50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2016

Sharp Decisions: Investing in One of America’s Greatest Untapped Resources to Provide Clients with Enhanced Solutions – Our Veterans


“Sharp Decisions is an innovative global technology solutions firm with offices spanning across the United States, as well as in Canada and the U.K.”

 In the 1980s and 90s, women in the tech space like Sharp Decisions Founder and CEO Karen Ross were unheard of – women that broke through glass ceilings in an industry dominated by men. Women just didn’t start and operate tech companies, let alone two tech companies like Karen Ross. Her unusual path to growing Sharp Decisions from nothing into $70 million a year in revenue with sheer will, determination and the willingness to take risks no one else would dream of taking is what made her stand out then, and still today.

The company, founded in 1990, began as a technology consulting company focused on the financial services and manufacturing industries. But after the recession in 2008, Karen knew she needed to adapt and follow the changing trends. That’s when she initiated a push toward healthcare companies. Now, Sharp Decisions focuses on Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Government and Media & Telecommunications, among others.

In March 2013, again recognizing the need to adapt to an ever-changing technology environment, Sharp Decisions made the investment to overhaul the landscape of the technology solutions business by infusing life into the industry’s talent pool with its industry-first V.E.T.S. (Vocation, Education and Training for Service members) Program. Its core principle utilizes the extensive skill sets of U.S. Armed Forces veterans, and military spouses, as the lifeblood of that revitalization.

It’s the type of new solution that accentuates Sharp Decisions’ role as a partner – something the company believes is essential to building in order to offer the best service. “We implement solutions for our clients that reflect our talent and creativity  by exploring innovative approaches to achieve success, exceeding expectations with integrity, commitment, flexibility and total accountability. We partner with and create relationships with various hardware and software vendors to offer full service solutions”, said Karen.

Sharp Decisions is an award winning Certified Woman Owned Business and serves its clients with its award winning V.E.T.S. Program.

The V.E.T.S. Program
The V.E.T.S. Program has broken the mold for veterans’ employment efforts by making platoon-based training and deployments central to its program’s mission. V.E.T.S. provides boot camp-like, client-tailored corporate technology training to tech-savvy transitioning and industry-experienced veterans, supplementing their existing industry skills with specific, hands-on training to meet client needs.

“The program is free of charge to the veteran – we never touch any of their G.I. Bill benefits. We also pay them throughout the 4-6 week boot camp with benefits. Once training is complete, veterans are deployed as Sharp Decisions employees to clients in squads of three or more, emulating the unit-based culture that they’ve grown accustomed to in the military,” explained Karen. The program empowers them to use previously acquired skills as both members and leaders of a team. Sharp Decisions’ V.E.T.S. Program operates without any government funding of any kind; it is all privately funded by Sharp Decisions.“Our track record of success in all system lifecycle phases including project management, execution, and implementation has made Sharp Decisions a leading provider to diverse corporations around the world. Now with our V.E.T.S. Program, we serve as an alternative to immigration issues and out sourced projects. We use our best resources and our own people: men and women that have laid their lives down in service to America.

 These resources – our veterans – are more cost-effective over the life of the project due to no time delays, due to onsite resources that produce quick turnarounds. Veterans are also team-oriented individuals, tasked with making snap judgment decisions. These invaluable traits enable them to complete tasks in quick fashion, often with plenty of wiggle room to make necessary adjustments. Our unique squad method has resulted in every V.E.T.S.-only project being completed on time or ahead of schedule and on or below budget,” she added.

Solution Offerings
Sharp Decisions provides clients with expert solutions across the entire technology spectrum for a variety of today’s cutting edge business applications. The company offers industry-leading expertise in the following disciplines:

  • Project Management
  • Business and Technology SMEs
  • Application Development
  • Quality Assurance
  • Big Data & Business Intelligence
  • Packaged Applications
  • Cloud Architecture

And its Strategic Consulting Services deliver the experience and expertise needed to tackle your most pressing challenges. It also provides expert technology consulting services in:

Business & Technology  Strategy Program & Project Management Governance & Compliance

V.E.T.S. Program – Harmonic Case Study

Harmonic Business Need
Harmonic, the worldwide leader in video delivery infrastructure for emerging television and video services needed a team of QA specialists to augment their existing Systems Integration test team to meet the deadlines of a key release needed for several large-scale sales  commitments.

Sharp Decisions’ Solution

Harmonic engaged the Sharp Decisions V.E.T.S. Program to provide a specially-trained team of QA automation test developers and a test lead to increase the capacity of their existing Systems Integration testing for their ElectraX, NMX and VOS video processing systems. The V.E.T.S team was able to develop and automated testing within the client’s existing custom automation framework while successfully integrating with Harmonic’s existing QA team. The V.E.T.S. team was also involved in testing real-time low latency processing  of high volumes of data in a distributed system environment.

The Sharp Decisions V.E.T.S. team increased the capacity and effectiveness of the existing QA staff. This enabled Harmonic to meet the release schedule for its next generation video processing system, which was key to fulfilling several large customer commitments.

Client Testimonial
“At Harmonic, our goal is to hire smart people who do great work and these veterans clearly meet that standard. We are partnering with the V.E.T.S. Program because veterans have special traits that we value on our team: exceptional work ethic, teamwork and grace under pressure. The V.E.T.S. Program is not just good for veterans – it is good for our business.”– Chris Pattinson, Vice President of Global Software Quality Assurance at Harmonic.

Knowing the Key Executive

Karen Ross, Founder & CEO-  The success of Sharp Decisions CEO Karen Ross’ business approach is obvious. One of New York City’s largest women-owned businesses, Sharp Decisions has approximately five hundred employees, generates around $70 million in annual revenue, and has made the Inc. 500|5000 list of the nation’s fastest- growing, privately held companies. But whatever the coming business trends may be, Karen will adapt the way she always has and maintain her unique approach.

 “I’m a little off the beaten path. I don’t play by the same procedure or process as other executives. I don’t follow the rules. They don’t work well for me because, in building a business, rules are meant to be broken. I turn things upside down and make things happen; it’s what I do best.”

 And for all the success of Sharp Decisions, Karen says she still continues to look for ways to reinvent herself. “Always. Always. Always. You have to reinvent yourself, reinvent the way you do business and reinvent the message you’re delivering. You always have to get ahead of the next thing because sitting idle and comfortable will have you missing out on great new and exciting opportunities.”

 Karen believes to be successful you have to have a true team, as communication and collaboration are critical to any organization. She doesn’t believe ruling with an iron fist is the way to be successful. She fully understands that every job is important in achieving the end goal. The only way for everyone to get there is to work toward the mission together.

“We are passionate about doing right while solving problems for some of the world’s most recognized companies by finding the best fit between people and technology.”