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An Architect of Opportunity
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
Where Bentley trustee Robert Badavas ’74 ventures, change is sure to follow.
As CFO at Chipcom, a network computing company, he spearheaded a successful IPO, the launch of international operations, and the firm’s acquisition by 3Com Corp. in 1995. Badavas moved on to become president and CEO at wireless application software company Cerulean Technology, which was acquired by Aether Systems in 2000. In 2003, after leading change over two years as senior partner and COO at Atlas Venture, he joined technical staffing firm TAC Worldwide. His work has helped the company redefine itself after some challenging years.
“When TAC Worldwide came calling, I thought it was an intriguing opportunity, given the era and the history of the staffing industry,” says Badavas, whose first post was executive vice president and CFO. The self-described “product guy” was eager to dive into the service industry and “help transform the way a company delivers value to clients.”
The Art of Agility
Like most of the technical staffing industry, TAC Worldwide flourished during the Y2K era, as companies sought tech gurus to retool computing systems for the new millennium. But by the time Badavas arrived, the Internet bubble had burst and TAC Worldwide was scouting for its next big opportunity.
“My first job was to help the company complete its turnaround effort and help the stockholder family achieve a successful exit,” he says. “That happened in 2005, when TAC Worldwide was acquired by a privately held Japanese business services firm.”
A year later, the similarly family-owned firm in Japan was sold to Goodwill Group. As president and CEO, Badavas oversaw North American and emerging operations in China and India, including sales, marketing, finance, control, corporate development, and information systems. Under his leadership, TAC Worldwide completed its transition to a strategic partnership model, with approximately $600 million in revenues, 550 full-time employees, and 7,000 associates on assignment.
The company maintains high-level work-force management and advisory relationships with Fortune 1000 and mid-size corporate clients, according to Badavas. “We help clients develop a complete work-force strategy,” he explains. “We believe that a contingent work force should be part of the strategy for most companies.”
For instance, he says, an engineering firm might consider product research and development to be its primary function. The core group of engineers who perform that function should be permanent staff, but supplemented with TAC associates. In addition, other tasks such as writing technical manuals could be hired and managed by TAC Worldwide.
Temporary labor is not a new idea; the innovation is having a material component of contingent labor as part of the company ecosystem. Indeed, reports Badavas, the need for work-force agility is one of the top three concerns among CEOs.
When the Bentley accountancy alumnus isn’t overseeing change in the business world, he plays a prominent role in helping several area nonprofits thrive. In addition serving on the Bentley board, Badavas is board chairman of the Learning Center for the Deaf and an executive committee member for the board at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Badavas’s work for the latter institution helped him earn an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2003. The competitive award recognizes U.S. citizens from various backgrounds for outstanding efforts to perpetuate ethnic diversity and community. Recipient names are entered into the Congressional Record.
“Earning that award was one of the proudest moments of my life,” he says. Medal winners, who include Bentley Chancellor and President Emeritus Gregory H. Adamian, hail from government, business, the military, medicine, the arts, and philanthropic organizations.
“I am affiliated with an excellent group of nonprofits,” Badavas adds. “This award acknowledged the compilation of what we’ve achieved.”
Bentley University’s Co-Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences Daniel Everett talked with us recently about a wide range of topics, including being featured in a new book by Tom Wolfe, two of his own upcoming books, the importance of studying the origins of language, and the value of a fusion approach to business education.