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Thursday 10 December 2015

Solent Graduate becomes CEO

In 1995, international student Kenneth Steiness saw the internet – or the World Wide Web as it was then known – for the first time at Solent Library.

He immediately saw its potential and decided to focus on computers within business.

Graduating from Solent in 1996 in BA (Hons) Business Administration, Kenneth is now the founder, CEO and managing partner of Sensei Project Solutions, a US-based company that deals in project and portfolio management for Microsoft.

We asked Kenneth, who is originally from Denmark, some questions about his career so far:

How did you go about setting up your company?

I’ve worked in the project management industry for almost 20 years and have previously set up (and made successful) practices within other organisations. I knew I was able to be successful in this space and was longing for the opportunity to do it my way, so when the time was right, my business partner and I seized the moment and took a big leap of faith. We’ve been true to our original vision and mission, even when it’s not convenient on a daily basis.


How did Solent help you with your current success?

The classes I took at Solent definitely helped prepare me for running my own business and have the bigger picture. I see other people who have great product ideas, but they don’t know much about what it takes to bring those ideas to market. That was one of our differentiators; our ability to carry through with the execution of our plans.

What has been your biggest achievement in your work so far?

I would have to pick two to answer this truthfully. In the summer of 2014, Sensei Project Solutions was named the #1 partner in the world for Microsoft in the ‘Project and Portfolio Management’ category. That gave me an opportunity to meet Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, and the executive leadership team at Microsoft. I was very proud, as you can imagine.


Then, in September 2015, Microsoft acquired a portion of our business, specifically apps that we had developed and I had designed myself. They bought six apps in total; for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, iPad and SharePoint. These will now be distributed to 20+ million Microsoft clients around the world in 10,000 organisations.

What do you love about your career?

The freedom! I get to do what I love to do and choose who I work with. My team is absolutely amazing and some of the best talent in the world. I also thrive on the creative aspects of it; to be able to take something that’s relatively complex and make it easier for people to understand and learn.


What are the biggest challenges you are facing in your industry?

The pace of change. Technology is changing so quickly that the cycles are much shorter than they were when we started the business. That also changes how we develop our products and write our materials. New Microsoft features now come out on a quarterly basis instead of every 2-3 years, so we’ve had to adapt to a new model of continuous updates. It’s exciting too though. Not many partners can keep up, so we’ve gained a lot of ground recently.

What three pieces of advice would you give to current students?

  1. Be true to yourself and your passion. I love the expression: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re an intern just starting out, a senior consultant or CEO, you will succeed if you put everything into it and deliver a high quality product that helps people with real problems.
  2. Learn how to review your own work. It sounds simple, but is essential and has been one of the biggest challenges for the students I’ve hosted as interns and also for many of my employees.
  3. International students, soak up the culture and take the opportunity to learn about your host country. Don’t just hang out with other students from your own country or culture. Now is the time to learn about how others think and live.


If you’re interested in Sensei Project Solutions, take a look at the video they’ve just released.