North Carolina gained a foothold in this industry with the development of Research Triangle Park in the 1960s. Growth has accelerated in the last decade as AvidXchange, Bandwidth, Epic Games, Pendo and other newcomers complement established enterprises such as IBM, Microsoft and SAS Institute.
CEO | Bright Wolf, a Cognizant
Bourne has been CEO since 2016 of the systems integrator that was acquired by Fortune 500 technology business Cognizant in 2020. The graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has advised various Triangle tech companies.
founder, CEO | Sift Media
Sift is the third company founded by Bowman, who is 40. Sift collects data from app users that is used in the delivery of more than 100 million digital ads per day. The Greenville native started Motricity while attending the N.C. School of Science and Math. He chairs the Research Triangle Foundation and is a trustee of the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra.
Proud family accomplishment: My two girls, Edith and Graylyn.
Favorite hobby: Playing golf.
Where to entertain a visitor: M Sushi in downtown Durham.
president, CEO | Qorvo
The graduate of Wilkes University in Pennsylvania joined RF Micro Devices in 1999 and was CEO when it merged with TriQuint Semiconductor to form Qorvo in 2014. The business, which makes parts for mobile phones and other communications products, had $4 billion in revenue last year.
co-founder, CEO | Diveplane
A former Epic Games executive who helped create Fortnite, Capps started his artificial intelligence company in 2018. His expertise leads to frequent appearances on Discovery, Military, and Science channel programs. He has degrees from UNC Chapel Hill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
executive chair, board of directors |
The Georgia Tech University graduate, 39, shepherded the company he founded in 2011, ArchiveSocial, through several big steps in 2021. ArchiveSocial acquired NextRequest and then merged with Monsido to form Optimere. It provides digital compliance and records management solutions, mainly for government agencies.
CEO | Flexential
Downie took his post following the merger of Charlotte’s Peak 10 and ViaWest in 2017. The company operates 40 U.S. data centers. Downie, who grew up in Paris and Barcelona, is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has an MBA from New York University.
Pre-workday motivation: A good workout clears the head and gets the heart fired up. The last two years have been crazy. New ways of working, collaborating, being productive and new ways to define success. While respecting all that was lost during the pandemic, we have been defining these new ways since 2017. We are a young company with much to learn and a ton more to accomplish. That is what gets me out of bed.
Best advice: The first CEO I worked with said there are three types of generals: Ones that say ‘Take that hill,’ and others that say ‘Let’s go take that hill,’ and ones that say ‘Follow me.’ I aspire to the ‘follow me’ leadership principle.
Proud family accomplishment: Our resilience. We have moved many times and built a strong home base on each occasion.
JOY PARR DRACH
president, CEO | Advanced Animal
The company Drach founded in 2009 to develop rapid tests for bovine disease landed nearly $8 million last year for research on tests related to human beings. The cow-tech business remains strong, but the human testing line, spurred by COVID-19, may create future growth.
CEO | Passport
The former Cardlytics executive succeeded Bob Youakim as CEO at Passport in January 2021. The company, which has raised more than $200 million, provides transportation software, mainly to cities. A Georgia native, Evans worked in investment banking at Wells Fargo and has degrees from Auburn and Emory universities.
Pre-workday motivation: The industries, employees and people we serve.
Key to industry success: Being passionate about our mission to partner with cities to create more equitable, accessible and livable communities. The broader industry around mobility is a sector that is due for acceleration around data-driven software and technology that will and should present an amazing opportunity to partner with cities to make better decisions around the complexities of urban mobility.
Best advice: Focus more on the people you work for and the clients you serve and less about the money you make.
Three people to share a meal: Tiger Woods, Elon Musk and Tim Cook.
Proud family accomplishment: A collective, shared view of treating others with love and respect and operating with honesty and integrity.
Favorite hobby: Spending time with my family and an occasional round of golf.
Where to entertain a visitor: South End.
founder, managing partner |
The N.C. State University graduate spent more than 30 years building software technology companies. Now he helps provide resources to startups through the tech fund that he started in 2015.
Pre-workday motivation: Helping entrepreneurs achieve their potential, innovate and be successful.
Key to industry success: Predicting the future and then making sure it happens that way.
Best advice: You can’t save them all, so focus on the winners.
Three people to share a meal: Steven Covey, Barack Obama and Bill Gates.
Proud family accomplishment: Hardworking, generous, strong character.
Favorite hobby: Piano playing and exercise.
CEO | SAS Institute
Last July, North Carolina’s best-known tech executive said he’s preparing his company for an IPO by 2024. The company has about $3 billion in annual revenue and has been consistently profitable since its founding in 1976. Goodnight, 79, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and Ph.D. at N.C. State University.
Pre-workday motivation: When you’re starting out, the passion stays ignited because your livelihood depends on it. After that, it’s more about personal pride and the challenge of the work, so it helps if you’re doing what you love. Data scientists are problem-solvers at heart. So, the ability to solve problems — no matter how big or small — is what has always driven me. We’re here so that our customers are not alone in the battle to solve tough problems. Our purpose is to make analytics easy and friendly for them.
Key to industry success: Our primary focus at SAS since day one has been to help our customers solve their problems. That process of listening to your customers leads to innovation. But innovation also is coming up with new ideas and then bringing them to life — anticipating what your customers might need before they ask for it. That takes creativity and passion.
Best advice: Recognize when to stop digging a hole. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and it’s OK to walk away. Let go of your pride or investment if a product or venture isn’t succeeding.
Three people to share a meal: Alan Turing was critical in the development of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Grace Hopper was a pioneer of computer programming. I’m a reader of science fiction and would have enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke. I would have also enjoyed meeting Orville Wright, who seemed to share my appreciation of our beautiful North Carolina coast.
Proud family accomplishment: Our three children have respectively found their areas of interest and shaped their work and contributions to society accordingly. They each have found great partners that we love very much and blessed us with wonderful grandchildren. I’m also proud of the work that my wife, Ann, has done to help champion education, art and culture in North Carolina.
Favorite hobby: I enjoy golfing whenever I can. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles, like sudoku.
Where to entertain a visitor: The North Carolina Museum of Art or taking in an N.C. State basketball game at PNC Arena or a football game at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Triangle is unique in having so many esteemed universities so close together - and it’s always nice to explore those campuses.
vice president, chief data officer;
North Carolina senior state
RTP senior site
executive | IBM
Humphrey, 48, has worked for IBM or Lenovo since earning his electrical engineering degree at N.C. State University in 1996. He became IBM’s senior state executive in 2018. He is on the board of the UNC Health System and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County.
Best advice: My dad used to always tell me to stay focused. He was all about discipline, perseverance, and achievement, and that helped shape me into the man I am today.
Three people to share a meal: Jackie Robinson, Stephen Hawking and Wanda Sykes.
Favorite hobby: Poker. It gives me the opportunity to exercise strategic thinking skills, and it’s fun to hang out with friends and win occasionally.
Where to entertain a visitor: Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa. Amazing tasty food with a stunning visual plating experience, accompanied by great service.
vice president, head of U.S.
delivery, Southeast | Infosys
Lierman helped open the India-based information technology company’s Raleigh Technology and Innovation Hub in 2018. The Rutgers University graduate worked for IBM for 23 years, including as a digital commerce leader.
founder, CEO | Levitate
Lipson continues to grow Levitate, which builds software products that help insurance, real estate and other companies stay in touch with their customers. The Duke University graduate sold ShareFile to Citrix in 2011. He has raised about $20 million for Levitate.
COO | S&P Global Market
Macken was office lead for financial services provider Ipreo, which was acquired by IHS for $1.9 billion in 2018, and retained a key post after New York-based S&P Global bought IHS Markit for $44 billion in March. He is a Fairfield University graduate.
co-founder, chair, CEO | Bandwidth
Morken founded the communications software company in 1999 after four years in the Marine Corps. The Oral Roberts University and University of Notre Dame Law School graduate took the company public at $20 per share in 2017. Shares soared in 2020 but tumbled over the last year, prompting the hiring of former Avaya executive Anthony Bartolo as chief operating officer.
Pre-workday motivation: My wife and I do a daily devotional every morning at 5:30. It’s a special moment for us to spend time together.
Key to industry success: People. Bandwidth’s success comes from two things: creating long-term relationships with our customers and building a unique culture to support our employees as they deliver on our mission to be the best global enterprise communications platform.
Favorite hobby: Being the world’s greatest grandpa to our four grandkids.
chair, CEO | Inmar Intelligence
Inmar, which develops technology and provides analytics for retail, manufacturing and other sectors, hired Mounts away from Domino’s Pizza in 2010. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Wharton MBA graduate is a corporate high flier — he has his private pilot’s license.
Pre-workday motivation: My team is my why. Helping them and their family achieve their goals gets me motivated.
Key to industry success: Innovation, speed to market and achieving outcomes.
Best advice: Be humble and live as love. Be data-driven.
Three people to share a meal: Tesla, Ben Franklin and Bolivar.
Proud family accomplishment: My children and their entrepreneurial and humorous spirits.
Favorite hobby: Flying.
Where to entertain a visitor: Downtown Winston-Salem and on a flight and picnic to First Flight Airport at Kill Devil Hills.
group head of technology, data and
analytics | Envestnet | Yodlee
Munro holds a master’s in East Asian Studies from George Washington University. She began her career as a telecommunications consultant before moving to jobs at JPMorgan Chase and Fidelity. She joined the Redwood City, Ca.-based financial-data services company in 2020.
CEO | nCino
A former S1 and Unisys executive, Naudé played a pivotal role in founding the cloud-banking firm in 2012. The Southern African-born graduate of Upper Iowa University led nCino’s $248 million IPO in 2020.
Pre-workday motivation: Since day one as CEO, it has been my responsibility to ensure that nCino continues to transform financial services through innovation, reputation, and speed and that our employees have the resources, guidance, and support they need to be successful. Watching nCino grow from five people to more than 1,600 talented and passionate professionals has been the ultimate career highlight for me.
Key to industry success: Hire the best and brightest people we can, give them the tools and resources to be successful, and then empower them to think bigger, bring new ideas to the table, and make decisions without fear of retribution. These are the principles on which we started nCino more than a decade ago. I’m proud to say we continue to live and breathe them today.
Best advice: Famous management consultant Peter F. Drucker said, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ This idea is foundational to how we’ve built, grown and led our teams at nCino. A strong culture is critical to success, and nCino proves that.
Proud family accomplishment: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my wife, our two children, their spouses and my three grandchildren. This is one of the reasons I stress the importance of family to our employees at nCino and encourage them to take the family time they need to recharge. If you don’t have a strong and happy home life, you aren’t going to be able to bring your best self to work. Family always comes first.
Favorite hobby: Boating and golf.
co-founder, CEO | Pendo
Olson began designing software at age 14 and launched Pendo, which uses analytics to help managers optimize their software development. The Carnegie Mellon University graduate has raised more than $200 million in capital.
Pre-workday motivation: I try to start every day with a workout (run, Peloton, Tonal or Ergatta). I also walk to work, which gives me time to think and prepare for the day ahead.
Key to industry success: I don’t think this is specific to our industry, but here are our keys: Build a great product. We believe in product-led businesses. Obsess over customers (we have a core value of maniacal focus on the customer). Create a culture that attracts the very best people.
Best advice: Try to do the things that only you can do.
Proud family accomplishment: My family has a strong work ethic. While past and present generations have had a diverse set of careers, all generations are known for hard work.
Favorite hobby: Cooking and baking.
Where to entertain a visitor: Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.
co-founder, CEO | AvidXchange
The Georgetown University graduate co-founded the automated payment solutions provider in 2000, presided over steady growth, and then took it public last October. Shares have declined sharply despite 33% revenue growth last year. AvidXchange has more than 8,000 customers and processed 62.5 million transactions in 2021.
founder, CEO | Guerrilla RF
Pratt followed the footsteps of his dad, RF Micro (now Qorvo) co-founder Bill Pratt, when he launched a company making essential gear for the cellular industry. The N.C. State University graduate worked at RF Micro and Skyworks Solutions before starting his own deal.
Pre-workday motivation: Successfully overcoming challenges.
Key to industry success: Constant innovation.
Best advice: Tenacity is key in starting a new business.
Three people to share a meal: Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Amelia Earhart.
Proud family accomplishment: Resilience.
Favorite hobby: Travel.
Where to entertain a visitor: The Greensboro Natural Science Center.
CEO | CData Software
After launching CData 12 years ago, Sharma attracted $140 million for the data connectivity business in December. Sharma grew up in India and came to the U.S. for post-graduate work. He has a master’s from N.C. State University and a Duke University MBA.
engineering site lead | Google
Subramaniam is guiding the launch of Google’s engineering hub in Durham. The tech giant plans to hire 1,000-plus for the site as part of its expanding cloud computing presence in North Carolina. She has a master’s and a doctorate from N.C. State University.
founder, CEO | Epic Games
Demand for Fortnite, Epic’s mega franchise, shows little signs of cooling, and Epic’s majority stockholder continues to challenge Apple and Google over pivotal business and societal issues. The billionaire is one of the state’s largest private landowners with his holdings mostly in conservation easements that will preserve those lands in perpetuity.
CEO | Insightsoftware
Triandiflou, 56, was named to his post at the financial-reporting software company in 2020 and helped attract a $1 billion investment from London-based private equity group HG last July. The graduate of State University of New York at Oswego and Arizona State University previously ran the education software company Relias for seven years.
CEO | Spiffy
Wingo, 53, continues to expand Spiffy, the fourth startup of his career, while also launching his Tweener Fund, which backs promising new businesses. Spiffy added its first franchisees who will expand the mobile vehicle maintenance business in six new states.
Pre-workday motivation: Disrupting the car-care industry
Key to industry success: A relentless focus on the customer experience.
Best advice: Focus your company on what’s not going to change versus what is.
Three people to share a meal: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and George Lucas.
Proud family accomplishment: Work ethic.
Favorite hobby: Star Wars.
Where to entertain a visitor: Garland restaurant in downtown Raleigh.