CEO of the Year finalists 2013: Success, in their own words

Eric Gutknecht

Continental Sausage

CEO since: 2003

“One that sticks with me is the time I toured a very large slaughterhouse in 2002. The inhumane animal husbandry practices were quite disturbing to witness. This cemented our decision to completely shift our purchasing protocols, sourcing materials exclusively from sustainable family farms that treat their animals humanely and allow their animals to range freely. I had often heard and read about livestock industry conditions, but seeing it firsthand defined how I, and our company, operate.”


James Basey

Centennial Bank

CEO since: 2010

“Two years into my work at Colorado National Bank, I volunteered to manage the accounting department. I had joined the bank right out of college and following a short stint in the Marine Corps.  I was a ‘green eye shade’ accountant, one step above the mailroom, working solo on CNB’s Income Taxes and Profit Plan – a great entry-level position. The accounting department was waving goodbye to its third manager in two years. I had no management experience, and, in fact, had never managed anyone, and knew little about what went on in the department. but I was confident that I could pick it up on the job. I also believed that having strong management skills would be essential to a successful banking career. It was the toughest job I ever volunteered for, and I have volunteered for many ‘dirty’ jobs over the years. It turned out to be the best concentrated education that I ever received. I replaced my boss before his retirement date and have benefited daily over the last 40 years from those tough lessons.”


Yosh Eisbart


CEO since: 2009

“In 2006, my co-founder Michael Pytel and I were given the opportunity of a lifetime when we were tasked with building an SAP consulting practice for one of North America’s largest IT staffing firms. While the company was a wildly successful, $800 million powerhouse, they had not yet mastered moving up the food chain toward solutions. We were responsible for architecting an SAP consulting practice essentially from scratch, including go-to-market strategy, solution engineering pre-sales, P&L responsibility, delivery excellence, business development, marketing, etc. Our executive real-world MBA was in full-swing. Traveling the country across the 35 offices, cultivating sales and delivering best-in-class SAP consulting services, we had been pivotal in building a $30 million SAP practice experiencing 300 percent growth year-over-year in three short years. On a routine United Airlines flight 437 from Salt Lake City home to Denver in late 2008, we decided the time was right for creating our own company with $2,000 of self-funding. NIMBL was born.”


Andre Durand

Ping Identity

CEO since: 2001

“In 1997, while running my first company, I had arranged a much-needed financing. On the day the money was supposed to come, I received a call from the investor saying he had changed his mind and was not going to invest. My whole life flashed in front of me as I thought, ‘The next few words out of my mouth had better be good.’ Fortunately, I was able to convince him to follow through with the investment. It highlighted for me the quintessential moment that an entrepreneur is put to the test, namely, their ability to raise capital in a moment of need and vulnerability.”


Justin Anthony


CEO since: 2012

“That moment came the first time one of my employees was promoted. Successfully completing projects and hitting personal growth goals is one thing. Realizing that you can have a positive impact on the career and growth of others elicits an unparalleled sense of pride and accomplishment. This is true inside and outside the company. Sometimes it’s even more true when you see that person flourish outside of the environment they came up in. Cliché or not, regardless of how talented or intelligent you are, it’s your ability to put together a team that drives success.”


Jim Deters

Galvanize LLC

CEO since: 2011

“A defining a moment of my career was stepping away from my career when my third child was born to be with my family.  I want to be the father of the year – make that the decade!  The best thing that leaders can do is to recharge. It will help you make better decisions, and happiness will result when you step away and do something physical. So go for a hike, bike or run.”

Categories: Management & Leadership