A Special Coastlines Series on Gaucho Business Leaders and Visionaries Pamela Lopker ’77 President and Chairman of QAD, Inc.
By Marge Perko
Coastlines is proud to present the Gaucho Grown series, featuring the vision, achievements and real-world wisdom of Gaucho business leaders.
We lead this series with a special feature on Pamela Lopker ’77—founder, chairman and president of the award-winning QAD, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise software and services designed for global manufacturing. The company is based in Santa Barbara, California.
One of the pioneers of the Central Coast’s high-tech industry, Lokper graduated with degrees in mathematics and economics from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). After working for two years as a software developer for Raytheon, she founded QAD and wrote MFG/PRO, the company’s first software program. (Her first customer was Karl Lopker ’73, founder of Deckers Outdoor Corporation (now Deckers Brands). He now serves as CEO of QAD.)
Lopker steered QAD from a small Santa Barbara startup to a global public enterprise employing over 1,600 high-tech professionals who serve the business software needs of manufacturing companies in over 100 countries.
By Julia Djeke `05
Alumni Karl ’73 and Pam ’77 Lopker share a passion for UC Santa Barbara. As enthusiastic Gauchos, they demonstrate generosity not only through their leadership, but through their philanthropy to UCSB. Pam serves on the College of Engineering Dean’s Cabinet and has been a UCSB Foundation Trustee since 2009; together, the Lopkers received the 1998 Distinguished Alumni Award. Karl and Pam are loyal donors to campus and have supported UCSB since 1991. Most of their giving is directed towards the College of Engineering (COE) and includes funding for research in electrical and computer engineering, the Venkatesh Narayanamurti Endowed Chair in Computer Science, and COE’s faculty recruitment and retention. In 2012, the couple established the Lopker Graduate Fellowship in Computer Science fund, which helps draw outstanding computer science scholars to campus. Karl and Pam are members of the prestigious Lancaster Society.
Throughout Lopker’s successful career, she has been formally recognized by the industry in various ways. In 1996, she was named Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Greater Los Angeles Area. In the following year, Lopker was inducted into the Women in Technology International (WIT) Hall of Fame. In 2015, Pacific Coast Business Times recognized Lopker as one of 2015’s Top 50 Women in Business. She was also named a 2015 Provider Pro to Know by Supply & Demand Chain Executive. In 2016, Lopker was named one of Connected World’s Women of M2M and Fortune’s Hero of U.S. Manufacturing. The Business Intelligence Group also recognized QAD as Cloud Company of the Year in the enterprise category at the 2016 Stratus Awards.
In addition to her busy life as a successful entrepreneur, Lopker stays actively engaged with UCSB -- both with her time and through her dedication to philanthropy. As advocates for fostering research and innovation for future generations at UCSB, she and Karl have generously supported the art program, engineering fellowships, faculty research, and faculty recruitment and retention.
In 2005, the Lopker family helped establish the University’s first endowed chair in computer science – the Venkash Narayanamurti Chair in Computer Science. Lopker also serves as an elected trustee of the UCSB Foundation and is member of the UCSB College of Engineering Dean’s Cabinet.
In our first-ever Gaucho Grown Q&A, Lopker talks about her early days as a UCSB student, what inspired her to start QAD and what inspires her in her career today.
Where did you grow up? What topics fascinated you as a child?
I grew up in a military family which moved every two years. I was born in Japan, and then I lived in the California Bay Area, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Florida with my family. My dad, an engineer, was always teaching us math and physics, and those were the areas in which I excelled.
What drew you to study at UC Santa Barbara?
UCSB was my first and only choice. I went to high school in Cupertino, California, and going to a UC school was a great move. While I had never been to Santa Barbara, UCSB looked like the best location of any UC campus. Given my GPA and SAT scores, I felt I would be accepted when I applied. And I was right!
What was your academic experience like at UC Santa Barbara? How did you choose your major?
Taking calculus my freshmen year, I liked it a lot, so I thought mathematics would be a great major. Then, when I took applied economics, it made sense to add that to my curriculum. However, when I began looking at career opportunities during my junior year, I discovered that being an actuary was the number-one opportunity for a student with my background. Not thinking I wanted to be an actuary, I started taking computer science classes instead.
What was student life like for you during your time at UCSB?
While at UCSB, I worked as a waitress at the original Sambo’s location on Cabrillo Boulevard 24 hours a week – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. I was also a grader in the Math Department. Between my school and work schedules, I was very busy, but working through school enabled me to graduate with a small amount of debt. Perhaps because I was working to pay my way through UCSB, I was very focused on getting a degree that would allow me to get a good job upon graduating.
Describe your professional journey from graduation to when you first decided to found your own company. What kept you going to fulfill your ambitions?
Upon graduation, I got a job at Raytheon as a software developer working on a shipboard defense system. After several years, I moved to doing business application development. I was very happy with my career choice. I was doing well, I enjoyed my work, and I was able to buy a house with two partners.
What inspired you to start QAD, Inc.?
My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, Karl Lopker, was the founder of Deckers Outdoor Corp. He was searching for a computer system for Deckers, and he asked me to help with this search. We were not happy with any of the systems we found, so we formed QAD. QAD created a system that would work for Deckers, as well as other small to medium-size manufacturing companies.
The software industry has changed so much over the past decade. What excites you about your industry today?
The Internet has accelerated the opportunity to automate software applications and related technologies, and provides tremendous value to customers. Look at smartphones and the millions of apps available that integrate physical things using software. Applications such as finding friends and family and tracking shipments have major advantages.
As one of our distinguished alumni leaders, what inspires you to keep connected to UC Santa Barbara? How important is it for current students to interact with alumni, especially in your industry?
Education is extremely important. The life differences and opportunities afforded to people with college educations, as opposed to those without them, are dramatic. As a society, we need to do what we can to ensure our youth receive fantastic educations.
As a woman leader in a field that is still very much dominated by men, what advice would you give other young women who seek to follow in your footsteps?
I believe women today have advantages in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), particularly in engineering, in which there is still only 17% of undergraduate degrees being awarded to women, and even fewer at the graduate level. Companies are proactively looking to balance and diversify their workforces, so there are many career opportunities for women in these disciplines.
What inspires you to do what you do today?
The changes happening in technology are accelerating at a faster and faster rate. Being able to leverage these new technologies in QAD’s products keeps me excited and interested. In the beginning, I worked because I wanted to support myself. Now, I work because I love what I do.
Four decades of innovation and customer service
By Keith Pillow
The Next Big Thing: Presented by Pamela Lopker`77 at QAD’s annual partner and customer conference in Chicago, Illinois on May 2, 2016.
Founded in 1979 by Pamela Lopker `77, QAD began its four-decade journey of success with a few local customers in the Santa Barbara area. Over the years, as those customers expanded their respective businesses and extended their operations to international markets around the world. Under Lopker’s expert guidance and leadership, QAD has transitioned from a business with a handful of employees and a single product to a global, publicly traded multinational corporation with a strong portfolio of ERP software applications and over 1,500 associates in 27 offices worldwide.
Today, QAD supports manufacturing companies located in over 100 countries, and boasts industry-leading customers in a broad spectrum of domains -- including the automotive, life sciences, consumer products, high technology, and industrial sectors. Since going public in 1997, Lopker and QAD’s senior management team have guided the company from $126.4 million in annual revenue at the time of its IPO, to $277.9 million for the most recent fiscal year ending in January 31, 2016.
QAD, INC. TIMELINE
QAD launched its flagship software, MFG/PRO, now known as QAD Enterprise Applications.
QAD created the first business application that ran on UNIX.
QAD stock began trading as of its initial public offering (IPO) on August 6.
QAD launched its next generation user interface called .NET UI.
QAD acquired Precision Software, a company delivering transportation, global trade and supply chain management software to businesses around the world.
QAD acquired Bisgen Ltd., a UK-based company whose product is tailored to the unique sales force and marketing automation needs of manufacturers.
QAD acquired FBO Systems, Inc., a Georgia-based company and leading provider of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) products and professional services.
QAD renamed its core product suite from MFG/PRO to QAD Enterprise Applications. With the launch of QAD Enterprise Applications 2007, QAD pioneered hybrid deployment, with the ability to deploy the application either on-premises, on-appliance or on-demand (SaaS).
QAD launched a significant enhancement to its core suite with the release of the Enterprise Edition of QAD Enterprise Applications.
QAD acquired FullTilt Solutions’ product suite, including Perfect Product Suite, an enterprise PIM solution that addresses the growing need for product-centric Master Data Management (MDM) for Internet-enabled commerce.
QAD acquired CEBOS, a provider of enterprise wide quality management and management system standard software and services.
QAD acquired DynaSys, one of the European providers of collaborative Demand & Supply Chain Planning solutions. DynaSys provides business decision-making software, including forecasting, planning, optimizing and performance analysis.