Frank Palermo is the rare blend of business, technology, and creative savvy that was meant for an organization like Virtusa Corporation. In many ways, Palermo—who currently serves as the organization’s executive vice president of telecommunications, media, and technology (TMT) and previously as its head of global digital solutions—is built into the DNA of the company himself. He’s been around since Virtusa’s early days, from a small organization to an over $2 billion business working with some of the world’s largest organizations.
For more than twenty-two years, Palermo has navigated multiple careers within one organization, all while taking the time to mentor and grow promising talent.
The executive might just be the informal “chief DNA officer” at Virtusa—the culture king, of sorts—driving client results through digital transformation while maintaining a focus on teamwork, engineering principles, empathy, and curiosity internally.
The proof is in the pudding. A large US bank tapped Virtusa to help it launch a purely digital online bank with millennial culture in mind.
“This was a bank that was losing market share in their younger segments and really needed to get outside the building a bit to innovate on a next-generation banking platform,” Palermo explains. “We were at the forefront of delivering on that journey.”
Palermo and company assembled a team of two hundred people over six weeks, spread out over five locations, and worked tirelessly over the next thirteen months to deliver over thirteen thousand story points in a completely new, branchless digital bank.
“It was a completely different experience that really looked more at financial planning and the emotional connection between your spending and your saving habits,” the EVP says. “We created what I would call a modern-facing application [for an] entire market where the business needed to grow.”
But it didn’t stop with banking. Virtusa was next able to usher a two-hundred-year-old publisher into the modern age. This heavy lift entailed shifting the company’s product strategy to a more digital online focus and enabling both B2C and B2B capabilities, consolidating a thousand different sites into one unified experience platform with deep personalization capabilities to boot.
Virtusa created a customer data hub that provides a unified 360-degree view of customers and buyers, allowing the publisher to offer more personalized and targeted marketing campaigns to help drive revenue.
Then there is the massive UK-based telco operator for which Virtusa has enabled multiple transformation programs. One of those focused on consolidating over ninety-six customer portals that were the result of numerous acquisitions throughout Europe to provide a singular entry point for all self-service processes.
Palermo’s team was able to completely redesign its quote creation process, moving from a manual twenty-five step process to purely online in just seven clicks. Another transformation focused on creating an omnichannel platform to deliver seamless and consistent customer experience across all buyer journeys by consolidating multiple systems into a single e-commerce solution that increased operational efficiency by 30 percent.
“We reduced the amount of order fallout and dropout in the funnel, really connecting the entire experience to the store,” Palermo says. “You could truly get an omnichannel experience from wherever you started your journey to wherever it ended.”
Going the Extra Mile
As much good as Palermo has brought Virtusa customers, he himself has grown exponentially during his tenure. He’s played five different key roles within the organization, and some serious stamina has been required.
Palermo initially came to the emerging company to help build its tech and software engineering business. He established the first wave of high-tech clients working as a material extension of its product engineering teams.
He quickly realized the broader market opportunity to leverage the depth of knowledge these software relationships had curated and quickly parlayed this to establish its content management, customer experience, business process, and data analytics business from virtually nothing to over $200 million in revenue.
And then the roles just kept ratcheting up. The executive moved onto launching a purely digital business that eventuated into a standalone business of over six thousand people and $350 million in revenue. Then it was onto M&A, something entirely new to him.
In a period when most would have just been working to learn the ropes, Palermo aided the acquisition and integration of the company’s second-largest purchase, a Silicon Valley digital engineering firm whose revenues neared $100 million.
Now, Palermo is leading the telecom, media, and high-tech business unit for North America. And the EVP wants to help clients transform their businesses and stay relevant at a time when more and more legacy institutions are finding themselves unable to stay afloat in the market.
“Typically, large enterprises are still spending a majority of their budgets on keeping the lights on,” Palermo says. “But if you dig into that, there are still a lot of legacy systems that are monolithic, inefficient, and disconnected. That has an impact on your cost of operations.”
The EVP says Virtusa’s secret is modernizing with purpose and efficiency in mind. If a company isn’t able to identify areas where it can shrink costs, his organization knows its opportunity to create meaningful change will be severely compromised.
“How do we apply these engineering principles to get leaner on what it takes to maintain and modernize these legacy systems?” Palermo posits. “If we can help organizations identify those cost opportunities, the savings can fund the innovation side of their business. Sometimes that means going the extra mile on our end, but that’s in our DNA.”
Leadership from the Head and the Heart
Virtusa’s DNA is Palermo’s DNA—and that chemistry has made Virtusa a magnet for talent. The bright minds coming to the organization are doubly aided by their EVP’s capacity for mentorship and driving their own curiosity.
At present, those conversations might include the capacity for artificial intelligence and other language model capabilities, reaping more benefits from cloud computing, and the always-escalating war for data. The point is that two decades in, Palermo is still excited about what he does.
“The journey is never-ending,” Palermo says. “The journey of learning and learning something new. I love challenging both sides of my brain. Life is just more fun when you’re curious.”