Chief Executive Officer
Industry: Product Development - Engineering
In the late 90s, Mike Walraven was working in the Advanced Development Group at Ford Motor Company and found himself frustrated with how long it took to develop new vehicles. Walraven realized that development efforts were taking too long, costing too much money and product development teams were often not aligned with the goals of the company or department.
“During my career, I had seen this occur somewhat in small teams. I noticed that this effect appeared to be magnified as team sizes grew. The disparate values and cultures of the larger teams created more frequent barriers to communication, incompatibilities conflict and less success overall,” said Walraven.
He set out to improve these processes by launching Syncroness, Inc. in 1998 with Mark Henault, who is now the Chief Technology Officer of the company. Over time, Walraven has worn many hats at the company, including trainer, HR, IT, mechanical engineer, sales and CEO.
“From the inception of the company, my focus has remained on maintaining the culture of Syncroness, ensuring that our company keeps its core values while enhancing the skills and demeanor needed to advance the company forward,” said Walraven.
Syncroness is not solely a product development company. With profound expertise in highly-regulated industries, the company leverages knowledge to transfer proven processes into success that spans across industries and into a multitude of market segments. The company also offers additional options for customers, including traditional engineering services and SOW/Project-based engineering. The expansion led to Syncroness being acquired in 2017 by Alten, a large multinational company. Being part of Alten, Syncroness was able to tap into the aerospace and medical device markets.
According to Walraven, he has learned many lessons along the way, but the most prominent lesson was learning how to manage his fear. “The ability to overcome your fears allows you to lead,” he said. “Fear is both a powerful motivator and inhibitor for people. If you learn to picture what you want, not what you fear, then success will follow.”
Success has followed Walraven throughout the years, leading to honors such as receiving the Small Business of the Year in 2016 by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Inc. 5000 award eight times. The company has also been named a top 250 Private Company by ColoradoBiz Magazine multiple years in a row and has been recognized as the Denver Posts’ Top Workplace for several years.
According to his colleagues, Walraven has been a core part of Syncroness’ success because he is committed to providing personal development opportunities for employees. His primary goal in the future is to continue learning, being open to change and embracing perseverance to guide him in his everyday work.
For his leadership and success in the product development industry, Walraven has earned a spot as a Titan 100.
Greatest Leadership Lesson
Learn how to manage your fear. Doing so allows you to lead. Fear is a powerful motivator and inhibitor for people. If you learn to picture what you want, not what you fear, success will follow.
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