He was young, charismatic, and making great money at a Fortune 500 company. At 23, Detroit-native David Segura was living the good life.
But like so many entrepreneurs, Mr. Segura had fire in his heart and a yearning to do something more. He walked away from his job at Ford Motor Co., where his father and grandfather were both executives, in search of something more personally enriching.
More than a decade later, there's no doubt that he made the right move.
The affable Mr. Segura, founder and CEO of the $107 million company VisionIT, won the Hispanic Business Media 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) award, in a thrilling ceremony at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
"We have been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time," Mr. Segura said. "We are now a destination for top-notch people."
VisionIT, a staffing and service firm based out of Detroit, Michigan, acts as a type of IT general contractor, gathering suppliers together for major companies and government entities.
Formed 11 years ago, VisionIT provides IT staffing, vendor management, and contract services to many Fortune 500 corporations and major government agencies. Segura's clients include EDS, an HP company, as well as the city of New Orleans and Detroit Public Schools.
The company's success has resulted in revenues soaring from about $6 million in 2003 to $107 million in 2007. The company is on track to increase revenues another 10 percent by the end of 2008. With 10 offices nationwide, the company now has 850 employees and through its subcontractors manages more than 1,500 IT professionals.
It's been a dramatic and meteoric rise for Mr. Segura, who started the company with $100, "a prayer," and a defiance of expectations. Mr. Segura, 38, came from a long line of Ford Motor Company executives. His father and grandfather worked more than 70 years combined as managers at the company. The expectations were high.
"They wanted me to be an executive at Ford," Mr. Segura recalled.
For a time, he was set out to follow in their first steps. After earning a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1993, Mr. Segura landed a job at Ford, as Systems Engineer and Project Team Leader.
He was part of a team that wrote the original technology for vendor management software at Ford.
Despite his success, satisfaction remained elusive. He noticed that many Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native-Americans were under-represented in the world of information technology. Somehow, he wanted to reach them.
"I can make a bigger impact in the community," Mr. Segura said.
He began to volunteer his time, teaching technology to inner-city Detroit youth. Eventually he left his job, and with the help of an investor, started VisionIT in 1997.
Through strategic deal-making, VisionIT skyrocketed to phenomenal success through a series of key partnerships, including Ball Park brands, their first major client.
Despite the success, Mr. Segura has not lost sight of his desire to give back. One of his company's main goals is to help minorities understand and master the world of IT through internships, scholarships and hiring practices.
In addition to the work he does through his company, Mr. Segura is also a founder and current vice chairman of the Hispanic IT Executive Council, the country's first professional, senior-level IT organization for Hispanics.
Christine Rice, Mr. Segura's sister, remembers praying with her brother many moons ago before he started the company, as he tried to figure out his calling.
"It has been a tremendous journey," said Ms. Rice, who is president of the company. "Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work. Nothing is easy. It's a sacrifice."
No one knows that better than Mr. Segura. He's battled the odds his whole life. Whether it's being a varsity Hispanic basketball player at his high school or becoming a whiz in the traditionally Hispanic under-represented world of information technology.
"I like breaking stereotypes," he said, with a proud smile.
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