CEO Spotlight: Camille Nicita, President & CEO
As the owner of Gongos, Inc., Camille Nicita oversees a Royal Oak-based agency that balances client needs and employee needs with a white glove.
But it’s her modest, low-key leadership style that enables her to choreograph industry success, seemingly without a sound. She doesn’t just operate under the radar; she is the radar.
As a consultative agency that helps, among others, Fortune 500 companies find and enhance their aspirations of being customer-centric, her company has shown $27 million in pre-COVID revenues in 2019.
In 1991, Nicita joined three others in a four-person start-up, focusing on consumer research within the automotive industry and gradually branching out to the retail and consumer packaged goods industries. The company was shaken when its namesake—John Gongos—suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in 2012.
No longer just an executive; Nicita—43 at the time—was appointed to owner and CEO overnight. And with his passing, Nicita had to reinvent the company and the way it was serving its clients and adding new value.
Gongos is now enjoying its 30th anniversary in 2021. And during this time, the company had grown to over 140 employees.
With Nicita’s focus on client needs, while remaining mindful of the personal and professional growth of Gongos’ people, her view of relationships is 360 degrees. She has evolved the organization to serve some of the largest brands in the world and expanded the talent mecca in the region.
“Anyone in this position needs to consider the people they choose, the team you surround yourself with. We get better when our business goals and people goals are in sync.”
That type of alignment fosters growth with a dedicated staff and galvanizes relationships with clients. The more those two teams have the same vision, the clearer the path to hitting next-level targets.
Empowerment is the key.
The Vision of a Thousand Yards
Continuing to fortify the relationship between customers and corporations on next-level grounds, Nicita has a vision for the next 30 years. The goal is reciprocal value—and that will require Gongos to even the playing field between each.
To bring this vision further to life, this CEO is currently championing the recent launch of first-of-its-kind subscription service that links revenue growth to Customer Performance Indicators.
The Value Exchange Model and Vex Curve™- vex.gongos.com – is a massive initiative by Gongos. It features more than 154 global brands’ new data and analysis. The patent-pending system of predictive, prescriptive, and diagnostic models enables corporations to identify and convert aspirations of customer centricity into bottom-line growth.
“This is the missing link to further driving profitability and growth for corporations,” Nicita said. “It’s a huge goal of our company, a part of evolution. We have our clients’ and employees’ strength lead the way. We took our own advice. We took that same advice to our clients and our customers, and it coalesced.”
While COVID-19 certainly raised hurdles to overcome, years of maintaining a flexible work schedule and remote work arrangements long before the virus hit helped soften the blow.
“With 140-something employees, it wasn’t as crazy as you would imagine,” she said. “When the mandate from above said we were to work from home, we already had a systems and technology in place. Getting to the client and keeping this business running without missing a beat. Employee experience was a key to that.”
Leading with Compassion Actually Works
Nicita leads—in life and business—by this not-so-strange idea of guidance and protection of her employees and clients. She understands the critical nature of building rapport among the two and ensures a harmonious balance.
She promotes and fosters a culture of growth, knowledge, and an even deeper understanding of the role that adaptability plays in both personal and professional growth. Nicita pulls from the theory of biomimicry—believing in one’s ability to naturally adjust to outside-in factors. Having experienced much of it herself, she believes this is a hallmark of Gongos’ relationships with corporations.
The empowerment of Gongos’ people lies in their ability to pivot, to take in the whole view, and to hear the nuance of client and consumer needs. Hers is a staff of quiet ninjas of nimbleness.
Gongos, too, operates under a mission of customer centricity. That is, Nicita has crafted a business strategy that simply puts the client, and their customers, first. And the rest of her team stands behind the client, with frontline employees who “get it,” metrics, insight, and an overall understanding of what the client needs.
According to Nicita, upholding Gongos’ commitment to customer centricity has her company reaching for the brass ring. “Taking a holistic, whole-house response is what we have always done—and will continue to do.” It is this client-mindset that Nicita credits Gongos’ success to.
Gongos has found success under Nicita’s tutelage. No doubt, the next 30 years will see continued growth because of the foundation she is laying for the future.
Good Roots. Even Stronger Convictions
Success breeds, among many other things, generosity, and philanthropy. That is not lost on Nicita. She sits on the board of Forgotten Harvest, a local nonprofit devoted to fighting hunger and food insecurity.
She is also a board member of the Insights Association, served as Chairperson of the Advisory Board of Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Marketing Research Program, and has contributed to the University of Michigan’s Institute for Survey Research. She earned a BBA at the University of Michigan and MBA at Wayne State University.
Nicita’s innate ability to lead and motivate is the apple that did not fall far from the tree. Her father was a retired Wayne County judge. The example he set from the bench would be the blueprint to honor and leadership.
She, her husband, three children and Westie “Gus” live in Beverly Hills, MI. Her colleagues praise her as the hardest working CEO they know. Nicita, however, prefers a different accolade.
“Raising my children to become thriving adults is one of my greatest accomplishments,” she said.
As published in CEOWorld Magazine.