Empathy as the Key to Success in Leadership with Mark Testoni, CEO of SAP NS2

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“Have a plan, but don’t have it so rigorous that you miss opportunities. Don’t let people talk you out of what your gut thinks is the right thing.” — Mark Testoni

Today, Chad is joined by Mark Testoni, CEO of SAP NS2. At the age of 20, Mark worked as a high school janitor but decided to turn the page and join the Air Force. He served in the military for 20 years, and since retiring, Mark has become an active spokesperson on veteran’s issues, discussing the importance of believing in yourself and building confidence. 

“Confidence builds on itself. One of the things we have to do as leaders is to create situations for the people around us, whether they are family members, employees, colleagues at work, to have the opportunity to succeed and in some cases fail and overcome those tactical failures.”

In 2013, Mark was the driving force behind the creation of NS2 Serves, an organization that provides technology training and employment assistance for veterans. He has helped 237 veterans graduate and be placed in high-tech careers, with another 100 projected to complete the program in 2019. His primary focus is on management, sales, consulting, product support, cloud-delivered applications and infrastructure, and go-to-market strategy. 

On this episode of Mission Daily, Chad and Mark discuss the importance of leaders having empathy, how to mitigate your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with the right people, and a few key takeaways on how NS2 has grown rapidly.  

Quotes from Mark:

“Empathy is a really important thing for a leader to demonstrate. Having those experiences and having worked my way from where I was selling vacuums or cleaning at minimum wage, it helps you understand people in your organization.”

“We have to look for what people can do and not focus on what they can’t do. The concept of who you learn from is not this traditional hierarchical thing. Never miss any opportunity to learn something from somebody.”

“When I wake up in the morning, I look at my myself in the mirror and I’m wondering how my grandfather’s face got there first, and the second thing I say is, ‘what are the two or three things I’ve gotta get done today that are really important?’”

“A CEO’s vision is making sure that the company’s operating today. As a company that’s becoming global in nature and sizable, the cyber threat is something that’s on my mind constantly, not only as a provider of capabilities to support that but, more importantly, how do I make sure that we’re protecting the company and its brand?”



NS2 Serves



Lockheed Martin 

Department of Agriculture



Episode 354