Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010
Road to Palm Springs
Long Nguyen, PhD
As a high school student in his native Vietnam, Long Nguyen set lofty goals: He would study abroad, earn a PhD and teach at a university. Later, while working at IBM, he also resolved to be an entrepreneur.
Not only did he succeed in achieving each of his goals, but the company he founded in 1985 – Pragmatics – has grown to become a leading information technology solutions provider with 25 major contracts and more than 600 employees at several locations in the United States.
Nguyen says he wanted to study abroad to gain an enhanced perspective of world events. He won a full scholarship to attend college in the United States. After earning his undergraduate degree in physics at North Carolina State University and his master’s degree, also in physics, at the University of Virginia, he returned to Vietnam.
Working for IBM, he saw the potential of the computer and came back to the United States, earning a PhD in computer science from Iowa State University. He subsequently joined the faculty at Georgetown University.
Despite all his academic success, the fire to be an entrepreneur still burned. He took a risk, leaving Georgetown to establish Pragmatics before the dotcom era. He chose the name Pragmatics to represent his vision of an organization highly skilled at developing practical, technology-oriented solutions for information-management requirements.
Nguyen leveraged his personal finances and assets to remain debt-free. Today, his company is a successful mid-tier IT solutions provider for a variety of customers in the federal government, including the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury and State, as well as in federal agencies such as the FDIC.