Immediate Past-Chair

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

Board Chair

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.

Board Member

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.

Board Member

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.

Board Member

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.

Board Member

Robert E. Fast, Chief Technology Officer

30 Years’ experience in Planning, Developing, and Optimizing International Upstream Oil & Gas – ranging from onshore/unconventional to offshore/deep water

Specialties: Strategy Development, Planning and Portfolio Management; Field Development, Asset Optimization, Operations Management; Technology Screening/Application

Rob Fast is Chief Technology Officer for Hess Corporation. Fast, who has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of technical and executive management roles, oversees Hess’ technology strategy and applications.

Prior to assuming his current position in 2018, Fast was Vice President for Deepwater – leading the company’s deep-water development and producing assets in Guyana, the Gulf of Mexico, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana. In 2012-14, Fast led Onshore Unconventional New Ventures – identifying, capturing and appraising unconventional resources including the Utica. He joined Hess in New York in 2009 as Vice President, E&P Planning, Strategy & Value Processes, leading E&P strategy development and asset portfolio optimization for the worldwide E&P business.

Prior to joining Hess, Fast was Joint Venture Technical Manager for Exxon Mobil’s LNG operations in Qatar; Operations Technical Manager for North Sea Production in the UK and Norway; and Regional Planning Manager at ExxonMobil International Limited in London for Europe, Africa and Caspian.

He was seconded to Aera Energy as Manager of Technology, leading the development of strategy, exploitation and enhanced recovery for multiple large assets in California.

Fast began his career at Mobil Oil Corporation as an operations engineer and served in various engineering, operations, project leadership and management positions.

Fast holds a bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa and is a registered Professional Engineer in California.

Board Member

Jerry Grunewald, Vice President of R&D/Technology at INVISTA

Jerry is currently the Vice President of R&D/Technology at INVISTA which is part of Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.  Jerry’s team leads transformational process and product development in Intermediates, Polymer, and Fiber applications in the Nylon and Polypropylene value chains. 

Over the course of his 35 year career, Jerry has had leadership roles in both R&D and Operations.  He has led teams at all of INVISTA’s 13 global operating sites.  Prior to moving back into R&D in 2023, Jerry led INVISTA’s efforts in Digital Transformation focused on bringing the promise of the plant of the future into reality. 

Jerry is a chemist by training – received his undergraduate degree from La Salle University, and Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry from the University of Florida.  He is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Master Black Belt. 

Jerry and his wife Cindy are proud parents of Chris, who is an investment banker and Jon, who is a battery/energy storage engineer.  Jerry remains active in the Boy Scouts of America (once a leader, you can never get out) and like all native Philadelphians, is a frustrated fan of the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, and Flyers. 

Board Member

Ami Gupta, Chief Technology Officer, Linde Gases and Vice President

Ami Gupta is Chief Technology Officer at Linde Gases and VP.

Dr. Gupta spearheads Linde’s global applications R&D portfolio for all end markets served by the company, including chemicals & energy, food & beverage, electronics, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and glass, as well as Clean Energy. His teams are focused on   providing innovative solutions that enable customers to achieve cost reduction, productivity, and sustainable development. Dr. Gupta also leads Linde’s digitalization efforts globally, including a team focused on Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Gupta joined Linde in 1993 and has held several management positions of increasing responsibility over the years, including leading the formation of the R&D centers in Shanghai and in Bangalore while being based in China from 2009 to 2014. Dr. Gupta has made significant contributions to science and technology. He holds 12 patents and 8 publications in peer reviewed journals on a broad range of technologies and on innovation.

Dr. Gupta has a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, and a doctorate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

Board Member

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.

Board Member

Dr. Pam Henderson, CEO, NewEdge

Dr. Pam Henderson is author, entrepreneur, former-professor and international speaker. She founded NewEdge in 2002, a business and innovation strategy firm that anchors growth in opportunity. She served on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon and later at Washington State University where she worked with the National Lab system to commercialization over 100 early stage technologies. This inspired her approach to Opportunity Thinking described in her book “You can kill an Idea, but you can’t kill an opportunity” which is now being revised for Fast Company. NewEdge leads clients in Future Proofing through a robust trends practice, driving growth from company DNA, setting North Star Visions for businesses and innovation, identifying opportunities and translating them into platforms and roadmaps. Her team of consultants, with their ecosystem of over 4000 experts, have driven growth for over 75 Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller family-owned firms and start-ups including transformational work for John Deere, Harley-Davidson, P&G, PepsiCo, Eastman Chemical, DSM, and The North Face.

Board Member

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.

Board Member

Florian Schattenmann, Chief Technology Officer and VP, Innovation and R&D

Florian Schattenmann is Cargill’s Chief Technology Officer and Vice President for Innovation and Research & Development (R&D). He oversees a global team that is driven by the vision of relentlessly creating value for Cargill and its customers via research, application and product development, and technical service support across agriculture, food, animal feed and bioindustrial markets. He also leads the Strategic Growth Business Accelerator, designed to accelerate and scale cross enterprise innovation- and science-driven strategic growth businesses. Current focus areas include alternative protein and human health technologies.

Prior to joining Cargill in November 2018, Florian spent eight years at The Dow Chemical Company. His most recent role was Vice President for Performance Materials & Coatings R&D, where he led innovation across a diverse set of specialty businesses. Florian has also held leadership roles at SulphCo Inc. and GE-Bayer Silicones. Earlier in his career, Florian managed several research laboratories at GE’s Global Research Center.

Florian is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, holds seven U.S. patents and has numerous publications. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards for Texas A&M AgriLife and College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the College of Science and Engineering at University of Minnesota, and the Department of Chemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA and his Diplom Chemiker degree from the Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany. Florian and his family live in Golden Valley, MN.  Besides spending time with his family, he loves playing the bass, road cycling and working out.

Board Member

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 has over 30 years of experience in the tech industry, most recently as Vice President of Strategy and Innovation for the Chief Technology Officer 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. Previously, she headed up emerging technologies at SEMI, match-making big and small companies, and was co-founder of, an e-commerce pioneer.


Board Member

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. 

Board Member

Dr. Portia Yarborough, Chief Science & Sustainability Officer (CSSO)

Dr. Portia Yarborough, joined Michelman as the Chief Science & Sustainability Officer (CSSO) in February 2023. The CSSO role is the cornerstone of the organization’s mission of sustainability and Michelman’s core commitment to creating planet positive products and solutions.  She provides strategic direction and implementation of policies that support our steadfast commitment to sustainable chemistry and our purpose of Innovating a Sustainable Future.

Prior to joining Michelman, Portia worked at DuPont and held positions of increasing responsibility in global R&D, operations, and business leadership impacting global industries including aerospace, electronics, and protective apparel. She is a principled and collaborative leader with a passion for innovation and science-enabled growth. During her tenure at DuPont, she demonstrated her ability to create value with customers in various sectors, cultivated deep expertise in building innovation pipelines from concept to commercialization, and played a pivotal role in stewardship and risk management throughout the product lifecycle. Her expertise in these areas were instrumental in driving success and ensuring compliance with industry standards.

Portia holds a BS in Chemistry from Wake Forest University and a PhD in Polymer Chemistry from Cornell University. As a testament to her commitment to personal growth and social responsibility, Portia is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and an esteemed member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.