Fueled by pandemic lockdowns and a consumer preference for more virtual interactions with businesses, companies are making the choice: Go digital or get left behind.
Consider Jeff (BBA ’93) and Alice Jones (BBA ’94) as two Terry alums well ahead of the curve. Through their multi-cloud consulting firm Ad Victoriam Solutions LLC, the Joneses have helped companies make digital technologies work for their specific businesses since they founded the business in 2014.
At Ad Victoriam Solutions, teams of consultants, developers, and others with cloud and data expertise help clients implement and integrate the Salesforce platform to fit their individual needs. Its clients range from retailers, manufacturers and health care service organizations to software companies and video game developers.
“Digital transformations are what we bring to the table,” Jeff says. “Change is always hard for people. No matter how bad they want it, there’s some level of pain involved with that. Our goal is to help people understand how they should go about that change.”
Early on, Jeff says Ad Victoriam set out to redefine the consulting business.
“Consulting involves long hours and is very intense,” he says. “We wanted to try to bend it out a bit to where we cared about our employees as well as our customers and created an environment conducive for people to thrive.”
To foster that ideal, Ad Victoriam embarked and earned B Lab’s B Corporation certification in 2018. Certified B Corporations are dedicated to being socially responsible and sustainable — from their supply chain to charitable giving — for their customers, employees, environment and community.
Since certification, Ad Victoriam has been busy in this area. The company raised money for disease research, programs to feed the hungry and charities to save homeless animals. The company even sponsors the nonprofit Georgia English Bulldog Rescue, a group that rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes English and French bulldogs.
Its employees work with nonprofits pro bono to help them implement Salesforce and enhance their use of the product. Employees get 40 hours a year off to do volunteer work.
Both Jeff and Alice give personally of their time and resources. They recently partnered with the Terry College faculty to present a “Digital Transformation” technology symposium for business leaders. At UGA, Ad Victoriam is part of the Innovators’ Pledge — a community of innovators, creators, equity holders and entrepreneurs — who made a nonbinding promise to share their future success with the university.
“The University has always been near and dear to us, and we’ve stayed connected over the years,” Alice says.
Jeff is a native of Roswell and majored in international business at Terry, where he met Alice, a native of New Orleans who majored in management information systems. Alice says they both credit Terry with preparing them for the business world.
“Terry was a good school,” she says. “One of the things that we pulled from our time there was learning how to learn. Every day you’re going to learn something new, and when you walk out into the business world you’re going to have to keep learning. It’s OK not to know something, but you have to keep learning and figure it out as you go along.”
After graduation, Jeff worked in sales several years before an interest in technology led him to get an MBA degree, with an MIS focus, at Georgia State. His MBA led him to EY, where he was an enterprise architect for seven years, followed by a nearly seven-year stint at Innovative Architects. There he rose to COO and eventually became president at the IT consulting firm.
But in 2014 he took a leap of faith, quitting his job at Innovative Architects to launch their business — Ad Victoriam Solutions. He says Alice came up with the company’s name, which in Latin means “to victory.”
For the first three years, Jeff never took a salary. Alice worked full time in the tech industry to support Jeff and their two daughters, the oldest who is now a UGA student with plans to study pharmaceutical sciences, while the youngest is now in high school.
“Starting out of the gates, you wear a lot of hats,” he says. “You’re the head accountant. You’re the head sales guy. You’re the head of HR. You’re the head recruiter, and you work seven days a week and 10- to 12-hour days. It’s exhilarating, but it’s also high stress because you don’t know how the story is going to end.
“Anybody who says it’s not scary must not be working it right because from May until December of that first year, we sold $30,000,” says Jeff. “But then the following year, from January to December, we hit seven figures.”
Today, Ad Victoriam has just over 100 employees and garnered national recognition among companies in the software tech services industry. In 2020, for the second straight year, it appeared on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies.
The magazine ranked the company in 2020 at No. 2,167, with 195 percent growth.
Ad Victoriam is training the next generation of workers through its Elevate Program, which recruits recent college graduates and students in their final semester interested in technology. Those selected undergo a rigorous training program preparing them for the consulting ranks. Many of those candidates the company hires come from UGA, Jeff says.
“It’s a way for us to bring in young talent, train them, and get them on the right career path from the beginning,” he says. “It’s because a lot of the technologies that we’re using are new, and it’s hard to find someone with 10 years of experience. So, we’re building that experience in the people that we’re bringing on board.”
Jeff says the company continues to focus on commerce, both B2B and B2C. He’s not sure if he’d ever take Ad Victoriam public, and he never says never when it comes to possibly selling the business. “We have to always keep that option on the table, especially as a privately-held business,” he says, adding, “neither of our daughters has expressed an interest in taking over the business — they have other interests.”
What he does know is he will keep moving ahead with the same grit that got Ad Victoriam to this spot.
“I’ve still got a whiteboard with the word ‘determination’ written across the top,” he says. “It takes hustle and determination, a vision of where you want to go, the wisdom to know how to get there, and the strength to endure the challenges you’ll encounter as you push forward.”