The following article was printed in the Hartford Business Journal
HBJ PHOTO | ROBERT STORACE
Tom Hazen is the managing director of growing Hartford IT consulting firm Hybrid Pathways.
Cyberattacks can be costly to businesses small and large. But the rising threat of hacks, ransomware and other cybercrimes has been a boon to IT consulting firms like Hartford-based Hybrid Pathways.
The company – which employs 52 full-time workers and about 40 other contractors, independent consultants and interns – has seen significant growth in recent years with revenues increasing 695% from 2019 to 2021, ranking the privately-held business 917th on Inc. magazine’s recently published list of the 5,000 fastest-growing U.S. private companies.
Tom Hazen — managing director of the company, which was founded in 2018 and has meetings space at 20 Church St. in downtown Hartford — said the IT consultancy industry is growing expeditiously due to the rise in bad actors, some of whom are backed by governments hostile to the United States. Many use ransomware — a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.
According to the business insurance website Embroker, the average cost of a single ransomware attack is $1.85 million. In addition, Embroker estimates that cybercrime will cost businesses worldwide an estimated $10.5 trillion by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. The need for cybersecurity support is more prevalent than ever before, Hazen said, offering Hybrid Pathways — and numerous competitors small and large like Accenture — significant growth opportunities.
Hybrid Pathways’ main customer base is Fortune 1,000 companies in need of IT programs that connect, protect and monitor a company’s data, Hazen said. The company has also developed a catalog of IT subscription services in addition to helping large companies implement IT automation.
“We’ve really focused on developing tools for our consultants to use that allow them to be on the forefront of these technologies and deliver services a little quicker than others might,” Hazen said. “There is a big need out there for delivering cloud security services (to protect a client’s data). It’s also about helping companies securely develop new computer applications and the process around that.”
Hazen, 57, started his career as a computer operator for General Electric in 1985. Prior to joining Hybrid Pathways he co-founded Tolland-based IT consultancy OpenSky Corp. He and his business partners sold that company to Germany-based TUV Rheinland in 2014 for an undisclosed sum. He was also previously the managing principal of Springfield-based IT consultancy British Telecom.
Hybrid Pathways’ growth, Hazen said, is being fueled by the company’s deep bench of consultants with years, or even decades, of experience. Of the company’s 52 full-time employees, 20 live in Connecticut and many are consultants with at least 15 years of experience. The majority of the company’s 35 clients, which Hazen declined to name for confidentiality reasons, are based in the Nutmeg State.
Trinity College partnership
Hybrid Pathways is also hiring and branching out. The company, Hazen said, wants to hire 25 more people in the next 12 months and is in its second year collaborating on several fronts with Trinity College. Hazen acknowledged that the IT world has, since the 1980s, been dominated by white men. To that end, he said, he began a partnership with Trinity College in 2021 to entice women and students from diverse backgrounds to enter the IT field and intern and possibly work for the company. Four minority Trinity College students have interned with the company over the last two years; one was hired for a full-time position, Hazen said.
Ewa Syta, chairperson of Trinity’s computer science department, said Hybrid Pathways also provides financial support for many college endeavors including paying stipends for the Trinity Technology and Leadership Internship for Women, and paying all the expenses for the college’s Women in Computer Science socials. Hybrid Pathways’ senior staff have also spoken at the college and are mentors on several projects, Syta said.
“Hybrid Pathways provides a real-world perspective on the industry needs in the field of cybersecurity, as well as the skillsets students need to succeed in this field,” she said.
Hazen said he sees strong growth for his company over the next five to 10 years, with the opportunity to expand into a business with hundreds of employees and between $50 million to $100 million in annual revenues.
“We are growing fast, but we need to make sure we do it the right way,” he said. “We must continue to deliver the highest quality of services, and if we do that, the rest will take care of itself.”
At A Glance
Company: Hybrid Pathways
Top Executive: Tom Hazen, Managing Director
HQ: 20 Church St., Hartford