Episode #195: Interview with Alessandra Lezama, AbacusNext CEO

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Building technology companies is in Alessandra's DNA, as she has led transformational changes as CEO of three previous companies. Since joining Abacus in 2013, she has propelled the business from a $5 million on-prem legal case management software offering to the fully integrated technology suite it is today. Alessandra has driven the company through this transformative shift at an industry­-focused pace, taking advantage of the company's 30-plus years of experience and evolving its products into a mature, robust portfolio. Alessandra is an entrepreneurial CEO, COO, and Executive Vice President with a legacy as a 'Rain-Maker', and has enjoyed a high impact career in Telecom, Datacenter, Managed Services and other technology and non-technology companies, taking dysfunctional companies and turning them into a superbly functioning, highly profitable organizations.

Ed and Ron were honored to interview Alessandra Lezama, CEO of AbacusNext—a sponsor of The Soul of Enterprise. Alessandra possesses strategic hands-on leadership skills, drawing on extensive cross-industry experience, sustainable strategies, thorough growth and market analysis, and a focus on process improvement. She has extensive and significant expertise in start-up and under-performing businesses, revitalizing organizations and scaling business operations cost effectively. She has built high-performance teams, developed executive-level client relations, and drove top and bottom-line growth. She has a consistent record in building, and turning around, private equity backed business, ranging in size up to $33 million. She enjoys being part of, as well as leading, a successful and productive team, and thrives in highly pressurized and challenging working environments. 

Ed’s Questions

San Diego Business Journal honored Alessandra as the most admired CEO of 2018, out of 100 CEOs nominated!

What are some items not in your Bio, were you born in Spain? How many languages do you speak?

The company’s tag line is “Take the bull by the horns,” because Alessandra’s father was a bull fighter.

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What is “Technology as a Service,” and how does it manifest itself at AbacusNext?

You’re almost becoming an App store for professional organizations so they can work more seamlessly than they have in the past?

There seems to have been an overemphasis on strategy in the past decade, and one things that is coming up more and more in talks I give around the world is Peter Drucker’s great quote, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Looking at your website, the emphasis on culture comes up over and over. What is the importance of culture, and the role of a leader with respect to making that culture happen, in an organization?

What is it about the hiring process that’s different when hiring for culture? Is it just a gut feel, or are there certain questions you ask to ascertain if they’ll fit from a cultural perspective?

Who is a hero of yours, and why are they are a hero?

Ron’s Questions

AbacusNext origins started in the legal profession, is that right?

What are some of the major challenges and opportunities in the legal sector these days?

  1. Cybersecurity and compliance
  2. Time
  3. Resources
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What are the challenges and opportunities in the accounting sector?

  1. Cybersecurity and compliance
  2. Workflow for ongoing relationships

How do you see the diffusion of being in the cloud among law and accounting firms?

We have an axiom here that growth without profit can be perilous. As CEO, how do you manage the trade-off, in your strategy and even in your mind, between growth and profitability?

How do you see blockchain technology impacting the professions in the future?

What would be your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

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Ed Kless

Ed Kless joined Sage in July of 2003 and is currently the senior director of partner development and strategy. He develops and delivers curriculum for Sage business partners on the art and practice of small business consulting. Courses include: Sage Consulting Academy, Business Strategy and Customer Experience Workshops. Ed is the author of The Soul of Enterprise: Dialogues on Business in the Knowledge Economy, a compendium of a few of the episodes of his VoiceAmerica talk-show The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy with Ron Baker, founder of the VeraSage Institute where Ed is also a senior fellow.