For Trace3 CEO Rich Fennessy, the essential components for empowering clients are people and partnerships, along with a willingness to continually evolve.
AFTER MORE THAN THREE DECADES in the tech industry, Rich Fennessy has seen a lot. When he initially engaged with Trace3 during his recruitment, he saw far more than just a company on the rise. He saw an enterprise that operated an innovation-led business model, something fairly rare outside of Silicon Valley.
“The thing that stood out for me is that, at its core, Trace3 really does believe that all possibilities live in technology,” Fennessy told CEO Magazine in an exclusive interview. “In every meeting I had during the interview process, the Trace3 team radiated energy and excitement around innovation and emerging tech. I was inspired by their perspective, and to be part of that mindset was exciting to me.”
Fennessy took over as Trace3’s CEO nearly two years ago, leaving Swiss-based cybersecurity firm Kudelski Security. During his four-year tenure as CEO there, he helped transform the company from a small regional player into a global provider of cybersecurity solutions and services. His experience in security has not been lost in his transition to Trace3.
Founded in Irvine, California, in 2002, Trace3 is a next-gen technology solutions provider serving clients across the United States. The company provides security, networking, hybrid cloud and data intelligence solutions and services to enterprise and mid-market clients. In 2020, Trace3 reported sales of $1.5 billion in gross revenue through the daily dedication of its nearly 1,000 employees. Security and cloud were two areas of the fastest growth for Trace3—markedly influenced by the global pandemic.
A STEADYING HAND
Fennessy took on the Trace3 role in September 2019, shortly before COVID-19 emerged and shook the world as a whole. Fennessy’s experience, however, prepared him to provide a calming, strategic and steadying hand throughout the uncertainty.
“I’ve spent my whole life in the IT industry because it’s ever-evolving and it rewards those companies that have the ability to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate tomorrow,” he said. “Successful companies embrace change and are ready to deal with new realities as they appear.”
This includes helping clients deal with what’s stemmed from the pandemic, like the rapid expansion of remote workforces and increased cybersecurity threats. These immediate client needs have grown into mid-term support focused on helping clients improve operational efficiencies as many industries experienced a COVID-driven slowdown in top-line revenues.
THE RIGHT STUFF
Fennessy told CEO Magazine that one of his first initiatives with any new company is to conduct a 90-day SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) assessment by interviewing employees, clients and partners.
“My focus is on learning the true experience for employees working for the company or clients interacting with the company,” he said. “All companies have things they can do better, and as you get started with a new company, it’s helpful to have clarity on those opportunities of improvement.”
Based on the initial SWOT, one of his first major leadership decisions was to replace the core ERP/CRM system the company uses to operate its business. Team leaders reviewed and tweaked business processes over a 10-month preparation phase before deploying the new software system. The refined processes and integrated software will now enable faster growth and streamline operations.
With Trace3’s operational systems upgraded and standardized, Fennessy is now focused on adding new capabilities, expanding geographic coverage, and enhancing client relationships to fuel growth for the company. Late last year, Trace3 acquired Groupware Technology, an IT solutions provider based in Campbell, California. Fennessy said the acquisition will significantly expand Trace3’s capabilities and its geographical footprint.
“We’re based in SoCal and didn’t have much of a presence in northern California, so Groupware, whose main focus is in the Silicon Valley area, was a perfect addition to Trace3,” he explained. “The opportunity now becomes: How do you integrate two companies together and make 1+1 equal 3 as we deliver more collective value to our clients? It’s an opportunity we embrace.”
Like so many other players in the technology industry, Trace3 has undergone a significant evolution since its launch in2002. According to Fennessy, the company initially focused on helping clients build and maintain data centers and corporate networks. Over the last decade, Trace3 has pivoted into new areas like cybersecurity, data intelligence and cloud computing.
“A company like ours is all about capabilities,” Fennessy said. “Do we have the capabilities our clients need, not only today, but over the next 12 to 18 months?”
Fennessy knows that a leader is only as good as the people around him. He sees the power in Trace3’s people—and knows how important it is for them to share a vision. Together, they can bring multiple perspectives on the challenges clients are facing, and also have the foresight to know that things will evolve and change along the way.
PEOPLE FUEL SUCCESS
In support of Trace3’s people, the company launched an internal training initiative last year called the Legends Project. Fennessy described the project as a systemic program designed to attract the highest quality engineering talent to the company while incentivizing, encouraging, and rewarding existing employees to continually enhance their skills. The goal is to promote a mindset of continuous improvement while building best-in-class technical skills within the company.
“The challenges companies face in getting technology into their business environment are increasingly complex, but atTrace3 we really do believe that all possibilities live in technology,” he concluded. “For us, it’s about three things. First, doing great things for our clients and helping them achieve their business outcomes. Second, doing great things for our partners, and helping them deliver new solutions to market. And third, doing great things for our teammates, so they’re motivated to be part of the Trace3 journey.”
By Anthony Moran