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When Nick Gunn left his position as SVP of Global Corporate Services at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise to found The NiVACK Group, he did not do it alone. He started the company with his son, Charles Gunn. The name is also a family affair. According to Nick, he “made up a name using our initials. The Ni stands for Nick. V is for Vanessa, my wife. A is for Ash, and K is for Katherine.
Charles Gunn, San Diego, is co-founder of The NiVACK Group, a highly experienced executive advisory firm that specializes in maximizing the value of companies’ procurement functions.
In today’s 5-minutes I welcome Nick Gunn. After a successful career at Hewlett-Packard where he held senior executive positions including SVP of Global Procurement and SVP of Global Corporate Services, Nick founded The NiVACK. Today he answers the question: “What advice would you give to someone new to our profession?”
With decades of experience as an executive at various levels for Hewlett-Packard, Nick Gunn decided to make his own path as an entrepreneur and businessman. In 2019, he founded The NiVACK Group, which he also runs as CEO. The company “offers executive advisory services to mid-sized and enterprise companies,” and “focuses on helping [our] clients to transform their procurement, real estate, and shared services functions and realize the benefits for customers, shareholders, and employees.”
Aspart of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Gunn.
Nick believes that he is probably better at buying things than you. This is not meant to be inflammatory or combative. It’s just the nature of the skillset that his experiences have given him. Before he took a leap of faith and started his own business, he was in charge of spending billions of dollars at a Fortune 10 company. Now, as CEO of The NiVACK Group, he helps other companies buy things better.
Have a compelling mission. When the President visited the Houston Space Center back in the 1960’s, at the height of the space race, he saw a janitor and asked what he was doing as he cleaned. The janitor’s answer was shocking to nearly everyone. “I’m not mopping the floors, I’m putting a man on the moon.” I say it was shocking to nearly everyone, and not everyone, because some people knew exactly what that man was doing. Those were the people on NASA’s leadership team who created that compelling mission and a culture where every employee believed in that mission!
An epiphany followed. “On the plane coming back, I thought, Hey, this is exciting. Why don’t I do this for a job?” Gunn explained. He then made the immediate decision to start an advisory firm. Ironically, he was launching a start-up as he was literally being launched into the atmosphere. It must have been fate.
Charles serves as The NiVACK Group’s CFO and he works closely with the firm’s clients to improve financial outcomes.