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Utah Business

Now more than ever we need strong leaders to guide our businesses forward and these are the leaders doing just that. Meet our 2021 CXO of the Year honorees.

2021 CXO of the Year honorees

The C-Suite does more than just manage a company, they lead through times of uncertainty and make the hard decisions that directly impact the company’s future. Now more than ever we need strong leaders to guide our businesses forward and these are the leaders doing just that. Meet our 2021 CXO of the Year honorees. 

Alicia Garcia

Chief Culture Officer | MasterControl, Inc.

Twitter | LinkedIn

Alicia Garcia | 2021 CXO Of the Year Honorees
Alicia Garcia photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What challenges have you overcome to get here today?

MasterControl was a small private company with 120 employees when I joined. Growing the team to 650 people in 10 years in a highly competitive technical environment will be one of the highlights of my career.

What does success look like to you?

Success is best when it’s shared. The greatest feeling is when a team succeeds. A team that can utilize the talents of each member to support each other to reach a goal is the best experience you can ask for.

Clark Sweat

EVP & COO | Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals)

Twitter | LinkedIn

Clark Sweat | 2021 Cxo Of the Year Honorees
Clark Sweat photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What’s your life motto?

“Be curious, not judgmental.” A quote originated by Walt Whitman but revived in a recent TV series, “Ted Lasso.” Curiosity has fueled my approach to nonprofit partnerships and leadership. I have encouraged my team to adopt this mindset and know that more can be learned and experienced with open-mindedness. 

What is the most rewarding thing about your job/industry? Why?

At CMN Hospitals, we have the opportunity to see how our work impacts the lives of children and families. I am honored to play a role in supporting that work. As we say, together we are changing kids’ health to change the future.

Dale R. Gerard

CFO | Vivint Smart Home

Twitter | LinkedIn

Dale Gerard | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Dale Gerard photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What is the most rewarding thing about your job/industry? Why?

In my role within finance, I have seen the company grow in so many ways, from ~$100 million in revenue in 2009 to an acquisition by the largest private equity firm in the world in 2012, to going public via a SPAC merger in January 2020. Capital structure aside, our industry didn’t really exist 10 years ago and has evolved with Vivint as a leader in smart home innovation that many others are trying to copy today. 

What does success look like to you?

The true measure of success is being able to build great teams while providing a challenging and rewarding work environment that enables employees to advance individually and as teams―whether within the company or in opportunities outside of it. 

Danya Pastuszek (not pictured)

COO | United Way of Salt Lake

Twitter | LinkedIn

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

I “grew up” in refugee resettlement and workforce development, and I imagined in my 20s and early 30s that I’d support change via a career in social services. It wasn’t until I had the chance to observe business leaders, service providers, teachers, parents, elected officials, and others working together to solve problems at scale that I realized my passion for a career built around these kinds of partnerships. 

What does success look like to you?

To me, success looks like working with others toward a Utah where outcomes at a population level do not vary predictably based on race. Instead, it looks like more people in our amazing state making a decades-long, sustained commitment to equitable results. It looks like more people with lived experience of racism and poverty leading the work to transform systems. It looks like communities where everyone experiences feelings of belonging and joy. 

Devin Mattson

COO | Ethik

LinkedIn

Devin Mattson | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Devin Mattson photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What are you looking forward to accomplishing most in 2021?

There’s so much low-hanging fruit at Ethik right now that a big part of my job is helping the company prioritize and hire for the things we can immediately act on while still thinking two to three years down the road. For 2021, I’m most excited to relaunch our website which will open up more opportunities for self-serve corporate purchases. 

What is the most rewarding thing about your job/industry? Why?

The most rewarding part of my job is the people I get to work with every day. This includes my colleagues at Ethik as well as the thousands of artisans in our network. Their stories are an inspiration to me. 

Eddie Silcock

EVP and President North America | Nature’s Sunshine Products

LinkedIn

Edward Silcock | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Edward Silcox photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

Apart from when I was very young and thought I wanted to deliver milk (my Dad was trying to convince me otherwise) I never had a plan. I have always been drawn to companies with a legacy, vision, and strong values. I was taught by my grandmother that if you focus on serving others you will live a full life. She was so right. 

Who inspires you most? Why?

The Apostle Paul. To achieve what he did in a world of hostility [is] truly inspiring. Professionally, the NSP team and the army of independent consultants who never cease in their desire to spread wellness every day. They are awesome. 

Indy Chakrabarti

Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer | Avetta

LinkedIn

Indy Chakrabarti photograhed for Utah Business

Who inspires you most? Why?

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Not that I always agree with either on politics, but both embody to me the most important elements of leadership. Humility, compassion, equanimity, the ability to put the greater good over ideology, and shrewd, practical intellect. 

What does success look like to you?

Not having stress―which is really what it means when we all say health, family, and a good career. I think I’d be happy even in confinement… if it wasn’t stressful. 

Jane Barratt

Chief Advocacy Officer | MX

Twitter | LinkedIn

Jane Barratt | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Jane Barrett photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What does success look like to you?

Ultimately, the best success is seeing hard work have an impact―on the business, our families, colleagues, clients, industry, and ultimately the community.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

Enjoy the ride! Luckily I’ve been taking this advice and have had so much fun working over the years. Every week, month, and year is different, so enjoy today!

Jeremiah Jewkes

Chief Development & Strategy Officer | PCF Insurance Services

Twitter

Jeremiah Jewkes | 2021 CXO Of the Year
Jeremiah Jewkes photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

Throughout my entire childhood, I was convinced I was going to be a professional soccer player. I was so thoroughly and irrationally (I was never especially talented) focused on this goal, that my parents grew concerned enough to check me out of school and do a getaway to break the news to me that I was never going to make it as a soccer pro. I cried like a baby. To this day, I am not sure if they did me a huge favor by focusing me on practical goals or a massive disservice by crushing my boyhood dreams.

Do you have any big plans for the future?

Together with our five young kids, my wife and I want to own and manage a large farm in the near future. Nothing replaces getting your hands dirty through hard work!

Jessica Klodnicki

CMO | Skullcandy

LinkedIn

Jessica Klodnicki | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Jessica Klodnicki photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What challenges have you overcome to get here today?

Growing up as a military brat, I had to move every few years. I lived everywhere from the island of Guam to Florida, California, Spain, and a few places in between. I never had the opportunity to lay down roots. Then I had to work and pay my own way through college. These experiences gave me a strong work ethic and made me a flexible and adaptable leader throughout my career.

What’s your life motto?

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”- John Muir

Jim Swayze

President | Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah

Jim Swayze | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Jim Swayze photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What’s your life motto?

Hard work pays off! Hard work serves me well, starting with my first job at age 15 and earning me an athletic scholarship and an education I couldn’t have gotten otherwise. A career of hard work has given me experiences to draw from and built my self-confidence. Now, I’m enjoying more of the payoff, so I give back [by mentoring and helping] people develop their strengths. 

What are you looking forward to accomplishing most in 2021?

As a Ronald McDonald House Charities board member, I can’t wait to see its new palliative care program take off and help more sick kids and their families. At Regence, we’ll continue the momentum to grow our business presence and achieve success. It’ll be good to advance our core philosophy of giving back in the community too.

Joe Grover

CMO | Homie

Twitter | LinkedIn

Joe Grover | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Joe Grover photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is helping millions of people afford homes without sacrificing relationships with the seven people living in my own home.

What are you looking forward to accomplishing most in 2021?

In 2021 Homie is going to launch and operate in three new markets as we prove there’s an easier and more affordable way to help people buy and sell homes. We are launching an entirely new mobile experience and launching a new mortgage product that will help thousands of people buy their dream home. It’s going to be a big year.

Kat Judd

SVP of People & Culture | Lucid

LinkedIn

Katt Judd | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Kat Judd photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

Who inspires you most? Why?

Dolly Parton. She decided that if she was going to be a punchline, then she was going to write it herself. I love how she took back ownership. She’s an incredible woman succeeding and thriving in business and generously donating her time and money to good causes.

What advice do you have for your younger self?

Early in my career, I planned everything out to the T and felt a need to stick strictly to that plan. Looking back, I wish I’d been more open to exploring different things. I was such a planner and I don’t think I had enough foresight to understand what some diversity and out-of-the-box pit stops could have added to my plan.

Leslie Snavely

Chief Sales Officer | CHG Healthcare

Twitter | LinkedIn

Leslie Snavely | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Leslie Snavely photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What is the most rewarding thing about your job/industry? Why?

Working in healthcare has never been more rewarding or challenging as it has in the last year. I love this ability to make an impact and can’t imagine a better group of people to do it with other than my CHG family. 

What advice do you have for your younger self?

[Don’t] let people put you in a box. Oftentimes, based on other people’s perceptions, I let this “box” constrain how I viewed myself. If I could do it again, I would have broken through those barriers earlier on in my career. There are so many ways to do things and we all need to shape our own way–one that allows us to be the best versions of ourselves.

Meghan Tuohig

Chief People Officer | Overstock

Meghan Tuohig | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Meghan Tuohig photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What is the most rewarding thing about your job/industry? Why?

It’s been said that most people will spend about 90,000 hours of their lives working, so it’s only natural that one’s level of job satisfaction will have an impact on their quality of life. Knowing that the daily effort I make in my role may positively influence an employee’s experience at work fills me with a sense of purpose and is incredibly rewarding. 

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

If you told me 20 years ago that a role in human resources was in my future, I would have never believed you. After studying kinesiology in college, my goal was to enter the field of biomechanics. My unconventional journey has been a wonderful reminder for me to always remain open-minded about the opportunities and paths ahead.

Melinda Haynes

President | Onset Financial

LinkedIn

Melinda Haynes | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Melinda Haynes photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What are you looking forward to accomplishing most in 2021?

To have another epic record-breaking year! 2020 proved that Onset could adapt, change, win, and end the year in an epic way―we had our best year ever. Already in 2021, we have hit our highest month and quarter in company history and are significantly ahead of schedule to break our all-time annual funding record.

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is being challenged and making a difference. 2020 brought many challenges to businesses because of the unknowns with COVID. Onset did what others wouldn’t do and rose to the occasion, providing our customers with a program called the COVID-19 Relief Program (CRP). I was incredibly fortunate to lead the team that created CRP and to represent Onset with a truly remarkable offering and gift to our customers. The statistic at Onset I will always be most proud of is Onset approved 100 percent of our customers that asked for payment relief. The CRP project will forever be a highlight of my career because it displays exactly what success looks like to me.

Nikolai Sopko, MD, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer | PolarityTE

Twitter | LinkedIn

Nikolai Sopko | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Nikolai Sopko photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

I always knew I wanted to be a physician-scientist. However, I assumed I would be in a University setting. Working in biotech has been an exciting opportunity to conduct focused cutting-edge research with the very real results of seeing your efforts translate into improved patient outcomes. 

Who inspires you most? Why?

My Dad. He fled to America after the communist takeover of his country with little money and minimal English and worked hard to put himself through medical school. He still loves his job he continues to work every day at age 78.

Pauline Ploquin

President & Partner | Struck Advertising

Twitter | LinkedIn

Pauline Ploquin | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Pauline Ploquin photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

I actually saw myself as a journalist or diplomat. I got a master of political sciences from Paris University 1, La Sorbonne, and then went to UCLA to get a degree in communications (print and broadcast journalism). When I got recruited by the Salt Lake Olympics to help run their Creative Services, it was a dream come true. That’s when I came across the marketing and creative field fully. I feel like marketing and leadership of a marketing creative agency allow me to fully leverage both sides of me―the people side and the data side. 

What challenges have you overcome to get here today?

Change is a constant. I have lived in four different countries and my parents divorced before I was 10. I moved to the US at age 22 for school and ended up spending my life in the US but had to overcome the usual language and cultural challenges that come from being an immigrant. I also had to overcome the barriers of being a woman in a man’s world every step of the way. I shattered the glass ceiling, becoming the first female executive at Axiom and then at Struck, and then finally rose to president.

Rob Brough

EVP, Corporate Marketing & Communications | Zions Bank

Twitter | LinkedIn

Rob Brough | 2021 CXO Of The Year  Honorees
Rob Brough photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

What does success look like to you?

Individual success is a function of the degree to which you contribute to the success of the organization of which you are part.

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

I never intended to end up in financial services. I like to say I ended up in banking by accident but have stayed by choice.

Prasad Gankanda

Chief Global Sales & Operations Officer | Young Living Essential Oils

Prasad Gankada | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Prasad Gankada photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

Growing up in such a remote place on this big planet, Sri Lanka, I never thought I would end up halfway around the world in Lehi, Utah, working for an essential oils company. Not in a million years could I have imagined that my career path would take me where I am today. Growing up, my dream was to become a commercial airline pilot and it evolved into wanting to work for Boeing as an aerospace engineer. Yet here I am today doing something completely different.

Who inspires you most? Why?

It would be hard to name one person who has inspired me the most. I like to think of myself as a sponge, always thirsty for knowledge. I absolutely love learning, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by so many unique and talented people who have influenced me and taught me so much over the years. 

Sue Skanchy

COO | Jones Waldo

LinkedIn

Sue Skanchy | 2021 CXO Of The Year Honorees
Sue Skanchy photographed by Justin Hackworth for Utah Business Magazine

Who inspires you most? Why?

The first manager I had after graduating college. I recall that one morning I walked into the office and he handed me a letter of recommendation for an MBA program. He suggested I continue with my education and helped arrange for the company to cover some of the costs associated with the program. I continue to be inspired by his mentorship and am grateful for the time he took to help me develop professionally and advance my career.    

Did you always see yourself doing what you do now?

Absolutely not. I thought I had developed a healthy aversion to lawyers by being married to one, so I never would have guessed that someday I would be managing a law firm. Joking aside, I always planned to work in an executive finance role and have been fortunate that my career has given me an opportunity to work in many interesting industries. Each industry brought its own unique set of challenges and growth experiences, and the diversity of those experiences has contributed to my ability to adapt and be successful in my current position. 

To learn more about our 2021 honorees, take a look at the videos below:

Lindsay Bicknell is the project coordinator for Utah Business magazine. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, she graduated from Miami University of Oxford with a degree in communications. She has a background in television, print, and web media, as well as public relations and event planning. As a transplant to Salt Lake City, she can't get enough of the mountains and loves snowboarding.

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