by Stephanie Bacon
Clanging glory, the New York Stock Exchange bell rang on June 19, 2018, by the chief executive officer of Silicon Valley-based 8×8 Inc. and our next Jerome P. Keuper Award winner, Vikram Verma ’87. The 10 seconds of brassy tolling is an enduring symbol of America’s capital market. This historic day signals 8×8’s move from NASDAQ. It is almost an oxymoron that a simple brass bell is the opening of Wall Street in today’s environment of high-speed technology and competitive economy. In contrast to the sound of the bell clang, 8×8’s focus is on revolutionizing enterprise communications everywhere with groundbreaking unified communications and contact center technology. It is the world’s first communications cloud provider. How does one come to the honor of ringing the bell?
Vikram Verma’s formula for life is simple. The four-step process is (1) take a chance, (2) give your best, and the results will come, (3) be honest with yourself and know your limitations and (4) when you find your calling, go for it and don’t let go. This process derives from his life experience, specifically four defining moments which he eloquently shares in both personal encounters and large audiences alike.
Florida Tech is an integral part of his story and formula. Verma, who earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, says, “Florida Tech taught me the value of hard work, commitment and focusing on fundamentals. I’ve parlayed that into my company’s motto: ‘Use technology to solve real-world problems cost-effectively. The rest will take care of itself.”
Some may call him a disrupter—Verma’s passion is taking complex technology and translating it into products and services that create value for customers worldwide. In 1990, Verma started his career at Savi Technology as a design engineer while it was pre-revenue. In the early part of his career at Savi, his work on RFID (radio-frequency identification) and the Internet of Things is credited with revolutionizing the worldwide container tracking and security industry. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, recognized this breakthrough by naming him a 2003 Top 40 Technology Pioneer in the world. Verma grew Savi Technology, known as a pioneer in cloud-based managed service offerings in addition to the RFID tracking and security solutions, from a startup to a multimillion-dollar business. Verma led its acquisition by Texas Instruments. During his tenure, Verma served as Savi Technology’s engineering VP before becoming chief operations officer and later president and CEO. Interestingly, Verma later bought back Savi from Texas Instruments and eventually sold it to Lockheed Martin in 2006. At this point in his career, working as president of strategic venture for Lockheed Martin, Verma turned his attention to shifting the quintessential military technologies and programs at Lockheed to global commercial ventures ranging from seabed mining to nanomaterials.
Beyond his eight patents and distinguished 25-plus-year executive career with leading technology companies, Verma has led a remarkable educational path. Verma earned additional engineering degrees from the University of Michigan and Stanford University. He’s also completed graduate executive credentials from Stanford, Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley.
A dedicated Panther, Verma loyally supports his alma mater. His time as a member of the Florida Tech board of trustees from 2002 to 2007 and again from 2015 to present adds to transformational decisions at the university. In addition, Verma is the recipient of the Faculty Honors Award (co-valedictorian) Class of 1987, the 1987 Tau Beta Pi Williams Fellowship, the 1999 Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award for the College of Engineering, and a commencement speaker in 2002 and 2018.
With Verma adding to the heralded previous winners—including business executive Jim Thomas, Major League Baseball pitcher Tim Wakefield, astronaut Sunita Williams, the army’s first female four-star general, Ann Dunwoody, retired Ford Motor Co. executive Robert Phebus Jr., attorney Dale Dettmer and Carmax President and CEO Thomas Folliard—it is easy to imagine Jerome P. Keuper smiling in his bow tie.
Learn more about Verma and 8×8.