CEO: David McLaughlin (D Magazine)

Columbia Advisory Group might only be two-and-a-half years old, but the information-technology consulting firm has already worked with more than 300 tech organizations and IT departments. Credit for much of that goes to David McLaughlin, the firm’s 50-year-old founder, and CEO. After co-founding MetaSolv Software during the 1990s tech boom—MetaSolv was sold to Oracle in 2006 for $219 million—the native Texan spent the next few years leading consulting practices for various companies. Eventually, he got together with a group of friends to launch Columbia Advisory Group in 2012. McLaughlin is also a philanthropist, serving as a non-medical board member for the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation. Whether in business with his employees and clients or in his charitable endeavors, he says his biggest impulse is helping people and propelling them toward success. 

First Job

Working for a greenskeeper at a golf course. We weren’t directly supervised, so we had to get things done on our own. 

Current Company Culture

The people who work here are very independent-minded. Even the most junior people need minimal direction and are very self-motivated.

Management Style

I try to do and show the things that I need people to do; let them see that, and then find their own way and own style of doing it.

Success Strategies

The most important thing for our company is to continue to grow and cultivate our future leaders. You have to have the technical background and the communication skills to continue to bring people along. 

LessonsLearned

The things that don’t seem like a great career move or a great career choice can end up being the most fun and interesting things you do. 

Other Careers Considered Careers

I was going to be a military pilot! 

Strengths

My ability to maintain some level of calm whenever everything else is in chaos. I think I’m generally an optimistic and kind person, too. 

Weakness

I think a lot of us technology folks are generally pretty impatient, and it’s something I have to work on. I want things done yesterday. 

Motivation

Solving problems for companies, for investors, making people successful.

Biggest Challenge

Training and bringing along the next generation of senior people. It’s just a different paradigm. 

Family

My wife and I have been married for 20 years and we had one son; he was special needs, and he passed away about 7 years ago. He was sick for many years. It was a huge challenge. 

Best Advice

My dad wasn’t a big fan of quitting anything. Once you commit to something, you stay with it. It seems pretty simple, but it comes into play every day. 

Just For Fun

My wife and I like the outdoors and we hike the mountains with our two Boston Terriers, Chili, and Taco.