WOMEN IN BUSINESS

On the technology trail

Julie Haley focuses on ‘culture’ with Edge Solutions

Edge Solutions awards a $5,000 college scholarship annually to a woman interested Interested in a career in technology.
The Edge Solution team celebrates being named a finalist in the Best Places to Work competition.
Accepting the award as Woman of the Year in 2015 by the Georgia Women in Technology.
Julie Haley, co-founder and CEO of Edge Solutions.
Photo
By CANDY WAYLOCK
Posted

As co-founder and CEO of Edge Solutions, Julie Haley is focused on creating a company that measures success through integrity, diversity and community service—not dollars.

“We solve our customers’ problems with technology; we are agnostic, creative, and bring the best innovation to our customers early, so they can shine,” said Haley, a former attorney who founded Edge Solutions in 2008 with husband, Michael, an information technology executive.

The Haleys opened Edge Solutions after deciding their complimentary work styles would work well in a joint venture.

“We both had suffered from [previous] toxic work environments, and we wanted to surround ourselves with positive, entrepreneurial people who enjoy solving problems, and build a culture where we all looked forward to Mondays,” said Haley.

They opened their firm right before the economy tanked, leading to the demise of numerous tech start-ups in the aftermath.

“By then, we had obtained the necessary certifications, had a small credit line, had hired our first two employees...there was no turning back!” said Haley, who moved to North Fulton in 1993.

But the downturn had an upside for Edge Solutions, which was able to hire top tech talent who, through no fault of their own, notes Haley, found themselves looking for employment.

The company opened in a 110-year-old former warehouse off Old Roswell Street in downtown Alpharetta, with affordable rent to keep overhead low.

“It was a mess!” laughs Haley. “But we fixed it up with IKEA, used furniture and had our kids’ friends helping us paint.”

Edge Solutions now occupies the entire upstairs, and is comfortably ensconced among the more than 600 tech firms which also call Alpharetta home.

“Alpharetta is booming, and we are now surrounded by artists, amazing restaurants and food trucks---our vendors and clients love visiting,” said Haley.
A native of Washington, D.C., Haley was the daughter of public school teachers, and spent three years in Greece where her parents taught at an international school. There, her view of the world expanded.

“We would travel every weekend, holiday and summer in our Volkswagen camper,” recalls Haley of her time overseas. “Those years were so impactful---and raised my curiosity and risk-taking quotient.”

Her interest in technology is rooted in her early days as an attorney where she would spend hours deep in research in law libraries. When Lexis Nexis came out with the first search engine for legal issues, a lightbulb went off.

“It didn’t take long to realize that technology is making the biggest, most positive impact in every industry and in every profession,” said Haley, who now counts Lexis Nexis among her clients.

In the technology field, she has found the perfect environment for a personality that craves innovation and optimism.

“I went to law school with rose-colored dreams of saving the oppressed and changing the world,” said Haley, a 1987 graduate of the South Carolina School of Law. “But it was not satisfying. Lawyers are rewarded for how many hours they bill, rather than how well they help their clients.”

She does not see herself as a pioneer for women in technology, saying many came before her, opening the doors and fighting the early battles. But she does worry that the needle has barely moved on the number of women in tech jobs– despite years of focus on the issue.

“Only a quarter of today’s technology jobs are held by women, so I have been very active in Georgia’s Women in Technology Association,” said Haley, who was named the organization’s Woman of the Year in 2015.

Her interest in education is as strong as her interest in education. After moving to North Fulton, she hung up her law shingle while she raised her two children, and became highly involved in improving public education for Georgia’s children.

“I am passionate about education, because providing a quality education for all children is the best way to support an informed citizenry, thriving democracy, and a booming economy,” said Haley, who worked with the North Fulton PTA Board and the Georgia PTA.

She mentors young women, gives talks and seminars at area schools, and has established an annual $5,000 college scholarship to a women going into the tech field. Haley also serves on the Board of Directors for Gwinnett Technical College.

Looking to the future, Haley sees Edge Solutions continuing to grow, but always under local control. She believes handing ownership to outside entities (who regularly call with buyout offers) would disrupt the established culture.

“Our employees are like family,” said Haley. “Eventually, maybe 10 years down the road, we will consider selling to our deserving employees. I always like to ‘dance with those who brought you’!” ■

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