This month we’re getting to know Scott Nelson. Not only is he president and chief digital officer at Tamarack, but he is also an avid fly fisherman, a movie aficionado and a devoted Papa.
What is your role with Tamarack?
As president and chief digital officer, I define the strategy and tactics we need to make Tamarack the leading provider of AI-based automation and business intelligence specifically designed for the equipment finance industry. Along with that I also lead both the AI product and marketing teams.
What brought you to Tamarack?
I have worked in many industries in my years as a product developer and product manager, Including, most recently, the Internet of Things and digital health. I’ve always enjoyed product development and consider myself a student of design thinking. I firmly believe design thinking is the key to innovation and have been lucky to be a part of many teams of innovators in many industry applications over the years.
Previous to Tamarack, I was helping define the go-to-market strategy for a variety of IoT products. We were trying to convert the business from strictly hardware to subscriptions of services that used the products. A subscription is essentially a monthly invoice for goods and services, which is, at a fundamental level, what equipment finance is. I believe that equipment finance is a fantastic channel for connected products and that the data from those products can help protect the capital deployed by finance companies. This brought me to Tamarack – the goal of changing the way IoT manufacturers go to market and the way lessors use data from the equipment they finance.
What is your overall impression of the equipment finance industry so far?
Two things have surprised me about the equipment finance industry. First, it is really a small world – everyone seems to know everyone. The industry funds almost $1.5T dollars of business needs each year, but when one is working in the industry, it feels small.
The second thing is how friendly and collaborative everyone is. I have never been turned down or disappointed when I reach out to discuss a potential partnership. The industry is packed with strong competitors who have a worldview that allows them to celebrate each other’s individual successes together.
What does life outside of Tamarack look like for you?
I have always said that “I work for family,” so life outside of work is family for me. Today that means five extremely cute, bright and busy grandchildren. My wife Susan and I enjoy weekends at our cabin with the little ones and their parents. I love taking them on walks exploring nature, playing a wide variety of outdoor games and fishing. Being Papa is the best job in the world. We are supposed to have fun, teach and keep anyone from getting hurt. We don’t have to do diapers.
Do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
I do a lot of fishing – both by myself and with whoever will tag along with Papa. I’ve been a fly fisherman since I could drive and have taught both my son Matt and his son Cam the joy of catching all kinds of fish on the fly. I spend a lot of time in the rivers around our cabin chasing smallmouth and trout. Being in a river, walking with my fly rod, is one of my special places.
In addition to fly fishing and fly tying, I like to build furniture, bake bread, and I am a movie aficionado. I am one of those people who will watch a favorite movie every time it is on TV. I will watch The Godfather I & II, Ironman, any Bourne movie, any Sean Connery or Daniel Craig Bond movie, and any Clint Eastwood western, any time they are on.
I have done a lot of triathlons in the past, but these days I mostly hike and run outdoors with Susan and our chocolate Lab Kerbi.
As Minnesotans, we tend to have strong opinions on the seasons. Do you have a favorite season (or least favorite)?
I lived for five years in central New York where winter is really just an extension of fall – it doesn’t get cold. I also spent a lot of time in San Diego when we opened a branch for a previous company. I got bored waking up every day to “72 and sunny.” I love all four seasons. I enjoy different outdoor sports and different kinds of fishing in each season. I love ice fishing almost as much as the post-spawn rush of the smallies in June. If you push me, the fishing is best in the spring and there is something special about getting back out into the water. But if I think about it, walking the Flambeau River in Wisconsin during peak fall colors is so special it doesn’t even matter if the fish are biting.