When Mary Louie decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship in 1996, she was a busy mother of two balancing family time with the fast-paced hustle of a San Francisco commuter. Agile and implementing Scrum was not a familiar concept at the time, but the idea of owning her own consulting business was intriguing – especially since she enjoyed the freedom of consulting and a more manageable work-life balance. Hyperdrive Agile doesn’t have a typical “tech biz” story… It’s quite the opposite. It’s the story of a woman who ventured out to create a life that balanced both family and career that, in turn, built a multi-million dollar enterprise.
The road to entrepreneurship is not an easy one. Still, through persistence, hard work, and adaptation, Mary, alongside her husband Stacey, have together created an Agile consulting firm that serves clients from all over the world and, even more importantly, has nurtured a community of friendship, trust, and encouragement. This is how it all began.
Meet Mary Louie - Founder, President, Chief Operating Officer
Mary Louie’s career began as a finance major working at a local bank, where she met her husband, Stacey Louie. It was here that the two would begin their journey as partners in life and business. After getting married, their family grew, and so did their careers. The Louies moved from California’s central valley to the Bay area in 1995, where Mary eventually planted the seeds that would become Hyperdrive Agile.
Their move to the Bay prompted Mary to pivot from the finance world to tech writer/project manager roles at Pacific Bell (now AT&T) and Wells Fargo Bank. She welcomed this career change, diving into the challenges of learning new industries, terms, and systems.
Yet, Mary felt that it was time to break away from the corporate world and pursue a better-balanced life. Remote working had not gained popularity, so the idea to create her own independent consulting company was formed. Mary credits the ideation and eventual development of Hyperdrive Agile as a team effort, encouraged by Stacey and his can-do enthusiasm.
Building a Business and Creating a Team
Like many startups, the initial concept of Hyperdrive Agile was very different from the organization that we know today. In 2009, Mary launched her business – Bratton and Co. – as a software development company, placing programmers and developers into various companies. One client grew to two, then three, then ten! After a few successful years and a unique network of clients, Mary felt that there was an opportunity to grow and change the company’s strategic vision – but how?
At this same time, Stacey was a technology executive heading a company’s product and technology division where he had learned about a new way of working called Agile. IT WAS A GAME-CHANGER! He was finding incredible success implementing this framework with his team and knew that these new methods could drastically change the way companies were run. Stacey enthusiastically shared his findings with Mary, and together, they shifted Bratton’s business focus to realign with Agile professional development and enterprise transformations. Hyperdrive Agile was born.
As the company has developed, so have Mary and Stacey’s roles in leadership. Mary’s strengths in organizing give her the ability to keep the company sprinting forward and ready to adapt to changes. This, coupled with her finance and project management background, has played a vital role in her day-to-day responsibilities. Still, she reiterates that teamwork has been a vital part of her success in running the business. Stacey focuses on working with new clients to implement Agile and supports sales and marketing.
When asked about her experience as a business owner, Mary says, “There’s a lot to learn to know how to grow an idea, and that can be intimidating. You will make mistakes and have those ‘aha!’ moments, but you have to have fun! Remember, it’s about teamwork, figuring it out as you go, and trusting your team when you’re unsure. For example, before we launched AgileCamp, we weren’t sure how it would work, so we partnered with the local Agile community, and now we have thousands of followers who are an extended part of our company.”
Hyperdrive Agile: Changing the Way Professionals Lead
The Louies’ work in Agile/Scrum consulting began in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2016 that Hyperdrive Agile was officially named and launched as a branch of Bratton and Co. Introducing leadership training to their clients launched their consulting work to the next level. Not only did clients see positive business growth, but their culture and team dynamics improved exponentially.
Today, the company includes Agile consulting and multiple Agile leadership certification courses from globally-acclaimed Scrum Alliance, ICAgile, and Scaled Agile. Courses are offered year-round publicly and privately in a live online classroom setting with certified trainers. As a result, thousands of professionals have become certified Agilists through Hyperdrive’s services. In 2020, Hyperdrive expanded its course offerings worldwide and served international students in over 12 countries, including Japan, China, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Spain.
Hyperdrive continues to serve private clients in need of enterprise transformation consulting. From Fortune 100 companies like LinkedIn, Salesforce, Nike, Roche, Exxon Mobil, Prudential Financial, and Visa to new startups across the country, they’ve helped align organizations with new strategies to improve operating models through the strength of proven Agile systems. They are also the masterminds behind AgileCamp, an Agile conference series that began in 2013 that brings Agilist together in cities across the U.S. to learn, explore and network with others in the community.
Looking to the Future
Over the last 13 years, Mary has seen her company shift and grow in ways she never thought possible. What started as a way to have a balanced family and career life has become a trusted resource for thousands of professionals to transform their careers, build their leadership skills and reach their highest potential. Having partnered with global thought leaders like Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, and David Marquet, the Louie duo have curated a practice that helps its clients accomplish near-impossible feats. “While we’ve helped Silicon Valley giants soar, we’ve also helped startups like Chime grow from a handful of people to now having hundreds of staff and hold a multi-billion dollar valuation using Agile operating models,” says Mary.
As we begin 2022, Mary reflects on the future and what that means for Hyperdrive’s business partners, the team, and clients.
“I think one thing we’ve learned is how to stay true to our strategic vision but change and adapt through the external changes that we can and cannot control. You have to think ahead and consider where the industry will be in two, five, or ten years. Will Agile even be around? These are constant questions that we talk about together as a team to navigate through the changing world. But as unpredictable as business can be, we’re ready and excited to continue growing and adapting to what our clients need.”
She continues, “If you have the fortitude or willing to take risks, I would encourage any woman to try this. Test your vision and have the confidence to do it. It’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed, but finding the right balance can open doors to new opportunities and happiness. I had my daughter coloring next to me while on client calls. It’s not easy, but you find creative solutions to balance work and family life. When I look back, I’ve been blessed and I have no regrets.”
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