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Ness Connection: Meet Drew Naukam

Drew Naukam

Meet Drew Naukam, Chief Growth Officer for North America. Drew brings 20+ years of experience consulting with leading firms in digital product engineering, SaaS transformation, organizational strategy, change management, sales leadership, new business development, and strategic marketing.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your role at Ness and what you do.

A: I’m the Chief Growth Officer, which means I am responsible for North America revenue across our digital engineering and Salesforce capabilities.

Q: Everyone has their own morning routine to help get their day going. What is your morning routine?

A: I like to get up relatively early because I like the quiet (my house is not usually quiet with my teenagers running around). In the early morning, I take the time to make my breakfast and read the paper. I am one of the few who still gets a physical paper delivered every morning, primarily because of my dog. For 10 years, I had a labrador retriever who would get the newspaper for me out of my front yard. She would bring it inside and her reward would be breakfast. Sadly she passed away. We now have a 2-year-old golden retriever named Casey who is the happiest dog in the world, but not very smart. I’ve worked with her for a year and a half to try and train her to get the paper but to no avail.

Q: What’s the one word you would use to describe Ness and why?

A: I really love the word dynamic – it has multiple definitions in relation to Ness. One definition suggests innovation and forward-thinking. Ness is on the cutting edge in terms of ideation and innovation, and that makes us dynamic in the eyes of our customers. Ness is also dynamic and ever-changing. Over the last year, we’ve made many positive changes, and that’s exciting because we are charting a new and exciting path to success. The third layer of the word dynamic to me means action-oriented. At Ness, we get things done, and I love the passion and enthusiasm by which our people make things happen. By taking the term dynamic and then applying this kind of multi-layered ideation of innovation, a change agent, and getting things done – it perfectly describes who we are as a company.

Q: How do you take your coffee?

A: I’m pretty simple with my coffee order. If I’m making coffee at home, it’s a coffee with milk added. I actually tell people that I like a little bit of coffee with my milk. If I’m ordering coffee at a coffee shop, I get a grande latte. I like Starbucks from a convenience perspective, but I typically gravitate to the local smaller boutique-type coffee places.

Q: What’s on your to-do list?

A: I have both a career-oriented to-do list as well as a personal to-do list. With Ness, the main item I’m focusing on is building a sales and go-to-market engine that can sustain double-digit annual growth for the company. That means we have to put the right people in place, the right processes in place, and have the right assets in place that will allow that to happen. In my mind, there’s no reason why a company our size can’t grow at 20%+ a year.

On my personal to-do list, I’m telling everyone I speak with to get their heart checked out. I had open-heart surgery 8 weeks ago – I had no symptoms, am healthy and athletic, and yet I had to go in for major surgery. If I can use my experience to encourage others to go get checked out, that’s part of my mission. Since then, I’m still working on getting back in shape and getting back to the level of athleticism that I was before surgery.

Q: Tell us about your office.

A: Being in consulting for years, I travel a lot, so I keep everything I need in my laptop bag. This allows me to pick up and go wherever and whenever I need to. That said, in my bag, I probably have six or eight phone chargers because I’ve gotten really good at losing those in hotel rooms. I almost always have a protein bar in my work bag because you never know when you’re going to be hungry and you may not always have time to stop and eat. I also love to read so I make sure to always have my kindle with me. I usually alternate between reading fiction books and then nonfiction/educational books. Most recently, I finished a book called Can’t Hurt Me, which is about a Navy SEAL named David Goggins. It tells the story of how he rose up from a childhood full of abuse and neglect to become a Navy SEAL and then go on to run ultramarathons and set world records using the power of his mind to drive him to achievements that most of us could never imagine.

Q: How did you get started in the industry?

A: When I graduated with my MBA, I actually didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Consulting was attractive to me because it gave me an opportunity to see a lot of different industries and solve many different challenges. I figured I would find an industry along the way that I would fall in love with, and that would be my path to determine who I wanted to be. I spent five years with Andersen Consulting (which is now Accenture) and this is where I fell in love with the business of consulting, and so I’ve been in consulting for the rest of my career. I love that I get to work with clients in different industries and help solve different problems and challenges for those clients. If you are motivated by new challenges, then I’ve always believed that consulting is 100% the best place in the world to work.

Q: What motivates you to work hard?

A: I have always been a competitive person – I like to win and hate losing. I think that helps in a sales role because sales is a competitive space. I believe that Ness has a fantastic product, and if you have a fantastic product that means you should never lose. I want every company that we come into contact with to understand how talented our people are and how good we are at doing the things that we do. I believe that every single client we interact with should hire us because of our talent and capabilities. It’s highly motivating when you believe in what you do, and it makes it very easy to get up in the morning and tackle the day.

Q: Where is the Next place you want to travel to and why?

A: I joined Ness in May of 2020, amid the height of the pandemic. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a lot of great leaders in our company in India, Romania, and Slovakia in a virtual format. Since I haven’t had a chance to meet any of those folks in person, I can’t wait to get on an airplane and get to meet our teams face-to-face. I’m excited to be able to sit down with them, share a meal, and exchange stories with these people I work with every day.

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