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Firm Leadership:

Board of Advisors:

Key Team Members:


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We hire only ‘A players’ who have a collaborative style and a strong orientation toward getting results for clients. Each consultant bringing an average of 17 years experience.

Before becoming consultants, nearly all of our team members spent many years as practitioners, directly responsible for a P&L.

The expertise of the team ranges from strategy through implementation – with deep skills in growth strategy, branding, development of new products and services, qualitative and quantitative market research, and design and implementation of marketing programs.

Firm Leadership

Roland Jacobs, President & CEO < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Founded AspireUp in 2002; oversees strategy & operations and serves as senior consultant
  • Specialties: branding, marketing strategy, new products
  • Guest lectures at Kellogg School of Management and University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business
Previous experience:
  • Orbitz - Chief Marketing Officer responsible for launch and development of the Orbitz brand
  • The Clorox Company - Global Category Director responsible for Clorox branded products in 33 countries
  • DigitalWork - SVP Marketing & Business Development
  • - VP Marketing
  • MBA from Harvard Business School

Board of Advisors

Tim Calkins < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Clinical Professor of Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
  • L. G. Lavengood Outstanding Professor of the Year Award, 2006 and 2013
  • Co-academic director of Kellogg’s branding program
  • Specialties: marketing strategy, branding, bio-medical marketing
  • Co-editor of Kellogg on Branding (2005); author, Breakthrough Marketing Plans (2008, 2012), and Defending Your Brand (2012)

Previous experience:

  • Kraft Foods – 11 years leading marketing programs for large brands
  • Booz Allen and Hamilton – Consultant
  • MBA from Harvard Business School
Art Middlebrooks < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Adjunct Professor of Marketing, University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business; Executive Director, Kiltz Center for Marketing Excellence
  • Specialties: new product and service development, services marketing, branding
  • Co-author of two books: Innovating the Corporation (2000) and Market Leadership Strategies for Service Companies (1999)
Previous experience:
  • DigitalWork – Senior Director, Marketing and Product Development
  • Kuczmarski & Associates – Partner; 12 years consulting with companies in new product development and services marketing
  • Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) - Consultant
  • MBA from University of Chicago

Key Team Members

Stephanie Walsey Adam < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • 12 years experience in brand strategy and marketing communications
  • Specialties: brand equity and identity, positioning, customer experience, product extensions, MarCom planning
  • Adjunct professor of Marketing and Senior Faculty at Keller Graduate School of Business
Previous experience:
  • Brand Strategy Consulting – Prophet Brand Strategy and Landor
  • Marketing Management – Yesmail
  • Advertising, Promotions, Direct Marketing – FCB and Frankel
  • MBA in marketing from DePaul University
Dan Binder < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Over 25 years of advertising media planning and investment experience
Previous experience:
  • Strategic Media Management - President
  • Starcom Worldwide (Leo Burnett Group) – VP Media Director
  • Foote Cone & Belding – VP Client Media Director
Jason Bordui < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Senior consultant with 15 years serving Global 2000 clients
  • Specialties: developing new business ventures, technology strategy, operations improvement, and implementation leadership
Previous experience:
  • Keane Consulting – Managing Director, oversaw financial institutions practice area
  • Balanced Growth Enterprises, a social entrepreneurship company – Founder
Julia Brady < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • 20 years in marketing leadership roles and as a brand strategy consultant, with particular focus on consumer products and services, healthcare, and education
  • Brand Experience Includes:  Gatorade, Cap’n Crunch, Quaker Oats, NorthShore University HealthSystem, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, William Paterson University, Yale School of Management, and The College Board

Previous experience:

  • NorthShore University HealthSystem – VP Marketing
  • Lipman Hearne - SVP/Group Director – Brand Strategy Consultant, (higher ed and healthcare focus)
  • Pepsico/Gatorade/Quaker Oats - Senior Brand Manager - Led brand development initiatives for several food and beverage brands
  • University of Chicago Booth MBA
Richard Gleber < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • 22 years of experience in marketing strategy consulting and brand management
  • Expert in pharmaceuticals marketing, focusing on brand management, marketing plans, and marketing training for pharma employee groups
  • Other Specialties: brand strategy, advertising development and positioning, new product development, communication strategy, and portfolio management

Previous Experience:

  • Care Support of America – President and COO
  • Novartis – Vice President of Marketing (US, Latin America assignments)
  • GlaxoSmithKline – Marketing Director (US, Europe, Latin America assignments)
  • Bank of America – Group Marketing Manager
  • Clorox – Brand Manager
  • MBA, Georgia Tech; BS, Chemistry, Florida State University
Kristen Hemingway < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Over 12 years experience leading large, complex marketing engagements
  • Specialties: new product/services, branding, market research, marketing plans
Previous experience:
  • Prophet Brand Strategy – Senior Engagement Manager
  • Kuczmarski & Associates – Branding and New Products Consultant
  • Teaches branding and marketing with American Marketing Association and American Management Association
  • MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Terri Kaminski < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Senior consultant with more than 20 years experience in public relations and corporate communications.
Previous experience:
  • Director of Public Relations for Brach’s Candy Co.
  • Account leader for Burson-Marsteller Public Relations
  • Consultant to public and private companies including Manpower, Inc., Briggs & Stratton, Miller Brewing, Rockwell Automation, Brach’s Candy and others.
Jody Kirchner < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Marketing and strategy consultant with over 13 years experience working in various roles with companies across sectors, from start-ups to Fortune 100
  • Specialties: consumer segmentation and targeting, brand and portfolio strategy, brand positioning, marketing plan development, innovation

Previous experience:

  • Mission Measurement – Director
  • The Cambridge Group – Project Manager
  • Sara Lee – Consumer Insights Intern
  • Pratt & Whitney – Marketing Lead and Engineer
  • European Space Agency - Engineer
  • MBA in Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Debra Kurtz < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • 20 years experience in business development, marketing, sales and strategic planning as both consultant and practitioner
  • Specialties: marketing strategy, new products/markets, sales force optimization, and CRM for healthcare organizations and small-to-medium businesses
Previous experience:
  • Medela Inc, medical device manufacturer – VP Sales & Marketing
  • The Bradford Exchange, direct marketer of collectibles – marketing leadership roles
  • NICOR – Marketing Research
  • Hewlett-Packard – Marketing Product Management
  • MBA in Marketing and Quantitative Analysis from Washington University in St. Louis
Cynthia Opie < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • Senior marketing and branding consultant with over 15 years experience
  • Specialties: brand strategy, marketing strategy, and marketing research
Previous experience:
  • Prophet Brand Strategy - Engagement Manager
  • Kuczmarski and Associates – branding and new products consultant
  • Information Resources, Inc. – client lead and project director
  • MBA in marketing and strategy from the Kellogg School of Management
Valerie Peck < Full Bio < Back to Top
  • 20 years experience in marketing automation, customer strategy, and segmentation marketing
  • Specialties: Go-to-Market planning, sales and marketing automation, program management, B2B demand generation, customer journey mapping, customer messaging/communications
  • Previous clients include: Lending Tree, Wells Fargo, Royal Caribbean,, Syngenta, BEA, EDS, Kaiser Permanente, MCI, Turk Tell/Turk Cell, KBC Bank, SA Telecom, Big Lots, Yahoo!, McGladrey, Blue Shield of California, Sprint, Lincoln-Mercury,,, Bank of Turkey, Pacific Bell, Aspect, HP, USPS and AMD

Previous experience:

  • Peppers & Rogers – Led Centers of Excellence relating to CRM and marketing strategy through execution
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers – Director of High Tech Marketing Management
  • KPMG – Senior Manager, Information, Communications Entertainment Strategy Practice
  • MBA in marketing from University of Southern California
  • Michelle Sanchez < Full Bio < Back to Top
    • Branding and Innovation Consultant with over 12 years experience leading strategic marketing engagements
    • Specialties: brand strategy, new product development, marketing strategy, consumer research

    Previous Experience

    • Kuczmarski & Associates – Engagement Manager
    • SC Johnson – Brand Management Roles
    • Consultant to companies in a wide range of industries including: GE Healthcare, Con Agra Foods, General Mills, South Beach Diet, Alfa Corporativo (Mexico)
    • MBA from Kellogg School of Management
    Maria Shepherd < Full Bio < Back to Top

    • Senior branding and marketing consultant with over 12 years experience
    • Specialties: brand strategy, marketing strategy, and marketing research

    Previous experience:

    • Prophet Brand Strategy – Engagement Manager
    • Simple Truth Communication Partners – Account Director


    Liz Small < Full Bio < Back to Top
    • Advertising and marketing professional with 20 years experience
    • Specialties: consumer research, focus group moderator, bringing insights to strategy
    Previous experience:
    • Leo Burnett Advertising – Research Manager
    • President and Founder – Small Insights (Qualitative Research Firm)
    • Works with Fortune 500, mid-sized and smaller corporations
    • Masters in Advertising from University of Illinois
    Sherwood B Smith < Full Bio < Back to Top
    • 15 years experience in marketing research and marketing strategy
    • Specialties: quantitative marketing research, product/service development, pricing, predictive analytics, brand assessments
    Previous experience:
    • Avenue ISR - President
    • The Intelligence Agency - President, Director of Research
    • Frontier Natural Brands - Category Manager
    • MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management