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Chicago SurePeople CEO Takes Pride In Helping Others

Niko Drakoulis is the founder and CEO of SurePeople, an intelligent learning, development and hiring platform that drives performance and innovation for companies worldwide. SurePeople's mission is to make people sure of themselves and businesses sure of their people.

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An accomplished executive leader and lifelong entrepreneur, Drakoulis is a member of the University of Illinois Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. Previously, he was Chairman and CEO of Akoo International, which was named one of Advertising Age's "Best Places to Work."

Scope and responsibilities of current role?

"As the founder and CEO, I need to be a link between everything outside and inside the company.  On the inside, the biggest responsibility I have is setting a strong foundation for SurePeople and our team—one that gives everyone a purpose that they believe in, that they're passionate about and that guides us to success through our vision, mission, values and culture.  For the outside, we need to know all the nuances in our marketplace and create real-world solutions that deliver a return on investment. I say "we" because I can't do this alone. We have an amazing group of talented people poised to revolutionize the workplace analytics, employee learning and development landscape."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"It's tough to name one when I love being involved in so many aspects of the business. It's amazing to witness our team's dedication to building great products from the ground up—especially for a company like SurePeople, which provides organizations with solutions that help build the human side of their business. I've always considered myself a people-person who takes pride in building trusted relationships and helping others grow, whether it's an employee or customer."

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur at an early age. It also helped that I was surrounded by great people to learn from, like an entrepreneurial grandfather who was my mentor.  In college, I paid my way through school and took courses, like business law, that would help me accomplish my goals.  One of the invaluable things you can't learn in school is people skills—also known as emotional intelligence. Through work and life over the years, I've learned these skills and their importance. This is a key reason we created SurePeople, to help individuals and companies improve their people skills."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"If you were born with an entrepreneurial drive, you have to be relentless, build relationships, have fun and keep things in perspective. Never stop learning and working on your people skills. These skills can make you a leader in the workplace and successful in life.  And like many roles, being a founder and CEO can be more than a full-time job. You have to find ways to balance work and life, and make more than enough time for your family."

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on

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