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Utah Business

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.

2022 CXO of the Year

As team leaders, C-suite executives make the hard decisions that impact daily operations as well as the long-term vision of their companies. Developing the strategies behind company success in an ever-changing world is no small task, but these distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.

Brenner Adams

Chief Innovation Officer | The Food Truck League

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Brenner Adams photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

I am grateful for the opportunity to be very selective about who I surround myself with at work. One of the great things about The Food Truck League is the amazing set of leaders I get to spend time with—not to mention the opportunity we have to empower thousands of micro-entrepreneurs across the world who are doing their best to feed their communities.

What does business look like to you in a post-Covid world?

The pent-up demand of people wanting to hang out with new and old friends over recently-discovered favorite foods is exploding! Covid hurt, but it has enabled all of us to develop a greater appreciation for even the simple things in life. After all, variety is the spice of life, and the low barriers to entry with food trucks create a dramatic range of variety in any community.

Nathan Anderson

EVP and COO | Mountain America Credit Union

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Nathan Anderson photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What does success look like to you?

Organizational psychologist and bestselling author Adam Grant said the most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed. I subscribe to this philosophy and define success as adding value, making a difference in the lives of others, and helping my team, colleagues, and our members succeed. I’m able to do that by identifying ways to help the people I work with improve, develop, and reach their full potential. I am committed to my team and Mountain America, and I realize that one day I’ll retire and won’t play an active role in the credit union’s day-to-day success. Preparing the credit union for long-term growth by training and mentoring the next generation of leaders is one of the primary ways I measure my personal success.

What’s one thing you want to say to the other members of your C-suite?

Thank you for all you do to make Mountain America successful, as well as your contributions to my own success. I’m grateful to work with such talented, amazing people who are recognized as premier experts in their fields. I appreciate your skill and commitment to excellence, but most importantly, I’m grateful for the way you care about the people you lead and the members we serve. It is a privilege to work with and learn from you as well as benefit from your knowledge and dedication to delivering on our promise to help our members define and achieve their financial dreams.

Jeremy Baker

Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer | AutoSavvy

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Jeremy Baker photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What’s your life motto?

“Do more with less.” We are born into a world with limited, or scarce, resources and challenged to meet seemingly unlimited wants. It’s a principle of life, and it’s also one of our company values. Time is a resource we can never get back—it’s non-renewable. We expect our people to use their time wisely and not waste a customer’s time, either. 

What challenges have you overcome to get here today?

Starting a business can be unforgiving. I think that’s why many businesses start in college dorm rooms when we’re invincible, a little naive, and willing to take the risk. We are no different than when we started our business (hatched in our college dorm room) 17 years ago. Early in our business, we had to figure out how to get our customers financed, how to finance our inventory, how to warranty our vehicles, etc. We have literally created and scaled a sub-market of the used car market that didn’t exist before us. As we scale to new markets in the US, we must continually navigate a regulatory environment that was created without knowing something like this was possible. 

Sarah Beard

Chief People Officer | Pattern

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Sarah Beard photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What’s your life motto?

My life motto changes depending on what’s going on in my life and what I want to focus on. Lately, my life motto has been, “Where am I going next, and how am I getting there?” It’s about being forward-thinking instead of wasting time and energy dwelling on the past. I think it’s important to learn from the past but not get stuck there. And where I’m going next doesn’t always have to be a big achievement—it can be sitting by a lake with my kids or finishing a book that’s been sitting on my nightstand for six months. It’s about asking myself daily which goals are most important to me, then laying out a plan to get there. The point is, dwelling on the past stifles growth, so I try to look forward instead.

What does success look like to you?

To me, success is all about having meaningful connections with the people who are most important to me. That is the only source of true and lasting happiness. I don’t think it matters which career path people take or how high up the corporate ladder they climb. Success means bringing honest effort and integrity to your chosen career and to your personal relationships. And if it’s impossible to do both, then sometimes success means choosing a different career or job that will allow for personal relationships to flourish. I think most people (including myself) struggle with this delicate balance and are continually having to examine priorities to ensure the most important things remain the top priority.

Kevin Dalton

Chief Experience Officer | OptConnect

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Kevin Dalton photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

We are quite literally connecting the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) with our managed wireless connectivity solutions. As the IoT continues to grow and expand to touch almost every aspect of our lives, it is exciting to make those connections possible with an incredible team of people that I sincerely enjoy being able to work alongside and learn from.

Who inspires you most? Why?

I am inspired by greatness all around me in seemingly ordinary people that wake up each day and do extraordinary things with the cards they have been dealt in life. I really believe that we can learn and be inspired by everyone around us; we just have to take the time to get to know people and learn about their unique life situations and what they have gone through to get to where they are. 

Hugo Doetsch

Chief Financial Officer | NetDocuments

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Hugo Doestch photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

The most rewarding thing about my job and the industry is growing a business and all the benefits it creates. We have the ability to deliver best-in-class solutions to our customers, provide lifelong career opportunities, support our communities, mentor those in need, deliver shareholder value, etc. With growth comes challenges, but it also presents tremendous opportunities.

What does success look like to you?

Building world-class businesses, creating shareholder value, changing lives, and supporting my family. 

Paul C. Drecksel

Chief Operating Officer | Layton Construction

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Paul Drecksel photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

Who inspires you most? Why?

Our CEO, David Layton. Despite having revenues that approached $4 billion in 2021, Layton remains a “family” business where employees know the company truly cares about their families’ well-being and their professional development. That all starts with Dave’s leadership and genuine concern for each of our 1,300+ employees. We worked in over 30 states last year, often building projects in remote locations where employees and sometimes their families relocate and live for several years. Our teams are willing to make those sacrifices because they know the company—and Dave in particular—will do what’s necessary to help them grow professionally and achieve their personal goals. 

What’s your life motto?

I stole this from Dean Martin: “Good judgment comes from experience. And experience? Well, that comes from poor judgment.” While he was making a joke, there’s a lot of truth in that statement. We are humans. We all make mistakes. You will succeed if you are humble enough to recognize and admit your mistakes, learn from them, and put that education into practice. 

Joshua Foukas

Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel | Usana Health Sciences, Inc.

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Joshua Foukas photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

Have you always seen yourself doing what you’re doing now? 

From a fairly early age, I knew I wanted to be an attorney. I always imagined being a trial lawyer or litigator, mainly because of my mom’s career and the experiences she would share with me about the law. However, beginning in law school—and then as an associate attorney at a local firm here in Utah—corporate, transactional, and securities law was much more interesting to me. I ended up building a career in those areas and now others.

What’s one thing you want to say to the other members of your C-suite?

I appreciate and enjoy the privilege of working with each of you every day. We have an amazing team, and the successes we have enjoyed, along with the seemingly endless challenges we have faced (and continue to face), have bonded us together and made us the team we are. I wouldn’t trade any of that. 

Lisa Grabl

President | CompHealth

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Lisa Grabl photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

I am lucky to work in an industry that helps ensure patients around the country receive needed healthcare. We do this by placing physicians and other clinicians in temporary and permanent jobs that may otherwise go unfilled. When I joined CompHealth more than 20 years ago, I just wanted to do something that mattered. As a physician recruiter, I felt that I had a real opportunity to use my skills to make a difference in the lives of others. Initially, working one-on-one with physicians was intimidating. Over time I realized that while physicians were relied upon for their medical expertise, they also relied on me for my expertise in finding them jobs and ensuring everything was taken care of. I learned that building trusting relationships with my physicians was the best thing I could do for both their careers and my own. 

What advice do you have for your younger self?

The first thing would be to balance out your life a little bit more. I have often joked that I missed my 20s because I was too busy working. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but you need to take time for friends and family as well. Secondly, learn not to sweat the small stuff, and when the hard stuff comes, embrace it. Know that it is through doing hard things that you are going to grow. And finally, always keep your confidence and your belief in moving forward. As long as you’re progressing, you can figure anything out. 

Lily Gray

President | Modal Living

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Lily Gray photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

Have you always seen yourself doing what you’re doing now? 

I figured out fairly early on in my career that I wanted to focus on real estate development that had a significant social impact. This led me to specialize in affordable housing. Before moving to Utah, I led business development efforts for a fantastic nonprofit in the Bay Area. At the time, I imagined staying there forever. Our move to Salt Lake City for my husband’s job required me to re-evaluate and build out a new career vision and network personally and professionally. What I’m doing now—leading a high-growth housing startup in Utah—is a perfect fit, but I would never have predicted it!

What does success look like to you?

Success to me for Modal looks like delivering thousands of high-quality housing units that meaningfully enhance people’s lives. It is incredible to hear the many use cases of our customers and the real quantitative and qualitative benefits of adding our homes to their properties. Success also looks like building a best-in-class company culture where we embody excellence and empathy. I work in an industry that has long been male-dominated, and it is important to me to bring diverse viewpoints that reflect our communities. I have been fortunate to have a handful of amazing female mentors that have helped shape my path, and I hope to channel them by inspiring the next generation working to improve the way we build.

Kay Hall

EVP and Chief Financial Officer | Zions First National Bank

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Kay Hall photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

The most rewarding thing to me is helping our customers work toward their American Dream. Whether it is helping with their business, buying a home, or any other services, watching them succeed is the most rewarding thing.

What’s your life motto?

Be honest and have integrity in all you do.

Brandon Huston

Chief Financial Officer | Young Automotive Group

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Brandon Huston photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What’s your life motto?

“If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who have ever lived.” Life is full of challenges. My greatest triumphs and blessings have come after going through hard challenges. I love this saying, as it helps me stay humble during the great times and hopeful through the trying times.

What challenges have you overcome to get here today?

Perfectionism and self-doubt. For as long as I can recall, I have been driven to be the best and took anything less as a failure. If I was not the best, self-doubt would creep in, and I would think that I was no longer good enough. This was evident in sports, academics, and other aspects of life. It was the biggest blessing and curse as my driven nature inspired me to achieve and do greater things than I thought possible, but it also held me back when the guaranteed setbacks of life came my way. Nobody can be #1 all of the time. Overcoming this thought process through constant persistence and believing that my best was good enough regardless of the outcome has given me the strengths of these personality traits without the negative downfall.

Dan Lawyer

Chief Product Officer | Lucid Software

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Dan Lawyer photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

Solving problems for the masses.

What’s one thing you want to say to the other members of your C-suite?

Thank you for your friendship and mentorship. Also, I’m pretty sure I could take you all in a dance-off.

Dave Nielsen

President | Overstock.com

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Dave Nielsen photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

Have you always seen yourself doing what you’re doing now? 

If I wasn’t president of Overstock, I could see myself having become an NFL head coach. I’ve loved coaching my sons through the years and getting the chance to support them and other youth in the community in learning the game of football. Coaching, like executive leadership, requires a great deal of study, focus, strategy, and drive. There are so many parallels between football team dynamics to executive team dynamics. Each individual plays a key role and brings different strengths to the team. When trust is developed, and the game plan is understood and efficiently executed, it all works in concert. There’s no obstacle too large for a high-performance team.

What’s your life motto?

Be a part of the solution, not the problem. My kids will tell you they hear this from me regularly. Don’t complain—either own it and fix it or move on—but don’t complain, as life is too short. I’ve seen too many people throughout my career who stick around in a role they don’t like or work for someone they don’t respect. Do what you love and love what you do. If you’re not happy, find happiness. Don’t ever settle.

Katie Neilson

Co-founder and President | Assure

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Katie Neilson photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

Who inspires you most? Why?

My co-founder (and husband), Jeremy Neilson, inspires me the most. Without him, our family, home, and business would not flourish. He has an amazing insight into what the world would look like if more people invested in more entrepreneurs in more places around the world. He inspires me to get up every day and achieve excellence in all that we do. 

Do you have any big plans for the future?

Absolutely! We are changing the world. We see the results of the industry changes we’re leading. More investors from more locations, backgrounds, and perspectives are accessing the private markets than ever before, thanks in part to Assure’s innovations. So, of course, we’re tripling down with company investments into new technologies and resources to further improve the industry. We’ll continue to drive transformation as we build our Private Investing Platform.

Adam O’Farrell

Chief Operating Officer | Bridge Investment Group

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Adam O’Farrell photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

In our industry, we get to positively and simultaneously impact the lives of many different stakeholders—investors in our funds, shareholders in our company, residents in our communities, tenants in our buildings, and our employees. The interests of these various stakeholders are not divergent, and it is rewarding to achieve great investment and company performance while at the same time providing great places to live and work.

What does success look like to you?

To me, success is best achieved as a team, not individually. We value the opinions of all employees equally at Bridge, and we succeed together. We will achieve success at Bridge if we continue to grow our best-in-class asset management business while at the same time providing rewarding and meaningful careers for our colleagues, achieving top-tier returns for investors, and providing high-quality real estate for our tenants and residents.

Jason Sabin

Chief Technology Officer | DigiCert, Inc.

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Jason Sabin photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

Have you always seen yourself doing what you’re doing now? 

I’m a breaker and a builder. I love to see how something works and how to build it better. When I was in the 5th grade, my family had an Atari computer that we played games on via a cartridge. One day, I popped out the cartridge and turned on the Atari. A prompt flashed on the screen. As I was known to break things—especially electronics—I assumed I must have ruined the Atari. I went to my dad to explain what had happened. He told me the prompt was an operating system. I asked, what did it do? He said it would do anything I wanted. The next day, he brought home a programming book and taught me how to program. I realized I could build anything I could envision. I was hooked and knew then that computers would be my career.

Who inspires you most? Why?

My wife Rachel inspires me more than anyone else in the world. If someone tells her it can’t be done, she makes it happen. If there is a new adventure to be had, she’s ready to adventure away. She sees the best in people and strives to help them accomplish their goals. Rachel will always look for opportunities and challenges to change the world. I am constantly inspired by her and love exactly who she is. Keep changing the world, my love!

Holly Sizemore

Chief Mission Officer | Best Friends Animal Society

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Holly Sizemore photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

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

The most rewarding thing about being in animal welfare at this moment in time is that I am able to be a small part of a complete transformation of the animal sheltering system—one that was, for decades, based on the idea that a humane death was the best we could offer most homeless pets. Now, we strive to save every saveable pet in need. We know that we can and will save them all.

Who inspires you most? Why?

Jane Goodall. She is someone who never shirks from bearing witness to the most daunting reality. Despite that, she still believes in—and is a dedicated champion for—the ultimate hope we need to save this planet. She has made her life’s work inspiring hope in the younger generation while continuing to do the necessary work herself.

Joshua Walker

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer | Nomi Health

LinkedIn

These distinguished individuals are forging ahead with veracity and tact. Join us in celebrating the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees.
Joshua Walker photographed by MANICPROJECT for Utah Business

What does success look like to you?

Success is not taking the path of least resistance but opening yourself to new challenges that allow you to develop and grow into making a positive contribution to others’ lives.

What does business look like to you in a post-Covid world?

For many, the toughest leadership test lies ahead: Leading a business in a world where all the rules have changed. Fortune will favor the creative, agile, and bold.

Megan Bailey

Chief Creative Officer | Fawn Design

LinkedIn

Photo appears courtesy of Megan Bailey

Have you always seen yourself doing what you’re doing now?

I’ve always been drawn to anything creative and knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to express my creativity. When I was younger, I loved to paint or do anything artistic, and I  always dreamed of being a professional dancer. Although I didn’t end up becoming a professional ballerina, I feel like I’ve landed in a place that really allows me to use my natural skillset and is really fulfilling for me.

What does success look like to you?

I think success has looked like a lot of different things throughout my life so far. Currently, success looks a lot simpler than it used to. Being in a place where I feel like I’m doing the best that I can personally and professionally brings me the biggest feeling of success. I feel so much gratitude just to be on the journey and for what I’ve seen and been given so far.

Aaron Starks

Chief Revenue Officer | World Trade Center Utah

LinkedIn

Photo appears courtesy of Aaron Starks

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

With every industry in our backyard and exceptional partners making our work possible, I spend my time promoting the innovation, economy, and culture Utah has become known for. I get to be the conduit between Utah business and the world.

What does success look like to you?

Living in the present and expressing love to those I share my life with, prioritizing my family and keeping the promises I have made, lifting those I work with, and helping them be successful in their endeavors.

To learn more about the 2022 CXO of the Year honorees, check out the YouTube video embeds below and find additional photos from the event here.

Mekenna is the assistant editor of Utah Business and a graduate of the print journalism program at Utah State University. She has written about local news, arts, and culture for publications like SLUG Magazine, Salty Magazine, Visit Salt Lake, and the Standard-Examiner. She loves hiking, thrifting, reading, and taking camping trips with her partner in their 1986 Land Cruiser.

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