2015 Distinguished achievement award: Patrick Quirk

// Industrial & Systems Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, ISyE E-Day, Patrick Quirk

Patrick-QuirkPatrick Quirk
Founder and General Partner
ORCA Equities
BSIE ’79
Lake Oswego, Oregon

Patrick Quirk is a visionary leader in the high-tech software industry, serving in executive management and CEO positions for more than 30 years. He has been a driving force in the success of many top-tier technology companies, such as Texas Instruments, Oracle, Aspect Development, PeopleSoft, Golden Gate Software and IBM.

Quirk graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1979. He engaged in internships and research projects, giving him invaluable experience in his field. “The work we were doing was leading-edge in the industry,” he says. “Our professors were writing the books for the top-10 engineering colleges in the U.S. Together with companies in both Milwaukee and Madison, we came up with leading industrial engineering productivity strategies that had never been done before.”

Decades after graduating, he still mentors Badger entrepreneurs, giving guidance to graduate students looking to create their own companies. “Years ago, I realized how hard it was in the Midwest to get funding from strategic investors, to build a global business, and the right executive team,” says Quirk, who lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. “We’re trying to take that knowledge from the Bay Area back to Wisconsin.”

One of his greatest accomplishments was helping to turn around the nearly bankrupt Emptoris, a company that was then acquired by IBM. He served as chief executive officer and president of Emptoris, a developer and provider of strategic supply and contract management software.

Launching new divisions in China, the rest of Asia, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Emptoris captured market share in 40 countries and grew organically by 20 percent. By the time of its acquisition by IBM, Emptoris had deployed more than 500 global customers and hired 850 employees, placing it as one of 2011’s fastest growing private companies.

Quirk currently is founder of ORCA Equities, an angel investment LLC located on the West Coast. In addition to providing leadership in software technology, he also is involved with philanthropic work through Free the Children, working to provide sponsorship for a drive specializing in sustainability in Africa, India and in North America.

Quirk has three children: Shannon, 28; Sean, 26; and Brendan, 23. He and his fiance Katherine and their family are active as members of a golf community, and also enjoy partaking in various water and snow sports.