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Fireside chat with Lee J

Who is Lee?

Father, Grandfather, mentor, Independent Corporate Board director at PROS Holdings, and non-profit at SEARCH Homeless Services. I also serve on the advisory boards of Pulsely, Inc. and Ally Energy. I am a Special Advisor to FTI Consulting’s DEI practice. I am a keynote speaker, author, avid golfer and I LOVE live theater.

Tell us more about your role in PROS.

PROS stands for PRofit Optimization Software. We help companies control BOTH sides of the margin equation – cost and price – and to drive profitable growth. Our target customer is any company that wants to improve their gross margin. In a recent ROI study conducted with 131 PROS customers, we found that on average customers were able to improve margin by 500 basis points behind revenue increases of +8% and productivity increases of +67%. PROS employs experience, focus, and knowledge to develop algorhthms and AI to help businesses digitally transform their sales process.
As an independent director, I work as a team with the rest of the board to provide a sounding board and thought partner to the CEO and C-suite. The board provides strategic and governance oversight.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

For me, the challenge (opportunity) is to continue to grow my knowledge of the tech industry. I grew up in the energy industry where there is a very different business model, language and revenue structure. The greatest rewards for me occur when I can leverage my diverse business background to challenge ideas or uncover value that was not previously recognized.

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

Not a thing. My career path took me from being a logistics officer and paratrooper in the Army to a business development executive and a diversity and inclusion leader for an energy giant…and I even dabbled in live theater along the way. I have been fortunate to learn, from and contribute across a wide range of fields . All required me to accumulate and apply different skill sets. All created new opportunities to learn and then share those learnings with colleagues and mentees.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

Like any thriving organization, we continue to evolve. PROS is entering its 4th generation of maturity. In our first generation, we invented the category of Revenue Management for airlines, with our first customer being Texas-based Southwest Airlines. In our second generation, we expanded to other industries, such as Oil & Gas, Distribution, and Healthcare. In our third generation we moved to the cloud and became a SaaS company, a transition we are just completing. Now, in our fourth generation, our Total Addressable Market includes any company that wants to improve their gross margin. PROS technologies enable brands of any type to gain a deeper understanding of their markets and their customers, allowing them to surface the most relevant offers at the right price point to each and every buyer. So, we help create a more efficient, effective selling cycle.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

The pandemic has pushed people to use technology more intuitively. What makes that situation even more compelling in today’s age is the changing dynamic of where and how the customer chooses to engage; mobile, desk top, phone, face to face, virtual. Our technology encourages and supports that. We facilitate easy engagement with customers regardless of which channel they use to engage.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Machine Learning and Neural Networks, which are both subset technologies of Artificial Intelligence, have had a massive impact on our business because they have been such significant value drivers for our customers. With PROS, we use a hill-climbing algorithm similar to what is used by mapping systems so that performance is lightning fast because we are only charting connected pricing relationships. We are doing nearly 2 TRILLION calculations a year which is more than Mastercard, more than Visa, even more than all the tweets on Twitter. All those calculations mean that we have incredible training sets for our AI, and it’s the size of the training dataset that makes AI smart.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

Give and Take by Adam Grant, Leading Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by Rohini Anand, and The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.

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