Driven (by Paranoia) to Succeed
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If the title of Intel Corp. Chairman Andy Grove's book Only the Paranoid Survive are true words of wisdom from a savvy and seasoned high-tech veteran, then there is another, younger Andy who can take comfort.
"The first feeling I feel when I wake up is paranoid," said Andy Lee, president and CEO of Alorica Inc. "All I can think of is, 'Oh my God, it's another day that I have to get the software to people so they can see how this can help them.'"
That paranoia, or passion, has paid off. Lee, who is only 30 years old, has built one of the CRM industry's fastest growing companies. Alorica, a Chino, Calif.-based firm that offers an enterprisewide, Web-based software and support infrastructure, had revenues of $55 million in 2001, a 25 percent increase over 2000. And Lee says Alorica is poised to surpass that growth rate in 2002 by expanding its technologies and operations, as well extending its CRM solutions to vertical markets.
Customers, including American Express Co., NEC-Mitsubishi Electric Visual Systems Corp., and U.S. Robotics, use Alorica's software to establish contact with its call center to handle back-end fulfillment, including product returns and warranty repair, inventory management, shipping, and post-warranty sales and service.
Lee, who started Alorica (from the Latin word lorica, referring to a knight's shining armor) in 1999 at the age of 27, purchased with his own money the assets of CTX Data Services Inc., a division of CTX International, an international PC and monitor manufacturer.
Lee's parents refused to give him the money to start the business. That was consequential for Lee, who started his career helping his chemist parents run Advanced Membrane Technology Inc., an industrial membrane manufacturer.
"My parents gave me two significant gifts," Lee says. "First, they gave me the ability to work with them after college and the leeway to learn how to manage a business and manage people. And second, they refused to give me the money to start Alorica, but instead gave me the tools to do it on my own."
Lee said working for his parents made him wonder if he affected change because of his ability or because he was the boss's kid. Lee went out on his own to prove himself by founding Emagine studios Inc., a developer of Web-based business applications. After Emagine, Lee became the president of CTX Data Services, where he expanded the company's call center, extended warranty, post-sales, and e-commerce businesses.
When CTX was going through turmoil, Lee purchased the assets of the call center and renamed it Alorica. He had two months of business to remain profitable and claims that he "ran around" for 60 days trying to scrounge up a new account that would help keep the business in the black. At the eleventh hour he closed a deal with Packard Bell.
He says that that passion has permeated Alorica and has helped seal deals with several customers including Packard Bell NEC. Packard Bell executives told Lee that Alorica won them over because Lee showed the most passion to make the project a success.
However, Lee recognizes that passion does not make up for experience. To that end, the youthful Lee says he listens to the invaluable advice and insight generously passed to him from more experienced business leaders--even if it comes in the form of a book title.
NAME: Andy Lee
TITLE: President and CEO, Alorica Inc.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, University of Southern California.
MOst BIZARRE JOB: Testing golf equipment by measuring the distance balls were hit left or right of the center target
MOst RECENT BOOK READ: Lions Don't Need to Roar: Using the Leadership Power of Professional Presence to stand Out, Fit in and Move Ahead, by Debra A. Benton
FAVORITE SPORT: Golf
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