On the circuit
- By Mark Bisnow
- May 16, 2005
George Newstrom thought he had finally earned a golf sabbatical when he left Richmond, Va., last fall after serving as Gov. Mark Warner's technology secretary.
The government gig lasted only two years, but before that he had worked at government contracting giant EDS for 28 years. That included four years as leader of EDS' 12,000-employee Government Services division and another three as chief executive officer of its Asia division in Hong Kong, where he ran a $2 billion operation that spanned seven time zones.
Recruited by Warner in early 2002, Newstrom came straight off a plane from Australia with no time off. So when he finished his tenure last Oct. 1, he raced to Florida and found a home on the seventh hole in the exclusive Ballen Isles community of West Palm Beach, where Venus and Serena Williams live. Although he took up golf just 10 years ago, he's worked his way down to an 8 handicap, plays every day he can and buys a new club each week. "I'm an addict," he admits.
But he had agreed to serve on the board of IMC, based in Reston, Va. At his first board meeting, he heard a presentation about Wisper, a new IMC subsidiary devoted to wireless standard portable electronic records.
It was a natural expansion for IMC, a systems integrator partly focused on capturing, handling and storing documents. IMC had bought Maryland-based Kevrick, a company specializing in medical transcription. IMC's officers had the idea that a claims adjuster or doctor could use a Bluetooth wireless device to allow his comments to be captured, standardized and translated into industry code.
Newstrom asked so many questions that eventually IMC's chief executive officer, Sudhakar Shenoy, asked, "Why don't you just give up your stupid golf and come work for us?" By Nov. 15, Newstrom was president of Wisper. Now, he commutes Monday mornings on the
6 a.m. Independence Air flight from West Palm Beach to Dulles International Airport, arriving at the office by 8:45 a.m.
First, he focused on seeking patents for wireless communication using voice recognition and natural language processing, then on looking for partners, but always evangelizing. He thinks it's crazy that 31 percent of a doctor's time is spent on, as he puts it, "administrivia" rather than patient care.
Meanwhile, he's back in Florida golfing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, sometimes 36 holes a day.
Panos Anastassiadis grew up in Greece, and though he's lived in six other countries during the past three decades, he's always dreamed of getting some rest and recreation on Mount Athos, the famous colony of Greek Orthodox monks on the Aegean Sea. The contemplative tranquility there has become popular with prominent patrons such as Cisco Systems' John Chambers and Britain's Prince Charles.
At last, Anastassiadis has an excuse. The firm he's run since 2001, Cyveillance, based in Rosslyn, Va., is coming off three years of high double-digit growth, and he's ready for a breather. Cyveillance scours the Internet for actionable intelligence for customers like Nextel, Nintendo, Intercontinental and the Defense and Health and Human Services departments.
Although he's never meditated, he will have no excuse not to think deep thoughts while at Mount Athos, where women, electricity and handheld e-mail devices are not allowed.
He sees that as an ideal situation. "What better place to blue-sky the future than the blue and warm waters of a holy place that's been left intact for centuries?" he asks. It's certainly a change from brainstorming in windowless meeting rooms.
Bisnow publishes the Bisnow on Business e-newsletters, including "CIO Weekly," which feature breezy interviews with leaders in a variety of fields. Free subscriptions are available at www.bisnow.com.