Dr. Srinivas Veeramasuneni, Senior Vice President, USG Corporation
Dr. Srinivas Veeramasuneni is senior vice president and chief technology officer, USG Corporation. In this role, he oversees USG’s technology vision, strategy, and investment, including oversight of the Innovation, Engineering, Global Supply Chain, Operational Excellence, Business Incubation, and Marketing functions. His organization drives competitive advantage and profitability through collaboration, technology, and customer-centric innovation.
Veeramasuneni has a Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering from the University of Utah and has held various research and management positions during his tenure with the company. Veeramasuneni has been awarded 15 U.S. patents related to building materials, and has received numerous awards, including the AIME Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award, technology awards from USG Corporation and was also recognized as a 2017 Chicago Business Leader of Color by Chicago United.
He has been actively involved with the IRI organization for more than 15 years including annual meeting & member summit participation, hosting CTO forum & regional meetings, program committee leadership, nominating committee, ROR committee membership, and Board Member.
Vision for IRI’s Future: Strengthen the global leadership in the field of innovation management by promoting collaboration and partnerships among diverse groups to develop transformational innovation management models that provide substantial benefits to the member companies.
Craig Slavtcheff, Executive VP, Chief R&D and Innovation Officer, Campbell Soup Company
Craig Slavtcheff joined Campbell in 2012 and was named Executive Vice President, Chief R&D and Innovation Officer in September 2019. Craig leads our Global R&D function, including strategy, divisional product development, and corporate science and technology, as well as regulatory, nutrition, and culinary teams. Since joining the company, Craig has led various teams across divisions to drive consumer preferred innovations that combine culinary inspiration with product and packaging technology and appeal to consumers’ desire for delicious, affordable, nutritious, food. Under his leadership, we have transformed our innovation processes leveraging advanced sensory design methodologies and building agile, nimble development teams that mine consumer insights and translate them into superior product designs.
Throughout his more than 20-year career in consumer package goods, Craig has held several leadership positions in North America and Asia, responsible for driving the span of upstream research to divisional market focused innovation as well as quality assurance. He holds more than 80 patents, covering a wide range of product categories, many of which protected key innovations that generated growth platforms for the businesses he supported.
Matrice Jackson, Director, Research & Development, Kimberly-Clark
Matrice Jackson is an innovative Senior Strategic Leader with 15+ years of experience working in the consumer goods and business-to-business sectors responsible for all aspects of process, product and technology. She began working for Kimberly-Clark in 1991 as a mechanical engineer after graduating with her Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University in 1998. Since 2012, Jackson has been a Senior Manager and Associate Director for Research & Engineering in Innovation Management responsible for implementation, product development plans and packaging innovation inclusive of budget, resources and customer relationship management.
Dr. Dan Boss, Senior Vice President, R&D, The AZEK Company
Dan joined The AZEK Company in 2022 as Senior Vice President, Research and Development leading their efforts to create sustainable, beautiful, and durable solutions for outdoor living. Prior to AZEK, Dan was Senior Vice President, Research and Development at GAF and helped drive innovation across the aerospace, mining, and metals, and building materials industries for more than two decades. His distinctive background, which includes both R&D and marketing, allows him to combine new technology development with innovative business development strategies.
Dr. Robert Heideman, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, A.O. Smith
Bob was named Senior Vice President – Chief Technology Officer at A. O. Smith in December 2010. He had served as Vice President of the Milwaukee-based research and engineering facility since February 2008. The Corporate Technology Center consists of technology platforms that concentrate on advanced concepts and emerging technologies supporting the long-term product development strategies of the company’s electric motor and water heating operating units. Bob joined A. O. Smith Corporation in 1994 as a Project Engineer at Corporate Technology. In that role, he worked on a wide range of projects for a number of the company’s operating units. He returned to A. O. Smith in 2002 as a Section Manager, responsible for the Metallurgy and Prototyping Group. In 2005, he was promoted to Director-Materials and Processes at Corporate Technology.
Joel Schall, Director, Innovation Process, Henkel
Joel joined Henkel in 2001 as a polymer scientist in their Adhesives Research team. After 13 years developing rapid-cure adhesive technology in the laboratories, he was assigned to a global team responsible for reshaping the innovation process for Henkel’s Adhesives business. His team’s mandate was to develop a process that is aligned across all Adhesives business units and that helps Henkel „do the right projects“ and „do projects right“. Their new „Adhesives Development Process“ was launched globally in October 2014. The team won Henkel’s Lion Award for Collaboration in 2015, and their process transformation helped Henkel Adhesives win PDMA’s Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award in 2017. Joel’s current role is Innovation Process Director for General Manufacturing and Maintenance as well as Industrial Adhesives.
Florin Muntean, Director Enterprise Technology Innovatioin, Brunswick Corp.
Florin Muntean joined Brunswick in 2022 as the Director of Enterprise Technology Innovation with global responsibility for innovation and advanced technology strategy and execution.
Florin brings over two decades of global leadership experience in multinational OEM and Technology organizations. Most recently, Florin served as the VP Global Engineering for HARSCO Rail and the COO IHM & Vehicle Programs for TATA Technologies. Prior to that Florin held several global executive and engineering leadership positions in the Heavy Equipment and Automotive industries. Florin holds a MS in Mechatronics Engineering and an MBA.
Julie Williams-Byrd, Chief Technologist, NASA Langely
Julie Williams-Byrd is an electro-optics engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. As Langley’s Chief Technologist, Williams-Byrd advises the LaRC Office of Director and senior staff on technology matters and provides technical leadership for planning, management and evaluation of comprehensive, center-wide technology development activities with an emphasis on early stage technologies. She also leads and performs technology development related studies and performs data analysis for the NASA chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Prior to becoming chief technologist, she was a senior systems analysis in the Space Mission Analysis Branch (SMAB) in the Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate. Under her leadership, the team identified capabilities and technologies needed for long-term human space exploration. Another accomplishment included the development of an innovative method to identify functional capabilities needed to enable human exploration missions. These accomplishments — a first of their kind — are considered revolutionary, of exceptional technical merit and have provided significant impact for NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Langley. The identification of these capabilities directly influences agency strategic investment decisions for human spaceflight initiates.
Williams-Byrd earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. She is the author of numerous technical publications. She is committed to encouraging young scientists and engineers through mentoring and community outreach activities advocating careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). She is featured on the NASA Modern Figures and Woman of NASA (WON) websites
Stephane Bazzana, Global Director of Technology, DuPont
Dr. Bazzana is the Global Director of Technology for the Tyvek & Typar and Aramids Businesses in DuPont Water and Protection, a global leader delivering innovation to protect life’s essential product and processes, people in critical situations, our planet and our environment.
Dr. Bazzana is responsible for the development of entrepreneurial teams to explore new markets and provide rapid solutions to customer problems. He is a member of the DuPont Technology Directors Network.
Born in France, Dr. Bazzana graduated with a B.S. in Physical Chemistry and holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston MA.
In 2007, he joined DuPont Industrial Biosciences as a process development engineer working with technology and business teams to develop cellulosic biofuels and in 2010 he was appointed Research Manager, leading DuPont Central Research & Development Biofuels Bioprocess Group and worked closely with the Butamax™ LLC joint venture.
In 2013, he relocated to Canada and became the Director of R&D for DuPont Canada and led the process development organization for DuPont Kingston Technology Centre and initiated collaboration between universities and government research organizations.
In 2016, Dr. Bazzana joined Nike as the sustainable material director and Nike Grind business leader. He re-joined DuPont in 2018 in his current role.
Dr. Bazzana enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and playing volleyball. Lately he started roasting his own coffee beans appreciating the engineering and the chemistry behind the traditional art and know-how.
Pam Henderson, CEO, NewEdge
Pam Henderson, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of NewEdge Inc., the strategy firm that anchors growth and innovation in opportunity. She is the author of “You can kill an Idea…but you can’t kill an Opportunity!” one of Wiley Press’ top 5% business books, soon to be updated and released by Fast Company. It has been translated into Mandarin and Korean and is in its fourth printing. She publishes widely on strategy and innovation and has received recognition in the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Pam has been involved with IRI since 2005.
Formerly on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, Pam later worked with the national laboratory system and Washington State University to commercialize early-stage technologies. Pam advises companies across every industry, including over 75 Fortune 500 and 50 startups and non-profits. Pam pioneered Opportunity Thinking™ principles, a new approach to innovation that helps organizations create sustainable growth.
Lubab Sheet-Davis, VP Strategy and Innovation, Lam Research
Lubab Sheet-Davis is Vice President of Strategy & Innovation in the Office of the CTO at Lam Research, a $15B semiconductor equipment manufacturer. Her team manages a portfolio of innovation programs & events designed to help the Lam Global Technical Community Learn, Connect, Innovate and Inspire. She also serves as executive sponsor of Women@Fremont, an employee resource group focused on advancing early to mid-career women. She previously served in Corporate Development and was a core team member of the $2B Novellus merger and conducted numerous opportunity assessments. Prior to Lam she led emerging technologies at SEMI, match-making big and small companies, and was co-founder of SemiSales.com, an e-commerce pioneer. She started her career as an analyst at Rose Associates, developing forecasts in electronic materials.
Lubab serves on the SEMI North America Advisory Board (NAAB) with industry leaders to advocate issues to advance the semiconductor industry. She serves as an Expert Advisor for the Gratitude Network, and as an advisory board member for Silver Aqua, supporting social impact.
Lubab holds a Bachelor of Science in Materials Engineering from San Jose State University and a Master of Business Administration from Santa Clara University.
Laura Buen Abad, Senior Director of Technology and Marketing, Flexible Packaging, Sonoco
Laura Buen Abad is a business leader with more than 20 years of multinational experience leading product development and innovation. She is currently a senior director of technology and marketing at Sonoco, where she is responsible for leading R&D, new product development, new business development, marketing communications and acquisitions. Prior to this role, she was the global director of technology of rigid paper packaging also at Sonoco, where she led the development of a portfolio of sustainable fiber-based packaging. Her unique background and experience allows her to define and execute technology strategies with strong focus on embedding sustainability to drive growth and creating competitive advantage.
Laura has been an active member of IRI since 2016. She was a speaker in the 2020 Annual Conference, a member of the Planning Committee of the 2019 Annual Conference, a member of the ROR team Brilliant Failures, which learnings were published in RTM in 2021, and a board member since 2021. Laura is passionate about driving for results through strategy, processes, execution, and accountability. She is also committed to talent development and a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. She has lived and worked in Mexico, USA, and Singapore, and holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from ITESM and an MBA in International Business from U of SC.
Sharon Feng, Director S&T, Global Analytical Sciences, PPG
Dr. Sharon Feng is the Director of Corporate Science and Technology and Global Analytical Sciences at PPG Industries, a leading global manufacturer of high performance materials for coatings, adhesives and other specialty applications. In her current role, she leads the global R&D center in Pittsburgh, PA as well as a network of labs across Europe, Asia and South America. Her responsibilities include developing and executing innovation strategies that are aligned with business growth goals, establishing technological capabilities that ensure sustainable competitive advantages and developing future technical and business leaders through a robust talent pipeline. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors for Koppers Holding LLC, a publicly traded mid cap carbon material company, where she chairs the Sustainability Committee and serves as a member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance committee as well as the Management Development and Compensation Committee.
Before joining PPG, Sharon had more than 20 years of leadership experience working in coatings, specialty chemicals and materials industry with diverse roles in R&D, marketing, business development, open innovation and other corporate functions in multi-nationals such as Covestro and Lanxess. Between 2012 and 2018, she served as the executive director and Sr. Associate Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Lab. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT.
Dr. Sheri Smithey, Vice President, Global R&D Network Head, Nestle Purina PetCare
Sheri Smithey has a BS in Biochemistry and MS/PhD in Agricultural Engineering (Food Processing) from University of Missouri. Sheri has worked for Nestle Purina PetCare (NPP) for 26 years, in which most of that has been in Research & Development. She started as a Process Engineer developing new processes to manufacture differentiating products in all categories of pet food, then moved to Product Development. She also worked in Operations at a NPP factory in the UK.
Upon returning to the US, Sheri went back to process engineering as the Manager of the Manufacturing Support group. From there, she entered a series of progressive leadership roles, wherein 2018 was responsible for R&D at the St. Louis site. In 2020, Sheri became responsible for the global NPP R&D group.
Tolga Kurtoglu, Former Chief Technology Officer of HP Inc.
Dr Tolga Kurtoglu was HP’s Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Tolga led HP Labs, one of the world’s most preeminent and seasoned industrial research laboratories, committed to cutting-edge research and innovation. He leads the company’s technology strategy and engagement with the technical and scientific communities.
Tolga is a technology executive with a long track record of success spanning research and development, business strategy and technology commercialization.
He is the former CEO of Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a renowned scientific research and open innovation company that brings leading scientists, engineers and designers together to explore emerging areas of science and technology.
Tolga was previously the Head of Global Research at Xerox, where he oversaw the company’s research centers and distributed advanced technology and engineering teams.
Tolga has a wealth of research experience, including numerous patents and publications in the fields of automation and machine intelligence, fault tolerant system design, and 3D/digital manufacturing.