2021 CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

We’ve selected a diverse group of growth experts who are not only going to accelerate your business acumen but help you make your organization a great place to work with and for!

OUR 2021 KEYNOTE SPEAKER: ROB JOHNSON, FORMER TV NEWS ANCHOR AND CEO OF RJ COMMUNICATIONS

​Rob Johnson, President of Rob Johnson Communications, has been a TV journalist for more than 25 years, working as a News Anchor/Reporter. The last 20+ years were spent in the Chicago market where he built a trustworthy, credible, and high integrity brand. Now Rob has taken his TV skills and experience on multiple charitable boards, and using them to support businesses and professionals manage public relations matters, helping C-Suite executives best lead their companies through media training and messaging strategy, navigating through crises when they arise, assisting clients with image building, marketing & branding, and COVID related issues such as internal and external communications, virtual presentation training, and virtual production of shareholder and inter-company meetings.

Patrick Rooney - Founder & CEO at Seventh Echo

Challenging the status quo and conventional thinking to drive business transformation, capitalize on market opportunities, and scale companies. Recognized leadership in marketing and communications, customer advocacy, employee advocacy as well digital, social media and word of mouth marketing. Deep experience counseling senior executives and creating and managing award-winning programs. Currently CEO of Seventh Echo, a consulting firm helping companies strengthen their customer experience to drive revenue growth. Founder of QUEsocial, an award-winning employee advocacy platform acquired by Symphony Talent in 2016. Co-founder of Zocalo Group, a leading digital, social and word of mouth marketing agency. Acquired by Omnicom and integrated with Critical Mass.

Tim Schumm - Founder, President - Lucas James Talent Partners

In 2018, Tim started Lucas James Talent Partners, offering a unique approach to the antiquated recruitment industry – providing an on-demand, cost-effective, dedicated offering that saves customers 40-60% compared to competitors. Over the span of just 3 years, Tim has lead Lucas James to over 100 internal employees, $12m+ annualized revenue, placing over 500+ people into their next career opportunity, and becoming the go-to partner for the Chicago tech community to help them scale up their teams during rapid growth periods. Lucas James Talent Partners has supported several prominent Chicago tech players in their growth such as Uptake, LogicGate, ClearCover, M1 Finance, BuiltIn, Echo Global Logistics, West Monroe Partners, Reverb, Rewards Network, XSELL Technologies, among others.

DOUG FARREN - Managing Director Of The National Center For The Middle Market

Doug Farren is the founding operational leader for the first-ever National Center for the Middle Market—a collaboration between Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and Chubb, to provide knowledge, leadership, and innovative research on businesses with annual revenue between $10 million and $1 billion. Doug holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Penn State University and an MBA in Operations and Logistics Management from Fisher College, with extensive experience in inventory planning, supply chain collaboration, international supply chains, financial planning and analysis, and talent acquisition.

Janet Viane - Chief Strategy Officer, Red Caffeine, Independent Board Director

Go-to-market leader with a proven track record in designing, marketing, selling and operationalizing the most compelling growth opportunities fueled by multi-faceted (e-commerce, digital, mobile,social) technologies and analytics. Experience includes tenures at international Fortune 500 pioneers, start-ups and mid caps and the founding of a consultancy that was a driver of technology and business transformation. Industry expertise in B2B, B2C, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Retail, OmniChannel Commerce, Marketing Services, Information Services and SaaS. Passionate volunteer and leader for education and health related causes.

Kathy Steele - CEO - Red Caffeine

Kathy is a notable speaker featured at top industry conferences, association events, and intimate venues. She has been a guest on an array of podcasts and authored articles for local and national publications like the Daily Herald and Forbes. She shares her expertise in Employee Experience, Growth Planning, Brand Building, and Compensation. In 2018 Kathy founded the People+People™ Conference to help business leaders get access to resources that helped her grow Red Caffeine.

Mike Remke - Co-Founder Bonsai Data Solutions

With over 15 years of experience in Lean Manufacturing and Operations Management in the Aerospace and Defense market, Mike is passionate about improving the efficiency of business processes and eliminating waste. He has led several programs from concept to production, including flight controls and defense systems. Mike has developed automation strategies to improve labor productivity and eliminate redundant processes in manufacturing and supply chain. He has extensive experience using process failure modes and effects analysis, leading Kaizen events and providing corporate level training. An award-winning innovator, Mike is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Matt Butler - Co-Founder Bonsai Data Solutions

Ex-Googler of 12 years, Matt served the Retail, Consumer Goods, Restaurants, Travel, and Finance industries for over a decade, strategically planning billions in digital marketing investment over that time. Matt drove multi-billion realized revenues for his clients using analytics, statistical forecasting, auction modeling, cloud computing and machine learning. Google’s exclusive digital analytics adviser for 40+ Fortune 500 companies, Matt served the likes of Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Kohl’s, Best Buy, and many more. Matt designed & chaired digital ad auction curricula for Google’s global analytics teams. He’s also served as panelist & digital marketing analytics keynote speaker at dozens of academic events and industry conferences across three continents.