By Tim Hayes
It is easy to pick up on the passion that Barbara VanKirk, CEO and President of IQ Inc., exudes when she discusses the past, present and future of the company that she founded in 1994. “Nothing can ever replace one-to-one human contact. Talk more, text less – that’s a personal goal this year, to be more mindful of whether my words and actions are projecting the right messages. It’s really about refining all the pieces that have been put in place over the last 25 years.” IQ Inc., which celebrates its silver anniversary in business this year, continues to emphasize people and culture, over technical abilities.
IQ Inc. works with clients on end-to-end software development projects, from full stack development to systems integration, and from testing to certification support. This work is performed at its state-of-the-art development facility or by embedding IQ Inc. consultants on-site to work with a client’s staff.
VanKirk and her team pay particular attention to the communications required to ensure that the entire organization remains informed about risks, upsides and impact of the scope and feature changes that can occur. In order to achieve key software development objectives, IQ Inc. rigorously documents progress and continuously communicates with clients as their work progresses.
In a field where technical expertise may seem to be the focal point of performance and achievement, IQ Inc. takes another view. Culture is everything. The IQ culture places people skills above technical skills. The belief behind this approach is nothing more, and nothing less, than this – when you can cooperate, respect, collaborate, speak honestly and trust each other, the business results will naturally follow.
“Over the next 25 years we want to continue to mentor, encourage, and lead our team forward,” said VanKirk.
“We don’t see ourselves as either a contractor or consultant, but a partner with our clients, based on frequent and open communication.
It’s about changing the future, providing expertise to our clients by staying ahead of technology, and setting the path. My success is when the answers don’t come from me but from the individuals here.”
The world of technology and software applications has changed dramatically in a quarter-century, but from its Monroeville headquarters, IQ has not only kept pace with that rate of change, but has remained ahead of it in many ways. As the next chapter opens for the firm, VanKirk expresses a firmly held faith in the team she has assembled – from our most seasoned employee, who has been an IQ consultant for 22 years, to the newly graduating, joining our team this summer.
“We hear a lot about millennials, and how they want to make the world a better place to live,” she noted. “They care about the future, the environment. We need to embrace that, set that path for them creatively to follow. We can learn from them how to work better at cross-generational levels, how to better engage everyone by drawing on the millennials’ preference of collaboration. The world is the playground of this generation. If the opportunity for impact is there, they should embrace it and we should do it together.”
Over the past few years, IQ Inc. has doubled in size as measured by the number of employees, which totals 80 currently. It also achieved a doubling of its revenues, serving anywhere from 12 to 25 client projects at any one time. Those clients range from startups to major corporations, based both in the U.S. and internationally. But VanKirk said the secret to IQ’s success has never been about its size. Instead, it has always centered around the impact the company makes – both internally as its team expands, and on its clients and the communities it serves.
“IQ began with the notion of trying to serve companies who focused on engineered products,” she concluded. “Security, robotics, artificial intelligence – all of these are happening right here in Pittsburgh. That means the same mission exists for us to make a positive impact. I see IQ 25 years from now as being just as ready to adapt and grow, and making an impact, as it was when I started it in 1994.”