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.


Director, Innovation Research
Zebra Technologies

As a member of the Chief Technology Office, Graham leads a team of researchers and human factors specialists who engage with enterprise customers worldwide. The goal is always to understand their business processes, challenges and data needs, in order to drive new innovation and develop targeted solutions that are both intuitive and productive. To this end, his team conducts onsite interviews, co-creation workshops and observational research engagements across a variety of enterprise verticals including, retail, transportation & logistics, manufacturing, courier services and healthcare.

Graham has 37 years of experience in research, design and development in both the United States and Canada. Throughout his career, he has led product innovation and human factors teams in a number of high technology companies including NCR, AT&T, Nortel and Motorola. In addition, Graham has taught product design strategy and lectured on product innovation at conferences in North America, Europe and Asia.


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.


Manager, Human Factors and Usability Engineering
ZOLL-LifeVest, division of ZOLL Medical Corporation (an Asahi Kasei Group Company )

Thomas Yen is driving the implementation of human centered agile innovation design and dynamic processes to produce world-class life-saving products/systems with high patient and clinician user experience satisfaction for ZOLL-LifeVest. He coordinates Usability with Regulatory and Quality Assurance for successful FDA submissions, collaborate with New Product Planning (Marketing) to conduct VOC and User needs assessment. He is establishing long-term user needs research to develop deep insightful understanding of our product’s user requirements to ensure exceptional intuitive, error-free user experience by defining design requirements for product development. He is aggressively integrating the agile iterative design process into the product realization roadmap while demonstrating its effectiveness, and value for the product development process.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Staff Director, Customer Experience Insights
Strategic Resources Department
State Farm Insurance

Les Meyer is currently Staff Director – Research in the Customer Experience Insights Division at State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Illinois. The group’s mission is to inform, shape, evaluate, and monitor the user experience at State Farm and ensure the organization delivers consistently remarkable experiences across all user groups (i.e., customers, employees, and sales associates) and access points (e.g., agent office, call center, online, mobile). The team consists of researchers with advanced training in a number of disciplines related to Human Factors and Consumer Research and is responsible for all experience research for the enterprise.

Les completed his undergraduate work at Augustana College and holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology/Human Factors from Texas Tech University. He began his career at State Farm as a Usability Researcher in 2000. He became Manager of the Usability team in 2004 and then the User-Centered Design & Research team in 2006. In 2011, he assumed his current role as Staff Director – Research in Customer Experience Insights. Les is a member of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society, the User Experience Professionals Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Computing Machinery. Les also holds the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation.


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 retiring from 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, recruiting external usability testing participants, and distributing payments to external participants in company studies.

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 has been a continuous member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) for 32 years, has been an officer of the local chapter, and is currently an officer of its Consumer Product Technical Group. He initiated and is co-chair of that group’s annual User-Centered Design Award. In addition, Stan is currently a board member of the Western New York Product Development and Management Association (PDMA). He also is a member of the Usability Professionals Association (UPA), the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA), and the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN). Previously he was General Chair of Interface 87, sponsored by HFES, which brought together Human Factors and Industrial Design practitioners for a three-day product design symposium. 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.