- Business Insider is proud to announce the 11 winners of the Up and Comers Award, honoring the lesser-known heroes in the enterprise tech world.
- The award was created by Okta in conjunction with Business Insider, with help from Twilio.
- It honors the people who are leading important projects at companies with popular apps and services.
The tech industry has created more than its share of the rich and famous — from billionaire founders and investors, to CEOs who lead rock-star lives.
But those people didn’t do it on their own.
So in honor of the unsung tech heroes who make their companies successful, Business Insider worked with Okta, with some help from Twilio, to create the Up And Comer Awards.
We began with Okta’s 2019 Business at Work report, released in February. Because Okta offers an identity service that allows enterprise to manage employees access to other cloud computing apps, Okta has an inside view of which apps are successful and growing in popularity.
We asked the companies behind the most popular apps and services on the list to nominate an Up And Comer. This person had to be someone responsible for an important internal project, but who was not a founder.
We received two dozen nominees, with our panel of judges selecting a winner. That panel was comprised of Business Insider’s Julie Bort, Okta CTO and EVP of Engineering Hector Aguilar, and Twilio Chief Product Officer Chee Chew. Judges scored each nomination on four criteria: the nominee’s technical chops, the innovation of their projects, the impact those projects had on their companies, and the ingenuity of the projects and the person.
Here are the winners.
No. 11: Vicky Volvovski: Helping people automate work
Name of winner: Vicky Volvovski
Title: Head of Platform and Core Product
Tenure at company: 4 years
Fun fact: Volvovski runs a food blog called Things I Made Today, created after her husband teased her she never cooked the same recipe twice. She started it as way to keep track of her recipes, and it became a passion project.
Why she won:
Zapier is a popular platform for workflow automation, connecting the apps that people love to use. Volvovski leads the core product, which hosts integrations for more than 1,400 apps.
She came to this company-wide leadership position from a technical support role, where she built Zapier’s first internal issue tracking system. That system helps the company maintain the health of thousands of integrations.
Her work is one reason why Zapier has been profitable since 2014, and in 2018 said it was on track to do $50 million in annual recurring revenue. It is currently used by over 3 million people.
No. 10: Jason Mills: Taking the pain out of expense reports
Expensify: Rose Grech
Name of winner: Jason Mills
Title: Director of Product and Customers
Tenure at company: 8 years
Fun fact: When Mills isn’t working he’s competing in ultra-marathons, running races longer than the standard 26.2-mile marathon — often double or more the distance.
Why he won:
As director of product and customers at Expensify, Jason is responsible for the relationship between users and the product. He and his team have helped the company grow to over 60,000 customers worldwide.
Mills joined Expensify as employee number 15. The mobile app uses photos and AI to take the pain out of expense reports, and now connects with 98% of US banks and credit cards to automate reconciliation, as well as a growing roster of international banks. It also automatically tracks receipts from travel companies like Uber, Lyft, and HotelTonight.
Mills oversaw integration of Expensify with Okta, which verifies the identity of people submitting and approving expenses.
Next up, Mills and his teams will oversee four big new features, known internally as Track, Submit, Collect, and Control. These will help people use Expensify as part of their everyday workflow.
Expensify’s new take on the once-hated expense report is why, just in the last year, the company gained 10,000 new customers and one million new users.
No. 9: Katie Guzman: Helping project managers manage everything
Asana: Erin Smith
Name of winner: Katie Guzman
Title: Product Management Lead for Growth & Adoption
Tenure at company: 3.5 years
Fun fact: Guzman performed as a tap dancer on a cruise ship as a child.
Why she won:
Guzman is responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and success of product programs focused on monetization, first experience, ease of use and internationalization at work management tool Asana.
Most recently her team lead the launch of Portfolios, a new addition to the Asana Business product, its enterprise-tier plan. Portfolios is a tool for project managers and leaders that oversee many initiatives. It gives them a global view of their whole domain, providing a real-time, high-level progress, and team member comments, on all their projects.
Since launching Asana Business and Portfolios just four months ago, the product’s financial metrics have well outperformed the initial targets set by the team by 25%, the company says.
She’s also responsible for the upcoming Workload feature launching later this year. It will help leaders optimize their team’s workload and schedules.
All of this helped Asana become the project/task management tool of choice for 60,000 paying organizations, it says, and millions of people.
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