“Follow your gut; it’s usually a pretty good predictor of future events.”

Nir Orbach, president and CEO of Illumiti, shares the secrets to his success

Nir Orbach, president and CEO.

Are you in or are you out? This is the question Nir Orbach, president and CEO of the systems integration and management consulting firm Illumiti, asks himself when he’s expanding his business. With a strong focus on emerging markets, Illumiti helps clients implement enterprise management and business intelligence software. Headquartered in Ontario, Illumiti also maintains offices in Calgary, Denver, Boston, Houston, and Zurich. The majority of its clients are in Canada and the United States, and the company is looking to grow its market share and increase its presence in these countries. Further expansion is planned in the UK and Latin America, where it is working with partners to enhance its local capability.

Advantage: How did you launch your company?
Nir Orbach: Previously, I had been a partner in an IT company. After we had gotten clients ready for 2000, we experienced a downturn in the sector. Most IT companies did. The company was being wound down, but I still saw a need in the marketplace. I decided to offer the services I felt were needed, and I built a team of primarily independent contractors. My secret was to pay them more than market value. I quickly built a good reputation in the market because I had the best talent. And the best talent meant the best service for my customers.

What qualities did you look for when building your team?
They had to have the same values that I have. They had to have a passion for customer service. And they had to have understanding that building long-term relationships is the key to creating a sustainable and thriving business. I looked for alignment of vision and values. They had to be pragmatic, and they had to care that the solution they were providing customers really worked and was the best solution, as opposed to simply delivering a solution.

You launched your company in 2000. What did you do to face the tough economic climate of 2007 and 2008?
When the economy is struggling, that is the time to be industry specific in your focus instead of just broad selling. It’s time to be zoned into your industry and take it vertical. And it’s the time to work to become the leader in your industry. And that is exactly what we did. During 2007 and 2008, the resource sector was able to withstand the downturn. These companies had been part of our business, so we dialed into what they needed and cranked up our efforts when the economy started to hurt.

How do you grow globally?
The team is important. It’s all about finding the right people. We are in the consulting business, so our service is our people and our time. Also, you have to look at your industry vertically. In each sector where we play, we look for a clear strength. That drives lead generation, both through word of mouth and our multifaceted marketing efforts.

You recently received some great accolades from Branham. What does this mean to you?
It means that we are doing things in a way that the market appreciates and recognizes. Most importantly, it means our customers are benefiting from our services and are able to purchase more services. It’s a win-win.

Why do you believe you’ve succeeded?
People are the number-one reason companies will succeed. You’re only as good as your team. As a leader, you have to have persistence even in a tough market. You need toughness to get through difficult times. And you need to be willing to challenge yourself to stay competitive and challenge yourself to always do better. Our successes have come due to the lack of fear of investing in something new in order to kick off a new division. It takes guts to go in willing to invest a significant amount of money. Also, you have to have the staying power. I’ve tried testing the waters gently only to realize that you need to be all in or all out. Luckily, I’ve made more good decisions than bad ones!