2017 Business Leaders of the Year | Technology

Mark Senti has spent more than three decades pursuing innovation at its highest levels – from the supercomputer to superconductivity. Senti is CEO and co-founder of AML Superconductivity and Magnetics (AML), a Melbourne-based, applications development company that provides revolutionary and transformational magnet-based solutions for the energy, aerospace, medical and science markets.

Making a decision to depart from full-time farming, Senti began his technical career as a young, hungry engineer with Cray Research, Inc., a company that was founded by the “father of supercomputing.” It was there he learned what it takes to lead at the cutting edge of technology. It was his experience at Cray that fueled his drive for pushing the norm and making believers out of those who could not see the light.

AML is the result of his first success on the Space Coast, GSMA Systems, Inc., which was acquired in 2004 by SWF Companies, subsidiary of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. GSMA grew from a founding team of four (in 1992) to an international provider of robotics and factory automated systems. It was during his years at GSMA that Senti learned many lessons about the cost of pursuing innovation – long nights, tight margins and countless months without pay. The experience prepared him for his next challenge.

Today, AML is the world leader in magnet technology, paving the way with its proprietary know-how, rich intellectual property portfolio and seasoned team that has navigated the challenges of innovation and business – which sometimes blend like oil and water when mixed. The company’s success is demonstrated through its more than 30 customers since reorganization in 2008 and by leading a significant pathway to commercial products and services.

These pursuits are not without challenges. AML has been at the forefront of offshore wind, data centers and next-generation magnetic solutions since the beginning, but finding market entry where a market does not yet exist is extremely challenging. Beginning in 2016, after running ahead of the market for so many years, Senti realized that the opportunity for AML to disrupt the transportation market was both real and coming quickly. This led Senti and AML to some of the largest household names in technology, venture capital and industry. Companies such as Airbus, Embraer and others invested heavily once they realized the viable commercial opportunity, and Uber set an agenda to become an autonomous rideshare company within a few years of launching.

Senti believes everything happens for a reason. The team at AML has remained persistent in the belief that the market would catch up, eventually. Today, they are aligning themselves with major strategies and continuing to set the tone with innovation. As the late Steve Jobs once said, those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do. AML has stayed true to its vision.

Senti’s journey has come full circle, from his humble beginnings in southwestern Wisconsin at Cray to the Space Coast and on to Silicon Valley searching for that black swan and now back to the Space Coast to lay the foundation of next-generation aerospace in the very place that launched the first man to the moon.

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. – Norman Schwarzkopf