June 9, 2015

Cover Story

CXO of the Year

Just as the star quarterback is often the face of a football team, in the ...Read More

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Beyond Tech


CXO of the Year

By Utah Business Editors

June 9, 2015

As a manager, Sanderson says he gets the most satisfaction from hiring the right people for the job, and giving someone a chance and watching them rise to the occasion.

“Great leaders make the success of those they lead their number one priority. A great leader provides a structure, clear performance expectations and the tools to meet those expectations.”

Mikko Valimaki
CTO and co-founder, Needle

Mikko Valimaki has 25 years of experience in the technology industry and has worked every position from coder to vice president of engineering to his current role as CTO of Needle. Five years ago, Valimaki started as the lone coder at Needle, working on the company’s advocacy and strategic customer experience platforms. Needle has doubled its revenue in the past three years, signing and creating meaningful relationships with several well-known brands.

For Valimaki, it’s the entire working experience more than the end result that engages him. “I like building a vision, love working with people and enjoy hands-on coding work,” he says.

“[Valimaki] is a rare breed who works because he loves it and truly wants to make a difference,” says Amy Heidersbach, senior vice president of marketing at Needle. She cites Valimaki’s passion for mentoring and educating hires, even calling him a “master mentor.”  Valimaki even initiated a popular monthly continuing education series at Needle called “Mikko U.”

“Treating people well and trusting them builds a strong culture of cooperation, and in such environment the technology challenges are much easier to solve,” says Valimaki. “I view a leadership position more as a coaching position than being a player: lead by example, empower people to make difference.”

“At the deepest level I am a builder: I feel happy and successful when I am building something that makes a difference either directly or indirectly to people.”  

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