Global In Scope, Local At Heart

In five years, Accion Labs has grown from three employees in a “rustic” Upper St. Clair office park to more than 1,000 on four continents. Accion Labs is an information technology services company that creates software for clients in the healthcare, supply chain logistics and financial industries, as well as other fields. The company also helps place candidates in a wide variety of technology positions. There are 22 employees at the Upper St. Clair office and about 40 embedded with various client offices downtown. Accion Labs has expanded to include more than 900 employees in offices across the United States and around the world including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Britain. Sandesh Sukumaran, Vice President for Talent Acquisition, says Upper St. Clair is an ideal location for the company’s headquarters because the talent pool is very good. Operations Manager Amy Halter added that the office also has easy access to downtown Pittsburgh. “It has all the ingredients for a tech center,” Sukumaran says. Sukumaran, along with Chief Executive Officer Kinesh Doshi and Senior Vice President for Sales Tony Kernan, created Accion Labs in 2011. They all had experience in the information technology industry, but Kernan says nobody takes their success for granted. “We still have a startup mentality,” he says. “We don’t feel like we’ve arrived. I still walk in here as nervous as I was the first day.” Clients usually come to Accion Labs with a software design and ask the company to develop, implement and test it. “We help clients realize their ideas,” Sukumaran says. Although Accion Labs’ employees work in offices around the world, innovations in communications technology allow clients to hold meetings every morning with Accion Labs’ software engineers. This means the firm can be very responsive to a client’s needs, which is important because product requirements can change in the span of a few hours. “The client is still the captain of the ship,” Sukumaran says. “You can almost touch and feel employees, even if they aren’t sitting across the table from you.” Halter says being responsive is essential for success. “In the technology industry, time is like dog years,” she says. “One hour for us feels more like seven hours.” Despite the company’s success, Sukumaran notes that there is still a lot to accomplish. Future goals include opening a new office in Europe and staying on the cutting edge of technology. Accion Labs created an innovation center last year and Kernan says the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Asustoh Bijoor, will help clients understand where new technologies are going. Sukumaran also wants the company to contribute more open-source software, so that anyone can use Accion Labs’ ideas. Other plans include expanding the company’s presence in the United States and allowing entrepreneurs to open “franchises” under the Accion Labs name. Kernan, Halter and Sukumaran have learned several lessons in the last five years. Kernan says it’s important to discover which opportunities are worth pursuing and which are not. “It can be painful to walk away from an opportunity, but it can be more painful to chase one you shouldn’t,” he explains. He and Halter agree that it’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employees at Accion Labs’ Upper St. Clair office sometimes play cornhole outside or let their children run wild in the courtyard when they visit on “take your child to work” day. Instead of worrying about the competition, Sukumaran suggests that entrepreneurs focus on what they can accomplish. Kernan, Halter and Sukumaran also agree that successful business leaders have to continue learning and be open to advice. Finally, Halter says the journey is more important than the destination: “Focus on where you are right now, not where you hope to be. Otherwise, you might slip and fall or stumble.” n

ARTICLESJennifer Wells