- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2006

Julie Lee has more than 17 years of government contracting experience. She heads a 350-employee technology firm whose customers include the U.S. Joint Forces Command and the State Department.

She has a master’s degree in systems engineering and she is working toward a doctorate in engineering management. Next week, she will receive the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Washington area office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

She is 29 years old.

“I’m the youngest person on my management team,” the president and CEO of Access Systems Inc. says with a smile that does not leave her face when talking about her company and her family.

“There have been times where a mistake hurts the company or we were hoping for one thing and it fell through, but you can’t question the commitment of any member of this team,” Miss Lee says.

“About 20 of us were here after midnight on Valentine’s evening because we needed to get a proposal through. It’s believing and committing to something in the long run.”

Laughter accompanies the smile when she talks about a daily schedule loaded with triple bookings more commonly found in a doctor’s office.

Meetings and trips to client sites in 15 states about everything from software or Web site development to help-desk services and information security fill every minute of workdays that last at least 12 hours in a year when she expects Access Systems’ revenue to double last year’s total of $33 million.

Add volunteer commitments to the mix, including a seat on the board of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, and any hours left are for sleeping, excluding time spent planning her September wedding to Brian Lee, an endodontist.

“It’s a crazy year for me,” Miss Lee says. “But I won’t have to change my last name.”

When she does have some downtime, which is usually on planes or in airports, she enjoys getting lost in a good book and recently started reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point,” about how small events can have big repercussions.

“I love books that make you realize how small and minute you are in comparison to the rest of the world, but in the other sense, how you can truly be a tipping point and affect so many other people using your strengths and your abilities to make a difference,” she says.

“I know that sounds cheesy. But I feel that it’s a waste for me in my position, and the opportunities I have in front of me, not to make a difference.”

Miss Lee was born in South Korea. She came to the United States at the age of 2 when her parents moved to Northern Virginia. She is the oldest of four children, the only one to follow her father into the government contracting business.

She started working with computers at age 12 when her father, Simon Lee, started a government technology company and would come home with data entry projects that she would volunteer to do. As Mr. Lee continued to grow STG Inc., which now has revenue exceeding $170 million, his first-born spent her summers learning all aspects of the business, from administrative duties to business development.

“That was my goal, to find out what I’d like to do,” she says.

Mr. Lee says he never pushed his children to follow him into the business, but Julie was interested in computers and in helping him succeed: “She likes the challenge. She never wanted to be bored.”

She identified with her father’s struggle, when he employed just three persons working part-time on his own business while supporting three children at the time.

“I saw him create something,” Miss Lee says. “I probably never had to work, could have lived off my parents, but I wanted to create something that I was proud of, that I could really, truly believe in and really make a difference in people’s lives.”

“She knows how to touch people’s feelings, people’s minds,” Simon Lee says. “Even though she’s 29, she knows how to deal with 50 years old, 60 years old, people my age. Caring about people, that is her strength.”

A telescope sits beside a window in her office overlooking the Dulles Toll Road with Tysons Corner in the distance. It was a gift from her staff when Access Systems moved to new offices two years ago.

There is silver tag dangling from the eyepiece. It reads: “Julie — This will help you focus on the future and keep an eye on the competition you’ve left so far behind.”


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