Get to Know 8 of Chicago Tech’s Newest Execs and Directors

Learn about the backgrounds, goals and leadership styles of the new executives and directors at eight fast-growing Chicago tech companies.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Apr. 18, 2022
Get to Know 8 of Chicago Tech’s Newest Execs and Directors
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People want to work for leaders who are hungry and driven to make an impact. They also want to know what goals a leader has and about their leadership style.

While the press releases announcing these hires often contain this information, you can learn far more by going straight to the source. For example, Mike Trevino, the new president and CTO of Affinitiv, described to Built In how his “servant” leadership style looks in action. “Its application is really very simple: jump in, lead by example and set an aggressive but sustainable cadence,” Trevino said.

Other information you can’t find in a press release? The fact that CPI OpenFox’s new managing director of engineering has been working in tech since before he could vote; that Deliverr’s first-ever CRO helped Twilio become the tech powerhouse that it is today; and that she is probably better at golf than you.

Continue reading for more about these and a handful of other recently hired Chicago tech execs and directors.

 

Ryan Ashburn
Chief Revenue Officer • HealthJoy

 

Ryan Ashburn is the new chief revenue officer at HealthJoy, whose technology is designed to make it easier for workers to access, understand and use their health benefits. Ashburn spent the past decade in sales leadership positions at Bay Area tech companies and brings over two decades of sales, marketing and leadership experience to HealthJoy.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What position are you stepping into? What’s your professional background? Why were you brought on to lead this team?

For more than 25 years, I have had the opportunity to lead high-performing teams with great accountability, discipline and a people-centric focus. My background is in payroll and human capital management, pricing optimization and martech. I started my career at ADP, whose culture shaped my leadership style and approach. After a successful career at ADP of more than 17 years, I began working at smaller companies and was most recently BrightTALK’s president and chief revenue officer. I spent the past seven years helping the business triple its revenue, leading to a successful exit to TechTarget in December 2020. 

My mission is to grow our revenue by determining how to organize and leverage our go-to-market strategy to accelerate HealthJoy’s explosive growth.”

 

What’s your first order of business in your new role?

My mission is to grow our revenue by determining how to organize and leverage our go-to-market strategy to accelerate HealthJoy’s explosive growth. Our marketing organization will launch new programs and initiatives to define and influence a new category of benefits navigation and to better relate to the market, customers, brokers and partners driving demand. We will expand upon the commercial organization with a focus on our sales development organization, which will evangelize who we are to the market. 

Sales will continue to focus on our strategic broker relationships and moving up-market to larger enterprises. Lastly, the joint effort between sales and customer teams will ensure that our clients are getting the right adaption, utilization and value so we can continue to provide a great employer and member experience.

 

 

Mikael Bundgaard-Nielsen

 

Mikael Bundgaard-Nielsen is a recent arrival to both Chicago and Nature’s Fynd. Bundgaard-Nielsen built his career at an industrial biotech company in Copenhagen, Denmark, and moved to the Windy City to serve as the CTO of Nature’s Fynd, which uses proprietary fermentation technology to create sustainable food products like breakfast patties and cream cheese. 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Before joining Nature’s Fynd I worked at the Danish company Novozymes — an industrial biotechnology company — where I led process and product development for all fermentation-based products. I have always been excited about science and am convinced that the right application of it holds the answers to many of society’s sustainability challenges. At Novozymes, I was part of the development of hundreds of new products, including bioethanol, a sustainable fuel that’s saved millions of tons of CO2 emissions. I joined Nature’s Fynd to continue this mission of making the Earth more sustainable using science.

I joined Nature’s Fynd to continue this mission of making the Earth more sustainable using science.”

 

What’s your first order of business in your new role?

Nature’s Fynd has already launched four products and we are planning to expand our product range and move into more stores across the country. My role is to ensure that our manufacturing supports this commercial expansion, and my number one priority is to scale our current production setup and to set up new facilities. 

As we are using a unique combination of technologies, our manufacturing technology requires collaboration across disciplines in and outside the company, and I am excited to use my fermentation experience and to learn about other technologies. One of our most important projects is to design and build our next-generation manufacturing facility, which will combine our latest research with inspiration from other industries to enable a cost-efficient production of our Fy protein. 

 

 

Soumya Srinagesh
Chief Revenue Officer • Deliverr

 

Soumya Srinagesh is the first-ever chief revenue officer at Deliverr, whose logistics software and network of warehouses enables merchants to more easily offer one and two-day shipping. Srinagesh is a former Twilio VP who has also held strategy roles at GoodData and PayPal.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I live in Truckee, California, with my husband, newborn and cockapoo. Working out is my self-care and I routinely rotate through the wellness trends of the day, with Peloton being my current obsession. Prior to Deliverr, I worked at Twilio for seven years, first leading the business operations and strategy team and then the global messaging sales team. While there, we grew annual revenue from $89 million to around $2 billion. I hold a degree from Wellesley College where I played on the varsity golf team. 

That brings us to today and why I decided to join Deliverr. If you’re like me, you’ve come to expect online purchases to show up at your door in one to two days. Every merchant I’ve spoken to wants to offer fast, free shipping to customers, but the cost and complexity is simply impossible for most to manage. Deliverr’s mission is to democratize fast fulfillment and enable any merchant to access the billion-dollar logistics network that only the largest retailers can traditionally afford. This mission instantly resonated with me. 

I’m excited to get to know the people here and build a new community.”

 

How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you hope to apply this in your new role?

Team is everything to me. I stayed at my last company for a long time and made really close friends among my teammates and customers. I’m excited to get to know the people here and build a new community. I like to ask a lot of questions, too. I have so much to learn about Deliverr and am so excited to get to know this incredible team and contribute to the amazing business being built. I’m also extremely data-oriented and like to make decisions quickly based on what the numbers say. I am not afraid to change course when the numbers prove us wrong!

 

 

Frances Palmer
Director of Product Design • Devbridge

 

Devbridge Group looked within when hiring its next director of product design, Frances Palmer. Palmer joined the tech consulting firm — which specializes in digital transformation and custom software development — in 2016 and was a lead product designer before becoming the leader of the product design org.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’ve been with Devbridge almost six years now and have grown a lot with the company, having started as a senior product designer. Now, I’m stepping into the role of director of product design. I was promoted to lead the team as I have a deep understanding of what it’s like delivering products at Devbridge. I’ve seen how the organization has evolved over the past several years and I know where it needs to go. I’m really excited to get to work and take a design operations-centered approach.

I’ve seen how the organization has evolved over the past several years and I know where it needs to go.”

 

How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you hope to apply this in your new role?

As user experience designers, we’re taught to be inquisitive and observant, and I’m definitely the latter. I lead by listening ––that means listening to designers and to my cross-functional teammates. Answering questions like, “In what areas is design an unknown quantity?” and, “How can I help enable sales to sell more effectively?” starts with listening to people and empathizing with their frustrations or challenges. Listening like this also makes me a great connector because I can reference similar pain points and bring people together to work through problems. 

I’m also big on creating frameworks for folks to do their job; giving people guardrails but allowing them to forge their own path. Part of that work is developing playbooks for the various product design activities and the services we execute. I’m very excited to put these into practice and continue to revise and improve them.

 

 

Caroline Werner
Chief People Officer • LogicGate

 

Caroline Werner brings extensive human resources experience to LogicGate, which develops software for companies to monitor and manage regulatory and compliance risk. As the company’s new chief people officer, Werner told Built In she is excited to instill a culture on her team that encourages people to share ideas and act on them.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I was attracted to LogicGate because of its alignment with my foundational core values and because of the ability to make an impact. We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us to leverage and build up on what is in place to ensure our continued success as we scale and grow. I am coming into this role with more than 20 years of HR experience and with extensive knowledge across all aspects of HR strategy. 

Prior to LogicGate, I served as SVP of global talent at Korn Ferry where I oversaw HR operations, talent acquisition and learning and development. I have also held global HR senior leadership roles at Heidrick & Struggles and United Stationers Supply Co, which is now Essendant. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and am an executive mentor at Menttium, which provides professional mentorship programs.

I was attracted to LogicGate because of its alignment with my foundational core values and because of the ability to make an impact.”

 

How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you hope to apply this in your new role?

My leadership style is centered around several core principles, including authenticity, resilience, relationships, agility, performance and energy. I love to lead teams and provide support and guidance to help them operate at their best. I strive to be a true partner to the business by tackling complex issues and implementing operational strategies, both for today and the future. LogicGate is an outcomes-first company, which creates opportunities for the people team and all employees to be themselves, contribute to success, share and implement ideas, and learn from our mistakes. 

Also, I like to have fun! Especially with all that has gone on in the last couple of years, it is important to connect with each other and enjoy what you do.

 

 

Christina Bottis
Chief Commercial Officer • Paro.ai

 

Christina Bottis comes to Paro with nearly a decade of high-level leadership experience at two pillars of the Chicago tech scene, Coyote Logistics and CareerBuilder. As the chief commercial officer at Paro — a marketplace that connects tech companies with finance and accounting pros on-demand — Bottis told Built In that her top goal is enhancing the customer experience and building out a top-notch go-to-market team.

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have more than 15 years of experience in marketing, demand generation and product development. In addition, I have extensive experience leading orgs at Chicago tech companies. Before Paro, I was the global chief marketing officer at Coyote Logistics and I was the director of global demand generation at CareerBuilder, too. I earned my bachelor’s degree at Dominican University and my MBA at Notre Dame.

 

What’s your first order of business in your new role?

I am focused on driving Paro’s go-to-market strategy and demand generation engine. My goal is to create a seamless customer experience, and to do this I’ll need to work with multiple teams, including marketing, revenue operations and inbound sales. I am so excited to collaborate with our CEO, Anita Samojednik, to build a world-class go-to-market team. Our success will be the result of obsessive customer focus and well-executed processes. 

 

 

Mike Trevino
President & Chief Technology Officer • Affinitiv

 

Affinitiv made a major hire recently, welcoming Mike Trevino as president and CTO. Trevino brings extensive tech leadership experience to Affinitiv, including serving as CTO of a healthtech company, where he was required to bring together several companies under one brand. This is especially relevant given that Affinitiv, an automotive marketing and software organization, was formed through the merger of seven different companies.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the new president and CTO of Affinitiv, and I come into this role with more than 20 years of experience in technology infrastructure and enterprise systems. Some of that experience actually came as a founder. I founded two companies, a business management platform called Indigenous Software and a digital marketing platform called RVLVR. I also spent over a decade at Qualcomm and previously served as the CTO at NantHealth, a Los Angeles healthtech company.

I’m a proponent of servant leadership and believe my job is to create an environment where my team thrives.”

 

What’s your first order of business, and can you describe your leadership style and how you hope to apply this in your new role?

The first order of business was identifying and synthesizing the company’s mission and vision to align our teams, roadmaps and execution. We’re a roll-up of several companies, and while a great deal of integration work has been done, we’re just now starting to see the accretive benefits. For example, we just announced “DealerLens,” the first new product Affinitiv has introduced in its recent history.

Regarding leadership, I’m a proponent of servant leadership and believe my job is to create an environment where my team thrives. Its application is really very simple: jump in, lead by example and set an aggressive but sustainable cadence. A big part of my job is engaging and listening to everyone on my team and then taking action once the path forward is clear. We’re not always going to get it right, but clearing obstacles and empowering folks to make decisions creates a happier and more productive team.

 

 

Paul Jones
Managing Director of Engineering • CPI OpenFox

 

Paul Jones is the new managing director of engineering at CPI OpenFox, an organization that develops software and data-sharing solutions for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Jones began working with tech as a teen and has worked in the Chicago tech scene for nearly as long, including as a consultant, founder and director of tech orgs.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I started working in technology at 17 and have loved it ever since. There are always new hats to try on, and as soon as we think we have something figured out, someone finds a better way to do it. This pace keeps us on our toes and forces us to push our ability to absorb new things. My background is pretty diverse with a mix of entrepreneurial endeavors, employment in larger organizations and consulting on everything from retail analytics to healthcare information. 

This role required someone who understands how and when to apply industry trends and new ideas in a way that is appropriate for different businesses. I think my background in consulting was a big plus when it came to leading the engineering organization here, too. We develop a lot of configurable code to fit the legislative requirements of our customers, and understanding how to manage those efforts while balancing the need to build products that are operationally sound is one of the most critical parts of this job.

I always remind myself that I am serving those I have been given the opportunity to lead and not the other way around.”

 

How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you hope to apply this in your new role?

My leadership style is a combination of things I absorbed along the way as an engineer. I appreciated leaders who took the time to listen to ideas from me and my teammates and either incorporated aspects of those ideas or explained the priorities that required us to take a different approach. I liked managers who didn’t take over every minor decision and allowed the team to succeed — and sometimes experience minor setbacks — in order to learn for ourselves. 

Most importantly, I always remind myself that I am serving those I have been given the opportunity to lead and not the other way around. Titles have authority built into them, but they shouldn’t be the reason why you are a leader. The best leaders are the ones whose teams believe in what they are trying to accomplish and, because of that belief, develop their own drive to contribute to the cause.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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