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"Newsmakers from Hyderabad"

Reachout's  Exclusive Newsmaker

Mr.Abid Abedi,
CEO of The Adea Group

Abid Abedi, CEO of The Adea Group arrived in the U.S, a teenager with $100 and a suitcase seeking the American dream.In four years he has built a Dallas based Company that has won several awards and is projected to reach $100 Million in sales this Year
DALLAS - His story is one for an "American Dream" type movie. The year is 1983 and eighteen year old Abid Abedi who grew up in Hyderabad, India, arrives in America to attend college with little more than his suitcase in hand, a hundred dollars, and the address of an cousin living in St. Louis, where he planned to stay temporarily before going to Columbia, Missouri to college. The money that was supposed to have been wired from London had not arrived. It was July 13, 1983, Friday the 13th. 

He had learned a great deal about America from books, magazines and movies. Unlike most people in a strange land who would have been fearful, he  was excited to be a part of a country he had only seen in the movies and on TV. Leaving his family behind was not easy. The younger of two children, his parents were not enthusiastic about the idea of Abid setting out for America. His father was the most critical. 

Abid learned quickly how to fend for himself when he arrived in St. Louis to find he was unable to live at his cousin's house and his cousin refused to loan him $1,100 he needed for tuition. He was only eighteen years old with no place to live, with less than $100 in pocket, three sets of clothes and a map of St. Louis. He was put on a bus bound for Columbia, Missouri for college. Abid remained optimistic, believing that America was the land of opportunity and things could only get better. 

Here on an education-related F-1 Visa, Abid knew he needed to focus on completing his education requirements towards his degree in order to find a good career opportunity here in the US. He needed a place to live, an income and a way to study. He was accepted at the University of Missouri and obtained a student loan that would get him through the first semester.He signed a lease for a two bedroom apartment at $375 per month, had no furniture and was really not sure if he would have enough money to keep 
from going hungry.

While at the university he held six part-time jobs to pay for his  college tuition. However, he was creative by working at places where he could study while on the job or eat for free. He first went to Dominos Pizza to apply for a job. While there he was puzzled as to what kind of American restaurant would not have tables for their customers. To work there he needed a car so he bought a 1973 Chevy Nova for $500. As luck would  have it he got in an accident with a brand new red Porsche - and he did not yet have his license or insurance. The accident was a setback financially just as he was beginning to generate income. 

He also worked as a campus security guard and as a clerk in the library's copy center. While there he discovered that the school was paying unusually high prices for office
supplies. He figured out that he could buy the supplies at retail from a nearby Sam's Club in Kansas City to sell to the school, make a healthy profit and still save the college a substantial amount of money. The college was purchasing off a Federal Government's General Services Administration (GSA) contract. He bought a used Ford F-150 for $300,
purchased a truckload of supplies from Sam's, published a catalog that listed everything and marketed it to the buyers at the college. Before long they were purchasing all their supplies from Abid. However, a bureaucrat soon discovered the college was no longer buying off the GSA contract and ordered buyers to redirect purchases to the GSA contract. Abid could not figure out what kind of country this was where organizations like the college were forced to pay more money for merchandise then they had to. With all his hard work and studies he was able to pay his tuition for a year and then finished the remainder of his undergraduate and graduate degrees on a scholarship. 

Abid focused on studying, working, and even at his young age, networking.He understood early the importance of connecting with people, treating them right, helping others and planting the seeds of friendship that would later blossom into business relationships. Abid knew he had to have his own "personal marketing and public relations program" to build 
relationships. He finished college with B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of
Missouri in accounting, specializing in tax accounting.

After graduation Abid went on to hold several management and technical positions in the software development and information systems industries, as well as with government banking and taxation agencies. These included the Federal Reserve and Payless Shoe Stores retail chain where he was the national tax manager. He continued to explore America and build his network of friends and associates. His goal was to own and grow his own business.He told his future wife Seema, who also was here in America, that as 
soon as she graduated and found a career opportunity he would quit his job to start a company. She earned a B.S. degree in business and an MBA from University of Missouri. As soon as she went to work, Abid followed through on his promise, quit his job and started what today is The Adea Group.

Today he is the CEO of the fastest growing technology services firm in the United States and an American citizen. "I have to admit that I did not set a goal to become a CEO, the position found me as I grew the company," said Abid Abedi, CEO of the Adea Group.

Adea began as a technical staffing company. The name was developed by combining "Abid's Idea" into "Adea". He started from scratch and built a small team of people he had worked with previously. Abid took on many roles in the company and enjoyed them immensely. He did some well, others not so well. But Adea began to grow. "As we grew, I recognized the importance of hiring individuals who are smart and have a desire to succeed," said Abedi. "When I surround myself with smart individuals and empower them, it is amazing what can be accomplished."

Building a culture at Adea that blended Eastern values with Western marketing concepts was a priority. Because he had spent half his life  in India and the other half in America he had a vision to see how a blending of the two cultures with a group of people who were masters of their disciplines would create success. It would be explosive. Abid brought  respect to his organization and expected the same from everyone. 

The Adea Group titles are only for people outside the company so they know who to call. Everyone on the inside is treated as a partner. Abid feels he is not running a kindergarten and therefore does not need to have people managing people. He provides the tools and platform for people at Adea to succeed. He enjoys watching others prosper. Abid feels that each of us can overcome incredible challenges when we are focused and have the right tools. In return Abid can be demanding. However, he leads rather than pushes 
and he never asks anyone to  do anything that he would not do personally. Testimony to the success of this culture is employee turnover, which at Adea is less than 10% in an industry known for turnover rates that reach 60%.

 "We hire people who can manage themselves, people who want to succeed and we provide them with best and latest tools to do so," Abedi said. "We depend on each other, our success is their success and our rewards and compensation models are built around this philosophy." 

Abid loves America, people, and technology. In late 1999 he became an American citizen. But most of all he enjoys the challenges of day-to-day life - challenges that demand individuals to be at their best everyday. It is especially close to his heart when these people come from his native country of India looking for opportunities in America. Just last year Adea opened two international offices in India,including one in Hyderabad where he grew up.

"We have a large billboard that sits directly across from the largest technology complex in Hyderabad, the Amsri Plaza, advertising The Adea Group," said Abedi. "Not only does it put us in front of the largest global technology firms in the world who are located there, but my parents say every time they drive by it they feel like a part of me is still there."

He thinks of himself as a career salesman. He sells Adea to clients and prospective employees and he sells America and the American dream to technical professionals in India who he recruits for technical career opportunities here. Abid feels so strongly about this that Adea has a full time hospitality department to make transitions easy and comfortable for his employees from outside the United States. 

He recognizes that his role has evolved in the four short years since founding the Adea Group. In the beginning, it was he and his original team.He expects to have more than 1,000 employees at Adea by the end of the year.The Adea web page barely generated interest a few years ago and today averages 50,000 visits per week. Sales were $1.2 million in 1997, the first full year of operation and the company projects $100 million in 2001. Once a technical staffing company, Adea has evolved into a specialized technology staffing solutions provider.

During the last two years, Adea has won a number of prestigious growth awards for its achievements in competitions sponsored by leading global names like Deloitte & Touch, Arthur Andersen and Sevin Rosen Funds. Abid personally was a finalist in the 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southwest U.S. region. 

As most technology consulting companies "have taken a beating" in the last several months, Adea has posted a 33% increase in headcount from the forth quarter of last year to the first quarter of 2001. How? When a lot of the other companies were focused on business models that could not be sustained,Abid and his team invested in marketing, sales, customer service andconserving cash. At the same time Abid led Adea away from Y2K projects as well as dotcoms that had business models dependent on venture capital
funding rounds. As competitors fail he is looking for acquisition opportunities that can position Adea for market share gain and geographic expansion when the economy rebounds. 

-Howard LaMunion
With special inputs from Mr.Ravi

Reachout's News Bureau
  April' 2001

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