The Human Side

Joseph Melookaran describes the power of putting people first when crafting IT solutions

“Our strategy is to seek the opportunity to provide solutions. Between shifting market conditions and evolving customer preferences, we are always looking for ways to improve and innovate solution offerings.” —Joseph Melookaran

When JMA was founded in 1994 as a public assurance business, Joseph Melookaran determined the company would set itself apart with a simple characteristic: passion. By putting together a stellar group of people with a depth of expertise and, as importantly, good attitudes, the management team went about building a business around exceptional customer service. It’s a simple philosophy, but one the company puts forward directly in every encounter. Melookaran, JMA Information Technology’s president, spoke with Profile about this unique approach.

One look at JMA IT’s website or collatoral and it’s clear you’re not branded like many other IT consultancies. There is a very human touch to it. Is this a reflection on building your business on passion and culture?

Joseph Melookaran: Yes, I think the personal, engaging approach we have is a reflection of the culture that we have and the environment that we have created from the very get-go. Our mission is to be a company that has high customer satisfaction and also wants to attract the best talent as an employer of choice. Offering the best solutions, good communication with the client, and timely delivery—all of those things are important. But we go a step further in making sure that we do everything with passion, and with the goal of delivering an exceptional customer experience.

During what were the economy’s worst three years in recent history, JMA IT experienced tremendous revenue growth.
During what were the economy’s worst three years in recent history, JMA IT experienced tremendous revenue growth.

Your founding philosophies include having fun and not taking yourselves too seriously. Does that tie in with your efforts to be an employer of choice?

Melookaran: Absolutely. I had a conversation with an employee who had recently been promoted into a different division. This was her first job after relocating to Kansas City, and she had probably been with us for about 10 months and had already received her second promotion. She told me, “I love to work for this company. The way JMA treats employees as partners is truly how it’s laid out in the company’s philosophies. I could work here my entire life.” That made me happy. Those philosophies are the pillars that created an ecosystem where people can work as a family. They like to come to work in the morning.

How do you ensure that your customers remain the focus of all that high-achieving energy?

Melookaran: We are in a market that provides solutions to customers, and without satisfied customers, we don’t have a business. Customer satisfaction is measured on every project, and we have a report-card system that we use. Each quarter, we have a quality-control meeting where all of the board members and division heads are present, and they review these report cards. If one client has some dissatisfaction, we will inquire into why it happened and how we can make it better, so it will not happen again. Through our customer satisfaction metrics and feedback, we are ready to do whatever it takes to make sure that the customer experience continues to be excellent.

How do you stay one step ahead in a sector that is always changing?

Melookaran: One thing we do is to look at the market trends. We also look at what the competition is doing, because our position against the competition is very important to us. There is also a lot of brainstorming as to how we can improve customers’ satisfaction, how we can take the pain points out of their situations, and address the dilemmas they are facing. I think how we make a difference is by thinking ahead of them and coming up with some options and choices. We are in the solution business, and technology is very fast paced. Whoever can think through problems and come up with solutions for the customer will win contracts, get a good reputation, and build strong relationships.