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2020 Outstanding Corporate Innovator Selection Committee Bios
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2020 Outstanding Corporate Innovator Selection Committee Bios Suzanne Thompson, Chair

Suzanne Thompson, Chair

Suzanne is the Chief Technology Officer at Diversey. In this role, she leads all Research & Development, and Regulatory for Diversey including their innovation pipeline and project management.

Prior to Diversey, she worked in Research & Development at the Clorox Company for 29 years. Clorox roles included Vice President R&D, Growth labs where Suzanne led a cross-functional team to help identify, assess and create pipelines for potential adjacencies as well as led global technology, design, and open innovation. Suzanne also had roles leading Cleaning and Speciality Division R&D teams for Clorox. She has had experience in process development, product development and packaging development for divisions such as Kingsford Charcoal, Laundry, Home Care, Auto, Foods, Litter and Professional products. In addition to leading the Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award Selection Committee, Suzanne is on PDMA’s board of directors.


Alex Byelashov

Alex Byelashov

Alex Byelashov, Vice President of Innovations and Brewing Solutions at John I. Haas, Inc., a world leader in hops supply and technology, based in Yakima, Washington. As a member of Haas Innovations Brewing Executive Officers, Alex works with the leaders of Haas and its affiliate companies within the Barth-Haas Group in delivering innovations for an increasingly demanding global beer market. His responsibilities focus on hop breeding, brewing, R&D, and brewing solutions programs within the company. Alex brings more than ten years of product development leadership with a strong track record of breakthrough and continuous innovation enabling long-term business growth. Most recently, his efforts have resulted in a number of product and process developments that were key to having Haas honored as a finalist for both the Product Development and Management Association’s 2019 Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award, and the Innovation Leader’s 2019 Impact Award.

Prior to joining Haas, Alex led Product Development at Omega Protein Inc., a publicly-traded nutrition company. He blends a hands-on, pragmatic approach to innovations with a desire for a structured yet agile innovations process. His passion as a technical innovator, along with a high level of commercial acumen, enables Alex to constructively challenge the status quo to explore how innovations can help a company deliver on its mission. Having thrived in both public and private organizations, Alex is adept at balancing breakthrough innovations with effective and efficient use of resources. He holds master’s degrees from Iowa State University and Yale University, and a Ph.D. from Colorado State University. A one-time merchant marine, Alex now enjoys exploring the adventures afforded by the Pacific Northwest with his family.


Serdar Durmusoglu

Serdar Durmusoglu

Dr. Durmu̧soglu is a professor of marketing at Nanjing Forestry University. He earned his Ph.D. in marketing from Michigan State University. He also holds an MBA from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Dr. Durmu̧soglu’s main research area is new product development (NPD), with special interest in NPD strategy and product innovation decisions, interaction of NPD teams with internal departments and external parties, the effect of information technology on NPD, and open innovation. His work has been published in The Journal of Product and Innovation Management, Industrial Marketing Management, and R&D Management, among others. He is also a co-editor of Product Development Management Association’s book, New Product Development Essentials: Tools for Open Innovation. Further, Serdar is on the editorial board of Industrial Marketing Management and a member of PDMA’s Academic Committee as well as Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award Committee.


Wayne Fisher

Wayne Fisher, Ph.D.

Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., founded Rockdale Innovation after spending 27 years as an R&D manager at Procter & Gamble. While at P&G, Wayne created a series of popular innovation workshops for all phases of new product development, training thousands of managers across P&G’s diverse business units and regions. These workshops and related tools provide a common language and framework for innovation, fostering collaboration across P&G’s diverse business units and regions. He served as a full-time innovation consultant and Creative Problem Solving facilitator at The GYM, an IDEO-inspired design studio that remains a key enabler of P&G’s innovation capability.

Rockdale Innovation guides have successfully reapplied these innovation best practices across diverse industries including consumer products, business-to-business, manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare. Wayne is a sought after trainer, speaker, and writer on the topic of innovation best practices, including the chapter, “Applying the Creative Problem Solving Process to Open Innovation”, published by Oxford University Press.

Wayne is also active in the Product Development and Management Association, where he serves on the Outstanding Corporate Innovator award selection committee. He is Past President of the Tri-State Chapter. Wayne received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and has been granted 18 US patents


Sally Evans Kay

Sally Evans Kay

Sally spent 36 years with The Dow Chemical Company and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. After assignments in R&D, Finance, Sales and Marketing her career was focused on various areas of innovation and new product development. Since retiring Sally has started her own consulting business, Strategic Product Development, which focuses on the front end of the innovation process. She also mentors start-ups and entrepreneurs through various programs in the Cincinnati area and at Purdue University.

Sally has been active in The Product Development & Management Association (PDMA) since 1988, both nationally and at the chapter level. She serves on the Outstanding Corporate Innovator Award Committee and is the past Chair of The Committee. She was an Associate Editor of the 3rd Edition of the PDMA Handbook of New Product Development and was the author of ‘Lessons Learned from Outstanding Corporate Innovators’, a chapter in the handbook. She was also a presenter in The University of Cincinnati’s MOOC on Innovation and Design Thinking.

Sally has a BS in Biology/Chemistry from The University of Pittsburgh and is an honorary Purdue Boilermaker.


Frank Piller

Frank Piller

Frank Piller, Professor of management and Head of Institute for Technology and Innovation Management at RWTH Aachen University, Germany, the center of "German engineering". Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and TUM School of Management, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Prof. Piller is regarded as one of the leading experts on customer-centric innovation, like mass customization and customer co-creation. His group at RWTH became a globally leading research center on open and collaborative innovation, supported by competitive research grants of about US$1mio annually. He has published extensively in JPIM, Research Policy, R&D Mgmt, JOM, Long Range Planning, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Mgmt Review, among others. As indicated by more than 15,000 citations and more than 250 general press articles about his studies, his work has attracted broad attention and reception in academia and the management community.

Frank Piller has consulted and delivered executive workshops for most Dax30 and many Fortune500 companies and contributed teaching modules as a guest professor in many leading business schools. In addition to his academic endeavors, Frank is engaged as an investor, partner, or advisor of several companies. In the moment, his largest engagement is Doob Group, a pioneer in human avatars for AR/VR, where he serves as a non-executive board member and active investor.


Chris Swansegar

Chris Swansegar, Program Manager, Product Management & Commercialization for Allied Air Enterprises, a division of Lennox International, with over 38 years of experience in automotive and manufacturing industry. Joining Allied nearly three years ago, she is a member of the Residential Product Management team.  Chris is responsible for the Project Management Office (PMO); standardizing project portfolio management practices and processes, facilitating the launch and commercialization of new product to the market. 

Prior to joining Allied, Chris has a long history in the automotive industry (32 years) with Bendix Commercial Vehicles in the capacity of Engineering, Change Management and Project / Program Management.  A member of Project Management Institute (PMI) for more than 9 years, she has become a Subject Matter Expert of project and portfolio management practices.

Chris holds a Technical Engineering degree and bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing Management. She is certified through Project Management Institute (PMI) as a Project Management Professional (PMP).


Hamsa Thota

Hamsa Thota

Dr. Thota is a Past-President and Chairman of the Product Development and Management Association. He is co-author of “Key Concepts in Innovation,” a fundamental reference book for innovation professionals and students of innovation. Dr. Thota published scholarly articles on implementation of product development best practices with Thota framework for innovation in China and India. Thota framework is a systematic approach to improve product development performance in underperforming organizations. He is also a contributing author to Innova food market trends.

Dr. Thota worked for Rich Products Corporation R&D for 25 years. At Rich Products he researched and developed new products, created new manufacturing methods, apparatus and processes (Intellectual Property) and transferred technologies to deliver continuous streams of new products from the product pipeline. Dr. Thota obtained and commercialized his own 10 US patents. Dr. Thota made unique contribution to food product development leadership practice by applying rigorous scientific thinking in dynamic food business development.

Dr. Thota has 13 years of product development and innovation performance management consulting and training experience. He conducts workshops on New Product Development, and Front End of Innovation for the PDMA in China and India. He also conducted PDMA New Product Development Professional (NPDP) certification preparation workshops for PDMA in China and India. Dr. Thota delivered lectures and trained more than 25 Chinese high tech SMEs in Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Zhengzhou at the invitation of Chinese government, and State Owned Enterprises (SOE) in Beijing. He was a visiting professor at the Management School of the Zhejiang University in China and taught a course on technology innovation management. He was appointed visiting Professor at the Geely Automotive Engineering Institute in Hangzhou. Geely is the largest privately held automotive manufacturer in China.

Dr. Thota received Ph.D. in Food Science and Dairy Manufacturing from the University of Georgia.  He is a certified NPDP from PDMA.


Hamsa Thota

Herman Wories

Herman Wories, currently is VP Global Business Incubator in the DSM Innovation Center, managing the portfolio of emerging innovations which form the “fuzzy start of the pipeline” and leading it towards the creation of new growth platforms. The ventures under development vary from new plant based Proteins (CanolaPro), Biologicals for Agro, 3D printing, and Li-ion battery materials.

Next to the Incubator activities Herman is responsible for the Excellence in Innovation Program, acting as a catalyst for the whole DSM organization to enhance the speed and value of our innovation activities. Activities of the team are a.o. the Innovation Learning Program, science and innovation summit and awards, and the business plan competition.

Herman Wories joined DSM in 1985. He has worked both in both the Life Science and Material Science businesses of DSM. He started his career in R&D, followed by New Business Development, Marketing and Sales, and Supply Chain Management and Procurement.

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