Bruce Lyman leads his employees at Enterprise Information Management, Inc. (EIM) with the stringency of a drill sergeant but the heart of a family man. Lyman, EIM’s chairman and CEO, has served in the US Air Force for the past 23 years, including nine years of active duty and the remaining as an active reservist. He joined EIM when it was just a small process-reengineering consulting firm, and has been the driving force behind its continued growth and success. Now EIM offers a suite of services, including forms automation, case management, and analytics to clients serving in the government, banking, insurance, health-care, and retail industries.
You have said your childhood has greatly shaped the man you are today. In what ways?
My father was in the Air Force, and in early 1976, we left the States and traveled with him. We spent time in Iran, Germany, Southern Italy—it was a whole-new world. There I was riding a camel down the streets of Tehran (Iran) at the age of nine years old. Having been exposed at a very early age to so many different cultures gave me a unique perspective and has been a tremendous asset as we’ve grown EIM to become an international company.
Did you have any clue back in college that you would get into the information-technology field?
Honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I took a lot of classes that exposed me to a variety of different things. I earned a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communications because I love interacting and collaborating with people. I was fortunate that I went to a high school that had a senior class of only 19 people, allowing the teachers to give us personal attention in subjects such as math. My parent’s decision to stay in Italy and let me complete high school with such a good academic program helped me immensely. When I joined the Air Force after college, I was given the opportunity to attend the Air Force’s Institute of Technology, where I concentrated my studies on information- resource management. That’s probably around the time I officially turned into a geek.
How did September 11, 2001 impact your life?
I was walking with a colleague up the stairs of the Pentagon City Mall parking garage across the street from the Pentagon when we heard the engine of a plane. I remember thinking that the plane had to be flying too low to be that loud. Next thing we knew, the plane hit the building. We ran up to the top floor of the parking garage and watched the Pentagon burn. It was chaos. Three months later, I was in uniform in Afghanistan. I have been to Afghanistan and Iraq in uniform 19 times since then.
What did your time in the Air Force teach you about business?
It’s amazing how closely the two connect. The military teaches you about “service above self.” It’s one of our guiding principles at EIM. The military also teaches you a lot about finding ways to get things done. Everything is possible; you just have to find a way to do it. I was fortunate that the Air Force provided many opportunities to refine my leadership skills, discipline, focus, and ability to handle stress. Especially after a hard day, I often find myself thinking about what our service men and women are going through in combat.
Returning from Afghanistan, I witnessed a ceremony of a marine unit sending one of their fallen home. As they placed the flag covered casket on the C-17, two members of the unit knelt down, touched the casket, prayed, and said goodbye. Regardless of how hard my day is, it is nothing compared to what they go through every day. We often get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget how fortunate we are to be able to go home to our families every evening while those brave men and women continue to fight for our freedom.
What do you hope to accomplish within EIM in the future?
We have revolutionized the way business processes can be automated. Our single focus is to use this methodology to help our clients successfully automate hundreds, if not thousands, of business processes. We strive to be the best business process-automation company in the world.