By Eileen Louissaint
Graduates from Palm Beach Atlantic University search all over the country for opportunities to start their careers, but Robert Anderson, 39, of West Palm Beach, glanced right down the street 11 years ago and now he serves as vice president of Forte Interactive.
The company, located just two minutes north of PBA on Olive Avenue, calls itself “the leader in software and Web application development,” and boasts a loyal client list of over 200 local and national firms, including the university. Anderson co-founded Forte Interactive along with Clay Williams, an engineer formerly with IBM.
Anderson blew in from “The Windy City” of Chicago to attend PBA in 1988. After going home for a few years, he returned and graduated in 1994, with a degree in both communication and international business. He currently serves as a board member of the PBA Alumni Association.
“To this day, 21 years since I came here, I am still reaping rewards from business relations I have cultivated in the area,” Anderson said. As a successful PBA alumnus, he gives this advice to PBA students: “Network and build long-lasting relationships.”
“Robert was a very tenacious student,” said his former professor Mike Tillett.
Anderson’s discipline has allowed him to become a successful businessman, says Tillett, an assistant professor of accounting who is now Anderson’s CPA.
The word “forte” means “the strong part of the sword,” Anderson said. His company is gearing up to be “the strong part of the Web or business.”
Having a business in Palm Beach County was an advantage for Anderson as he already had many networking relations.
“I can work with about any company and I learn a lot from each project,” Anderson said. That’s one of the things he enjoys most about his career.
“He lightens the mood,” said Caleb Amesbury, a PBA grad hired by Forte. “It is a serious job and we are [producing] a high quality of work. He can make everyone laugh at or with him to ease the mood.”
Amesbury, a graphic arts graduate, took the photo of Anderson to accompany this story.
Anderson strongly believes in giving back to the community.
“The best lesson I learned from PBA was probably servitude,” said Anderson. “Through programs like Workship, it designed my desire and need to serve others who need help in the community.”
That attitude is reflected in the list of organizations to which Forte Interactive contributes, which includes United Way, Leadership Palm Beach County and Youth Leadership Palm Beach County.
The company awards an annual scholarship to a student who plans a career in science or engineering.
Anderson has also supported the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Palm Beach County, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation. He serves on the board for the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Anderson is also a passionate athlete. He has run in 10 marathons, including those in New York City, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Disney and his hometown, Chicago. He’s been in three Ironman competitions.
Anderson does it all: businessman, Ironman and philanthropist. Expect him to continue that pace for years to come.
As for retiring, when the day comes, “I would like to stay here, in Palm Beach County. Or, Higgin’s Beach, Maine. You have to stick with what you know, right?” Anderson joked.