Exeleon Magazine

Avis Yates Rivers: Empowering Companies and Individuals to Take Lead in the IT Industry

Avis Yates Rivers_Exeleon Magazine

The business world is all about tactics and strategy. A business can only attain success when both these techniques are adequately applied to business practices. And for a leader, it means having a visionary mindset and a go-getter personality that delivers persistent and consistent efforts over time, especially when unprecedented times are changing every facet of industries.

Avis Yates Rivers is a perfect example of such a go-getter personality and has been a successful tech entrepreneur for over 30 years in the IT industry. She is recognized as a sought-after business leader, nationally recognized thought leader, social entrepreneur, and a keynote speaker.

Additionally, Avis has also been a long-time advocate for minority and women-owned businesses and has served in many leadership positions across national organizations such as NMSDC and WBENC. For her tremendous work, Avis has been bestowed with the Entrepreneur of the Year, Woman of Distinction, the Shirley Chisholm Award for Business, Top 10 Women in Technology, and Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, along with White House Champion of Change in STEM honor.

The Humble Beginnings

Avis Yates Rivers grew up in New York City and was one of the six children in her family. She displayed signs of having a go-getter personality right from a young age alongside the potential of finding opportunities. She credits this realization as a crucial time during her upbringing that helped her to tackle future challenges.

Due to financial hurdles, Avis was the only one who could attend a city college among her siblings. Seizing this educational opportunity led her to secure a job with Exxon Office Systems in their sales training program. She quckly rose to the rank of Account Executive by successfully marketing Exxon’s early technology products.

Avis worked with Exxon for a solid eleven years, and her knowledge base only expanded during that timeframe. She went on to earn an Executive Management Certificate at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. She also attended the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth Executive Management Program.

In the early 80s, Exxon decided to quit its Office Systems business. With the company’s exit from the market, Avis quickly realized her potential; if she could sell for a major company, she can definitely sell for her own company. Thus, Avis decided to branch out on her own, and form her first company, Technology Concepts Group Intl (TCGi).

Leading TCGi

TCGi was formed from a spinoff of a leasing division of Bank of America. When the division was not able to fit the needs of BoA any longer, it provided a ready-made customer base for Avis to take over. During that time, Avis shook hands with HP and began leasing computer hardware, software, and other central office equipment.

Later down the line, Avis realized that while business needs hardware-related products and services, they also need help managing the whole process. Capitalizing on the opportunity, she concentrated on moving TCGi’s ventures according to the needs of the changing market and strategically led the firm to become asset management and procurement solutions provider. Today, the organization provides technology-driven strategies to other companies to drive costs and risks out of the procurement process through a collaborative, consultative approach.

In her role as the Chief Relationship Officer at TCGi, Avis Yates Rivers ensures the viability and sustainability of the company. She spends much time covering RFPs, bids, and business presentations while the company’s business operations are catered to forming a consultative relationship with the customers.

The consultative relationship spans across three robust pillars:

  • Complete analyses and understanding of customers’ spend data
  • Guiding customer on how to optimize their spending
  • Making recommendations for process improvement and costs saving

Pivoting Around the Pandemic

Last year, Avis participated and was one of the winners in a Pivot Champs challenge as part of the Diversity Derby Business Summit. Therein, she enumerated the COVID-19 challenges and how TCGi mitigated them. Avis won because she understood the constantly changing business world and that anticipation of the future is the only move that can drive sustainability.

Avis deduced the need for more robust cybersecurity solutions by observing social distancing, lockdowns, and work-from-home conditions. She also examined the number of cyber-attacks and the way companies were attacked. Hence, she partnered with software companies that had solutions which no one else had to offer. Her move soon provided an opportunity for TCGi to deliver solutions that were new and addressed the growing threat.

When it comes to the internal operations, the pandemic did halt the company’s working pipeline of in-person meetings at business conferences and match-maker events to build a base of new customers. However, TCGi took technology as an ally and took on the virtual tasks to drive business value. Virtual-oriented tasks strengthened the technology infrastructure of TCGi and helped the company set up three new tech platforms. Such investment became a core part of the company’s rebound efforts and positioned it for tremendous growth.

Empowering Aspiring Women Leaders

Being a technology leader, motivational speaker, and diversity advocate, Avis has gone through almost every walk of life. As such, she guides young and aspiring women leaders to create a niche in their respective markets. According to her, it doesn’t matter whether your business is women-owned or offering services similar to 50 other companies. Unless and until you find a niche in the market, you are not going to achieve sustainability.

In order to achieve the same, Avis says that young aspirants can connect with like-minded partners. Together, involved parties can complement each other’s vision and create a niche for the market. She also guides to keep an eye on SBA centers and influential organizations such as WBENC and NCWIT.

Becoming the Voice of Change

As far as the future is concerned, Avis Yates Rivers is following in the footsteps of prominent industry leaders to become a figure of her organization. While she wants to continue to build a business, she also wants to move to other roles besides running the day-to-day operations of the company.

Avis wants to be the face of TCGi and intends on increasing women’s participation and people of color in tech. Her book Necessary Inclusion: Embracing the Changing Faces of Technology touches upon these challenges and provides a road map to solving this ever-expanding problem. She is also looking forward to building up the TCGi Foundation to offer scholarships to deserving young people of color to pursue tech education and STEM careers.

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