PANELS Keynote Speaker

Learn to think like a futurist.

Sheryl Connelly

Futurist, Ford Motor Company

We’re excited to announce Sheryl Connelly, Manager of Global Consumer Trends and Futuring at Ford Motor Company, as the 2018 PANELS keynote speaker. From population growth to the proliferation of technology, Connelly’s big-picture outlook ensures that organizational leaders recognize and take advantage of the trends that shape the way we live and do business. With perspective that will revolutionize your approach to long-term planning and strategy, Connelly will provide the insights you need to thrive, innovate, and remain relevant in our constantly evolving world.

Her insights into what’s next will help you understand how STEEP factors — social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends — will affect your business in the short- and long-term.

Connelly has served as Ford’s corporate futurist for over a decade, and is responsible for identifying global consumer trends that feed into functions across the entire company, including design, product development, and corporate strategy.

Fast Company magazine named her the 24th Most Creative Person in Business in 2013. She sat on the Global Advisory Committee for transportation in 2015 and 2016, and has been a featured speaker at TED Global. Connelly will provide insights on how to think like a futurist as she kicks off PANELS 2018.

Featured Speakers

Jim Mallekoote, Former Sr. Director of Retail Sales, Apple

Jim Mallekoote
Former Sr. Director of Retail Sales,  Apple

Jim Mallekoote was part of Apple’s culture for over three decades and participated, and was instrumental, in redesigning Apple’s worldwide sales strategy.

The change from a company selling computers to a company focused on consumer electronics products was a difficult shift for Apple’s culture, however, the shift was essential for Apple to succeed with their future products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, etc. As part of this shift, in 2002, Jim designed, implemented and lead Apple’s iPod initiative in the USA. Later Jim worked with Apple’s teams in China, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan to revamp their culture, sales structure and distribution channels. Jim’s role was critical and included mentoring these teams to “let go of the old and embrace the future”.

Jim also has held C-suite and equity positions with wholesale distributors, consumer electronic stores, real estate companies and tool & die shops. Since retiring from Apple, Jim continues to work with executives of high-energy companies as they navigate the challenges of our fast-changing world.

Steve Johandes, CEO and Founder of 100X

Steve Johandes
Founder/CEO, 100X

Steve Johandes is an advisor, advisory board member and Chair for Vistage, one of the largest international peer-to-peer advocacy organization for CEOs, Key Executives and Business Owners. When combined with other executive organizations such as YPO/WPO and JEM, it represents the trifecta of leadership organizations in West MI, with almost 50,000 combined members internationally.

Steve is also founder of 100X, an advisory firm which focuses on helping legacy-driven family offices and organizations be more intentional, visual and transformational by Digging Deep, Thinking Big, Failing Fast and helping them to determine What’s Next? His role as an advisor and mentor helps guide business owners and families to be great stewards of the resources that have been given to them. In doing so, Steve develops and challenges leaders to achieve more than they can imagine, taking his own experience of growing a business from $40M to $400M and producing a shareholder return of 10,000%, or 100X (hence the name of his company). Steve was recently featured in two Grand Rapids Business Journal articles that describe his journey – Business exec wins lifetime achievement award and Former molding executive pays it forward.

Kevin Pinner, Business Lead of Business Solutions and Manufacturing, DISHER

Kevin Pinner
Business Lead of Business Solutions and Manufacturing, DISHER

Kevin Pinner currently serves as Business Lead of Business Solutions and Manufacturing Tech Services at DISHER, a nationally-ranked product development, talent solutions, and business consulting firm based in Zeeland, Michigan. Kevin brings over 20-years of lean and continuous improvement experience to multiple industries. He has helped boost organizational performance in a variety of manufacturing and business settings by focusing on process improvements in: product development, order entry, quoting, and venture capital due diligence.

Kevin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Management from the University of Cincinnati, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Wright State University, and certifications in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Lean/Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), and Six Sigma Black Belt. Prior to his experience at DISHER, Kevin has held director-level roles in Engineering and Operations, Materials Management, Business Unit Management, and Continuous Improvement Management for the automotive, furniture, and nonprofit industries.

Justine Burdette, VP of Technical Services, The Right Place Regional Director, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Council

Justine Burdette
VP of Technical Services, The Right Place
Regional Director, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Council

Justine Burdette is the Vice President, Technical Services at The Right Place and Regional Director for Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (The Center) West office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Under her leadership, The Center provides consulting and training to small and mid-sized manufacturers in the 13-country West Michigan Region 4 (Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa). She and her team work to improve the competitiveness of manufacturers by assisting with activities that focus on growth and innovation, continuous (lean) improvement, quality systems, and safety and environmental initiatives.

In her role at The Right Place, Burdette leads the economic development strategy to retain and expand smart manufacturing companies for the West Michigan region. She aligns regional activities that promote solutions for common manufacturing problems and leads the Manufacturers, Supply Chain Management, and Food Processors Councils.

Justine grew up in a family business (apparel manufacturing) and has 10 years’ experience in a variety of industries. Prior to joining The Right Place and The Center, Justine was a consultant for both for- and non-profits. Her background also includes training and operations management.  She holds a Bachelors of Art History from Roosevelt University.

Cheri Speier-Pero, PhD, E&Y Professor of Accounting and Information Systems, Michigan State University Department Chair of Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University

Cheri Speier-Pero, PhD
E&Y Professor of Accounting and Information Systems, Michigan State University
Department Chair of Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University

Cheri Speier-Pero is the Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting and Information Systems at Michigan State University and currently serves as the Department Chair of the Supply Chain Management Department. She has also served as the faculty director of the MS in Business Analytics program and as Associate Dean for the MBA/MS programs at the Broad School. Dr. Speier-Pero received her Ph.D. from Indiana University and M.S. from Northern Illinois University in Information Systems with a minor in Operations Management. She received an undergraduate degree in Chemistry with a Business minor from Indiana University.

Her research interests include effective decision making in technology supported work environments, individual acceptance and use of technology, and the effective use of information technology to support supply chain relationships. Her work has appeared in journals such as MIS Quarterly, Decision Sciences, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Business Logistics and the Journal of Operations Management, among others. She has been recognized for her outstanding editorial work at Journal of Operations Management, Decision Sciences Journal, and MIS Quarterly and currently serves as Co-Editor of the Decision Sciences Journal. Dr. Speier-Pero has received grant funding from both NSF and the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Speier-Pero was awarded the MSU University-wide Teacher Scholar award in 2001 recognizing her excellence in teaching and research and the Broad School’s Withrow Award in 2015.

Bob Hendriksen, Mulit-Plant Manager, Steelcase

Bob Hendriksen
Mulit-Plant Manager, Steelcase

Bob Hendriksen is multi-plant manager and coach at Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry.

In this role, Bob oversees Steelcase’s Kentwood operations including factories manufacturing high-performance seating products, as well as their vertically-integrated factory producing desk systems, filing cabinets and other steel storage units. Bob is also an internal coach and teacher, helping Steelcase improve performance using various improvement approaches including Lean manufacturing & enterprise excellence, “Getting Things Done” (GTD) and “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” among other subjects.

Previously Bob was responsible for the Kentwood plant, and prior to that, the Seating plant, both in West Michigan. Bob has held positions as director of lean/continuous improvement during the company’s transformation to lean systems in the 2000’s as well as director of operations integration, as the company worked to interweave technology and the use of data into existing lean systems.

Steve Barry, Director of Order Fulfillment, Steelcase

Steve Barry
Director of Order Fulfillment, Steelcase

Steve Barry is responsible for IT systems used for Order Fulfillment at Steelcase. In this role, his team has led the implementation of SAP and other custom applications used throughout the Order Fulfill process. These systems have supported the journey from batch-based processing to lean value streams. He has been in this role for 18 years.

Previously Steve led the development of systems used for Engineering and Manufacturing Execution, specializing in CNC automation.

Jerry Hill, Business Solutions Representative, West Michigan WORKS!

Jerry Hill
Business Solutions Representative, West Michigan WORKS!

Helping business and hospitality ventures succeed, Jerry worked with West Michigan’s public and businesses for over a decade. Throughout his career he gained more than 25 years of management experience. Originally from Vermont, Jerry completed his Bachelor of Arts in History/Liberal Arts. He relocated to Colorado, Washington, Ohio and Alaska to advance his career. Jerry and his wife are proud to call Holland home.


Steve Heethuis
Training Director, NN Mobile Solutions Group

Steve Heethuis joined NN Mobile Solutions in June of 2014 as Training Director. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, he previously was involved in employee development and operations roles for UPS, Stone Plastics and Manufacturing, Inc. and Notions Marketing. His focus to help others reach their potential, which has been a source of joy and motivation in his career.


Kurt Nahikian
Team Leader, CQL Products and Ventures

At CQL, Kurt Nakikian uses ‘design thinking’ to simplify and build strategies for authentic brands that guide innovation agendas and win business. His specialties include web-based Information Technology, CRM, Interactive Media and E-commerce. Kurt Nahikian is Business Designer (and Defender of Big Ideas) at CQL, one of West Michigan’s leading software development firm.

Jeremy Boogaart, VP of Business Development

Jeremy Boogaart
VP of Business Development, SalesPad

Jeremy graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in computer science. He started out as a software developer at SalesPad, and played a key role in the beginning stages of the organization. Jeremy is now in charge of new business opportunities and running the operations behind the scenes. Surprisingly enough, Jeremy was born across the pond in England and holds dual citizenship.

Jacob Pegg, Director of Product Development

Jacob Pegg
Director of Product Development, SalesPad

Jacob is responsible for interacting with the product development team to specify the direction for all SalesPad products. Working as the liaison between marketing and product development, Jacob identifies potential features or products that might be a good fit for the SalesPad product family. Jacob holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems from Appalachian State University. Prior to SalesPad, he was the IT manager for Associated Hardwoods. Jacob was also a systems administrator, web developer, and customer service technician for New River Net.

Tom Rau, Director of Sales

Tom Rau
Director of Sales, SalesPad

Tom graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in Business Administration. After graduation, he began his career in the finance world. Realizing that he needed a bigger challenge, Tom joined SalesPad as the Pacific Northwest Territory Manager before moving to his current role as Sales Director. Tom helps SalesPad understand each client on a deeper level by working with customers and partners face-to-face. Since he is often working in the field at conferences and trade shows, he is highly knowledgeable with the SalesPad product suite and customers’ needs.

Dan Hodgson, VP of Operations

Dan Hodgson
VP of Operations, SalesPad

Coming from a retail management background, Dan joined SalesPad in 2011 as a customer representative on the company’s technical support team. He held numerous roles within the company, eventually working his way up to VP of Operations. Dan’s past roles at SalesPad have included Implementation Specialist and Manager of Implementation & Support Services. As Vice President of Operations, Dan oversees SalePad’s support, project management, implementation and development teams. He also creates and manages budgets and personnel plans.

Adam Clarke, Director of Marketing

Adam Clarke
Director of Marketing, SalesPad

Heading up SalesPad’s marketing operations and creative team, Adam is responsible for our strategic marketing plan and the ongoing definition of product marketing and branding. Working closely with the sales team, Adam ensures effective execution and measurement of all marketing strategies, while developing strategic partnership activities, referral relationships, and product promotions. Adam holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Grand Valley State University and was previously an engagement manager at CQL, where he worked with over 30 clients to help them launch custom software projects, digital marketing initiatives, or ecommerce strategy. He was also one of the first membership coordinators at Local First and recruited over 300 businesses to join the organization.

Joe Thiry, Business Solutions Representative – IT Sector, West Michigan WORKS!

Joe Thiry
Business Solutions Representative – IT Sector, West Michigan WORKS!

Joe Thiry is the IT Sector Lead in the Business Solutions department at West Michigan Works! Joe also serves as the coordinator for West Michigan Tech Talent, a regional collaborative of Technology employers, workforce development, and education providers who look to enhance and expand the IT talent pool in West Michigan. Through his work, Joe is able to connect IT employers with a variety of services including talent recruitment, training grant reimbursement, and volunteer opportunities. Joe’s previous experience includes both professional development in a corporate education setting and employee training for a small property management company. He attended Alma College for his bachelor’s degree and completed his Master in Business Administration at Eastern Illinois University’s Lumpkin School of Business.

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