Girish Navani is the CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks, which offers unified electronic medical records and practice management solutions. eClinicalWorks has maintained high profitability and has over 25,000 providers as clients spanning all 50 states. Girish has also worked for Teradyne and Fidelity Investments, and he was part of the founding team of PetroVantage on behalf of Aspen Technologies. He has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and, from Boston University, a master’s in manufacturing engineering.
SM: What is your personal story? Where do you come from, and what prepared you for this path?
GN: I am originally from India. I moved to the United States in 1988 to pursue higher education. I earned my master’s in manufacturing engineering from Boston University. My bachelor’s in India was in mechanical engineering. I then found a job in Boston working for Teradyne, which was a semiconductor test company. I was attracted in part because of my experience in software. In school, I was writing software to drive robots that manufactured parts.
SM: How long did you stay at Teradyne?
GN: I was there for three years. I was excited by the fact that I could write software that could affect a lot of people and significantly change the status quo of manufacturing operations within a very respectable semiconductor company. At the same time, there was a lot of activity in downtown Boston. Fidelity Investments was becoming a respected name to work for, primarily because of all the people there who were leveraging all the high tech you could imagine at the time. These were the days when CORBA, DCOM, and similar software technology platforms were about to emerge. From the outside, it looked like Fidelity was a great place to go work with technology.
I joined Fidelity for three years and learned a lot. It was an exposure to technology like no other. I worked in two different groups. One group was in the Institutional Investment Business and was where Fidelity interacted with other financial institutions like Citi. I also worked in the IT department, supporting fund managers.
Fidelity became too big for me. It did not matter what I did or accomplished; it would never make a real impact. The company was just too big. At the end of the day it was a financial services institution. While technology would play a key role, it would never ‘be’ the company itself. In 1997 I decided to join a software company in town named Aspen Technologies. It was a company in supply chain manufacturing. This was a high-flying area, and at that point in time they wanted to build a dot-com business. Every company in existence at that time wanted to build a dot-com business.
Aspen wanted to build a Web platform for trading. The plan was to help oil traders and the chemical part of the supply chain to do better work with the available tools. A company called PetroVantage was started under Aspen Technologies, and I was asked to be its chief technology officer.
It was exciting putting together a team and building a company. We ended up with a few customers like CITGO, Enron’s oil trading side, and a few other Fortune 500 customers. Another exciting part of the job was going to London for four weeks to work at BP. I never felt uncomfortable in front of their executives, nor did I ever feel that they knew how to run businesses better than I did.