Episode 023: Jennifer Asplund, AT&T

This month we are joined by AT&T Vice President of Mobility Customer Care and DePaul MBA Alumna, Jennifer Asplund.

We really lucked out in this episode, because Jennifer not only sits in a position that has a 30,000 ft view of a highly competitive industry within one of its most powerful established firms, but she also has over 15 years of experience within AT&T that ranges from front line store operations to product development. The main focus of our conversation is related to the human component of value creation, strategy development, and innovation.

Episode 022: John Adams II, Zekelman Industries

In this episode, we are joined by DePaul Alumnus, John Adams III. John is the Inside Sales & Customer Service Manager at Zekelman Industries, a firm that manufactures steel piping for large scale construction projects.

We’ve talked about steel on this podcast before, so you might remember that the industry is a part of well developed supply chain and is highly competitive, which hints at the importance of maintaining relationships and the possibility of price competition. John speaks with me about how his firm creates  value for its customers without falling into the price competition trap. Surprisingly, one of those value adds is an award winning website!

This is a really great conversation that we hope you’ll enjoy. If you’d like a primer on the steel industry as a whole, we highly recommend listening to last year’s conversation with Vice President of Market Development at the American Institute of Steel Construction, Brian Raff.


Episode 021: Jordan Blue, AIRINC

In this episode, we are joined by Jordan Blue, a DePaul MBA Alumnus and West Coast Director for AIRINC, a firm that specializes in employee mobility.

Employee mobility conjures a pretty clear image of employees moving from place to place. You might think of this as simply a firm that coordinates logistics of employee relocation or manages flights and hotels for business trips. This might have been an accurate description at the beginning of this industry, but now that barely scratches the surface. 

Jordan speaks with us about trends in remote working, cultural training, employee experience, and even explores the philosophical essences of how the labor market is evolving. We loved this conversation and we’re positive you will too!

Strategy & Innovation within the Automotive Industry on Oct. 29th

The Economics & Strategy Talk: Strategy & Innovation in the Automotive Industry will be held on October 29 at 6:00pm to 7:30pm CT via Zoom.

This panel discussion is a part of the quarterly Economics & Strategy Talks hosted by DePaul University’s Department of Economics Business Strategy & Decision-Making Program. This panel of automotive industry experts will discus the most pressing topics related to automotive strategy and innovation. Some topics may include supply chain, the role of OEMs, electrification, automation, and trends in wholesale, resale, and digital.

This panelists will discuss prepared questions for 1 hour which will be followed by a 30-minute audience Q&A. If you’d like to submit a question before the event, please fill out the form here.

Brittany Strebel of Ford Motor Company

Brittany Strebel is a proud Clemson University graduate and a 2020 Kellstadt Graduate School of Business graduate. Upon graduation from Clemson University, Brittany began her career at Ford Motor Company and has worked her way up to her current role of Lincoln Motor Company Sales Operations Manager for the Great Lakes Market Area. In this role she manages a team of employees dedicated to ensuring Lincoln Dealers are prepared for current and future business needs. Brittany was a participant in Ford Motor Company’s Catalyst Accelerate Program, is a proud member of the Fast Forward Ford Women’s panel and enjoys giving back as a mentor through various community outreach initiatives such as LaunchU and StreetWise.

Brett Strebel of Ford Motor Company

Brett Strebel currently serves as a Market Representation Manager for Ford Motor Company. His role puts him on the forefront of the dynamic automotive distribution model that has been disrupted in recent years by Tesla, Rivian, and Lordstown, to name a few. A proud University of Wisconsin graduate and 2019 Kellstadt Graduate School of Business graduate, Brett’s entire professional career has been working for Ford Motor Company serving its Dealer network. 

Brett is a facilitator for Ford Advocates for Belonging, was a Ford Motor Company Capstone Project participant, and enjoys giving back through volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository and serving as a fundraising runner for Advocate Health Care.

Following several years of engineering and project management experience in automotive assembly plant construction, laser welding and plastics processing equipment Chris Schaafsma took a product development role (R&D Engineering Manager) at ITW Trans Tech (a product decorating equipment building company). As soon as he needed to make decisions about what to develop next, he took a greater interest in market research and business strategy that eventually let him to DePaul’s MBA program. 

After additional roles at ITW’s corporate Innovation Center, and managing innovation at one of ITW’s other automotive businesses, he moved into his current position as Global Director of Innovation at ITW Seats, Safety & Motion, where he is responsible for leading a team, establishing processes and building strategies that will create valuable new products for ITW’s automotive OEM customers. Chris holds a BS in Physics from Greenville University, BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and MBA in Leadership & Change Management from DePaul University.

Neil Feuling of FYUSIO

Neil is a seasoned strategy and business development leader whose career has extended across multiple industries with experience in both large companies as well as fast growing venture backed startups. He has a track record for successfully leading strategic partnership, marketing and product initiatives in digital advertising, marketplace, e-commerce and mobile app businesses with a focus in the automotive industry over the past 11 years.

Neil is currently Senior Director, Strategy and Business Development at Fyusion – a computer vision and machine learning technology company that enables the creation of high resolution, optimized 3D images with deep AI understanding. With over 150 patents, Fyusion builds next-generation applications with a focus on automotive vehicle inspections, intelligent damage detection and 3D digital merchandising.

Fyusion was recently acquired by Cox Automotive in January 2021 and Neil now leads growth initiatives leveraging Fyusion technology across Cox Automotive business units spanning wholesale, retail, sell and trade, rental, mobility, repair and service, insurance and more.

Prior to Fyusion, Neil served as VP, Business Development at Autolist, a fast-growing mobile app for car searchers. In addition, he has held positions at LeEco / Faraday Future, a global autonomous electric vehicle OEM, Beepi, a venture backed peer to peer vehicle marketplace to buy and sell cars online, and Cars.com, a leading digital marketplace that connects car shoppers with sellers. He earned his MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and MS in Finance from DePaul University, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

While at DePaul, Neil was Founding President of Kellstadt Markeing Group, was the graduate assistant to the Chair of the Entrepreneurship Program, and taught entrepreneurship classes. Neil was a Founding Partner of the Coleman Circle supporting the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul and has been an Advisor focused on strategy, marketing and finance to many startups.

Episode 020: Jeff Lemonds, Casappa Corporation

We are joined this month by DePaul MBA alumnus, Jeff Lemonds.

Jeff is the Managing Director at Casappa Corporation, which is a firm that specializes in hydraulic systems. Hydraulics are a very old technology that is inside almost all machinery with moving mechanical parts.

Jeff talks with us about his industry’s dynamics, how COVID has disrupted the supply chain, and how his firm views the next step of innovation for this very established technology. He also offers insight on how a mechanical engineer might become a strategist and business leader.

Episode 019: Lauren Lipovic, Esri

In this episode, Lauren Lipovic speaks with us about the GIS industry and how her experience as an economist aids her in her current role as a marketer. 

Lauren is a Lead Product Marketing Manager at Esri, where she manages a team of product marketers focused on delivering situational awareness and operational intelligence to government, non-governmental, and commercial customers. Lauren joined the Product Marketing team after spending four years on Esri’s Global Business Development team, where she led the development of the company’s digital sales and public policy practices.

Prior to joining Esri, Lauren served as a top advisor for economic affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she worked with a team of fellow open data enthusiasts to create the department’s first data strategic plan and establish the Commerce Data Advisory Council. Her 10 years of experience spans across strategic planning, policymaking, and business development in government, NGO, and software industries. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and industry news on the topics of international trade, government data, and innovation. 

Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in economics and policy analysis from DePaul University.


Episode: 018: Carlie Frisch, SPINS

In this episode, we are joined by Carlie Frisch, DePaul MBA Alumnus and Client Insights Manager at SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company.

Carlie talks with us about the growth of the Naturals industry within consumer packaged goods, or CPG’s. The CPG industry is a very crowded and competitive space that simultaneously must respond to short-run changes in consumer preferences while leveraging massive economies of scale to keep costs low. Yet in the face of those challenges, Natural products successfully find more and more ways to innovate and disrupt.

Episode 017: Louise Anderson, Blue Cross of Illinois

This month we joined by Senior Manager of Corporate Development at Blue Cross of Illinois and DePaul MBA Alumnus, Louise Anderson.

Health Insurance in the US is a quagmire of complex interactions with lots of moving parts between providers, insurers, governments, and patients. Inside of this intricate dance, healthcare costs have been increasing a fairly intense rate and has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Louise talks with me how an aging population and the very recent influx of telehealth technology are factors in the industry’s response to inflationary healthcare spending and public policy.

This is a great conversation about how the healthcare industry is organized and the factors that make it complex. Have a listen and let us know what you think!

Talk on May 7, 2021: Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go

We were thrilled to host DePaul MBA Alumnus Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go for the Economics & Strategy Talk on May 7, 2021.

Kum & Go is a Midwest-based convenience store chain that sells gasoline and retail items. Tanner offered a candid conversation about his background, strategic vision, and the forces influencing innovative decisions for Kum & Go.

Presenter Biography

Tanner Krause is the CEO of Kum & Go, headquartered in Des Moines, IA. He is the fourth generation to lead in the family-owned business. As CEO, Tanner oversees the marketing, operations, human resources, information technology, finance and store development functions. Together, these teams provide support to 5,000 associates in 400 stores across 11 states.

Tanner’s work experience with Kum & Go dates back more than twenty years, when he began working part-time in stores. With nearly ten years of store experience, plus four different internships with Kum & Go, he became a District Supervisor in the Des Moines, IA area in 2013. Following completion of his MBA, he became Kum & Go’s Director of Operations in 2016. In January of 2017, Tanner became the Senior Vice President of Grow People leading all of the human resources functions of the business and in June 2018, Tanner was named President of Kum & Go. In January 2021 Tanner succeeded his father as CEO. Tanner’s passion for Kum & Go’s associates and stores is a highlight in every role he has held within the company. Tanner also provides strategic direction and support to several other businesses in the Krause Group portfolio.

Prior to his Kum & Go history, Tanner worked through the E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Management Development Program, working as a Sales Representative for Wirtz Beverage Group (IL) for two years before joining Empire Merchants (NY) as a Field Sales Manager. He appreciates the opportunities provided to him by the Gallo family, as well as their commitment to skill development and career pathing.

Tanner received two Bachelor’s in Business Administration degrees from Loyola University in Chicago in 2010 – Finance and Economics. Additionally, Tanner is a member of the most successful graduating class in Loyola Ramblers Men’s Soccer history. In 2016, he graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration from DePaul University, concentrating in Business Strategy.

Living in Des Moines, IA with his wife, Hannah, the two share a passion for community betterment. Tanner is a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa. Hannah is a board member of the Food Bank of Iowa. The couple have a young daughter.

Episode 016: Bob Schiller, National General Insurance

In this episode, we speak with DePaul MBA alumnus, Bob Schiller. Bob is the Countrywide Product Manager at National General Insurance (an Allstate Company).

Insurance is at the foundation of de-risking many other activities, making them more accessible and fueling economic development. That also means that insurance can inherently be a slow-moving industry in terms of its own innovation. However, technology and consumer preferences have drastically changed in the past decade, which is forcing some relatively quick changes for insurance in the forms of M&A, technology adoption, and product development.

Curious what those changes are? Well Bob’s got you covered, so have a listen!