profile image of Carole Bilson


Design Management Institute (DMI)

Carole Bilson is the President of Strategic Change & Innovation LLC. In this role, she and her partners help leaders and their teams achieve breakthrough results. They utilize organizational development and change methods as well as design thinking, innovation, and a user/customer focus to help teams deliver increased value.

Prior to this Carole was the Vice President of Global Design & Usability and Technology Support Operations, at Pitney Bowes. In this role she led 2 departments of designers, psychologists, software developers, and engineers, in the development of leading-edge products and solutions for commercialization of web, software and embedded systems. They embarked on several research initiatives, the most successful of which was a Universal Design/ Section 508 project, that helped the company win a $21 million government bid. Additionally she initiated many firsts at the company, such as: led the first cross-company User Experience Council and User Experience & Innovation Day to build awareness about the value of user/customer experience among employees and key stakeholders. These efforts resulted in a savings of $12 million to the company over 2 years. Her department received 12 international design awards, 49 patents, and several of the company’s highest leadership awards. For these and other change management efforts, Carole was appointed to the CEO Council, a team of executives who contributed to the development of the corporate strategy.

Prior to Pitney Bowes, Carole worked at the Eastman Kodak Company, as a Worldwide Product/ Marketing Manager, where she oversaw the development of the first Kodak PicturemakerTM Kiosk system. This product won numerous top national awards, including “Top Product of the Year” from Photo Trade News. It also delivered over $1 billion in revenue for Kodak. Other positions held at Kodak were: Program Manager for OEM cameras, Advanced Product Strategist, and Loaned Executive to the NSF/ NY Statewide Systemic Initiative, Sr. Industrial Designer.

Carole was appointed to the Design Management Institute’s Board of Directors in 2012. DMI advocates for and connects design management globally, in business, research and academia. She is the holder of 2 patents, and has received numerous leadership and civic awards. She is a sought-after presenter and keynote speaker at conferences worldwide including the Destination Design Management Conference, the International Conference of Usability Professionals Association, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Distinguished Visitor Speaker Series at the University of Michigan. She has also served as a Juror for the Business Week/IDSA IDEA Awards – the Top International Design Awards. She has been featured in PBS documentaries on Leadership, Industrial Design and Diversity.

Profile image of Charu Ahuja


Director of Consumer Experience and Usability Research
Consumer Reports

As Director of Consumer Experience and Usability Research at CR, Charu Ahuja leads a team of consumer experience researchers and human factors experts. She focuses on informing CRs product evaluations and ratings with research that investigates what consumers need and their usability challenges due to poorly designed interfaces and complex interactions.

Charu has worked as a usability researcher and user experience (UX) professional for more than 20 years. Prior to that, she worked as a web and multimedia developer in Singapore and Australia. She brings a wealth of experience across a wide array of industries ranging from higher education, financial, tech retail to philanthropic organizations.

Charu holds a Bachelors in Multimedia, Masters in Science in Information Architecture and Masters of Technology in Industrial Arts.

profile image of James Hotary


Associate Director, Advanced Development
Bissell Homecare, Inc.

With over 25 years of new product development experience, Jim leads the creation of new technologies and product experiences at BISSELL, the market leading and award winning 141 year old floor care products company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Jim began his career at Prince Corporation, developing automotive interior products and concepts. As Prince (acquired by Johnson Controls) began developing more sophisticated electronics, Jim saw an opportunity to apply user centered design principles to develop better products. As the business continued to grow, he built a world class, multi-disciplinary interaction design team and process, responsible for the UX of a multitude of highly regarded concepts and production products including the BlueConnect (Honda) and uConnect (Chrysler) telematics platforms. In the late 1990’s, he began focusing more on open innovation principles, relocating to California to build relationships with technology startup companies, accelerating innovation at JCI. In 2004, Jim joined Bose Corporation to establish a dedicated automotive UX design team, responsible for conceptual development and user experience of Bose’s first vehicle infotainment system – the award winning Bose Media System.  At Faurecia, Jim led efforts to develop disruptive automotive products at xWorks – an internal accelerator based in Michigan, Shanghai, and Munich.  Jim was instrumental in shaping exciting new concepts and product strategy at Faurecia, including the Faurecia SmartFit and Active Wellness systems.

Hotary has served as a technical judge for the X PRIZE Foundation and was an advisor for TEDx Grand Rapids. He has nine patents with several others pending. holds a degree in Engineering Technology from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan.

profile image of Thomas Yen


Sr. R&D Manager, User Experience Design (UXD)
BD Integrated Diagnostic Solutions

Driving User Experience Design (UXD) for BD Integrated Diagnostic Solutions (IDS).  Responsible for planning and managing the Human Factors, User Interaction Design, and Visual Brand Language development and deployment across new product development and product improvement projects. Lead the UXD team in defining the hardware and software interface for the lab automation and diagnostic instrument systems to provide intuitive and error free interaction to point-of-care, hospital and lab clinicians and administrators. Also collaborate with Marketing and Engineering leaders to drive user-centric design strategies and practices across projects and platforms through user research and empathy for the customer.

Dr. Yen has over 20 years of experience in the Human Factors and Ergonomics domain both in academia and industry. He has managed many research projects and applied where appropriate the research findings for improving product usability. Dr. Yen is interested in applying the “Internet of Things” technologies as a method to study, measure and improve the design of user experience across the complete use spectrum of the product.

Laura Vennie's profile image


Director of Usability & Experience Design Team
Newell Brands

Laura Vennie is the Director of the Usability & Experience Design team for Newell Brands. Her team is responsible for providing Human Factors, Ergonomics, Interaction Design and Craftsmanship support across Newell Brands.

Laura has a rich background in Usability and User Experience Design working effectively across complex organizations and working closely with interdisciplinary teams in the areas of Marketing, Engineering and Industrial Design on a global basis. She has worked on both physical and virtual products in addition to in-store experiences to provide improved ergonomics, usability and overall user experience to consumers. Prior to Newell Brands, Laura’s work history includes working at Masco where she was the Director of Human Sciences and Whirlpool Corporation where she was Lead Usability Specialist for the Fabric Care business.

Laura has an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Michigan Tech and a Master’s Degree in Multidisciplinary Engineering with a focus on Human Factors Engineering from Purdue University.

TS Balaji profile image


Vice President, Experience Design
Cox Communications

TS Balaji, TS as most people call him, currently serves as Vice President, Experience Design within Cox Communications Inc. His responsibilities include creating and delivering on a digital strategy that includes mobile web, mobile applications, and He is also responsible for the creation and management of the User Experience Research group.

Prior to joining Cox Communications, TS was leading various domains within the User Experience group at Sprint. He was critical in launching products like Mobile TV, in driving cost out of the business through redesign of IVRU, and creating strategies through cross channel and multi-channel approaches to Digital experiences.

TS has a Masters in Industrial Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and an MBA from Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Eric Bergman profile image


Director of Human Factors Engineering
Fresenius Medical Care North America

Eric Bergman is Director of Human Factors Engineering at Fresenius Medical Care North America where his team supports design and development of hardware, software, and disposable products used in dialysis in clinical and home settings.

Prior to Fresenius, he was Director of Human Factors Engineering at Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions. Eric has experience as a User Experience Architect, Interaction Designer, and Usability Specialist at Sun Microsystems, PalmSource, and HP, as well as serving as an independent medical device usability consultant. He represents Fresenius on AAMI Human Factors Engineering Committee. Eric holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Emory University.

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Director, Human Factors
Intuitive Surgical

Kathryn Rieger is Director of Human Factors at Intuitive where she leads global usability strategy and operations. Her team works within the product development organization to help develop highly effective surgical robotic systems, instruments, accessories, services, and software that improve clinical outcomes for patients. She represents Intuitive on several standards committees and acts as a liaison to domestic and international regulatory agencies.

Kathryn has worked in product design and development for over twenty years spanning the medical, automotive, military, and consumer industries. She founded an independent consulting firm, Cognitive Design, and has held multiple leadership roles in user experience research, design, management, and strategy for large scale manufacturers, small dynamic startups, and consulting firms, including Johnson & Johnson, Tandem Diabetes Care, St. Jude Medical, Dynamic Research, and Arthur D. Little. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Drexel University, teaching Human Factors, Cognitive Engineering, and User-Centered Design.

Kathryn has a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California, an MS in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and a BS in Human Factors Engineering from Tufts University.

profile image of Adam Emfield


Director of User Experience
Cerence, Inc.

Adam Emfield is the director of user experience at Nuance Automotive. He leads the Design & Research, Innovation, and In-Vehicle Experience (DRIVE) Lab, and is responsible for user experience (UX) design, UX research, and usability for Nuance’s Automotive division. He manages a cross-functional team that develops new ideas for in-vehicle experiences, and validates existing concepts on topics that range from looking at the problems users encounter today to predicting what changes will be necessary for the vehicles of the future.

Before working at Nuance, he studied Human Factors at both George Mason University and the University of Central Florida, and previously studied psychology and computer science at Idaho State University.

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Manager of UX Research
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Taylor Anderson is a Manager of UX Research at State Farm. His team leads all user research for the shopping, service, and renewal journeys of the largest auto insurance company in the United States. The focus of his team is to provide an exceptional user experience for customers, employees, and agents. Prior to his work at State Farm, Taylor was an Interactive Managing Consultant for IBM with responsibility to design, conduct, and analyze user-centered research to inform, shape, evaluate, and monitor the user experience for companies in the insurance and health care industries. In addition, Taylor has worked on design and development teams as both a researcher and program manager for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems program (command and control of large Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV)), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and for the U.S. Navy.

Taylor’s professional vision is to to be a leader with a productive team that loves the work they do and is happy to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Taylor holds a BS in Psychology from Northeastern University, an MA in Experimental – Human Factors Psychology from the University of Dayton, and has earned the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation. He also holds two patents related to analytics and webpage optimization.

Image of Stan Caplan


President, Usability Associates, LLC
Co-founder and Manager, User Experience Design (UXD) Consortium

Stan has an extensive background in various aspects of Human Factors Engineering. In addition to several years in workplace ergonomics, he spent over 20 years performing and directing product design activities for Eastman Kodak Company. That experience encompassed hardware and software usability design of consumer, commercial, and medical products and systems throughout the entire development process from concept ideation to product launch. Special multi-year assignments included Human Engineering Team Leader on the winning bid for developing the IRS Document Processing System and Human Factors Lead for creating innovative new products in support of Kodak’s System Concept Center. For many years, Stan headed the Human Factors Department in Kodak’s Design Resource Center. In that capacity he managed a group of 10 Human Factors specialists and coordinated their activities with the Industrial Design, Graphic Design, and Packaging Engineering Departments in the Center. He also took responsibility for administration of the Center’s research program for those four departments. Stan has four patents related to his Kodak work.

After leaving Kodak in 1998, Stan continued his passion for product design by forming Usability Associates, a consulting practice supporting Human Factors needs of medium and large size companies. Design projects have been varied and include user interface specification writing, heuristic evaluations, usability testing, unique user experience visualizations and usage surveys. Usability Associates has also performed non-design services for clients such as organizational benchmarking, recruiting Human Factors professionals, and recruiting external usability testing participants.

Stan is a Board-certified Human Factors Professional. He has authored numerous publications on applications of Human Factors in product design, focus group methodology, and organizational analysis and has conducted professional workshops in North America and Europe. Stan is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), has been an officer of the local chapter, and is currently an officer of its Product Design Technical Group. He initiated that group’s annual User-Centered Product Design Award that has annually recognized products developed with exceptional application of user centered principles and methods. In addition, Stan is a past president of the Western New York Product Development and Management Association (PDMA). He has taught Human Factors at a local college and has worked with legal firms as an expert witness.

Stan holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan. He has also done extensive PhD coursework in Experimental Psychology, Statistics, and Organization Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.