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Entrepreneurial Foundations - Purdue alumna helps build better businesses

Sunny Lu Williams (BA CLA’04), president and CEO of TechServ Corp. and winner of the Daniels School’s 2024 Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurship Award, comes from a long line of trailblazing women.

After President Reagan signed the Women's Business Ownership Act into law in 1988 and eliminated the need for male co-signers on loans for female entrepreneurs, Williams’ grandmother, Taiwanese immigrant Judy Lu, launched TechServ, one of the first women-owned IT firms in the United States. Founded in 1992, the company specialized in the delivery and servicing of computer equipment.

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Sunny Lu Williams at the opening of TechServ’s new office in Indianapolis.

“While entrepreneurship runs in my blood, I am more process-oriented,” Williams says. “Growing up as the oldest daughter of two Taiwanese entrepreneurs, I was exposed to their business ventures at a young age and had what I call an ‘apprenticeship in entrepreneurship.’” She honed those skills working for nearly 14 years under well-known Hoosier business leader Albert Chen, founder of the Carmel-based telecommunications technology firm Telamon.

Working with Telamon clients, I could see the challenges they faced were people problems, Williams says. They didn't know how to use technology to solve business problems. They didn’t know how to mobilize and monetize technology. That's why it became so important to understand how people work – separately and together – and what they were trying to accomplish. Only by understanding the people can you develop the appropriate technological solutions.”

In 2018, Williams acquired the health care division of Telamon and StatWatch, its population health management and community health data collection platform. A year later, she took the helm at TechServ from her mother, Patty Lu, then combined its capabilities in education and health care with those of the Telamon division.

"True entrepreneurship requires a tremendous amount of support. I have always been very blessed with the right people willing to help me at the times that I need it." — Sunny Lu Williams

Now offering an integrated technology platform for healthcare, public safety, and educational institutions, the firm — which runs both operations under the TechServ umbrella — offers consulting, project management, training and technical assistance, programmatic development, grant management and creative marketing services to a growing list of industry-leading clients.

Although technology still plays a big part in TechServ's business strategy, its focus has changed under Williams’ direction. She says the company today aims to “create meaningful change in the world” by utilizing its continuous quality improvement philosophy, expertise in community-centric data collection and analytics, program and grant management, strategic planning and workforce development.

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Sunny Lu Williams at an appearance on Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick.

As she grows the business, Williams, who was a Hansard Scholar at the London School of Economics and received an MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, continues to draw as much on her undergraduate education at Purdue as she does on her graduate experience.

“My undergraduate humanities education provided foundational teachings about how to do human capital management, or in other terms, how to drive teams, inspire people and lead, especially through contentious or exciting times,” she says. “Excitement can be quickly tempered and turn into frustration if the direction, vision and consistency of the leadership isn't there. You have to know how to support the human condition when looking at change management in transformational systems.”

She credits her continued success to those who have championed her over the years. “True entrepreneurship requires a tremendous amount of support,” Williams says. “I have always been very blessed with the right people willing to help me at the times that I need it.”