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Donald J. Plumley

Partner, Operations Partner

San Francisco, CA

“Great companies have a compelling story to share. As both an operating executive and as a trusted advisor, it is very satisfying to help leadership teams articulate the story that drives strategy and execution – the story that inspires the team and creates valuable growth.”

Don is an active director and advisor to a portfolio of young companies and established enterprises, and a mentor to entrepreneurs. ​Across Don’s 30-year career as an advisor and executive, he has successfully grown, repositioned, acquired, and divested companies in multiple industries around the world. Most recently as Chairman, CEO, and President of Elanex, a technology-enabled language services provider, he orchestrated the sale to a New Zealand strategic acquirer. As a management consultant to a medical & energy advanced materials technology R&D company, he helped build the initial go-to-market commercialization plan that resulted in the first customers and the ultimate acquisition by a Japanese buyer. He served as VP/GM of Polycold (NASDAQ: IMGC), a manufacturer of cryogenic cooling systems. There he recruited a new management team, directed the lean manufacturing/ISO certification, oversaw record revenue and profitability growth, and led the divestiture effort to sell the division to Helix Technology (NASDAQ: HELX).

At Bowne Global Solutions (NASDAQ: BNE) he was the SVP/CMO for a roll-up in the translation industry and was responsible for global marketing, sales leadership, and corporate development for an enterprise with 31 offices in 26 countries with 2,000 employees and 10,000 freelance contractors encompassing 10 acquisitions/integrations around the globe. Don was the sales and marketing executive in a turnaround management team for HyCal, a sensor and instrumentation manufacturer. Through his leadership of strategic planning, they identified a market opportunity and hole in the product portfolio required to address this market. Licensing an emerging technology was a key action enabling his division to be sold to Honeywell. These examples highlight Don’s M&A and Strategy expertise that is integral to Sage Partners – drawing upon knowledgeable resources and real-world experiences to help management close the gap between idea and results to drive growth.  

In addition to Don’s corporate and consulting career, he is a successful entrepreneur, starting his first company in his early twenties in the Sales Force Automation field. As a startup founder, he raised capital, built a team, scrapped for customers, and learned the indelible lessons of failure, repositioning, and rebirth. He is an active advisor for and investor in a number of startup companies, serves on the Board of Directors of Fresh Victor, an LP in an early-stage venture fund, and a MentorNet Advisor for the  UC Davis Venture Catalyst program.

Donald holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson with an emphasis on international business and a BS in Physiology from the University of California Davis. When not advising management teams, he can be found at Soliste, the boutique winery he co-founded in Sonoma County or outdoors in Incline Village, NV.

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