Nancy Novak

Title: Chief Innovation Officer

Company: Compass Datacenters

Education: Bachelor's degree in construction management

Credentials: LEED AP

Organizational Affiliations: NIBS BIM Council Officer of the board, NWP board director, iMasons advisory board member, and executive sponsor of iMasons Digital Divide


  • Constructech Magazine, Women In Construction Honor Women Construction Owners And Executives, 2014 and 2015
  • Mobius Award 2015
  • Power Women 50 - Data Economy, 2018
  • CIO Magazine Regular Contributor, 2019
  • Diversity and Inclusion Champion
  • iMasons 2020, IM100 Award iMasons 2020
  • Mission Critical’s Top 25 Women in Technology 2021
  • Global Women in Teleco and Tech Award 2020
  • The Northern Virginia Trade Council Top Executive Award 2020.

What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
Interestingly, I minored in construction technology before digital technology was even a thing. So, my introduction into the construction industry was focused on the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related to the built environment.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your journey in the industry so far?
Interesting, fun, and adventurous.

What is your personal mantra?
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." ― Calvin Coolidge

Describe the highest point in your career so far and how you got there, including all the hurdles you had to jump (and the ones you tripped over and too).
Seeing the maiden voyage for Atlas V after rebuilding LC-41 at Cape Canaveral. I had to jump the hurdle of convincing my firm that the pursuit was worth the risk and that we could build this complex project. We landed a new district and had a super successful project that resulted in ongoing work with the client and an unsolicited project award to repeat this project in Vandenberg.

What is your most admirable quality?
The best compliment I have ever received is a superintendent who said: “You always do what you say you will do.” I try to live up to that every single day.

What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?
I believe the industry has a lot of room for growth in the ability to deliver more efficiently and safely. I believe the ability to break down silos between the vested parties (i.e., owner, designer, contractor, supply chain, operations, etc.) is the area where the most improvement is needed. The way we weaponize contracts and work in defense mode is preventing the construction industry from moving forward.

When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
It looks much more inclusive and diverse at the upper ranks and, therefore, at all levels within the industry.

What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned so far and how has it helped you in your career?
The best advice I ever received was: “Don’t let your facts get in the way of your message.” As a women, I have a tendency to present facts to support my message but in doing so, the message can get buried. Great advice that I wish I had years earlier.

What three adjectives come to mind when you think about your future path?
Exciting, adventurous, and disruptive.


Nancy Novak's article in the March 2021 issue