A software developer by training, Noel Burkman possess a range of skills that resist simple categorization. Always keenly aware that sales and product development are two sides of the same coin, Noel has seamlessly navigated across this functional divide, bringing the synchronistic qualities of transformational leadership to the fore wherever he’s worked. He is a dynamic thinker with a remarkable gift for pattern recognition and deep emotional intelligence.
His early career was defined by a series of collaborations with ecommerce startups in Chicago and Silicon Valley, of both a strategic and technical variety. During a five year period, Noel was the CTO of a digital media platform that went on to raise $130M; the marketing strategist for an ecommerce startup that sold for $140M; and the advisor to a technology company developing lossless compression that was also successfully exited. This breadth of competency and ability to form a symbiotic relationship between product development and strategy is hard to find today. In the 1990s it was practically unheard of.
But one gets the sense from Noel that accomplishing the near impossible is his forte. In 2000, Noel joined Follet Higher Education Group, the publishing giant that was lagging behind digital-first disruptors. As Director of Ecommerce, Noel oversaw the construction of a website that would go on to be one of the top 75 grossing ecommerce sites in the world, catapulting revenue from $3M to $350M and cementing a digital identity for the 140-year old organization.
Perhaps the mold of digital strategist in the ecommerce space suites Noel best – but even then his list of accomplishments forces one to resist simple categorization. He has provided technical leadership to companies in equipment exporting, employee training, digital publishing, as well as numerous digital-first startups. Recently, Noel is the Vice President of Web and Mobile Development for Rise Interactive, a marketing analytics company based out of his hometown of Chicago.
While categorization might be futile, pulling themes from the patterns is fruitful for getting to know who Noel is as a leader. Those who work with Noel get an incredibly well-rounded professional with competency across software, sales and marketing, and the empowering force of a dynamic thinker that can recognize patterns, distinguish symptoms from causes, and carve out differentiated paths to success.