There are many entrepreneurs who are leveraging the power of technology to transform their fortunes. But, only few are utilizing it to make a difference in a common person’s life. Mike Walsh, CEO and President, MetroQuest, is one such trailblazing technocrat, who is leaving no stone unturned, empowering governments to meaningfully engage with citizens and involve them in planning their communities to ultimately help people live better lives.
Mike is a software engineer, who has over 20 years of vital experience in designing and developing computer-based learning and communication tools. He is the chief architect of MetroQuest’s software-as-a-service public engagement solution. MetroQuest online surveys both educate the public and collect informed feedback about important transportation and land use planning projects that directly impact people’s quality of life. Transportation agencies, local government and planning firms engage thousands to ensure that plans for the future will meet the viable expectations of citizens.
Mike’s company helps government agencies and planning firms do a better job of involving the public in planning for multi-billion-dollar public investments. “MetroQuest began in 1997 talking to folks about different regional growth options; now we help millions of people participate in planning the places where they live, making those places better, more accessible, and increasingly sustainable,” stated Mike.
With an annual subscription, organizations like the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), AECOM, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), use MetroQuest to build online surveys that educate the public about planning alternatives, collect quantifiable input, and deliver actionable insights to inform and build public support for better transportation networks and more livable communities. “While attendance at public meetings across the nation continues to languish, government agencies and firms are engaging thousands of people online with MetroQuest surveys,” added the CEO.
About the Company
Vancouver-based MetroQuest was started some 20 years ago to solve a problem that was not well understood at the time. Better land use and transportation options enhance everyone’s quality of life, foster economic vitality and improve mobility for all people. But there was hardly any solution that helped bridge the gap between urban planners and citizens to facilitate collaboration and engagement. Mike and company cofounder Dave Biggs recognized the need for better public engagement tools and founded MetroQuest.
MetroQuest, like many other innovative technologies, invested in considerable education of the market to find early adopters. Today, MetroQuest is the leader in helping agencies, from cities and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to State Departments of Transportation, to plan better transportation networks that move more people between their homes, work, education, healthcare and entertainment.
Mike’s Life before MetroQuest
Mike believes diverse education with meaningful work experiences have helped him to shape his personality and career at large. During his two-decade-long challenging yet inspiring professional journey, he gained critical experience and skills in renowned organizations including technology giant IBM.
He is an engineering graduate who also completed an MBA and subsequently pursued further education in sustainability. “While learning about environmental impact assessments at business school, I can recall thinking that there was an opportunity to use the power of computers to help the process,” added Mike. “This idea became more tangible while studying sustainability. Fortunately, aspects of all these experiences were vital to the creation of MetroQuest.”
Mike’s Take on Leadership
Mike stated that a good leader always thinks about his or her team first and is ready to go an extra mile to let them flourish in their work. “Having people who you trust to manage aspects of the business, letting them succeed and fail, and watching them grow is the best indication that things are on track,” added Mike.
Recruiting, retaining and empowering talented folks and keeping them aligned with the business objectives (in a hassle-free and friendly manner) helped establish Mike’s style as a revered leader in his organization.
Mike’s company uses online HR software to help manage various critical processes, including goal setting and performance evaluation. The company has a set of core values that align with Mike’s own values.
“MetroQuest has crafted a strong corporate culture, based on a clearly articulated vision, mission, and values, to ensure smooth transactions of its business operations,” asserts Mike.
The Turning Point
Some time ago, Mike decided to pivot MetroQuest to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company. However, to implement such a transformation was no small task. It required proficiency in many areas including technology, management and more. And now, as the company is a growing SaaS company, Mike believes he was absolutely right in making that decision. “Guiding that transition is my biggest achievement,” stated Mike.
Mike also gave advice for the budding entrepreneurs. He encouraged young entrepreneurs to take advantage of every opportunity to diversify their skills and knowledge. He further added that surrounding yourself with people who offer different skills and perspectives can help entrepreneurs reach farther.
On speculating on the company’s future, Mike revealed many interesting details. He said and concluded, “I hope to see MetroQuest become an indispensable public engagement tool for all government agencies as well as planning and engineering firms, providing everyone access to inclusive planning of better places for all of us to live, work and play.”