in your career. What’s next?’ I said, ‘Well, creating more opportunities so other people can do so much in their career,’” she said. “I have a wide span of knowledge from business through technology through finance and fintech and consulting and enterprise to small business and entrepreneurship. I want to be able to take that and give it away.”
She also wants to give that away to people who look like her.
“That’s kind of what I realized now in my career that not everybody has that confidence, not everybody has that self-efficacy that it takes to be able to do some of the things I’ve done in my career so it‘s so important to me now to be able to reach back and empower women and empower people of color,” she said.
Fraser-Moore spoke with CRN about a host of topics such as the growth in her business, M&A and diversity in tech.
What do you think of all the M&A in the channel right now?
It’s interesting. I think it‘s probably hitting the channel more than it has before, but I’ve lived in a world where that has been pretty normal. Mergers and acquisitions has been something that I think follows me in everything that I do. I started my career in the finance industry, and that‘s when banks were starting to merge. I ended up working for a holding company that actually just purchased other companies and merged them into their framework. A lot of my career was mergers and acquisitions and pulling them into the technology and enterprise solution.
With MSPs, it’s such a strategic way to grow. Mergers and acquisitions sometimes is a scary word, especially for people working within the companies, but they create tons of opportunity to grow more, consolidate resources and operate more efficiently. We’re better together, we’re stronger together. There’s a lot of older MSPs now. I started coding when I was 11 and my CIS (computer information systems) program in the 90s, I remember tech didn‘t look like me, or at least the leadership in tech didn’t look like me. It was usually older white males that I was working with, those older white males are older, older now. So you think about that timeframe, those people are baby boomers or their Gen Xers that are leaving the workforce or at least aging out of the workforce. The opportunity for them to not lose their company but be able to benefit from a M&A at this point in their career where they may not have been able to do that 20 years ago I think is great.
As a woman of color and a CEO, how important is it for you to show others that they can look like you and be in top positions?
It’s extremely important. One of the reasons why I probably say that today is because I didn’t realize how important it was 10 or 20 years ago. Ten years or 20 years ago I was trying to prove myself. I wasn‘t trying to prove myself for myself to myself. I was like, ‘I know I can do this.’ When I walked in the room I just needed to make sure everybody else in the room knew. I was watching a video from 2015 when I was working for a consulting firm internationally and I was going into a room with a CEO and a CRO of this very large tech company. I remember walking out and in this video I say, ‘My clients today told me that my confidence was contagious.’ I was the only minority, the only woman and I was the youngest person in the room. When I looked at this video, I thought, ‘I don’t remember that statement but that‘s pretty cool.’ That’s kind of what I realized now in my career that not everybody has that confidence, not everybody has that self-efficacy that it takes to be able to do some of the things I‘ve done in my career so it’s so important to me now to be able to reach back and empower women and empower people of color. I‘m an immigrant as well so empower immigrants, empower people that may feel intimidated or not suited for a career in technology and innovation. It is attainable, there’s something in there for you, it‘s not just coding in a dark room with headphones on three monitors. We can have more people that look like me in the room and I’ve always made sure that if I am the first one in the room that I‘m not the last one, that I always bring others with me. I’ve served on boards and I may be the only black female on the board but before I leave that board I‘m going to make sure that we have more females so we have more diversity. I may be the first one but I’m not going to be the last.
Lots of talk about an impending recession. How are you helping your clients prepare for an economic downturn?
There are a lot of ways that we‘ve been helping to prepare them. The core of our company and what we do is helping to streamline how companies operate, so it’s helping them be more efficient, helping them automate, helping them get rid of unnecessary systems and streamline into something more succinct that takes less energy, people and effort. People can work on things that actually provide value to the organization versus doing things that computers can do for you. That‘s part of our DNA and what we do for all of our clients. We help them think forward and help them be prepared for recessions and pandemics and things like that, because the technology is what keeps us all connected and keeps us all together. In addition to that, because there’s a billion layoffs right now, we as consultants are able to come in and do staff augmentation when they have missing roles. We can help supplement those roles and those layers of expertise that they need to embed in certain projects. With people losing their jobs and companies scaling back, our teams have come in to do work on some of those projects so their full-time staff can focus on other things while we help them innovate and streamline some of their work.
What are your clients’ biggest pain point right now?
Cybersecurity is huge right now. That is just a given. And then lack of talent. Those are the two top ones that we’ve gotten from our customers, so no one can apparently find this talent that’s being laid off. Since the pandemic, talent has just been a little bit harder to be able to connect with. Our clients really want to make sure that they‘re secure because their environments have changed so much in the last two to three years. They’ve reacted to so much that they‘re trying to be proactive now and say, ‘Okay, so what did we miss? How can we seal some of these holes that we just kind of smoothed over during this time.’ Digital transformation is definitely still huge, that’s the core of the work that we do because, especially in large enterprises, they‘ve been trying to do it for a long time and they haven’t been doing it well because they‘ve been trying to do it cheap and in silos. Digital transformation is overarching, you have to look at how things are being done holistically. I think they’ve done a very good job doing little piecemeal technology stuff over the years, and we’re helping them bring some of that together so they can see the big picture and the change in their organizations.
What about your vendor partners. What do you want to see more of from them?
We love our vendor partners. I feel like we’ve got the support of our vendor partners. They’re making sure that they’re supporting us not only from a vendor partner but they’re also providing resources for us and our teams and they‘re helping us with business development. They’re helping our sales people get the training that they need, they‘re providing all of these services and I think they’re getting a lot better at it than they have over the years. It makes it easier for us to be able to take care of the needs of our customers. There’s been times that my staff has said, ‘We need to work with partners because we need to get this.’ They make this big sigh and start the process, it has been painstaking sometimes over the years due to the supply chain issues or laptop shortages, microchips shortages, all kinds of things. But I think our vendor partners and our distributors all stepped up their game over the last 12 to 24 months.
Since you mentioned supply chain and talent, how are combating those supply chain and talent issues in your own company?
Good question, we’ve been pretty lucky on the talent spectrum. Even though our clients are having challenges finding talent, that wasn’t a part of the business model… but a lot of our clients said, ‘We can’t find talent. I don’t need a whole project around our data at this time, I just need a data engineer that can work with the rest of my team.’ Because we have such a large pool of resources from our consulting bench we’re able to find talent faster than most people. I’m going to blame it on the universe working in my favor. I’ve been in the technology industry for a long time and so I‘ve got a broad span of resources and people outside of our company to help.
What do you think your biggest challenge will be in 2023 and how do you plan on tackling that?
I think our biggest challenge in 2023 is we are scaling pretty quickly, which is a good problem to have. We‘re getting more clients and more contracts. We’ve worked to plant so many seeds and it takes some time to water and nourish them. It‘s at that point where we’ve got tons of opportunities and leads and we‘re hiring more and more people. It’s new for me to be in this phase of growth versus, ‘Oh my gosh, we need more customers.’ I think we‘re at this really interesting place and it’s scary at the same time because I‘ve never had this hypergrowth yet as a CEO, as an entrepreneur, as a woman in business who bootstrapped pretty much everything. I started my company very organically, it’s grown organically, and our growth is still organic. But we have two to three people joining at any given time that and that number is growing and I‘m like, ‘This is weird.’
My last question is what can we expect from Transformation Lead this year?
A lot. I mean, I can‘t even tell you some of the stuff that we’re doing right now. We‘re definitely making our mark on the scene. We’re working with a lot of countries on their innovation of cyber. We’re working with a lot of equipment. We’ve just signed several contracts with Fortune 500 companies to help with their perspectives of how they look at transformation, how they execute, helping change mindsets and streamline how we manage projects and portfolios going forward. One of my goals when I started the company was to change the world on how we do technology. That’s a big, audacious, hairy goal but I feel like it‘s something that we can actually do. This year has been an acceleration year so you’re going to see a lot of us this year in the channel as well, just doing our thing.