Mary Beth Brown is the retired Vice President of Product Integrity and Supply Chain Technical Resources for Hallmark Cards, Inc. In this role she was responsible for the protection of Hallmark’s brand equity and social license to operate by ensuring all products meet customer and consumer expectations of quality, are safe, compliant with all laws and regulations and made in a manner consistent with our standards of ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability. In addition, she led the technical organization that builds capabilities to support the Hallmark supply chain.
Prior to that assignment, Mary Beth was the Vice President of Manufacturing responsible for all North American production and tooling facilities. She was the Production Center Manager for Hallmark’s Lawrence Production Center which was our pilot lean facility in 2006.
Brown joined Hallmark in 1981 as an Industrial Engineer and held positions of increasing accountability in creative and operations, including Director of Fixture Operations, Chief Technology Director, and Director of Global Supply Chain prior to assuming the production center manager position.
Mary Beth earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas. She is a registered professional engineer in Kansas.
Joe Byrum is Chief Data Scientist at Principal Financial Group. He is a leader known for delivering results through knowledge-based solutions. A trained genetic scientist with an MBA, Dr. Byrum has demonstrated his expertise across traditional domain boundaries to bring new capabilities to Fortune 500-level companies.
In his current role at Principal Financial Group, Dr. Byrum is Chief Data Scientist. He was recruited to build and manage a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence tool for equity trading, which involved assembling a skilled internal team to collaborate with best-in-class external partners. The result is an unrivaled financial analysis engine that boosts the accuracy of asset selection, reduces operational costs, and builds profitability. In addition to managing and extending this system’s capabilities, Dr. Byrum continues to develop new ways to transform the way Principal does business.
In his past role at Syngenta, Dr. Byrum opened the company’s eyes to the value of data-centric R&D. As Global Head of Product Development (Oilseeds) and Head of Quantitative Sciences, Dr. Byrum led operational, administrative, and financial oversight of R&D operations spanning the Americas. With 60 direct reports and annual investments exceeding $100 million, he managed the development of a suite of data analytics tools for the breeding of soybean that secured $287 million in cost avoidance. This effectively doubled the breeding program’s efficiency, garnering the attention of INFORMS, which awarded the effort the 2015 Edelman Prize—a first for any agricultural firm. The tools were expanded to cover the rest of the company’s high-value crop portfolio, writing a new chapter in advanced crop development.
Rather than rest on this accomplishment, Dr. Byrum set out to apply analytical techniques to improve sales of these products with an engine that recommends the most appropriate advanced offering to meet the precise needs of each individual customer. The effectiveness of these analytical tools was recognized with the 2016 ANA Genius Award—again, a first for agriculture.
Dr. Byrum began his corporate career as a strategic executive at Monsanto Company, progressing from Global Genomics Lead to Director of Quality Traits Product Development, and finally Director of Trait Integration. In this role he drove $500 million in incremental revenue deploying multiple new technology platforms in North and South America.
Dr. Byrum is a frequent thought leadership contributor to a number of publications from Forbes, Fast Company and TechCrunch to Analytics Magazine and ISE Magazine. Dr. Byrum recently received honors from the Aspen Business & Society Long Term Strategy Group and the Farm Lane Society, and earned the 2016 DAS Practice Award and 2016 MSU CANRAA Outstanding Alumnus Award.
Dr. Byrum holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from Iowa State University, an M.B.A from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and both an M.S. in Science and Genetics and a B.S. in Science, Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University. Additionally, he earned the Project Management Professional (PMP®) designation.
Alan Caslavka: General Electric Aviation
David Corbin is Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Vermeer Corporation, a global industrial and agricultural equipment company. His responsibilities include information technology, environmental health and safety, continuous improvement and facilities management.
David joined Vermeer in 1998 as a plant manager after starting his career at Dynamics Corporation and Ford New Holland. Since joining Vermeer, he has held leadership positions in manufacturing, procurement, engineering, continuous improvement and business segment management and has provided leadership to subsidiary organizations through board roles at Vermeer Freeman and Lely Vermeer Maschinenfabrik.
David serves on Iowa State University’s IMSE Industrial Advisory Council and is also involved in the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Council, Technology Association of Iowa, Rotary International, the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
He is a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering. David and his wife, Joan, have eight children and five grandchildren.
Greg Doonan is the Head of Novel Algorithm Advancement at Syngenta. In the 18 years he has been with Syngenta, Greg has held a variety of roles in Research and Development that include platform and protocol development of high throughput systems, soybean trait development and leading Global Genetic Projects in Oilseeds.
Prior to joining Syngenta, Greg held a research position with the University of Iowa, in which his work supported the human genome project. It was there that he gained an appreciation and appetite for platform development and process improvement. He took the experiences he gained while at the University of Iowa and began work at Garst Seed Company, a legacy company of Syngenta. He started Garst’s first sequencing lab and soybean genetic marker platform. Greg then took a role leading Syngenta’s Soybean Trait Introgression program in which he was responsible for the planning, implementation and delivery of Syngenta’s Soybean trait development program. During this time, Greg become interested in modelling and simulations to drive improvement in Syngenta’s soybean breeding programs. His efforts, along with the work of his colleagues in Soybean Product Development were recognized in 2015 when Syngenta won the Frantz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences. Syngenta became the first agriculture company ever to be named a finalist for the award, much less win the prestigious honor.
As Head of Novel Algorithm Advancement at Syngenta, Greg is responsible for leading the development of tools and methods focused on process improvement, optimization, and improved decision making in Syngenta’s breeding programs.
Greg holds a BS in bioology and a MS in plant breeding, both from Iowa State University.
Eric Ervin has served on IMSE’s Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) since 2003 and has also served as the committee chair. Eric is Vice President of Engineering & Technology at J.B. Hunt Transport and started with the company in the Fall of 2002. He has managed engineering support for JBHT’s intermodal, trucking and logistics business units and leads engineering support for the sales, pricing, marketing and operations organizations. Eric works with JBHT’s sales team to help shippers identify value creation opportunities for: truck-to-intermodal conversion, LTL-to-TL conversion, TMS applications, logistics network design/optimization and supply chain consulting. Eric’s team specializes in management science applications including: optimization, simulation, forecasting, predictive analytics and financial modeling.
Eric previously worked as a project manager Promodel Corporation (1 year) in Bethlehem, PA and as a manager at Accenture (7 years) in Chicago, IL. Eric has Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University (1995) and an MBA at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas (2005). Eric is a member of INFORMS and IIE.
You can find out more about Eric’s professional experience and education from his LinkedIn profile.
Shelley Finnestad: Edward Jones
Eric Flakne is the Global Innovation Supply Network Leader for Gillette, which is housed in Procter & Gamble (P&G) the world’s largest consumer products company. In this role Eric leads the supply network design for new product innovation, global sourcing, cost savings portfolio, long range business planning and supplier relationships. He sits on the Global Male Shave Care Leadership team.
Eric has been with P&G since 2000 in their Product Supply organization starting at the Iowa City, IA manufacturing site. In his time at P&G he has held positions of increasing responsibility across different disciplines in Product Supply ranging from engineering, manufacturing, supply network and innovation management and across several regional and global business units spanning Hair Care, Oral Care, Baby Care and Shave Care. He has obtained P&G’s certifications in Supply Network Design, Program Management and IWS Manufacturing. Prior to his career at P&G Eric graduated from Iowa State University with a BS degree in Industrial Engineering in 1999.
Wayne Flory is the Executive Director of the Supply Chain for Collins Aerospace. His responsibilities include running the supply chain organization for the Avionics business. Previously, Wayne served as the VP of Material & Supply and VP of Manufacturing Operations for Rockwell Collins, where his responsibilities included execution of Operations supporting all Government programs globally.
Wayne was also the Senior Director of Advanced Operations and Services for Rockwell Collins with responsibility for the overall leadership for Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Facilities Services, Environmental Safety & Health, and the Rockwell Collins vertical supplier businesses in circuit board and fabrication production. Wayne has also held positions of increasing responsibility within manufacturing including Director of Manufacturing Operations in several locations.
Wayne earned his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University. He earned his master of business administration degree from the University of Iowa.
Dave Gardner is Vice President, Business Improvement & New Capabilities at HNI Corporation, a leading provider of Office Furniture and Hearth Appliances. His responsibilities include continuous improvement activities, new manufacturing capabilities and technology, and facilities. He joined HNI in 1983 as an Industrial Engineer and has held several executive and leadership roles in operations and continuous improvement, including President of one of their operating divisions.
Dave has served on various church and civic organization during his career. He joined the IMSE board in June of 2018. He is a native of Muscatine, Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Dave and his wife Judene have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
Nathaniel (Nat) Harris, IAC Chair, is the Maintenance and Facilities Manager for the Tractor and Cab Assembly Operations at the John Deere Waterloo Works, Waterloo, Iowa. His responsibilities include the leadership of all preventative and reactive maintenance activities supporting John Deere’s 2.4 M sq. ft. large tractor assembly facility.
Prior to joining John Deere, Nat spent over 20 years with General Motors at its former Electro-Motive Division. While there Nat held several senior leadership positions including Director of Manufacturing Engineering, Director of Quality and Lean Manufacturing, and Director of Operations.
Nat earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He earned his Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Engineering as a General Motor’s Fellow at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
Kara Hobart is a Senior R&D Engineer for General Mills and started with the company in 2005. She currently works in Minneapolis, MN, supporting global baking products. You may find her running a DOE to test new ingredients in the pilot plant, analyzing data to create manufacturing efficiencies across baking platform plant locations, or interacting with consumers about all kinds of baking products. Prior to her current role, Kara held positions supporting the quality and regulatory organization in General Mills’ Grain Lab in Minneapolis, MN, and plant operations in Lodi, CA, and Cedar Rapids, IA. In addition to R&D work at General Mills, Kara spends much of her time supporting Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), which connects expertise with opportunity. PFS connects small and growing businesses in Africa to learn from experts around the world to create improved business models and processing efficiencies. She is the country lead for Ethiopia, supporting 10 different businesses on 22 projects.
Kara received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State in 2003. She earned her master’s degree also in Industrial Engineering from Pennsylvania State University at State College, PA in 2005. Kara is also an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer.
Radek Kornicki is Staff Engineer, Smart Factories for Danfoss Power Solutions and he started with the company in 2001. He currently works out of Ames, IA location leading global initiatives in the company’s operations focusing on automation and digitalization. In his role, he focuses on accelerating the purposeful adaptation of new technologies and creating connection points and synergies between local initiatives and the global strategy of Hydrostatics Division of DPS.
Prior to the current role, Radek lead Danfoss Engineering Team in Shanghai, China where He focused on supporting the Asian market while developing local talents and skillsets. Before that, He held both leadership and engineering positions in Ames, IA, and Nordborg in Denmark being responsible for product development and product & operations support.
Radek earned his MBA at Iowa State University and his Masters in Engineering and Biomechanics from the Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in Poland.
Susie Lenssen is a Senior Manager in Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) Fabrication Core Engineering. Her main responsibility is the Functional Leader of Industrial Engineering. In this role she is focused on unifying teams around the world. Previously, Susie led Industrial Engineering teams as a First Line Manager in Commercial Airplanes. She started at Boeing in 2010, starting as an entry level Industrial Engineer. Her responsibilities have steadily increased as she has gained experience.
Susie grew up in Montana and earning her BSIE from Montana State University in 2010. In December 2015, she graduated with a Masters of Engineering Management through Kansas State University.
David G. Rush is the Senior Vice President, Distribution & Logistics for Tory Burch. He is responsible for Distribution & Logistics Operations globally, including day-to-day operations and longer term strategic planning, and he is a member of the Leadership Team reporting to the CEO.
Before this position, he was the Vice President for Supply Chain Integration at Ralph Lauren Corporation, a global leader in the design, marketing and distribution of premium lifestyle products, including men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, accessories, fragrances and home furnishings. He led client/KSA teams (including Polo Ralph Lauren, Europe & RalphLauren.com) in the development of appropriate logistics strategies, facility and systems designs, implementation, and start up of state-of-the-art Distribution Centers.
David joined Kurt Salmon Associates in 1986 and over 20 years progressed from Staff Consultant to Vice President. He led KSA’s Supply Chain Execution practice in Europe from 2000-2004 and subsequently joined Ralph Lauren in December 2005. His 25+-year career in the Retail, Consumer Products, Direct Marketing, and e-commerce industries are characterized by the implementation of innovative solutions to problems that frequently become industry benchmarks.
Dan Varnum has served his entire 35-year career focused on improving healthcare for Iowans. He currently serves as Chief Integration Officer for MercyOne and the Chief Administrative Officer for MercyOne Medical Group since July 2018. In these roles, Dan is focused on integrating the MercyOne Hospitals and Providers across the state of Iowa.
Prior to his current role, Dan was the President/CEO of MercyOne North Iowa in Mason City from 2012 – 2018. From 2003 – 2012, Dan served as vice president of professional services at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center with previous experience with Wellmark and the Iowa Health System.
Dan received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Drake University.
Dan and his wife, Denise, are active volunteers in both their civic and parish communities. They are the proud parents of three adult children and 2 grandchildren (with a third on the way).