President and Founder of Nuvosoft, Inc.
Every day at 4:55 am, France Lamprons father would wake her to help him milk the cows. She would stand up and when he left the house, shed immediately fall back asleep. When she would hear his boots again 20 minutes later shed be up for good and out to the barn. This was the start of a long day of farm chores, napping during classes and homework late at night. Even then, she was headed for techville, even though she didnt know what or where that was. All she knew was that she needed a very different kind of job, with very different hours.
Today, France Lampron, President and Founder of Nuvosoft, Inc., has traveled a long way from her familys dairy farm in Quebec, Canada. Her company Nuvosoft builds state-of-the-art Web-based human resource applications for companies such as State Street Corp., International Data Group, Bose Corp. and others. Rwiz, an SQL reporting tool she authored is in use at Fortune 500 customers across the United States.
Lampron entered McGill University during an economic downturn and pursued an electrical engineering degree because she believed it would provide her with a good job after graduation. She began at McGill with only a rudimentary ability to speak English. In fact, during her first computer class, she heard the word binary but didnt know its meaning in English. When she looked it up later that night, she thought, "Oh no, this is a disaster. Binary is such a basic computer term, what am I going to do?" So she studied late at night, while working on her language skills during the day. Eventually it was the combination of her computer and bilingual skills that landed her a summer job at Genesys Software Systems. When she completed her EE degree, Genesys quickly hired Lampron and sponsored her US work visa.
In college, Lampron had developed an interest in relational database management systems and the language needed to program them SQL (structured query language).
At Genesys, she began working on a project to convert their main applications to work on DB2. At that time, DB2 was the only RDBMS and a lot of companies were reluctant to move to this new technology. In fact, Lampron later noted that many companies jumped to the Web much faster than they moved to relational database platforms.
After four years at Genesys, Lampron went to work for a division of CSPI, called Scanalytics. This job offered the chance to explore the research side of her degree. She spent four years creating a DNA sequencing program. After completing and documenting the program, she was restless for a new challenge.
Meanwhile the PeopleSoft market was growing rapidly. Lampron went to work with her Genesys mentor at a consulting firm called Human Resource Management Consulting. During this time, over weekends and during long nights, she began building what would become Nuvosofts flagship product, Rwiz, a highly regarded easy-to-use report writer for PeopleSoft systems.
Rwiz was and is still needed today because prior to the advent of relational databases in human resource software packages such as PeopleSoft, HR departments were able to run their own reports to answer business questions. When an RDBMS back-end was added to applications such as PeopleSoft, the reports needed to be written in Structured Query Language (SQL) a language few IS folks knew, let alone the HR managers. Rwiz solves this problem for both groups. It brings the ability to write reports back to the HR department and it provides an efficient tool for IS departments who are learning or are fluent in SQL.
When Rwiz was ready, Lampron brought the product to market. She hired a salesperson and another developer and Rwiz started its own growth path. In the meantime, the PeopleSoft market had become so hot, that Lampron added another dimension to Nuvosoft, a consulting arm to build Web-based applications with early career mentor, Linda Koski.
To date, Nuvosoft has been successful, remaining private, profitable and focused. Linda Koski heads HR functional consulting and Lampron heads technical development. Its a partnership that many companies are looking for as they strive to produce collaborative applications requiring input from both HR and IT. Rwiz continues to sell well and has a future development path informed by customers. Collaborative engagements with customers to build Web-based human resources applications are up. The firm is growing and hiring.
Lampron acknowledges that working and growing Nuvosoft in the United States has been a great opportunity. Although forever linked to her family and their beautiful farm in Canada, this year, in a ceremony with several hundred immigrants, she became an American citizen.
1. What is your educational background and what was the most important thing you learned in school?
I earned a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University and a Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts. Learning how computers work inside and out offered me an edge in technology. As part of the Electrical Engineering curriculum at McGill, we built a computer from scratch. This level of technical learning coupled with a higher degree in Computer Science has been invaluable to my career in technology.
2. Who is your hero or mentor and why has she/he been so inspirational to your life?
Linda Koski, a vice president of application services at Genesys, hired me for a summer job and provided me with the opportunity to acquire a number of important professional skills. When I arrived at Genesys, I was very enthusiastic and hungry for experience, but since my prior job experience was from the farm, Koski not only provided me with this key first job, but she also mentored me during this time. Working for her was inspirational because it was the first time I had worked with a successful woman executive in my chosen field. I knew from that point on that many things were possible.
Also, among the most influential people in my life are the wonderful high school teachers that taught me that an education was important and the former bosses that gave me a chance and the confidence to move ahead.
3. What was your first job and what experience did you gain from it?
Genesys hired me as a summer intern during my undergraduate days at McGill University. Genesys was planning to enter the French language market with one of their products and they were looking for an employee with both software and bilingual skills. I went through all the programs in the payroll system application including the user messages, screens and displays and provided the translation. I also programmed the system to work with both the French and English languages.
4. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Founding and self-funding Nuvosoft and making it a successful business is easily my greatest accomplishment to date.
5. What has been your greatest challenge and what did you learn from it?
Hiring the right people for Nuvosoft. This has been and continues to be the biggest challenge in running the business. Its not easy to identify candidates who possess the same passion and belief in quality and customer service as the other employees. To overcome this ongoing challenge, I read constantly, attend seminars and work at my interviewing skills. At first theres a naiveté about hiring. But that ends rather quickly. One not so great hire is all it takes and you realize what a difficult and important task it is to recruit the right employees.
6. What do you see as the single most interesting element of your work?
Working with people in all segments of a company to design software applications that automate difficult or time-consuming processes. The single most interesting challenge continues to be automating a process that the client cant imagine being automated. By working through the development of an application, we help our clients streamline business processes, save time and money, and access strategic information that enables them to effect their companys bottom line.
7. Why did you choose your current career path and if you could do it all over, would you change anything?
I decided to pursue an electrical engineering degree because I believed it would provide me with a good job after graduation. If I had to do it again I would follow the same path, but I would take more business courses.
8. What advances in your field do you envision over the next 10 years?
XML will have the most positive impact in the future. I believe that XML will be to the Web what SQL was to RDBMS it will be the language of the Web.
9. What advice would you give to young women who want to enter into your field?
You must keep learning. Hit the books, read magazines, take courses. Its key to have a hunger for learning. You need to stay on top of technology as much as possible. If you lack the passion for ongoing learning, you wont reach your full potential in any technology field.
10. What strategies do you use to maintain balance in your life?
You have to be willing to turn off the switch when you leave work or go on vacation. Its important to stay healthy and exercise is a key ingredient. I prefer exercise thats fun and social, for example, I play tennis and golf. My attitude is life is too short and you live only once, so you should enjoy everything you do.
WITI would like to thank Ms. Lampron for her words and her time
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