How long have you been in business?
I started in 1973. Originally I worked for a small company and was writing operating systems, which was my specialty. I am a nuts-and-bolts kind of engineer.
When did you start your own business?
I started on my own 26 years ago. Originally I consulted on my own. I saved money until I could hire another employee, and then I saved money until I could hire another one. Today we have 140 employees and operate in 13 states. We scatter our excellence over the country!
What sacrifices did you have to make?
I ate beans and rice for a while because you have to fund payroll. I worked for customers during the day and handled the business at night. It seemed like fun at the time. I did not begrudge it.
Did you have any setbacks along the way?
In 2004 we had a large project that shut down, and that caused a slowdown for us. We just do great work, have fun, do interesting projects, and forward the state of the art.
What changes have you seen in the industry?
In the early ’90s, software was being written offshore. So we started focusing on defense. If commercial software is written here, we would love to do business with them.
Did you have a mentor?
I trained horses to raise money for college tuition. I wanted to be a novelist, but I was good at math and science. That is my gift. My uncle suggested I take a computer class, and I found that I enjoyed it. He was my career mentor.
What do you do to mentor others?
I fund several scholarships: a G2 Software Systems Endowed Scholarship at Cal State Long Beach, which supports students majoring in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, plus scholarships for the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Defense. I chair the WID Endowed Scholarship at San Diego State. I support shelters for women. The best antidote to shelters is education. If we build up women when they are young, we won’t need shelters when they are older. I help a lot of people who want to start a business. My door is always open.
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
Seeing the results. Bringing talent together and creating a product that changes the way people do business in a positive way. We are revolutionizing the way we do business.
How do you spend your time away from work?
I like hiking, fishing, a lot of charity flights. I am a pilot, so sometimes I fly kids to camps or to cancer treatments. I sometimes fly blood to remote locations for Angel Flight West. I speak at science days for high schools.
What advice would you give to young women?
This is a wonderful field for women. Don’t give up. There is no physical work. Young women tend to want to run away from it, but they need to keep going. Learn to be assertive and build confidence in yourself.
What do you see in your future?
I have a wonderful staff, so I don’t work as much as I used to. I created an employee stock ownership plan. There are a lot of long-term employees, and they helped build the company, so they should benefit from the proceeds. I am having so much fun that I don’t want to quit.
Photo by Jenny Siegwart