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CEO of the Year - Emerging Company, Daniel Muzquic, David Cancel, Derek Roos, Janesse Bruce, MassTLC Leadership Awards 2019, Mike Massaro, Mike Zani

Meet the Finalists for CEO of the Year – Emerging Company

For the past twenty-two years, the MassTLC Leadership Awards have celebrated the best and the brightest of the Massachusetts technology ecosystem. The sixteen award categories, including a newly added category for the Massachusetts Growth Company of the Year, highlight the vitality, innovation and importance of the region’s internationally respected technology industry. In addition, for the first time, MassTLC will honor the visionary organizations that are pioneering digital transformations to innovate and re-imagine the future of the Commonwealth’s leading industries in the form of the newly created Digital Transformation awards category. 

The finalists in all sixteen categories were revealed during a reception at PTC’s Boston headquarters on September 10. 

Winners will be announced at the All Stars of Tech Winners’ Celebration on November 6 at Fenway Park

In the meantime, let us introduce you to the finalists and the incredible work that they are doing here in Massachusetts – and how they are changing the world. 

In the words of their nominators, meet the 2019 “CEO of the Year – Emerging Company” finalists.



Janesse Bruce, MeQuilibrium

LinkedIn: N/A

In 2019, Janess made a strategic decision to expand meQuilbrium’s market beyond the original core HR benefits/wellbeing category to the overall Human Capital Management, includingTalent Management and Learning & Development. This led to new partnerships with HCM software and services providers. 

In addition, she grew the senior leadership team of the company with recruitment of a new Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Product Officer, as well as, spearheaded the expansion of the meQuilibrium product set from one stand-alone product, meQ Engage, to an entire suite products for leaders, teams and HR managers.

meQuilibrium is based on the science of resilience and utilizes machine learning to analyze data, predict needs, and serve skill building solutions. Janess’ command of the science, data and technology along with her ability to apply that knowledge to solve client problems makes clear to all employees the business value of deeply understanding the solution. Janess “walks the talk” when it comes to resilience and agility. She actively encourages work-life balance, flexibility, supports working parents, lives the mission and supports others to do the same.



David Cancel, Drift

LinkedIn: in/dcancel

After selling his last company, Performable, to HubSpot, David left to start Drift. Operating in a category with almost 7,000 products and companies, David believes that Drift focuses on a problem that it’s competitors ignore – customer service. David calls this philosophy “zigging while zagging,” and it is this idea that inspires Drift employees daily and for which they continue to strive. 

Drift has grown at an unprecedented rate. In the past 12 months, the company has hired over 100 new employees, expanded to a larger office and launched Drift Video, one of the biggest product launches ever for the company. In addition, David released the official book on Conversational Marketing, which was a best-seller on Amazon. Drift expanded its HYPERGROWTH conference to 3 cities; London, San Francisco and Boston, reaching almost 10,000 people.

In order to keep his employees inspired, David focuses on celebrating the culture of Drift. For example, he created Drift “referral trips,” where if an employee refers someone who ends up working at Drift, they are rewarded with a trip for two anywhere in the world. In addition, after 3 years at Drift, employees are rewarded with a sabbatical. It is David’s hope that employees will use these opportunities to see something they’ve never seen before and explore different passions. 

As one of just 2% of VC-backed companies ed by LatinX founders, David believes that you need to invest in diversity and inclusion from day one. In addition to his personal contributions to the community, David launched the Drift Charitable Fund, which is helping to support the workforce of the future by enhancing educational programs in STEM. As such, Drift has chosen Hack.Diversity, BUILD, Silicon Valley Education Foundation and Wallbreakers as recipients of time and resources in 2019.

David was recognized as one of Comparably’s top 10 CEOs for diversity and top 10 CEOs for women. In addition, he was a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.



Mike Massaro, Flywire

LinkedIn: in/mmassaro

In his role as CEO, Mike has guided Flywire’s international payment/receivables business from an early-stage startup trying to find a sustainable market to a stable, fast-growing, global company. He has overseen the company’s successful expansion in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific and aligned Flywire’s growing international team with the company’s strategic direction.

Mike is a positive, inspirational thinker that leads by example. Whether it’s one-on-one or in a group, he refuses to linger on excuses or obstacles. Instead, he inspires and demands those around him to focus on what’s possible. This vibe is palpable across the organization, and it has become a foundational part of Flywire’s culture. 

Mike is an active mentor for MassChallenge FinTech, a program designed to accelerate innovation in the financial services industry by making it easier for startups and established businesses, institutions, and organizations to work together. On the personal side, he is also involved with Lazarus House Ministries, an organization which helps heads of households and individuals living in poverty regain their dignity and become self-sufficient members of their community. He was appointed to the Advisory Board in 2011.

Mike was recently selected as a finalist for the E&Y New England Entrepreneur of the Year Award, for the second consecutive year, recognizing individuals building market-leading businesses, transforming industries, creating jobs, and contributing to the vibrancy of their communities.



Daniel Muzquic & Mike Zani, The Predictive Index

LinkedIn: in/dmuzquiz & in/mikezani

Mike Zani (affectionately referred to as Z by his employees) and Daniel Muzquiz lead with sleeves rolled-up. More likely to be seen scootering through the office, stopping by their employees’ desks just to check-in, providing feedback for a job well done, or cracking bad dad-jokes at the All Company meeting, Z and Daniel meet their people where they are and lead by example. Their leadership style has garnered a 4.9 rating on Glassdoor (and just named Glassdoor’s 11th Top CEO), a 99% CEO approval rating, and a 95% engagement rating against a 92% response rate according to PI’s most recent engagement survey. 

Active participants in optimizing talent at PI, Z and Daniel host leadership development training for new managers and work hard to make personal connections with every new hire, even as the organization grows rapidly year over year. Indicative of this is the way that Z and Daniel pivoted the organization from an assessment company to a talent optimization organization. For over 60 years The Predictive Index was known for providing offline paper assessment. Realizing that the science behind PI was powerful enough to change the working world and could do more than just help organizations hire the right people, Z and Daniel galvanized their people around the talent optimization mission and set out to launch a new category of people technology. By bringing employees into the tent early on category creation, they ensured everyone was bought in and understood their role in PI’s success. 

Z and Daniel recognize the importance of diversity and encourage programs that support giving underrepresented minorities like women, and others a voice to change and improve policy. Currently, 45% of PI employees are women, nearly double the industry average, and 15% of the executive leadership are women.



Derek Roos, Mendix

LinkedIn: in/derekroos

When Derek moved Mendix’s HQ from the Netherlands to Boston in 2012, he made a point of the importance of maintaining its strong company culture. Derek’s determination to strengthen the Mendix company culture is stronger than ever. In August 2018, Mendix was acquired by Siemens AG. Throughout the entire process Derek made a point to maintain the Mendix culture and the importance of a “freedom to act” ability under Siemens. Once the acquisition was complete, Mendix retained its company name and continues to maintain and operate all Mendix office locations around the world. The entire team was retained and continues to be structured and operated as it was prior to the acquisition, including its founders and exec team with Derek at the helm.

Post-acquisition, Mendix hosted Mendix World 2019, the largest global event dedicated to low-code, this past April in Rotterdam. In front of over 4,800 attendees gathered to learn and be inspired by the future of low-code, Derek announced the powered-up enterprise Spring ‘19 Release, which was not only Mendix’s most substantial update but the most significant advancement yet in no-code/low-code development for the enterprise. 

Derek has a strong belief that diversity in people drives diversity in thought, which drives a more thriving corporate culture. He is committed to promoting kindness in the world and encourages all employees around the world to collaborate (especially in-person at the annual company kickoff meetings in Rotterdam). Diversity education is also on display through various activities that Mendix holds, including “vrijmibo” (a Dutch term that refers to Friday happy hours) that is held each Friday afternoon in every Mendix office across the world. Employees are encouraged to connect with other offices through an extensive video intranet that displays happenings within each Mendix office. 

Mendix actively participates in Women in Tech events in Boston, some of which Mendix has hosted with over 300 participants from the local community. The company also routinely allows local organizations to host their events at its new seaport office.

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