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30 Best CEOs of the Year 2021

An Interview with Katie Horvath, Naveego President and CEO: ‘We Solve Data Fragmentation Problems by Integrating Data Sources across an Enterprise to Create a Real-Time Stream of Accurate Cleansed Information Ready for Analytics’

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“We are unique because we do not require users to write glue code or customizations to use our platform.”

Naveego delivers a cloud-native data integration solution with built-in data quality, data accuracy, and data governance. The Naveego platform delivers cloud-first, distributed data accuracy solutions for seamless, end-to-end data cleansing and enables organizations to proactively manage, detect and eliminate data accuracy issues across all enterprise data sources in real-time.

The company was incorporated in 2014 and is headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan.

Katie Horvath, Naveego President and CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. What motivated you to reinvent the IT services industry?

Spending too many hours waiting for data sets! IT departments are often the bottleneck in business requests for data needed to answer strategy and other questions. Further, depending upon which data source you scrape a data set from, you get different results, as data typically is fragmented across an enterprise. Lack of data consistency and the inefficiencies of requiring customers to give you the same information time and again for different systems in the business, and the ridiculous amount of time data scientists and analysts spend wrangling and prepping data for analytics instead of analyzing it.

Q. How does data help you in the evaluation of industry developments?

Looking back on the computer and software industry, hardware and apps come and go. Yesterday’s mainframe is depreciating in someone’s basement unused. While infrastructure changes, data is the asset with lasting value. Older industries considered to be behind in technology for their business operations (such as insurance, financial services, manufacturing) are rich with data. Making that data useable gives a competitive advantage and better customer engagement.

Q. What are the critical issues addressed by your solutions and products?

We solve data fragmentation problems by integrating data sources across an enterprise to create a real-time stream of accurate cleansed information ready for analytics. We are different from other data integration offerings because we have built-in data quality, golden records (MDM), and governance. The Naveego platform automates data wrangling and prepping. We are technology agnostic, meaning that Naveego can connect to any data source. There is no vendor lock-in of a specific database or cloud vendor needed to use Naveego. Our philosophy is that we meet customer data where it lives. As more companies are adopting data lakes to solve problems associated with siloed data, Naveego makes the data lake useable without using legacy ELT products of data warehouses. Our cloud-native data management platform is built for non-technical business users – it does not require coding and databases. Our product is incredibly nimble. Data sources are connected in minutes, and golden records of accurate information are built-in hours without needing any glue code to be written. We shine on ease of use and time to value.

Q. There are other significant players in this segment. How do you distinguish your services/ standout from the rest?

We are different from other data integration offerings because we have built-in data quality, data management, and governance. We are different from legacy master data management (MDM) products in our speed and nimble approach due to being built cloud-native from the ground up. We are unique because we do not require users to write glue code or customizations to use our platform. With Naveego, there is no need for expensive resources and expertise to customize and maintain the platform. Finally, we are technology agnostic and work with any data source and cloud or hybrid environment.

Q. Developing IT services need the support of high-level talent and dedication. How did you manage to form your dream team?

People come to Naveego for the opportunity to work on cutting edge technology in a company with an incredible culture. We do not let egos get in the way of great ideas, and everyone has a voice. We are located in the Upper Midwest, which is notorious for having trouble attracting top tech talent. Yet, for every engineering position we post, we receive 1000’s of applications. We have been fortunate to create jobs in our region, be a player in building a tech industry in Northern Michigan, and attract the best minds from across the nation and world to move to Traverse City, Michigan.

Q. Describe a time you had to make a tough decision. What did you do, and what was the result?

I decided to represent a client who advocated political and social viewpoints that I found to be disgusting in a matter involving intellectual property and First Amendment freedom of speech. I did not want to support the causes that this client promoted. But protecting everyone’s right to speak our opinions freely, including my right to do so, meant protecting that right for even those who I find repugnant. I could have passed on the client, and punted to another lawyer, but that would not have been standing up for freedom of speech. I put the Constitution ahead of my personal opinion on the speech's subject matter, which is what all jurists should do.

Q. What other CEOs do you look up to? Why?

Tracy Graham, CEO of Aunalytics, among others. Tracy has been a force in rebuilding and revitalizing South Bend, Indiana. He values a diverse and inclusive company culture and uses his true grit learned as a collegiate level student-athlete every day in business. He gets a lot done with a smile and inspires his community daily. Tracy is an excellent example of a successful business leader who leads, not by making others fearful, but by encouraging his team. Reaching the highest profit possible is not more important than the team. 

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting, what would it be?

Too many people expect promotions without putting in the hard work. There will always be someone smarter than you. But you can endeavor to work the hardest. This is the way to achieve your goals. Finally, life is too short to surround yourself with cynics. Yes, it is possible to find a career in a diverse-inclusive low-ego culture where people are eager to learn from each other, create remarkable technologies, and endeavor to make our world a better place.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

Standing up for what was right in a boardroom of senior executives at a Fortune 100 Company when I was only 30 years old. As a young lawyer, I told them ‘no’ to a proposed strategy. Heads turned and the room fell silent. I felt grounded in ethics by my education as a Notre Dame Lawyer, which gave me the confidence to be able to make hard calls, tough decisions, and tell people, who were used to being surrounded by yes-men, ‘no’ when I did not believe that it was the right call.

The Leader at the Helm of Naveego

Katie Horvath holds a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.S.E. in Industrial & Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan. Her experience includes managing intellectual property at the Microsoft Corporation, representing numerous blue-chip and technology companies in IP matters in Silicon Valley and beyond, opening a cancer center for a regional healthcare system, scaling start-up businesses in tech, and racing sailboats. Katie has been recognized at the United States Congress with a leadership award for innovative business models. She is believed to be the only woman CEO in Big Data in North America.

“We are different from other data integration offerings because we have built-in data quality, data management, and governance.”