DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARDS
ENTREPRENEURIAL ALUMNI AWARD
T. Russell Shields, ’67
Cofounder & Chairman, Ygomi LLC
For more than 39 years, T. Russell Shields, AM ’63, MBA ’67, has a track record of not only successfully building companies, but also defining new industries as well. In 1995, Wired magazine wrote that he “seems to be perpetually in the right place for change.”
Wired was right. As a teenager, Shields worked in a bank that had just installed its first computer. Working on his master’s degree in history at the University of Chicago, he ran the data processing operations for the National Opinion Research Center and, later, the American Hospital Association.
He earned his MBA in 1967. Two years later, he created SEI—Shields Enterprises International, an IT consulting firm that developed a reputation for tackling complex technology issues with quality results and innovation.
In the 1970s, the U.S. Veterans Administration and TransUnion hired SEI to develop their mainframe business systems. Time Life, TV Guide, National Geographic, and Guideposts Publishers retained SEI to develop their real-time fulfillment systems.
In the 1980s, SEI developed a revolutionary in-store system that supported all of the basic functions for McDonald’s restaurants, and opened offices in New York and Los Angeles. In 1980, Shields founded Cellular Business Systems, the first firm to provide billing services to the emerging cell phone industry. Within nine months, the firm captured 90 percent of the market.
He later helped launch NAVTEQ, the digital mapmaker, as the demand for Internet-based data exploded.
In 2000, he cofounded Ygomi LLC, an IT incubator company that launched:
* Verety, whose employees take orders off site for drive-through restaurants so food workers can concentrate on service.
* Connexis, whose employees provide help to drivers in their cars — for instance, providing traffic information or dispatching emergency roadside service.
* And ArrayComm, which provides software that continually maps the radio frequency environment to create a better link for customers using wireless networks.
Ygomi employs more than 1,900 people across Europe, Asia, and the United States, and has $100 million in assets.