40 under 40

(source: Boston Business Journal, 40 Under 40 Special Edition, October 4, 2002)

Susan Loconto Penta
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
MIDIOR Consulting

Age: 37

Education: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; master's degree in business administration, City University Business School, London.

Professionally speaking, Susan Loconto Penta is the person she never thought she would be - or wanted to be. As a 20-something engineer, Penta was suspicious of professional consulting.

"It amazed me that teams could spend money on outside help and not do those jobs themselves," she says.

When they left the software world, Penta and her business partner, Michael Goldberger, intended to go the route of product innovation, developing products and enhancing existing ones with a heavy emphasis on technology and science. Through trial and error, they established MIDIOR Consulting and are new helping other companies, from large financial-services houses to non-profits, embrace innovation in their design of products and services.

She is, for all intents, a consultant - but the kind of consultant she says she could have used when starting out.

"Much of what we do is dig into details. We relish the primary research and getting into the data. It's the hard projects we like," Penta says.

Innovation is nothing new for Penta. Moda Systems, the software outfit she used to run, was one of the early developers of mobile-data technology (think "handhelds"). As it turns out, the company might have been too early: Penta says the market in the late '80s and early 90's wasn't ready for the technology Moda produced - which was, actually, a bit different from the sleek, slim, ergonomically friendly handhelds of today.

But Penta has no qualms about product innovation - or with helping companies with the research and development to get their respective concepts to market.

Aside from MIDIOR, Penta is the president of the New England chapter of the Product Development and Management Association. She also teaches a management course at Northeastern University.