Ruben is the founder of Conic Group, a Chicago-based innovation firm. He is a designer, strategic facilitator and educator who helps leaders imagine and enact visionary change by engaging them in a purposeful and meaningful dialogue with customers, workforce, and other stakeholders in their value chains. For over a decade he has worked with clients in the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia in a variety of complex innovation goals.
In previous roles he spent over six years at McDonald’s Worldwide Training, Learning and Development, designing, developing and delivering training for different audiences and across several channels. He also led the user-based design practice at Second Road in Sydney, and was a manager of customer experience at PwC Chicago.
For the past decade he has developed and delivered master-level courses in management and design and has spoken at design conferences and seminars in the US and abroad. Currently Ruben is an Adjunct Faculty member at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago, where he teaches a course titled “Engaging Stakeholders in Innovation.” He is also a certified instructor with LUMA Institute, a Master Trainer with the Service Design Network and an Innovation Coach with Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Ruben holds a Master’s degree in Human-centered Design from the IIT Institute of Design and a MBA in International Operations from Loyola University Chicago.
Adrian is an exceptional civic leader whose thoughtful and experienced approach has made a profound impact in the field of civic engagement. With extensive experience in the nonprofit, government, and social impact sectors, Adrian fearlessly addresses complex challenges by crafting innovative approaches and solutions that deeply resonate with people's lived experiences. His unwavering dedication to driving positive change and fostering collaboration has ignited an unprecedented level of community participation. Adrian's inspiring leadership, profound understanding of civic engagement, and commitment to equity have left a lasting legacy, empowering communities and inspiring a passion for meaningful action in others.
Adrian's experience includes serving as the Chief Officer of Family and Community Engagement at Chicago Public Schools, where he developed comprehensive engagement strategies and advocated for equitable access to educational opportunities. Adrian has also held key positions at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools and the Noble Network of Charter Schools, where he led advocacy efforts, spearheaded growth initiatives, and established key partnerships to develop powerful coalitions. With a Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from DePaul University, and an Associate of Arts from Harold Washington College, Adrian's educational background complements his exceptional leadership skills
Throughout his career, Adrian has received numerous awards and recognitions for his leadership, including being named a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, receiving the Education Pioneers Agent of Change award, and serving on various committees and thought leadership panels.
Laura is an anthropologist and design strategist who is passionate about designing services and products through human-centered methods. Through her work she helps organizations find harmony between their business objectives and the needs of their employees and customers. She has led quantitative and qualitative user research, facilitated innovation workshops, and created design concepts to drive digital and physical transformation. She believes understanding an organization’s culture, beliefs, attitudes and ambitions is critical to successfully implementing innovation plans, and uses these insights to shape strategies and manage change.
She has worked as a market researcher with Ipsos, giving a voice to the customer’s experience, using their stories as backbones to inform new service improvements. Most recently, as a consultant with Steelcase’s Applied Research and Consulting team, she has used design thinking and innovation management methods to develop work experience strategies for organizations across business sectors, including government, airlines and insurance.
Laura has a Master of Design degree from IIT Institute of Design, and an MBA from IIT Stuart School of Business. She received her Cultural Anthropology Bachelor of the Arts with Honors and her Creative Writing and Literature Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. She studied abroad through the Semester at Sea program, and has traveled widely, exploring many diverse lifestyles and natural landscapes.
Amy is a human-centered and planet conscious designer, facilitator and educator. She is passionate about increasing access to STEM education, co-designing with communities to make meaningful change, and innovating in response to our changing climate. When tackling deep rooted societal issues, she aspires to put power in the hands of marginalized people, connect the capacities of actors within those communities, and trust the expertise of those most affected by the issues, to help spark solutions that are “of, by and for” those communities.
Before entering the world of design, Amy worked as a program director for TinkRworks LLC, a STEAM education start-up that provided after school and summer programming for grade school and high school students. It was through this position that she honed her curriculum development and management skills, as well as developed an interest in “tinkering” with technology. She also worked as a facilitator at the Museum of Science and Industry, where she enjoyed the challenge of presenting new or difficult scientific concepts in an approachable way to people of all ages.
Amy has a Master of Design degree from the IIT Institute of Design and a B.S. in Biology from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
As Conic’s Master Coach, Alexis brings an unmatched energy and 20 years of experience as a designer, educator and consultant to the design and delivery of transformative learning experiences for our clients. She believes that “the things that we learn, stick in our minds, and change our perspectives and behaviors come - not from a lecture but - from a moving, memorable experience. And every learning interaction we design or deliver should live up to that expectation."
Alexis’ experience living, studying and working in over 40 countries makes her particularly adaptive to the diverse cultural backgrounds of our international clients. And her diversity of past work experiences – such as spending 3 years traveling with Cirque Du Soleil to onboard and supervise temporary employees – make her a natural connector and a master builder of lasting communities of practice.
Other highlights in her career include the design and delivery of educational experiences for clients at 2nd Road in Sydney and being the first Australia-based regional director for the LUMA Institute. Alexis has been a professor at Swinburne University in Melbourne and the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago, and an instructor with General Assembly and the LUMA Institute. She currently coaches cities participating in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Training program.
Alexis holds a Masters of Design degree from the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Logic from Smith College in Massachusetts. She has studied Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design in California and participated in Semester at Sea, volunteering in communities across Asia, Africa and South America.
Tim is a strategic innovation consultant and design educator, with over 18 years’ experience working in the fields of strategy and design thinking. He has worked across North American and the Australasia region, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, as well as across sectors as diverse as financial services, media, telecommunications, healthcare, technology, and government.
Tim’s work focuses on bringing innovative thinking to non-design-oriented organizations through collaboration, dialogue, and reflective practice. He has informed the development of major innovation functions within client organizations and has experience teaching innovation methods and leadership in the Asia region. As a practicing designer, he also manages projects that guide non-designers through the innovation process, building capabilities and delivering transformational outcomes.
Prior to relocating to the US in 2018, Tim spent 13 years working as Senior Director and head of People and Capability at Second Road, a strategic innovation consultancy (now part of Accenture Strategy) based out of Sydney, Australia. He was instrumental to establishing the innovation function within the organization and managed the development of the talent of the firm. He received his Masters in Design from Carnegie Mellon, where he also received his Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing. He is also a certified instructor with the LUMA Institute.
Darrel coaches executives on how to use customer-led innovation and design to build platforms for organic growth.
A seasoned group facilitator of strategy development, he has helped many global organizations build internal design, research and user experience departments. He has also participated and led scores of major innovation initiatives.A frequent keynote speaker at major events, Darrel addresses a wide range of industry groups such as The Forbes CEO Conference, the World Economic Forum’s Summer Davos Conference, The Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit, The Design Management Institute, The Product Development Management Association, The American Institute of Graphic Artists, The Industrial Design Society of America, The Color Marketing Group, The American Institute of Architects, and The Association of Professional Design Firms.
He has also lectured at many academic institutions, including MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, Parsons School of Design, Art Center College of Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design, and many others.
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