Dr. Srinivas Veeramasuneni, Chief Technology Officer, 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 & Engineering, 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.
Dr. Stéphane Bazzana, Global Technical Director Auto OEM, PPG
Dr. Stéphane Bazzana is the Global Technical Director Customer Development, Automotive OEM at PPG, a leading global manufacturer of high performance coatings. In his current role, Stéphane is responsible for driving innovation and growth in PPG’s Automotive OEM business unit, leveraging PPG R&D technology platforms to accelerate and heighten the delivery of PPG’s sustainable Automotive portfolio.
Prior to joining PPG, Stephane was a global director of innovation in DuPont. Over 17 years, he drove end to end innovation from R&D to commercialization across multiple product lines and segments for Nylon, Tyvek®, Kevlar® and Nomex®, delivering essential solutions to protect people and processes in critical situations.
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.
Dr. 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, Expert Advisor, UI Collab
Lubab Sheet-Davis is an advisor and board member, focused on growth strategies, collaborative partnerships and innovation management. She is an expert advisor for UI-Collab, a consulting firm focused on advancing effective university – industry collaborations. Lubab serves on several advisory boards, including Innovation Research Interchange (IRI), a subsidiary of the National Association of Manufacturers, focused on innovation leadership; Silver Aqua, a start-up developing a low cost, portable water purification device for at risk populations; and the Center for Physical Sciences & Technology in Lithuania, supporting industry – university partnerships. She also serves on the steering committee for the SEMI – American Semiconductor Academy on workforce development with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Lubab has over 30 years of experience in the tech industry, most recently as Vice President of Strategy & Innovation in the Office of the CTO at Lam Research, a fortune 500 semiconductor equipment manufacturer. Her team managed a portfolio of internal and open innovation programs and events as well as communications to catalyze technology development, empower employees to innovate on business relevant topics, support collaboration and expand skills. She started in Corporate Development at Lam, and was a core team member of the multi-billion merger with Novellus Systems. 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, forecasting markets and trends in electronic materials.
Lubab holds a Bachelor of Science in Materials Engineering from San Jose State University and a Master of Business Administration from Santa Clara University.
She lives happily with her husband Jonathan in Mountain View, California and they enjoy gardening (she does), golfing (he does) and giving back to the community. Lubab believes strongly in organic gardening and urban farming, and serves as the President of the Board of Friends of Deer Hollow Farm. She is learning to become a bee-keeper.
Laura Buen Abad, Vice President of Technology and Marketing, Thermoformed and 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 Vice President of Technology and Marketing at Sonoco, a global packaging solutions leader, where she is responsible for leading R&D, new product development, new business development, marketing communications and acquisitions. During her tenure at Sonoco, she has held regional and global leadership roles in two core business units Rigid Paper and Flexible Packaging, where she drove growth and the development of sustainable packaging solutions in multiple regions. In addition to her role, she currently chairs Sonoco’s Corporate Technology Council.
Laura has been an active member of IRI since 2016, including as a member of the Research-On-Research team Brilliant Failures, which learnings were published in RTM in 2021, and as a board member since 2021. She holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) and an MBA in International Business from the University of South Carolina.
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.