How to Build a Meaningful Connection with Your Consumers

Panel TWO  10:20 - 11:00 Am

For marketing to be successful, it is critical for companies to connect with their consumers.  This requires both understanding who the customer is and how to reach them most effectively.  But, how do you ensure that this is a lasting, meaningful connection that will separate you from competitors?  The answer can vary based on the industry, the channel, the brand, and the target customer segment.  During this panel, the panelists will discuss how their companies think about building this connection and the key factors of success.

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Shirley SchlaTKA
ExeCutive Coach at harvard business School

Her experience differs from most executive coaches or HR professionals, She is a builder of internal capabilities, process and teams, a line leader and business strategist, who believes that most challenges are overcome and significant outcomes realized by focusing on people as a way to solve problems; individually, as leaders of teams and as system catalysts.
She works with both senior and high potential leaders to help them be deliberate and thoughtful about how they lead, be their best selves and reach their potential as well as, pay that forward to their team members and more broadly in their organizations. I help leaders create high functioning teams as well as create an organization wide system impact.

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DEBora lehrer

Director of Marketing at Thuzio

As Director of Marketing at Thuzio, Debora is responsible for all aspects of marketing the 3.5 year old company. Thuzio provides businesses and professionals with access to celebrities and influencers through a comprehensive software platform, talent procurement services and event series. Thuzio’s two unique products –360 and Executive Club – provide the ideal talent solutions for the business community.

Prior to Thuzio, Debora spent two years as the Manager of Communications and Digital Marketing at the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee. At the Host Committee, Debora was responsible for developing the content and engagement strategy for all web and social media efforts including creating a social media communications center for Super Bowl XLVIII. She was not responsible for the weather or forgetting to tell the Broncos they were playing in the Super Bowl.

 Debora graduated from Dartmouth College in 2005 followed by an internship with the Mets and four and a half years working in the International Department at Major League Baseball. After MLB, she earned her MBA from Harvard University and spent a summer in London as part of the marketing group for the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

Debora happily resides in her favorite city in the world, New York. Aside from rooting for the Yankees and Giants, she enjoys golf, culinary adventures and puns.


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CHris villareal

Director of Branding and Marketing at Plenti 

Chris is the Director of Branding and Marketing at Plenti. Owned and operated by American Express, Plenti launched in May 2015 and is the first national coalition program that lets members earn points at one place and use them for savings at another, no matter how they pay.  Plenti partners include AT&T, Exxon, Macy’s, Mobil, Nationwide, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, Enterprise and Hulu.  In just 4 months Plenti has acquired 28MM members. 

In his current role Chris is responsible for brand strategy, advertising, consumer insights and partner marketing.   In his tenure at American Express he has been responsible for product management in the Consumer Travel division, digital marketing and business development for Membership Rewards, and developing digital and social pilots as part of a disruptive innovation team reporting to the President of International Consumer & Small Business.

Prior to American Express he cut his teeth at Equinox leading member marketing and on the agency side working for Ogilvy & Mather and the Ad Council. 

Chris received his BBA from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 



Slavka Jancikova

Director Global Brand Planning, Nike Inc. 

In the Global Brand Planning role, Slavka is one of the core members on the CMO’s chief-of-staff team. She has driven development of Nike’s long term brand strategy and plays a critical role in driving alignment on Brand’s key seasonal stories for a consistent Brand voice. In her role, she also leads the evolution of the Global Brand Plan - framework that guides work of brand teams around the world. 

Prior to Brand Planning, Slavka was part of the Marketing Development Program through which she gained a breadth of category and functional experience across Young Athletes, Digital Brand, and Global Football (Soccer). In her football role, focused on the journey to the World Cup 2014, Slavka led the category’s most authentic connection with the consumers through The Nike Academy. To further strengthen the category’s relationship with the consumers in top football cities, she played a key role in the launch of the  “Winner Stays” global activation. 

Born and raised in  former Czechoslovakia, before moving to the United States, she worked as a journalist for one of the leading national radio stations and got her first taste of marketing working for the local Unilever office.  From there, she headed on to NYC to work on Madison Avenue, handling various Procter & Gamble brands at Saatchi & Saatchi.  Continuing westward, Slavka spent two years in Chicago getting her MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management before making the move to Nike. 


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Jake Kirsch

VP National Craft at A-B InBev

Jake Kirsch (MBA ’11 B) is the VP National Craft at A-B InBev where he leads strategy for brands including Shock Top. Previously he served other roles with A-B InBev including Global Marketing Director of Corona and Global Innovation Manager. Prior to joining A-B InBev he spent time with Gap Inc. in London and Banana Republic in San Francisco. Jake graduated from Stanford with a BA in International Relations and Economics. Out of the office his interests include running, cycling, cooking, skiing and travel.