Ten years on Wall Street led Angela Paymard to her still fresh career working with the produce industry.
The 33-year-old chairwoman of Longwood, Fla.-based KPG Solutions, which does business as N2N Global, started working as an investment banker in her early 20s, after just a short time in an administrative function for her firm. She worked in two specialized industries, the hardware industry and the physical security industry.
“I would go in and evaluate the market for a client, go in and develop some game-changing strategies,” Paymard said. “We were bringing completely new ideas to clients, because we could see from a vantage point from outside their business. It was corporate strategy and corporate development, and I’d also do negotiations and acquisitions.”
Eight years after the start of her career, someone came to her with the idea that would lead her to buy KPG Solutions in 2008.
“It’s one of those fluke things,” Paymard said. “I had somebody come to me with a hardware technology idea for ag. I was involved in hardware, but I’d never been involved in ag, so I had to start studying agriculture, looking at the business, looking at market reception of this product. Over time, I met people, and it all evolved.”
Paymard said agriculture has some similarities to the industries she’s worked in, but it was also very different, and required some major studying from her.
“It’s a highly developed, long-standing industry,” Paymard said. “A lot of intelligence is already built in to what people do, so that’s an extreme difference. My industries, some are only 50 years old. The business of information, that’s only a 20-year-old industry.”
Al Vangelos, chief executive officer of Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, Calif., said Paymard’s company was up against some pretty stiff competition when Sun World wanted to implement a new software program on its farms.
“What impresses me about her is she has tenacity, but with class,” Vangelos said.
Paymard said she’s always been a competitive person, and even earned an athletic scholarship to a Division 1 university.
“I was really excited to be in college sports, but I decided to opt out,” Paymard said. “I realized when you’re in Division I sports, you’re at a level where you need to be really ready to go pro.”
In 2009, Paymard brought on the company’s current chief executive officer, Ernesto Nardone. Nardone is an ex-IBM employee, and the two met through IBM contacts.
“I think the biggest reason why she’s so successful is because she genuinely wants to improve the industry,” Nardone said. “What is extremely important to her, and it goes hand in hand, is trust and credibility. She’s very exemplary of those important traits in this industry. With her skills and her leadership she’s going to be able to do significant transformational changes to the industry worldwide.”
Paymard said her current goal is to make her company the technical support provider for the produce industry worldwide — to be known, relied on and trusted across the globe.
“I think the ag business is such an enormous business, not just in the U.S., but in every country in the world,” Paymard said. “When you’re addressing issues related to agriculture, you’re coming up with innovations that have worldwide impact in ways you can’t even imagine.”