Innovative, computer savvy, and on the cutting edge. Rudy Puryear is all of these things and more.
After graduating from NC State in Computer Science in 1974, Puryear went on to become one of the top consultants in the world. As president and CEO, he led Lante Corporation, a leading Internet consulting company that he joined in 1999, in becoming a nearly $4 billion public company. With headquarters based in Chicago, Lante, which created eMarkets - powerful online communities that unite multiple buyers and multiple sellers within a market or industry segment - was serving clients in thirteen offices in the United States and Asia, including an office in Charlotte, when Puryear was interviewed for this story in 2000.
Originally from Raleigh, Puryear became interested in computer science while he was a sophomore in high school. At 15 he began working at Synergetics, an architecture engineering firm, where he became involved with programming. When the time came to go to college, computer science seemed the obvious choice.
While at NC State, Puryear worked full-time while maintaining a full course load. He describes his typical day in college as taking back-to-back classes in the morning so that he could go to work at noon and put in a full day. He would then 'camp out' at the computer center doing homework and projects, many times until midnight, before going home to get some sleep and do the same thing the next day.
While this lifestyle may not sound like that of a typical college student, Puryear's accomplishments are a testament to the fact that he is far from typical. The experience he gained working at Synergetics from 1967-73 was only the beginning of a whirlwind ride of amazing strides in the consulting field.
After leaving Synergetics, Puryear became Stone School Supply's first data processing manager. He converted the entire company to computers from 1973-75. He then went on to be the first director of information systems for the North Carolina Judicial Department from 1976-80, where he designed and built the first computer system for the Administrative Office of the Courts. In 1981, he moved to Boston to work for Nolan, Norton & Company, an information technology strategy consulting firm. By 1983, he had moved to Chicago, where he was managing director running consulting for the company. He then went to Andersen Consulting in 1991 as managing partner of IT strategy, advancing to global managing partner of e-commerce, responsible for the overall development and direction of Andersen's e-commerce strategy. Under his direction, the company grew to have a $425 million consulting practice.
Coming to Lante in 1999 gave Puryear the opportunity to build something again.
"The nimbleness and responsiveness to the marketplace of a relatively small firm is very exciting," he said. "I have the opportunity to work with leading-edge companies to build leading-edge solutions to tackle leading-edge problems." The challenge in the business lies in leading a people-intensive company that is growing at 30 percent a quarter. The ever changing world of e-commerce leaves many twists and turns along the road, he said, noting that the future of e-commerce was full of the wildest possibilities. At the present he believes the world is in the middle of a transition from an industrial economy to an electronic economy. Technology will be the tool that will enable us to move forward.
Puryear's accomplishments have made him a 'wanted man' in a world of advancing technology. He regularly speaks before businesses around the world, and his insights on e-business have been featured in business publications such as Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes and Financial Times. In June 2000, he was recognized as number seven in Consulting Magazine's Top 25 Consultants in the World. Under his direction, Lante was recently ranked seventh in Sm@rt Reseller's Smart 100 companies.
What lies ahead for Rudy Puryear? There seems to be no limit to his innovative ideas and determination to continue creating new advances and improvements to e-business.
UPDATE - Since this feature was originally written in 2000, Puryear has left Lante and is now director of IT Practice with Bain & Co. in Chicago.
- posted 2000 - Ken Tate-