From designing shirts back in the 1980s to leading a multimillion-dollar IT company, CNSI Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Adnan Ahmed has come a long way from his college days, making the career climb from casual to corporate seem effortless.
With 13 consecutive years of stable growth and revenues of more than $160 million, CNSI has wedged its way to the top and established itself as a successful company that aligns technology with business objectives for government agencies and commercial enterprises.
While CNSI’s primary focus last year was to “preserve and protect” its position in the government market, the surge of new technologies combined with government-budget constraints pushed the company to be more innovative in its solution approach, Ahmed said in an interview with ExecutiveBiz.
“In addition, we’ve also looked at specific areas within cybersecurity and its growing importance within newer models of technology adoption, and are leveraging our current successes and thought leadership in identity and access management and HSPD-12to expand this line of business and deliver on the growing security needs,” he said.
This year, Ahmed said, the company’s first priority is expanding into other areas of the healthcare markets.
“Our No. 1 goal is to expand our current footprint of healthcare to various other markets,” Ahmed said. “Currently, we’re in the state Medicaid space and now into the health information exchanges space, and we want to take that success into the federal payer market as well as the commercial payer market.”
Two other goals include expanding the company’s cybersecurity expertise and logical access and identity management expertise into various government entities — in helping agencies get past their HSPD-12 requirements to bridging the gap between physical infrastructure and logical system access, Ahmed said.
While Ahmed has a clear vision for CNSI, his personal goals are equally crystallized with his desire to promote learning and healthcare overseas, something he learned from his aunt who reminded him of how important it is to “do good for the world.”
“My personal charter is to promote education and healthcare in some remote areas of Pakistan where I’m originally from, and work with some organizations in the U.S. as well as over there, to expand that personal goal that I have,” Ahmed said.
Having had a prolific career as an executive, Ahmed’s advice to those founding a new company is knowing what they have to offer. In today’s competitive landscape, it is critical anyone in a new company is aware to whom they are selling and how they intend to sell, Ahmed said.
“Don’t be a generalist,” he said. “Be somebody who knows a particular market or a particular technology. Your value proposition has to be firm and you must know exactly what do you bring to the table when you are going in front of a prospective client.”
Throughout his career, Ahmed said he has received useful advice from mentors ranging from his father, to a professor, to his family including his children.
“A common message in their guidance is that one can’t just live in the business world which is only a microcosm of society and the world at large,” he said. ” So I can’t pinpoint one individual, because going through life is a process.”
From designing shirts for fun to heading a company recognized as one of the top 10 healthcare consulting companies, one question remains:
Those ’80s shirts he designed back in the day, which kind were they?
“Don’t go into what kind of designs they were — I would never wear those shirts now. The fad has moved on – but I am sure it will come back,” Ahmed said.
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