Nothin’ but Net: Taking Teams and Companies to the Next Level
Chestnut Street Ventures sat down with Bruce Golboro (Wharton ’78), COO of ITData. ITData is a leading full-service IT management group for businesses and nonprofits.
Bruce has long combined his talent for managing operations with a passion for fostering organizational growth and leading teams to their best. Two key inspirations for his success: a business failure and a basketball legend.
What is your Penn connection?
I graduated from Wharton as an undergraduate. Most importantly, that’s where I met my wife, Susan. Much of my undergraduate experience was focused on playing for the rugby team (and dating!). After graduating, I attended Northwestern Law School. Though I’m a member of the Illinois, New Jersey & Pennsylvania bars, I’ve always been in business rather than practicing law.
What got you into being an entrepreneur?
While I was a partner in large, international consulting firms, I was always the first to volunteer to start up a new division or develop a new product. After almost 20 years, one of my friends who was consulting with us asked me to join him to grow his practice with the Federal government. Since he had special status as a disabled veteran (which qualifies for government set-aside contracts), I thought that it would be a perfect fit.
BOY WAS I WRONG! We missed the market with our specific targeting plan and ran through our funding. That led me to realize that it’s a great challenge to grow a successful company from inception, and I began to focus on helping startups turn around into sustainable, profitable enterprises.
What is ITData?
We are a 20-year-old, full-service technology company focused on supporting businesses and nonprofits in the mid-Atlantic region. Our tech solutions assist nonprofits in development, programs, and client service — with projects ranging from strategic planning to help desk support. We have clients in healthcare, nonprofits, education, retail, and government enterprise, with a very short list including The Annenberg Foundation, Binswanger, and The Philadelphia Foundation.
What is your role at ITData?
I’m the COO. My role is to build the company infrastructure that will support hyper-growth (over 50% revenue growth over the next three years) with new products and services.
Tell me about your philosophy of leadership.
I think my passions for playing basketball and leading top teams in challenging situations are very related. “Nothin’ but Net” is what I strive for. I live by the words of NBA Hall of Fame basketball coach Phil Jackson: “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.”
Gaining this trust requires hands-on leadership. I learned that lesson very early in my career. During my first summer of graduate school, I was the Chief Porter in an office building. I managed a crew of eight who were all at least twice my age. I motivated them to work for “The Kid” by leaving my office to clean the toilets or paint the walls when they were busy on other projects.
Once trust emerged, we developed into the most efficient team in the owners’ entire portfolio! I will never forget that experience. It’s just like hitting a shot with “Nothin’ but Net.” Whether you’re shooting hoops or running a company, a great leader has to establish that trust, find the inspiration, and foster it among all team members.