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Georgia MBDA Center’s Students – Where are they Now: Brandon Miller of Clarkston Consulting

Georgia MBDA Center’s Students – Where are they Now

Earlier this year, we produced a series of articles focusing on how your group can employ student workers by utilizing the resources provided by the Georgia Tech Career Center. If you were not able to read those articles, make sure to check them out on our blog. To show you that we practice what we preach, this week, we will be highlighting some of the students that have worked with our centers over the past few years and where they are today.

Brandon Miller

            Brandon graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014 and received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Technology and Management from the Denning Technology and Management Program. Brandon began working with the Centers in 2013 as a summer intern, but his role eventually extended into a year-round position. Brandon’s role focused primarily on project management for the Atlanta MBDA’s healthcare initiatives. Brandon also conducted a number of research projects as well as helping shape social media marketing for the Centers and help cement the role and scope Atlanta MBDA Center internships.

At Georgia Tech, Brandon was very involved on campus. Brandon served as President of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and also served on the Executive Cabinet for Georgia Tech’s orientation program, FASET. In his undergraduate career, Brandon held a number of on-campus jobs including work with the Office of Minority Development as well as his work with the Atlanta MBDA Centers. Brandon also participated in the Co-op program with an Atlanta orthopedics company while an undergrad at Georgia Tech.

Below is what Brandon had to say about working with the Centers:

How would you describe the atmosphere within the Atlanta MBDA Business Center?

At no point did I really feel like an intern. I felt like I was a staff member and an employee. Everyone was great, and I really felt like we were a family after all of the time we spent together on the impactful work that we were doing. I felt like I was entrusted with a lot and given a lot of autonomy to create, try new things, fail, and pivot with a support system in place where I didn’t feel like I was going to mess up at the end of the day. Working there also provided a lot of opportunities. For example, I still have some of the relationships that I made with some of the suppliers and manufacturers that were in the various programs. The Center also sent me to a national conference on supplier diversity which was a really cool experience. Overall, I would say that it was a very unique internship program where I didn’t feel like an intern at all.

Are there any projects from your time as a student assistant that you’re particularly proud of?

What comes to mind is being able to and being entrusted to help develop net, new programs at the Center, whether they exist today or not. It was super cool to be able to create the internship and the ambassador programs at the Center. I was also able to create the HTAC program for healthcare and the CAMP program for manufacturers. I remember making the logos and websites for these programs. It was a great opportunity to be a part of these from their origination and seeing them grow. We also put together a conference for diverse suppliers and manufacturers from all over the country. Knowing that I was able to represent the Center, coordinate the agenda, and get everything together as an undergraduate college student was a fantastic experience.

How did working for the Atlanta MBDA Business Center contribute to your undergraduate career at Georgia Tech and your professional career after graduating?

            I’m currently a consultant for Clarkston Consulting, and I focus on project and program management. I also lead our diversity, equity, and inclusion services (DEI), so how we partner and help our clients in the DEI space. A lot of what I learned with my experience in the Center helped me realize that I did not want to do engineering even though I have a Biomedical Engineering degree. I realized that I really liked working with different companies and different people on different types of projects. My work with the Center was really a launchpad into consulting rather than engineering. I would say that my work was a differentiator as I was coming out of Georgia Tech and starting to interview because a lot of the work that I did was the work that consultants do.

Now that I’m in the DEI consultancy space, I’m having a lot of conversations about supplier diversity and approaches which is what the Centers do. They focus on diverse suppliers and how to get them into the supply chain, so that’s a direct correlation. I also want to mention the project management skills, the sense of autonomy, and being able to coordinate and communicate across different parties, and all of that is a direct correlation to the work that I do now. In hindsight, I realized that this was one of the more impactful experiences when it comes to what my career has turned out to be, and I still go back to different anecdotes and lessons learned from the centers and my internship there even over my co-op which was almost a full-time job.

Top 40 Growth Company Beats All Odds

Just like any other young professional, Tracey Grace was committed to her career and performing with her eye on excellence, as she emerged from the prestigious University of Pittsburgh with an MBA. She has successfully knocked down many barriers as the founder and CEO of IBEX IT Business Experts (IBEX), a training, technology, and professional services firm.

There have been many economic downturns that have forced companies to rethink the ways they approach business. This was the case for a Dutch consulting firm where Grace held several roles, eventually moving up the ranks to become VP. She was challenged to grow the company’s revenues right in the crux of what is known today as The Great Recession. This challenge was met by her fierce tenacity and fervor to succeed. She took the company to record breaking numbers in a new unexplored vertical—IT training and consulting—specifically in the healthcare field right as health systems were migrating to electronic health records.

Although she was producing, the company’s leadership decided this was not a viable growth segment and advised her to refocus. They did not see a valuable future in the Health IT space. This became a pivotal turning point for Grace’s future.  Given the relationships she had formed, and her work ethic, she could not bring herself to sever ties so easily with this newfound customer base who valued her expertise and relied upon her guidance. And this marked the birth of an independent consultancy that would become IBEX IT Business Experts today—an award-winning certified woman, minority-owned small business.

After launching the company, of course, there were growing pains. Navigating as a newly minted entrepreneur is not an easy task. With limited resources Grace gravitated to the federally funded support resources, one of which was the Atlanta MBDA Business Center. “The Atlanta MBDA Business Center was pivotal in sharing information and providing collaboration that helped send me on a strong path forward. At one event the Center referred me to, I reconnected with an acquaintance who referred me to a client that I’m still winning contracts with today,” says Grace. MBDA is the only federal agency tasked with promoting the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses. They provide technical training, market knowledge and insights and networking for nominal fees and in many cases offer free programming designed to provide greater access to capital, contracts and markets.

“We were able to share a poster in the first Poster Walk Competition at an Advanced Manufacturing Summit, and one of the attendees from Chicago came to us and wanted to collaborate on a government contract,” explains Grace. This is a true testament to the importance of the community MBDA cultivates for small minority owned businesses.

“As IBEX continues to grow, we are focused on giving back, keeping in mind our early hardships, we have been able to develop a solution to help enterprises to better engage minority owned businesses through our technically advanced supplier diversity vendor management system, Certifiably Diverse,” says Grace. Within the next five years, IBEX’s intent is to exponentially increase its footprint by introducing proprietary products aimed at both national and international markets.

IBEX was recently selected as one of the 2021 Georgia Fast 40 for middle market growth by Atlanta’s Association for Corporate Growth. The company was invited to be one of three groups on a project with the Department of Transportation, and Ms. Grace was recently named to the board of North Fulton Community Charities. IBEX has retained a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of growing companies for the last three years and is ranked as number 32 for the Inc. list in Georgia. To learn more about IBEX, be sure to check out their website and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

Brain Power to Business Power

Mr. Sridhara Gutti has possessed entrepreneurial ambitions from a young age and was consistently focused on the goal of leveraging his full intellectual potential to work on building something impactful. He started his career in the geospatial field and furthered his education at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Mr. Gutti eventually started his own company, Essnova Solutions, Inc., in 2005, which held the original mission of providing innovative solutions for power companies and utilities.

Mr. Gutti knew he wanted to expand the scope of his business at Essnova past geospatial work, so as the company continued to grow, it further expanded and diversified itself. Today, Essnova provides a wide variety of technology and programmatic support services to the federal government including cloud migration, robotic process automation, human centered design, customer experience and GIS/environmental services. Mr. Gutti takes pride in his team, explaining that Essnova ignores limitations that normally hold companies back and highlighted how his team asks the tough questions in order to move forward and excel for clients.

Mr. Gutti originally came into contact with the Atlanta MBDA Business Center after attending a National Small Business Association Conference in Atlanta, and he began working with the Centers in 2019.

The Atlanta MBDA Centers’ programs and trainings have been a wonderful resource for Essnova. Our company has been fortunate to take part in industry-specific training programs that have helped our business thrive. When things like federal compliance requirements are updated, we know we can count on the support of the MBDA and their larger corporate sponsors to help us get up to speed. We have an ecosystem of resources at our fingertips, and Donna Ennis was a big part of making that happen for Essnova. Our company has the ability to continue learning thanks to the partnerships created by the MBDA. – Mr. Sridhara Gutti

Essnova greatly values its relationship with the Atlanta MBDA Centers, noting the resources provided by the group are invaluable to businesses and their teams. Mr. Gutti also commented on the PPP funding Essnova received through the CARES Act, stating that his company was able to continue to grow and pull in new business in 2020, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Recently, Essnova Solutions was ranked No. 20 on the Financial Times list of Fastest Growing Companies in the Americas. Due to Mr. Gutti and his team’s hard work and aligned vision, Essnova has enjoyed triple-digit growth. Essnova continues to add roles like proposal managers, business development, program managers and technology talent as the company continues to expand in federal contracting, education and commercial, state and local sectors. To further facilitate exponentially growing and expanding services into various federal agencies, Essnova is looking to establish relationships with strong mentors through the SBA Mentor-Protégé program. As far as physical growth goes, Essnova is currently looking to open satellite offices in Washington D.C., Huntsville, Atlanta and, possibly, Colorado.

To learn more about Essnova Solutions and Sridhara Gutti, make sure to visit LinkedIn @Sridhara Gutti and Twitter @SriGutti. Or you can visit essnova.com to learn more about the company!