Parker Conrad, 34, has been chosen as the 2016 Executive of the Year by the San Francisco Business Times. The cofounder and CEO of Zenefits, a payroll and management product aimed at streamlining business operations, the young business leader has shot from grave career lows up to a major tech company success story.

Conrad follows in the footsteps of past winner and business bigwig Thom Weisel. To be part of the same legacy indicates a lot of faith in Conrad.

Zenefits launched in May of 2013, and by January of 2014, only eight months after its founding, the company was valued at a $1 million of run-rate revenue. The following year, its run-rate revenue was valued at $20 million, making Zenefits one of the fastest-growing cloud companies ever.

What makes Zenefits so easy to integrate into already-existing companies is that it’s very simple to use and it’s free. But it allows companies to purchase health insurance from it—that’s where its funding comes from. Zenefits is now so successful that at the end of last year, David Sacks, one of the most successful angel investors around, backed the company and signed on as its new Chief Operations Officer.

However, before starting Zenefits and becoming comfortable, Conrad was fired from his previous startup, SigFig. And though he was accepted into Harvard, Conrad says he spent most of his time working as the managing editor for The Crimson, Harvard’s newspaper, and missed enough classes to be dismissed from the college. He eventually graduated from the school, but not long after, Conrad was diagnosed with testicular cancer, for which he has been treated and deemed healthy. Because of his own health, Conrad is vigilant about ensuring companies offer health insurance to all employees.

Conrad’s is a fascinating story, from cancer to teaching himself to code to starting Zenefits, an idea that came to him while he struggled as the sole HR person at SigFig.

Of his colorful career, Conrad says, “The only thing I learned is that failure sucks, and you never want to do it. There’s not a lot to be said for that particular lesson.”

Every year when the San Francisco Business Times looks for names worthy of the Executive of the Year award, it looks for very specific characteristics. The award is for the Bay Area executive who “best captures the energy and dynamism of the region’s business community,” and this year, Conrad exemplified that mission best.