Mandeep Sodhi, president and CEO of IT staffing company Select Source International, is working to expand a cloud-based corporate e-mail storage company he recently acquired. He’s developing a new kind of search tool for employers and job seekers that would incorporate social media and video as a way to help companies and prospective employees get a better idea of whether they would be a good fit for each other.
Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune
Entrepreneur of Year pursues learning, giving back
- Article by: TODD NELSON
- Special to the Star Tribune
- June 10, 2012 - 12:07 PM
Each job offers the chance to learn something, says Mandeep Sodhi, president and CEO of software consulting firm Select Source International and e-mail migration company DataWave in St. Louis Park.
And no job is too big or too small, said Sodhi, who will be recognized Friday as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) at the organization's annual recognition luncheon. The Minneapolis nonprofit offers consulting, training, planning and financial assistance to help minority-owned businesses start and grow.
"The attitude one needs to take is, 'What else did I get out of this job other than whatever salary I brought home?'" said the 49-year-old Sodhi. "Because that, I think, makes who you are. If you're going to do it anyway -- do it with a smile and you learn so much."
That sentiment reflects a great deal about what makes Sodhi a fitting selection as Entrepreneur of the Year, according to Mariana Scott, his MEDA business consultant.
"He is a great businessman but he's even a better person," Scott said. "He's very ethical, very honest, very transparent. This to him is not just about business, it's about conducting business in a way that you create economic development for everyone."
In Sodhi's case, his quest to work and learn has led to opportunities that have been many and varied: delivering pizzas, developing photos and flipping burgers, among other student jobs. Spending more than a decade in the corporate world, at Northwest Airlines, the former Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), and Deloitte. Completing an MBA while working in corporate consulting and also pursuing numerous side ventures, from restaurants to commercial property management.
Sodhi launched Select Source International in 2002. The company offers information technology staffing and project services in application development, middle-ware, database development and enterprise resource planning (ERP) for companies in retail, health care and manufacturing.
Select Source International has offices in several U.S. cities, in Sodhi's native India and the United Kingdom. It has sent consultants to Mexico, India, the Middle East and the United Kingdom. Subsidiary DataWave, which Sodhi acquired a couple of years ago, offers e-mail and data migration, compliance, cyber security and risk management services. Sodhi's companies employ more than 150 people and are projected to generate $15 million in revenue this year.
Sodhi, a longtime MEDA contributor and graduate of his Pacesetter leadership development program, became a client in 2008. While business was flat during the recession, the bigger problem was that large accounts receivable had gone bad, according to Sodhi and Scott.
Help when he needed it
"He had a lot of opportunities to grow the business in 2008 and 2009, but he had some bad receivables that were really crippling him," Scott said. "We helped him at a moment where he needed help, and we knew that he could do it if he could hire the people he needed to do the job."
Sodhi was able to do just that, Scott said, stepping up hiring and rapidly expanding his business after MEDA helped facilitate a loan against the bad receivables.
MEDA also helped Sodhi begin pursuing work with government agencies through the Minnesota Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which MEDA administers.
"We are grateful that he saw the mission of MEDA as something important to him even before he started using our services," said Yvonne Cheung Ho, MEDA's president and CEO. "The economic impact he has provided our community is huge. Again, it's demonstrating the ripple effect of helping an entrepreneur. You invest in one person, but so many people are affected."
MEDA has helped launch more than 472 businesses since its founding in 1971, serving more than 18,500 clients and securing more than $100 million in financing for minority-owned businesses. Its annual survey reports that the minority business community it serves represents $1.1 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 7,500 Minnesotans, half of them minorities.
Helping more people find work is Sodhi's latest goal.
To that end, Sodhi is building an online platform that he calls Jobma to connect job seekers and employers worldwide through social media and multimedia using computers or smart devices. The platform is in testing, and Sodhi is looking at how to make it available to corporate human resources departments.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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