Corrections or additions?
This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the January 23, 2002
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
New CEO at Broadbeam
A lot of companies don’t understand what wireless can
do for them," says Janet L. Boudris, the new CEO at Broadbeam
Corp. Exposure to the possibilities of wireless can be a
moment to the uninitiated, she believes. "Suddenly they realize
that they can reduce cost and increase revenue."
Boudris hopes to create many of these Eureka moments. Late last year
she replaced Sri Sridharan at the top of the team for Broadbeam. As
a former vice president of Cingular Wireless, she aims to leverage
her experience in wireless to promote business-to-business high-value
services. For Broadbeam’s software — "middleware" for
wireless connections between PCs in home offices and laptops and
devices in the field — its impressive client list includes FedEx
Ground, Sears, Oracle, and the company that makes Palm Pilots. Now
Boudris must bring her evangelical message to the small and
companies in order to increase Broadbeam’s market share.
"I am excited. I think it is a great opportunity for me,"
says Boudris. "I also hope I can bring leadership to the company
so we can move forward."
This company is accustomed to moving quickly but, as far as size goes,
has grown at a measured pace. Boris Fridman founded the software
firm in 1988, just nine years after he emigrated from Eastern Europe.
He worked at Applied Data Research and consulted at Bell Labs before
starting his own firm, then known as Nettech Systems, in Paramus.
He had three people then, including himself.
When Fridman moved the firm to Research Park, he had 12 employees
(U.S. 1, June 12, 1993). In 1996 he expanded at Research Park, and
in 1998 he moved several dozen employees to 600 Alexander Road. In
2000 there were 70 employees worldwide, including 45 workers here.
Also that year, Leon Podolsky, co-founder of the former Logic Works
Inc., was made vice president of research and development — and
the name of the company changed from Nettech Systems to Broadbeam.
In 2001 Broadbeam moved to the Patrinely building at 100 College Road
West. It currently has 45 employees, with about 35 of them in
and it supports more than 500 businesses and 170,000 mobile users.
Boudris had worked with founder Boris Fridman as a consultant before
he offered her the CEO’s job. "Janet brings to the company a
of management expertise, wireless experience, and forward thinking,
successful approaches on how to build a business in an emerging
Boudris grew up in Maryland, where her father was a
manufacturing plant supervisor, and she played sports with her two
older brothers. One is vice president of a bank servicing company
and the other is president of a secure systems manufacturing company.
"With older brothers you learn a lot about how men approach
she says. The male sense of competition "does give you a different
perspective," she says.
She majored in political science at the University of Maryland, Class
of 1976, and, intending to go to law school, worked with the public
defenders’ system. "But I wanted to do something broader, to go
into the diplomatic corps or work for a company that expanded in
areas." She earned a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School
of Advanced International Studies. "One of the advantages of going
to Johns Hopkins is the interdisciplinary study — International
law, international economics, and European politics. You try to put
that together so you can develop policies and evaluate programs."
That stood her in good stead when she worked at Western Union, where
she had to talk to engineers and customers to integrate the various
disciplines. At Western Union she was a vice president, and she held
similar positions at EDS Communication Corporation, and Page America.
In 1993 she went to Cingular Wireless (also known as Cingular
Bell South Wireless Data, and RAM Mobile Data. Along the way she
at the Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan Graduate
School of Business.
To keep her Cingular job, she would have had to move to Atlanta, and
her New Jersey roots were strong. Her husband owns his own business
in Ramsey, near their home, and they have two grandchildren who also
live in the state.
"Cingular is a great company and valued what I brought to the
table, but I wanted to move on to a different kind of
she says. "Cingular and I came to an agreement. They hired me
back as a consultant, and I also began to do consulting for other
companies." Boudris had met Fridman 10 years ago when she was
working for Page America. "And when I went to RAM Mobile Data,
Boris was our partner. He hired me to do some strategic work in
and October, and as a result of that, Boris and the board made some
decisions as to where they would like to take the company."
"I had a real advantage that I came in as a consultant and got
to deal with the people at that level. I wasn’t being `pitched.’ I
understand what the company is about."
Cingular was a much larger company and was very consumer focused.
"And my background had been in B-to-B. I really love the
complexity of telecommunications and enterprise systems
Of her predecessor, she points out that he had a more operational
background. "As the company moved forward, it wanted someone from
the outside with a broader scope to streamline the organization, focus
on the customers, and move more rapidly and aggressively."
Sri Sridharan, her predecessor, had been new to the wireless industry;
his previous experience had been with IBM Network Services and as
COO of ServiceNet. At Broadbeam he was president and COO with Fridman
as CEO. "Having a CEO and COO is perhaps too many layers,"
Under the new, more streamlined organization, Fridman gives up his
CEO position and remains board chairman to do mergers and
the COO position was eliminated, and the company is poised for
"The employees are passionate and enthusiastic," says Boudris.
"It is the kind of company you would like to be a part of —
— Barbara Fox
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