Allan Sutherland is the founder and CEO of In-telligent, a personal safety and emergency communications app designed to keep people safer and more informed during crisis situations.
Allan Sutherland: "The idea to start In-telligent came from having spent 20+ years in business, first at a small consulting firm I started while in college, then to a massive accounting firm, and finally as a senior officer of a global manufacturing company. During this time, I traveled for work quite extensively, learning about people and cultures around the world. I came to understand that people everywhere are universally connected by the desire to keep their family and friends safe. When the tragic event on 9/11 happened, the world was caught off-guard. It became starkly apparent that in times of crisis, particularly when something happens that nobody expects, having access to accurate, credible information and an ability to communicate with loved ones was sorely missing. Leveraging the business expertise I developed throughout my career as well as my passion for helping individuals protect important people in their lives, I started In-telligent to fill this critical need for both people and businesses around the world."
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2019?
We want to keep everyone in the world safer during times of crisis. By the end of 2019, I would like our technology to be deployed on at least 2.0 billion devices. While certainly not everyone in the world, 2.0 billion is a great start.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
Superman. He has one mission: keep people everywhere safer. I don’t have his strength, speed or dashing good looks, but I do have an amazing team and an incredible app. So we will call it even!
Q: What is your favorite book?
"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Sounds about right to me.
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
We start every day with a team call first thing in the morning. This is not a recital of our “to do” lists but a time to share with each other successes and failures from the day before, and hopes for the day to come. One thing I’ve learned throughout my career is that people want to be empowered and involved. Closed door meetings are sometimes necessary, but there is no better way to invigorate people than to share and brainstorm with each other to stimulate their creative juices.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
Google, Apple, Microsoft and the other technology titans did the heavy lifting, by creating the Internet and two forums (the App Store and Google Play) that reach almost every person on the planet. By building an app for iOS and Android-powered mobile devices, I knew we could reach out and connect people around the world in seconds. By leveraging the technology of apps we were able to build a platform that (1) makes people notice important communications, (2) automatically groups people in danger areas and (3) automatically translates messages from the language of the sender to the language of the user. Nothing else could do this then – or now – and if your goal is to keep everyone on the planet safer, nothing else was as easy or as hard. Again, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
The best moments all have a common theme: Solving a problem that was previously considered unsolvable.
~ Allan Sutherland
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
Wow. Too many to count! The best moments all have a common theme: Solving a problem that was previously considered unsolvable (truth be told, some of those problems were somewhat self-created). The worst moments all have a common theme as well: Feeling like I am going to let down those that rely on me, or being disappointed when others prove to be human.
An effective leader needs to show strength, but also compassion.
~ Allan Sutherland
Q: Looking back - if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different - what would it be?
Learn to play the piano! Seriously, I would teach the younger me how to have more empathy for others. In looking back on my career, my biggest challenges have come from not understanding the impact of my decisions and actions on others. An effective leader needs to show strength, but also compassion. Empathy ensures that you are balancing the two properly.