9:55–10:00 am
Cavinda Caldera

Track Introduction

Cavinda Caldera
Practice Director, UWEBC

10:00–10:35 am
Tim Schaefer

Staying Relevant in a Digital World

Tim Schaefer
Digital Transformation Leader

Whether you think we have entered the fourth industrial revolution or an entirely new digital era, it is clear that all aspects of society are being disrupted by technology. How do you stay relevant through all this change? You need to rethink how you and your organization creates value. From how IT is framed within a company to the needed shift in talent to finding a catalyst to driving a change in mindset. Relevancy in this new world requires people and organizations to transform. Easier said than done. This session will cover lessons learned and focus on the keys to improving your chances of staying relevant.

About Tim »

Tim Schaefer is a strategic advisor on the technology, organizational behaviors and leadership needed for sustained success in a digital world. He has led large scale digital transformation efforts including the integration of a digital start-up with a Fortune 120 company.

Tim retired from Northwestern Mutual in 2019 where he started as a software developer over 30 years ago. He has held several leadership roles including director of enterprise architecture, VP of application development, chief information officer and EVP of client and digital experience.

Tim is actively involved in the Milwaukee TechHub effort, is a supporter of STEM initiatives and an advocate for attracting, developing and retaining talent in Wisconsin.

Tim is an active community volunteer serving on the board of the UW-Milwaukee Foundation and the Advisory Board of the Lubar School of Business.

10:45–11:20 am
Steve Gearhart Plexus

Continuous Improvement as a Core Strategy to Deliver Value to the Enterprise

Steve Gearhart, Chief Information Officer

When you hear “continuous improvement” or “Lean Six Sigma,” do you automatically think of manufacturing? Do you sometimes struggle to understand how to apply these concepts in IT? Continuous improvement and Lean are two of the core strategies IT can use to deliver both greater efficiency and value to the enterprise. In this presentation, Steve will share how Plexus introduced an effective continuous improvement strategy that delivered substantial benefits to the organization. Hear how Plexus’ efforts not only delivered cost savings but also helped create a highly engaged and motivated IT workforce that was empowered to find creative solutions to issues they were facing.

Steve Gearhart is sponsored by Tanium.

About Steve »

Steve Gearhart joined Plexus in 2010 as the Chief Information Officer. Prior to joining Plexus, Steve held a number of leadership roles within information technology and has also held various positions within materials, supply chain, engineering and quality. He has more than 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, with 20 years in the electronics manufacturing services industry.

Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Marquette University and a master’s degree in industrial administration from the Krannert Graduate School of Business at Purdue University.

11:30 am–12:05 pm
Todd Mackay Brian Olsson Briggs & Stratton

Briggs & Stratton’s Journey of Transformation: Building a
New GRANITE Foundation

Todd MacKay, Chief Information Officer and
Brian Olsson, Vice President Business Transformation
Briggs & Stratton

In this session, Todd and Brian will share the highlights of Briggs & Stratton's global ERP implementation and transformation story. Despite the global scope of the program, the go-live exceeded expectations by hitting full manufacturing production on day two. Hear how the team achieved a smooth go-live at the end of a four-year journey that was not without its challenges. They will also share the big decisions the team had to make along the way and the milestones they picked to manage the delivery of the program. Todd and Brian will also present on how best to collaborate and partner with vendor organizations to execute and deliver a highly-complex, multi-year program successfully.

About Todd and Brian »

Todd MacKay is a results oriented senior executive with over 38 years of experience in business consulting, technology implementation and outsourcing, and technology management.

He is currently the CIO at Briggs & Stratton. As part of his responsibilities, he led the technology team supporting a global implementation of SAP S/4 HANA.

Prior to Briggs & Stratton, he was the Practice Director for Business Transformation services at Patina Solutions. Prior to Patina, he had multiple leadership roles within Accenture over a 33 year period.

Todd has the proven ability to successfully lead operations and manage practice areas, with responsibilities for sales, marketing, business operations and people development. He has extensive strategy, planning, design and delivery experience across most all company business functions. He has served as the Chief Operating Officer across several large accounts, including responsibilities for financial and contract management. He has extensive understanding of the Manufacturing & Distribution Industry and Supply Chain processes. He has deep expertise in Program and Project Management.

In the community, Todd is co-chair of United Way’s IT United Council and has supported their annual fund raising campaigns. He is also participated in Junior Achievement, My Life My Plan (Milwaukee Talent Dividend), and the Next Door Foundation. He has served on the Board of Directors for the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) and the Council of Logistics Management (CLM).

Brian Olsson is a proven business leader with 20-years of experience spanning strategic planning, business development, and operations. He is known for being a leader that excels at building high performing teams and delivering financial results.

He is currently the Vice President Business Transformation at Briggs & Stratton Corporation. Under his leadership the company recently implemented SAP S/4 HANA across the organization globally.

Combining an engineering degree and an MBA, he has had success in a variety of roles throughout his career including product and channel management, new product development, strategic supplier management and manufacturing. He has participated in a number of industry associations, including serving as President of the Pressure Washer Manufacturing Association (PWMA).

Brian resides in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin with his wife and two sons.

1:55-2:35 pm
Erick Brethenoux Gartner

Demystify the Artificial Intelligence Silver
Bullet to Deliver Tangible Operational Results

Erick Brethenoux
Research Director, Gartner

An organization’s confusion and the unbridled hype around AI techniques is preventing them from setting the right expectations regarding business outcomes. Technology leaders should start fruitful business conversations focused on real use cases instead of being preoccupied with the technology. Moving from "I want to use AI" to a tactical approach aimed at practically and sustainably solving business problems, does not require super-powers. Readying organizational data to enable AI and building AI competencies should be a priority for any organization today. In this discussion, Erick will cut through the AI hype to discuss how organizations derive differentiating and realistic benefits through the pragmatic application of AI capabilities.

 About Erick »

Erick Brethenoux is a research director specializing in machine learning, artificial intelligence and applied cognitive computing. Erick guides organizations on the strategic, organizational and technology aspects of using advanced analytics as a driving force of their growth. In particular, his research focuses on the deployment of machine learning insights through integration with advanced analytics solutions, next-generation, decision-making systems, cognitive computing solutions (including advanced customer analytics) and man-machine collaboration.

Erick has extensive experience in the domains of AI, data science and cognitive computing. Prior to rejoining Gartner, he was IBM Director of Machine Learning & Analytics Strategy. Prior to IBM, he was VP of Corporate Development at SPSS, pioneer in predictive analytics, and before that VP at Lazard Freres, working with institutional investors, analyzing startups for venture capital funding and merger and acquisition activities. Before Lazard, Erick was Research Director of Advanced Technologies at Gartner focusing on decision support systems, knowledge management and advanced software engineering. Prior to Gartner, he conducted a scientific mission for the French Embassy in the U.S. Erick is also currently an Adjunct Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Erick has a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Delaware and an MS in Artificial Intelligence from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

2:45-3:20 pm
Ritch Houdek Kohl's Department Stores

Birdies and Bogeys of a Digital Transformation

Ritch Houdek
Senior Vice President, Technology, Kohl's Department Stores

In 1957, Ben Hogan penned the most famous golf book of all time called “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” Many people can attest golf is one of the most challenging sports to master. In the business world, we’re facing one of the most challenging transformations we’ve ever experienced. This presentation will follow the Ben Hogan approach and lay out how Kohl's Department Stores utilized the five fundamentals of digital transformation – people, process, technology, planning, financials. Ritch will share Kohl's Department Stores' journey's birdies and bogeys, and examine how the company reimagined how technology is developed, deployed and utilized within its enterprise.

Ritch Houdek is sponsored by AHEAD.

 About Ritch »

Ritch Houdek is the Senior Vice President of Technology at Kohl's Department Stores. He is responsible for the technology and services powering infrastructure, platform and central DevOps. Ritch is also responsible for enterprise architecture, operations and the IT service management functions.

Ritch has held progressive positions in the Kohl’s Department Stores' Technology organization since 2010. Before joining Kohl’s Department Stores, Ritch served in technology leadership positions at Wells Fargo Bank and GE Healthcare. He has been in his current role since March 2016.

Ritch has an MS in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a BS in Design Engineering Technology from Brigham Young University.


The Information Technology Track is sponsored by:


When: 7:00 am-4:30 pm
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Where: Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
1 John Nolen Drive
Madison, WI 53703


Steering Committee members provide guidance on track content, topic suggestions and speaker selection. Thank you to the 2019 Information Technology Track Steering Committee:

Steve CretneySteve Cretney
Vice President and Chief Information and Technology Officer
Colony Brands

Erika FerrellErika Ferrell
Director, IT
Sub-Zero Group, Inc.

Steve GearhartSteve Gearhart
Chief Information Officer

Cavinda CalderaCavinda Caldera
Information Technology Practice Director


Download the UWEBC Annual Conference app for all of the details you need to know to prepare for the day, including personalizing your own agenda with the track sessions that you don't want to miss.

The Day At a Glance

Your day at the Business Best Practices & Emerging Technologies Conference is packed with content:

7:00-8:00 am Registration and Networking
8:00-9:00 am Opening Session and Keynote
9:00-9:55 am Networking Break & Strategic Briefings
(Strategic Briefings are from 9:20 to 9:45 am)
9:55 am -12:05 pm Track Sessions in Lecture Hall
12:05-1:05 pm Lunch & Table Topics
1:05-1:55 pm Networking Break & Strategic Briefings
(Strategic Briefings are from 1:20-1:45 pm)
1:55-3:20 pm Track Sessions in Lecture Hall
3:30-4:25 pm Closing Keynote
4:25-4:30 pm Raffle and Conference closes
Happy attendees