Profile: Ed Pfromer '04 and Patrick Strong '04
'04 EMBA alums lead FTI's tech rebirth
2002, Ed Pfromer and Patrick Strong enrolled
in the Kellogg School's Executive
MBA Program under different circumstances that would draw
'04 attended Kellogg just after he had sold his information
technology consulting company. Strong was the typical EMBA
student, studying while working at global business advisory
FTI Consulting. He was pursuing a new field: electronic discovery,
which combines computer science with problem solving to uncover
and analyze evidence at the center of legal disputes or government
1996 to 1999 Strong '04 and his colleagues were focused on
supporting law firms with computer technology used at trials.
He served as architect and chief programmer in the development
of courtroom presentation software called TrialMax. By 2001,
however, the firm's technology practice began to shift. During
the dot-com boom, Strong and colleagues Bill Adams and Seth
Rierson saw an opportunity to improve how FTI managed clients'
information and processes. By offering document review software
through a Web browser, they could strengthen client relationships
and create a more predictable business. Clients would pay
a monthly fee to manipulate their own data maintained on servers
at FTI, which, by managing the data in-house, would be positioned
to provide hourly consulting services. The business began
to take off about the time Strong enrolled at Kellogg.
shared with me his experiences at FTI, and I thought my background
might be applicable to some of the challenges the company
was facing," Pfromer recalls. That became most evident one
weekend when Strong arrived in Evanston, only to be summoned
to the company's Maryland data center: While one of FTI's
most prominent clients was using the software, the system
went offline for an extended period. When Strong returned
for class the next weekend, he discussed the situation with
Pfromer, who saw that FTI was "in a world of hurt." The two
discussed the firm throughout the EMBA program, and upon graduation
Strong invited Pfromer to join the company.
sat down and identified holes that needed to be filled operationally,"
Pfromer says. FTI's technology practice was in transition,
having grown to about 40 people while earning $25 million
in revenue. "The model was changing from a pure hours-based
business to one that is now more 50/50 products and services."
The company was increasing its dedication to client support,
software marketing, sales and development.
and Strong drew a map of what a $50-$100 million company would
look like, creating a new organizational structure. They applied
principles learned at Kellogg and presented ideas to senior
management. "Ed and I rely on a big portion of the Kellogg
curriculum, whether it's strategy, leadership skills or organization
design," Strong says.
team-oriented aspects [of the Kellogg program] really allowed
us to put together a rationale and get people to buy into
it," Pfromer adds. "We helped restructure the practice after
graduation and have been seeing incredible return on that
effort." Today, Strong and Pfromer are senior managing directors
of FTI's technology practice. Strong leads the unit's global
sales team and recently directed the group's five-year strategic
plan. Pfromer leads the practice's marketing team and has
initiated a major push to extend FTI's reach through a global
Kellogg alumni put the right processes and people into place
at a time when the industry was rapidly growing. "In 2000
when the business started," says Strong, "we knew about the
Internet but we had no idea what the future would bring. [Now]
you have an explosion in e-mail, from being something people
did at home to being central to every executive's day."
2007, revenues for the FTI technology practice were $162 million,
handily surpassing previous targets. "One of the reasons we're
growing so rapidly," Strong notes, "is that corporations were
caught off guard by the requirements of electronic discovery.
They are now scrambling to implement new software and learn
rules and procedures. Our group is at the center of all of