Alana Ward Robinson
Owner and Managing Principal
Robinson Consulting Group Inc.
When Alana Ward Robinson enrolled in a Fortran programming class in high school, she not only earned college credits, she discovered a passion for computers. “I loved the logic, the reasoning, the fact that through code you could get instant gratification,” she says.
Robinson received at bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and computer science from Grambling University and joined IBM as a programmer after graduation. She had no prior work experience, but the company recognized her potential. “They knew I was green, but they put me on the right accounts and my career was allowed to grow,” she says. Robinson spent 18 years at IBM before moving on to a series of technology-focused executive positions at companies that included Public Service Co. of Colorado, PACE Membership Warehouse, Coors Brewery Co., Sara Lee Hosiery and RR Donnelley. She credits her membership in the Executive Leadership Council, the nation’s preeminent organization of African-American business leaders, with being instrumental to her professional development. “I was exposed to a number of highly accomplished people who looked like me,” says Robinson, “and I got to give back to some high-quality protégés.”
Robinson moved several times during the course of her career. When her tenure at RR Donnelly ended, she decided to turn to entrepreneurship in order to stay in the Chicago area. She and her husband, Elbert O’Neal Robinson, invested in a Fantastic Sam hair salon franchise. Around the same time, Robinson received a consulting assignment that developed into a second business with her husband. Since 2004, Robinson Consulting Group Inc. has provided strategic global information technology consulting services in a variety of industries.
Working together has been an easy adjustment for the Robinsons, college sweethearts who have been married for 37 years. “We share the same values and we trust each other,” says Robinson. “There are no surprises.”