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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 11:50 pm | Fair 52º


Local Business, Technology Achievement Gets Chance to Shine

Network Hardware Resale, lynda.com, SEE International, Jamal Hamdani, Jeff Henley earn South Coast Business & Technology Awards

Santa Barbara’s business and civic community turned out in force Thursday for the 16th Annual South Coast Business & Technology Awards recognizing the outstanding achievements of a handful of individuals and organizations.

After a cocktail reception in the rotunda of Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, more than 700 people packed the Plaza del Sol ballroom for dinner and the awards ceremony — despite a possible conflict with the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Boston Celtics in Game One of the NBA Finals. (The Lakers won anyway.) The event paid tribute to five influential individuals and businesses demonstrating excellence in their contributions to the community while enjoying great success.

The recipients — for Excellence in Service, Entrepreneur of the Year, Company of the Year, Executive of the Year and the Pioneer Award — were chosen by a steering committee consisting of CEOs, business leaders and previous honorees.

Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International was presented with the Excellence in Service award by last year’s winner, Tom Parker of the Hutton Foundation. Goleta-based SEE International provides worldwide medical, surgical and educational services through volunteer eye surgeons. Accepting the award was the nonprofit organization’s founder, Dr. Harry Brown.

“Our goal is to bring the gift of sight to life,” Brown said in his acceptance speech. “By doing so, life is returned to their care givers in addition to their returned sight.”

Lynda Weinman, co-founder and executive chairwoman of lynda.com, was named Entrepreneur of the Year for her dedication to spreading computer and design skills via the Internet. A notable teacher and author of multiple best-selling books, Weinman’s Web site has grown to become the “leading online video training resource for instruction in Web design, digital photography, digital video, audio, 3D, animation and more.

“It is our joy and passion to help others,” Weinman said. “I wanna wake up tomorrow to more great training.”

Awarded the honor of Company of the Year was Network Hardware Resale, which was introduced by Phil Wyatt, founder and CEO of Wyatt Technology Corp., last year’s honoree.

Founded in 1986 by former IBM executive and former Hermosa Beach Mayor Chuck Sheldon, the company focused on selling pre-owned networking equipment, mainly from Cisco Systems. Worth approximately $200 million and once regarded as one of “America’s Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies” by Inc. Magazine, NHR is very much a global empire with modest beginnings locally.

Santa Barbara has proven to be deeply rooted in the company: Of the company’s 300 employees, more than 100 of them work in Santa Barbara and two-thirds of the staff graduated from UCSB, Westmont College and other nearby schools.

“It’s said that it’s hard to grow a business in Santa Barbara,” said Mike Sheldon, NHR’s president and CEO. “But being located in Santa Barbara hasn’t inhibited us. There are great opportunities here.”

Presented with the Executive of the Year award was Jamal Hamdani, president and CEO of Moseley Associates, CarrierComm and Axxcelera Broadband. After becoming CEO of Moseley in 1996, Hamdani focused on helping the company reach greater heights. In the last 10 years, Hamdani’s leadership has resulted in a revenue of more than $1 billion between the three companies. A digital signal processing innovator and winner of the 2002 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for technology, Hamdani’s hard-working and earnest mentality has undoubtedly led to his success, and he believes in setting the bar high.

“We must set high standards,” said Hamdani. “My belief is that mediocracy and excellence cannot coexist. Ben Franklin said it best, ‘a lost dime is never found.’”

Honored with the final, and arguably the most prestigious award of the evening, the Pioneer Award, was Jeff Henley, board chairman of Oracle. When Henley first joined Oracle in 1991, his focus was to help the company’s growth. Doing just that, he increased Oracle’s employee and revenue numbers drastically, growing to more than 85,000 employees from 6,000 and growing the company’s revenue to $25 billion from $900 million. In fact, Oracle’s market capitalization has risen nearly $270 million since Henley got on board. Henley attributes his passion for his job the key to his success.

“You need to focus on finding something you want to do,” Henley said. “If you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, you won’t be successful. However, you better be prepared to work really hard, and be able to make hard choice if you want to be successful.”

The South Coast Business & Technology Awards program’s 95 corporate sponsors, such as Bartlett Pringle & Wolf, Cox Communications, Investment Group of Santa Barbara, MarBorg Industries and Noozhawk have made it possible for this event to take place. No sponsor has been more influential in the annual commemoration than Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, the event’s founding sponsor.

“We’re extremely grateful for (Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s) continued generous support,” said Business First Bank president Joanne Funari, who co-chaired the event’s steering committee with Jeff Carmody, a partner in Agility Capital.

“And we are honored to be affiliated with such a fine institution.”

All proceeds from the ceremony benefited the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, which has awarded more than 24,000 scholarships worth more than $55 million since its inception in 2002. This year, the Scholarship Foundation received more than 3,000 scholarship requests, and was able to grant 2,200 of them.

Carmody spoke of the meaning and importance of the night’s event.

“We like to honor those companies who have up-and-coming opportunities and then to identify those that are really taking off in our community,” he said. “It is really seldom that Santa Barbara really celebrates business, and so this is the one time that we like to come out and really give business a pat on the back.”

Noozhawk intern Michael Goldsholl will be a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University in the fall. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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