Paul Lima's Innovative Digital Support
Paul Lima's success at Lima Consulting Group hinges on bringing companies to the digital age through one key constant — innovation.
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From an early age, Paul Lima knew that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to work internationally.
However, the path to getting there wasn’t immediately apparent.
As the child of a military father, Lima spent his childhood living in different places.
He was born in Panama — where his father was stationed at the time — to a Portuguese father and a Cuban mother. Lima grew up in Seattle before he and his family moved to Miami when he was 12 years old.
“My father was very involved in international business in Latin America, and one of the things that I learned around the dining room table is he would come back from these big trips and he would just talk about his love of Latin America, his love of languages,” said Lima during an interview with AL DÍA.
That love for Latin America rubbed off on the young Lima, and would serve as just one way his father would influence him as he pursued his future aspirations.
A Military Background
His father’s military background as part of the Army Reserve served as an example for Lima as a potential career path.
This was despite the fact that his father never really talked about his experiences serving.
After graduating from high school, Lima made the decision to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Initially, Lima didn’t really think about pursuing a military career himself. His main priority was getting a good education.
However, he came to realize that the possibilities while in the military were quite vast.
“I realized that I could do anything in the military — from being a historian to an infantryman — I didn’t have to choose what it was that I wanted to do in the military,” Lima said.
West Point was an entirely new world for Lima.
Asked to describe the experience, he called it, “like surgery without anesthesia.” While painful, Lima noted, “when you come out the other side, you’re better for it.”
He credits his military experience for helping him develop and grow.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever have another experience in my life where the entire infrastructure was designed to support your professional development,” said Lima.
While in the military, Lima found his voice as an innovator and entrepreneurial mind.
As he was looking ahead to what could be the future of warfare, Lima became one of the founding officers of the nation’s first cyber-warfare unit at the Pentagon.
“It was just a concerned group of captains and majors and Lieutenant Colonels that saw a future of what cyber warfare was going to be, and started taking actions to begin to prepare,” said Lima.
Taking part in the cyber-warfare unit at the Pentagon was one way that Lima used his interest in innovation to take things that were already available and find new ways to use them.
“In the Army, with the incredible budgets that we have, I was able to be around innovations and to be a part of it,” said Lima. “Eventually, it just felt right and that’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Lima Consulting Group
From 1998 to 2004, Lima worked as a senior product manager at SEI Investments, a leading global trust accounting platform.
During his time there, he led six FinTech solutions and helped the company reach new heights, while pursuing a master’s degree in technology management at Wharton.
His master’s program was very influential as he weighed his options about the next phase of his life and career.
“What I learned is that I really enjoyed the strategic management of innovation,” he said.
As Lima pursued different ventures and endeavors, innovation has always been a key motivator.
The leadership skills he developed while in the military, coupled with the confidence that his master’s degree program afforded him, led to the next chapter of his life as an entrepreneur.
“I really wanted to find a way to leverage those leadership skills and help other people,” he said.
In 2004, Lima founded Lima Consulting Group, a multi-national consulting agency whose mission is to help organizations develop, deploy, and optimize digital initiatives to obtain a sustainable competitive advantage.
Knowing what he knew about the digital space, and the trajectory of where it was going, Lima wanted to help companies prepare in both the short and long term.
The five core values of Lima Consulting Group closely align with the values Lima had ingrained into him from his time in the military — duty, selfless service, integrity, respect.
“And the fifth one is this concept of relentless thinking in solving our customers’ problems,” said Lima.
As Lima Consulting Group’s capacity grew, expansion was able to occur.
About five or six years after its launch, Lima Consulting Group received its first customer in Brazil. Now, the firm has two additional offices in São Paulo and Porto Alegre.
“Porto Alegre is a city that’s very similar to Austin,” said Lima. “The live music, the cowboy culture, lots of great steaks, big university infrastructure, lots of innovation. All those things are true in Porto Alegre, as well.”
He has been able to find many great tech recruits in the city.
Over the years, Lima’s role in the Brazilian market has evolved from consulting and teaching those he hired in the overseas offices to corporate governance, recruitment, and promoting the culture and vision of the company.
“There is so much innovation happening in our industry all around us with artificial intelligence and being able to do personalized digital experiences… but that doesn’t come without having done some data engineering work, without having built solutions that know how to receive the data, and then have algorithms to present back meaningful and relevant and timely experiences,” said Lima.
Brazil, Lima found, is a hub for that level of innovation.
“Brazilian culture is very creative,” he noted. “And you’re seeing through lots of different mechanisms, a lot more graphic designers in the creative fields in Brazil becoming their global experts.”
As the digital space continues to evolve globally, the goal is for Lima Consulting Group to continue its expansion into markets across the world.
Philly’s Hispanic Business Community
In addition to his passion for innovation and attention to detail within the digital space, Lima has also shown a keen dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion — especially within the business space.
Lima has been heavily involved with the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as a longtime board member and former chairman.
Throughout his time involved with the Chamber, he credited the organization for giving him inspiration that he, too, can succeed as a Latino business owner in Philadelphia.
As a board member and chair, Lima helped the then-18,000 Hispanic business owners in the region learn financial literacy, access capital, and grow their businesses through the Chamber’s various programs.
“And so, what started to happen was that you could see the next generation that was coming into capital being able to keep the money in the community,” said Lima.
Since leaving his board chair role, the number of Latino-owned businesses in the region has grown to over 22,000 today.
“The fact that those businesses are growing and they’re staying in the game… it shows that there’s a lot of willingness to work hard, to roll up your sleeves, and do the work that others may not want to do,” he underscored.
Lima harkens back to the concept, “it's difficult to be when you cannot see.”
If more young Latino and other diverse people are able to see successful individuals from their community, they can become inspired to follow a similar path.
“If we’re strategic about helping grow our community, we can be deliberate in collaborating and promoting Hispanic businesses — and diverse business — across the region,” he added.
The Future of the Digital World
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, many companies saw just how critical the digital space is.
Now nearly three years later, Lima has an optimistic outlook on the willingness to adapt to the evolving tech and digital space.
“Coming out of the pandemic… I’m really excited about the future,” he said. “Everybody now understands the importance of digital transformation and about great digital customer experiences.”
Thanks to the dynamic that the pandemic created, some industries are years ahead of what would have been the likely natural rate of digital adaptation.
Lima highlighted that society is already currently living in the future of the digital world with the emergence and innovative advances to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing.
“They’re becoming commonplace,” he said.
Lima projects that we’re going to see a convergence of current models of technology birthing into new ones.
In 2024, Lima Consulting Group will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary.
As he looks ahead to that, Lima has set a few goals.
“We really want to have a multinational presence in Europe and really make sure that we have coverage in Latin America,” he said. “We want to be known and continue to work on our branding around the digital future.”
While looking ahead, the Army veteran can’t help but take a step back to his time serving.
“The best days I had as a soldier were the days where I got to promote my soldiers,” Lima said. “And I think if Lima Consulting Group can get that right about how we recruit the best minds, train them, retain them and make a home for them where they can apply innovation, then they can really embrace this concept of selflessly serving our clients to use data for good and to really create relevant and timely customer experiences that are helpful,” Lima underscored.
“That’s the future I’d like to create.”