Next is Michael Pansky, chief product officer at IntelliBridge and finalist in the Artificial Intelligence Executive of the Year, Private Company category. Here, he talks about taking professional risks and proud career moments.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
In 2015, I left a great job and career path to launch my own software company in the niche and often overlooked Defense/Gov Tech sector. At the time, venture capital was elusive; the industry’s reputation for being highly regulated and slow moving made it unappealing to investors. Without adequate funding, I was forced to outsource development, which produced subpar work and quickly drained my personal resources as I self-funded the business.
Realizing I needed more direct involvement, I started to learn coding. With no prior experience, I spent all my time attempting to master this new skill set. At the same time, I was forming a team focused on AI (really, NLP) with transformer-based modeling (a promising, yet nascent field at the time). It wasn’t easy convincing top talent to join a startup in such an uncharted area, but it was vital to the success.
These challenges provided invaluable lessons that no traditional job could offer. Rather than discouraging me, each hurdle fortified my resolve to succeed. This instilled in me the resilience and humility required to navigate an uncertain path and build something meaningful.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
What resonates most deeply is the meaningful impact we’ve had on our employees, partners, clients, and investors. I’ve been fortunate to lead a team that’s not only committed to business outcomes, but also to nurturing an ecosystem that thrives on mutual success.
As I reflect on my time at IntelliBridge over the past half-decade, what stands out is not merely the growth of the company, but the personal and professional evolution of our team members. These talented individuals have not just fulfilled their roles — they have transcended them. The arc of their growth is a testament to the nurturing environment we’ve cultivated, an environment that prizes personal enrichment and career advancement as much as delivery and productivity.
In a similar vein, our relationships with partners and clients have grown into meaningful collaborations that extend far beyond transactional interactions you tend to see in industry. Each partnership we’ve nurtured serves as both a mirror and a window — reflecting our own values while providing fresh perspectives that enrich our collective mission.
For our investors at Enlightenment Capital, the value extends beyond return on investment — it’s also about being part of something transformative, something that challenges the status quo. The trust they’ve placed in us doesn’t just fuel our operations on the product side; it fuels our collective ambition to achieve unparalleled feats.
Every day, the trust and collaboration I witness reminds me of why I took the initial risk of starting my own company many years ago. It’s a perpetual source of humility and gratitude, encouraging me that we’re not just building products but are also crafting legacies of positive, sustainable impact in the GovCon space.