CTOs to know: Here's what the tech leaders of 5 Chicago companies are working on this year

Sam Dewey

In order to run a successful company in today's tech-powered world, you've got to have a top-tier tech team. Not only do you need a team of highly skilled engineers and developers to build and create and innovate, but you also need a leader that touts vision, strategy, and unparalleled technical chops.

Built In Chicago caught up with some of Chicago's leading CTOs to learn more about the tech behind their work and what they've got in store for 2016.

Larry Podmolik,  TrustwaveTrustwaveVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert

In 2015, Trustwave was one of the top digital tech employers in Chicago, clocking in a headcount of 350 at the time. It’s an impressive milestone, and one you can’t reach without a cream-of-the-crop leadership team.

Enter Trustwave’s CTO Larry Podmolik, whose tenure at the cybersecurity giant began over eight years ago. Since then, he’s led a rockstar tech team who have built products and services that millions of businesses the world over depend on to secure their information and assets.
In total, he has racked up over 20 years of experience in building businesses across a number of industries.


Mahi Inampudi,  KARKARVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert

Chicago’s auto tech industry is accelerating at an impressive pace, and few people know that as well as Mahi Inampudi.

Inampudi heads technology and product over at DRIVIN, a fledgling startup (and brainchild of Lefkofsky and Keywell fame) that only officially launched about eight months ago. Despite the startup's youth, DRIVIN already has $10 million in funding and a fast-growing team of some of Chicago’s best and brightest. Armed with those assets — as well as their first-of-its-kind, data-driven marketplace that helps used auto dealers find the cars they need most — DRIVIN is poised for a strong 2016.

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Larry Kiss,  SpotHeroSpotHeroVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert

“Don’t get stuck in traffic.”

Sage advice for any Chicago commuter, but it’s also a mantra than SpotHero— a local tech company much more interested in parking than actual traffic standstills — holds near and dear to its heart.

The philosophy acts as a daily reminder to not let anything stand in the way of getting something done. Its efficacy is proven with a quick glance at the company’s stats: 70-plus team members, 250-plus operating partners, 1,000-plus operating facilities, and 2,000,000-plus cars parked in a little over four years.

No one knows the truth of that mantra better than Larry Kiss, SpotHero’s co-founder and CTO who sits at the intersection of all the company’s tech and product innovations.

Since 2011, he’s helped steer SpotHero to success in an increasingly packed parking lot of technology geared at improving the experience of car drivers and passengers just about everywhere.

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Adam Kanouse,  Narrative ScienceNarrative ScienceVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert

It’s not everyday you meet a CTO that doubles as a storyteller.

But that’s exactly what Adam Kanouse is charged with at Narrative Science, a Chicago-based company whose platform Quill turns mines of unintelligible data into easily understood, insightful, and organized analyses. Their natural language generation software is one of those rare technologies that transforms the tech of the future into the tech of today, and they’ve begun to establish themselves as a leader in Artificial Intelligence.

Kanouse, who cut his teeth at Accenture and OpTier prior to joining Narrative Science in 2014, oversees all of the company’s tech strategy, including building software and supporting Narrative Science customers from a systems perspective.

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Jason Allen,  YelloYelloVisit their siteView company profile+ Create Job Alert

When Jason Allen was serving in the army, one of the key leadership mantras he lived by was “mission first, people always.”

Fast-forward to today, and Allen leans on that same philosophy to manage his team of engineers at Yello, a Chicago-based recruitment software company, where he stands as CTO.  

During his tenure, he’s seen the company through sizable Series A and Series B rounds and steered the eight-year-old company through a successful rebrand. Through it all, he’s maintained a keen focus on developing the strongest team possible.

“My highest priority is to always move the business forward, but at the end of the day that can’t happen without the support of a stellar team … I joke sometimes that Yello isn't a job — it's a lifestyle,” Allen said. “We spend almost as much time together outside of work as we do at the office, and in many cases we think of each other more as friends than colleagues.” 

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Want to nominate a CTO for this series? Send us an email via [email protected].

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