Faculty - Innovation & Growth Leadership Summit

Conference Chairperson

Cheryl Perkins, President and Founder, Innovationedge

BusinessWeek named Cheryl as one of the top 25 Champions of Innovation in the world. As a global innovation thought leader, Perkins brings three decades of experience leading companies as a creative catalyst in brand-building initiatives that contribute to rewarding end-user experiences and breakthrough business performance. Perkins is the author of Conquering Innovation Fatigue and a passionate keynote speaker who inspires audiences all over the world sharing her insights with C-level executives and leaders on crafting winning business strategies, plans, alliances and partnerships for commercial success. Perkins’ 23-year career at Kimberly-Clark propelled her to Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer, where she led the company in game-changing innovation and growth.


Keynotes

Quinault Childs, Research Manager, Institute for the Future Food Futures Lab

Quinault is a research manager at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a nonprofit strategic foresight group based in Palo Alto, California. He is a core member of the team that created Artifacts from the Future to provide an immersive look at what innovations across the food systems are possible. Specifically he has researched and written about the potential impact of virtual realityexperimental biodesign, and emerging innovations and business models for addressing food waste. Quinault holds a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering and an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment—both from Tufts University in Boston, MA.


Rohan Thambrahalli, President and Managing Partner, The Upstart Group

Rohan

Rohan Thambrahalii is the President and Managing Partner of The Upstart Group, a division of Anchora Group. Rohan is an astute and visionary leader who has directed the development of unified marketing strategies for companies such as Grainger, GE Money, and more, building world class brands, delivering ‘WOW’ end-to-end customer experiences, and generating exponential market growth. His current experience includes business relationships with Amazon, Build.com, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Dillard’s, and Target; his expertise spans Global Sales, Ecommerce, Industrial Distribution, and Retail Channels. He brings unique insight into the way e-commerce and product distribution channels – and particularly Amazon – are changing buying patterns across industry.


Karen Stanton, Director, Global Marketing & Branding, International Flavors & Fragrances 

Karen StantonKaren was born in Australia with a sweet tooth and enjoyed enviable roles involving taste and smell her entire career. After completing a degree in Food Technology, she spent 20 years consulting in sensory and consumer insights all around the world, having lived in Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney and most recently the US. Inspired by Willy Wonka, Karen has travelled under cover of a burqa in Saudi Arabia, survived bushfires in the Australian outback and eaten blowfish in Japan – all in search for ultimate new taste and scent experience. She leads the global marketing and branding team for IFF Flavors group playing an instrumental role in identifying new growth opportunities, designing Innovation pathways and partnering with industry leaders in the development of future foresights.


Featured Presenters

Dennis Reimer, CEO, Midwest Specialty Products

Since 2005, Dennis Reimer has served Midwest Specialty Products as president and owner. Pulling from his nearly 30 years of experience in the specialty converting industry, Dennis guides the company with a focus on developing specialized products for niche markets. Dennis strives to empower Midwest employees to be engaged and involved in delivering highly responsive, relationship-oriented customer care.


Herman So, Vice President, Kent Corporation 

Herman was recently brought into Kent from subsidiary Grain Processing to provide thought-leadership on corporation-wide innovation efforts to accelerate growth and increase revenue & earnings long into the future. In collaboration with all Kent Corporation’s subsidiaries (Grain Processing Corporation, Kent Nutrition Group, Kent Pet Group, and Kent Precision Foods Group), his role is to identify new ideas, expand market research, understand customers’ needs and identify disruptive innovation. He is also responsible for developing strategies and processes to guide the Executive Team in allocating resources for innovation projects and engaging the business units to pursue business and growth opportunities.


Patrick Clusman, Chief Operating Officer, Innovationedge

Pat is an accomplished professional with over 35 years of experience directing teams and leading successful large-scale programs and projects. He has a broad background in business and technology coupled with exceptional facilitation, collaboration, and interpersonal skills. He is a champion for innovation, process management, and knowledge-sharing, and has built many effective working relationships at all levels of the organization.  Prior to joining Innovationedge, Pat spent 26 years in various leadership and management roles at Kimberly-Clark and most recently was the Director, Enterprise Innovation.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay.


Anna Husk, Global Insights Director, Professional Products Division, The Clorox Company

Anna HuskAnna is currently the Insights Director for the Professional Products Division at Clorox, where she is responsible for leading market insights & strategy as well as building insights capability for Clorox’s B2B businesses.   Anna has been an insights professional with Clorox for 11 years, where she has contributed to the launch of significant innovations across Clorox, Pinesol, Glad, and Fresh Step, and has helped build company expertise in user experience and innovation insights.  Prior to joining Clorox, Anna held a variety of roles in R&D, Marketing, and Sales, building brands such as Olay at Procter & Gamble, and Reynolon Professional Films at Alcoa. A native of Indiana, Anna earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University.


Steph Barry, Managing Director, Global Market Development, Solatube International, Inc.

Steph Barry is Managing Director, Global Market Development, at Solatube International, Inc. Ms. Barry has been in global business for 20+ years. She previously served in various global leadership positions at WD-40 Co., a $400+ million, public CPG company. Then, as President of Aqua Business Consulting, she advised organizations on strategy, innovation, global marketing, leadership and organizational development to cultivate sustainable results.  A visionary and impactful leader, she has delivered multi-million dollar revenue growth along with double-digit profitability improvement. Ms. Barry is noted for executing unique strategies that strengthen competitive position, transforming mature or under-performing businesses, and deploying best practices in complex operations.​


Jen Faigel, Executive Director and Co-Founder, CommonWealth Kitchen

Jen Faigel is a co-founder of the former CropCircle Kitchen, now CommonWealth Kitchen, and stepped in as Executive Director in 2014. Jen is responsible for setting organizational strategy, raising funds, wrangling staff and businesses, developing and managing strategic partnerships, and generally managing the chaos. Jen’s background is in real estate and community economic development. She was the lead real estate consultant for the $15 million Pearl project, which is now home to CWK’s flagship kitchen operation. In her career, Jen has developed more than 400 affordable homes and over 225,000 SF of commercial real estate – worth over $200m – as a means to create jobs and economic opportunity.


Mary E. Witte, Regional Sales/National Accounts Manager, Surpless Dunn & Co. Inc.

Mary Witte Mary is an accomplished professional with over 35 years of experience in sales, corporate training, and end-user projects. She has a broad background in manufacturing and welding coupled with exceptional organizational and interpersonal skills. She holds a degree in Business Management from Cardinal Strich University, Milwaukee, WI and is an active member with  PFMA – WI Workforce Development and Women in Manufacturing.