Founder and CEO, AHEAD LLC
BSME ’97, UW-Madison
Each year, the College of Engineering recognizes outstanding alumni during Engineers’ Day—a celebration of engineers, held on Homecoming weekend. Dan Adamany is among the engineers we will honor in 2019 at an Oct. 11 banquet.
Since Dan earned his bachelor’s degree in 1997, technology has changed dramatically—and not only has Dan kept pace with that change, he’s leveraged it in AHEAD, the business he founded to help other organizations stay ahead of the information technology curve.
He began his career in sales with IBM, but took an advantage of an opportunity to join EMC Corporation, a 20-year-old technology company with an entrepreneurial feel. With lots of freedom and opportunities to interact regularly with top executives, the company afforded him the ability to excel in his role as a global account manager and to grow professionally.
That’s when the idea for AHEAD began to germinate and he left to found the company in 2007. A dozen years later, AHEAD has 10 offices and 400 employees and develops holistic information technology solutions that fit the unique requirements and constraints of each of its clients. It is a tier-1 advisor to many Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies.
We are honoring Dan as an entrepreneur whose focus on strategy, solutions and technical expertise in enterprise information technology has enabled his company’s success.
Recently, we chatted with him about everything from his memories as a student at UW-Madison to his career and hobbies. Here are his responses to some of our questions.
How did you decide on your major?
Originally I started in engineering mechanics. As I started taking classes, I changed to mechanical engineering because I liked the variety of the classes. I felt that mechanical gave me the broadest platform, since I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.
As a student, how did you spend your free time?
I was on the track team. I had some pole-vaulting scholarships to Division III schools, but I gave those up to go to Madison and I walked on the team. I made the team, but I didn’t travel. I gave up track my junior year to do a co-op for Siemens. I was also in Delta Upsilon.
What advice would you give students in your discipline today?
You picked a great major. Maybe you want to do engineering, maybe you don’t—but right now that doesn’t matter. Try to get experience in different fields, see what various jobs offer, and then pick what you like.
How did your experience in the College of Engineering influence your career?
I did a co-op at Siemens and an internship at Ford Motor Company one summer. The Siemens job was in the sales department and the Ford job was more of a true engineering job. I really liked—I’ll call it consulting sales—at Siemens. When I interviewed for jobs, I interviewed with a lot of different companies that were targeting engineers for their sales programs. Now that I’m running my company, I love hiring engineers because of their ability to solve problems.
Who has played a role in your professional achievements?
I’ve had several different mentors at different stages in my career and I still interact with them today. Both of my parents have played a huge role, but differently. My dad runs a supper club in Green Bay that he took over from his dad. The advice he has given me is as relevant as any advice I’d get on business. On the people side, I talk to my mom, who also has her own business and is schooled in psychology.
What are your hobbies?
Between work and family, that’s keeping me pretty busy. I’m an avid workout guy, and I try to play golf when I can. My wife calls me a tinkerer; I’ve always got a lot of projects going on. And I’ve always loved investing in different businesses and ventures.
Sons Miles, Eli, Theo, and Oliver, and my wife, Kate. She’s awesome. Raising the boys, letting me do what I do. She’s the rock of it all.