Speaker Bios

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale | Founder & Owner

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale has always believed in God, country, family, and hard work. A tireless powerhouse, Mack is usually found standing at the front desk of the original Gallery Furniture store on North Freeway, greeting every customer and overseeing the sales activities of the store, seven days a week. Mack is the hardest working person you will ever meet! He never stops moving and trying to get better, and his energy is infectious to all who come in contact with this Houston icon.

 

With only $5,000 and a dream to build the world’s greatest furniture store, Mack started Gallery Furniture under tents on the side of the freeway, over 30 years ago. To Mack, life is about lessons to be learned and opportunities to be seized. With his life’s motto “Grateful for everything, Entitled to nothing” directing his life, Mack has seen his dream grow and become a multi-million dollar enterprise, employing over 400 great American workers and helping to create countless others through his commitment to selling Made in America furniture.

 

INFLUENCING AMERICAN INDUSTRY
Gallery Furniture is also responsible for growing America’s furniture manufacturing industry. Mack has long felt that an emphasis on high-quality, solid wood furniture was missing from the furniture industry. Too much furniture sold in America today is made overseas, using pressed, composite materials, full of dangerous chemicals, and built using cheap construction techniques that produce furniture that won’t last more than a few years, at most, while leaching dangerous chemicals into the soil and groundwater when it ends up in landfills.

 

RETAILING INNOVATOR
For years now, Gallery Furniture has been at the top of the industry in terms of size and earnings per square foot. As the largest independent furniture retailer in Texas — and bigger than most in other states — Mattress Mack knows continual innovation is needed to remain on top. TODAY, Gallery Furniture is enjoying tremendous growth with online marketing and sales, while employing cutting-edge technology on the sales floor, so sales consultants can provide a more personalized experience for customers, demonstrating value and expertise.

Damian Fernandez-Lamela | VP of Global Analytics

Damian Fernandez-Lamela is the VP of GLobal Analytics for Fossil Group, where he leads the team helping the company make insights-driven decisions affecting $3 billion in revenue across marketing, pricing, product development and other areas. He has more than 20 years of experience in applying analytics to gain a competitive advantage.

 

Before Fossil he held senior analytics roles for RealPage, Omnicom-AT&T, and DELL where he was responsible for optimizing decisions for over $1 billion in annual advertising spend. In 2018 and 2016 he won the Marketer of the Year in marketing research Award from the AMA and in 2018 he won the Genius Award from the ANA.

 

Damian has an MBA from MIT and a Master in Software Engineering from the University of Salamanca. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the MIT Alumni Association.

Tina James | Chief People Officer

Tina is originally from the Washington D.C. area. She was raised by a single mother who immigrated to the country after marrying a U.S. Marine, who was later killed in Vietnam. Despite having limited resources and virtually no understanding of the U.S. culture, education system or economy, other than her late husband’s stand that “in the United States, education and hard work will change the course of our children’s lives”, Tina’s mother moved her young family to the suburbs of Washington D.C. to access one of the strongest public school systems in the country (Montgomery County, MD).

 

Tina learned hard work and developed a strong focus on customer service from a very early age, as her family owned and operated Chinese restaurants throughout the DC metropolitan area. After completing her undergraduate degree in finance, Tina returned to D.C. where she worked as a Financial Analyst before attending Northwestern University (Kellogg Graduate School of Management) for her MBA.

 

H-E-B is a privately held, $26B retailer with more than 109,000 employees, referred to as “Partners”. Tina joined H-E-B in 1993 and enjoyed 3 1/2 years in Store Operations leadership before her true passion for people led her to Human Resources. She began her HR career as a Regional HR Manager and was quickly promoted to Director of HR, eventually working her way up to Senior Vice President of Human Resources, leading all aspects of the HR function for H-E-B in 2005. Tina is a great combination of a “head for business, a heart for people and a passion for results.” In 2017, she was named the company’s first ever Chief People Officer, in recognition of the contributions she and her world-class HR team have made to the company and its people-focused culture. A few of her most significant accomplishments include the establishment of domestic partner benefits, the development of an employee discount program and the opening of the first ever health care center for employees only. Tina is also a member of H-E-B’s Strategy Group, where as a member of the Senior Leadership Team, she helps guide the strategic focus of the company.

 

Tina credits her success to her mother, who was undeterred in her drive to ensure her children received a strong education (today her oldest child is a lawyer, her second child is a doctor, her third owns a multimillion dollar contracting business and Tina is her fourth) and to her husband Dom, who has been unwavering in his support throughout their 25 years of marriage. Dom is also an Olympic Athlete, having competed in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing; like Tina, he gives significant credit to his spouse for professional and personal success. Together, Dom and Tina have two wonderful children – Dominic (20) and Lauren (18) and are blessed to have her mother Loretta living with them as well.

Jessica Nelson | VP of Merchandising

Jessica Nelson is an Experienced Merchandising and Buying Executive with a demonstrated history leading product strategies at fashion brands.  She spent seventeen years in NYC working across Luxury and Contemporary Accessories brands, and is highly influential at driving product and innovation strategies in both billion dollar brands as well as start up environments.

 

Last year she moved from NYC to Austin Texas as Vice President of Merchandising, Planning, and Allocations at Kendra Scott with her two young boys ages 2 and 4, and husband Michael.

Dee Ann Turner | Communicator, Consultant, Coach

Dee Ann is a 33-year veteran of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Prior to retirement in 2018, she was Vice President, Talent and Vice President, Sustainability. Selected as the company’s first female officer in 2001, she was instrumental in building and growing Chick-fil-A’s well-known culture and talent systems. During her long career, she worked closely with Chick-fil-A’s founder, S. Truett Cathy, and other key leaders as an architect of their organizational culture. Turner was responsible for thousands of selections of Chick-fil-A Franchisees and corporate staff members. Additionally, she led Talent Management, Staff Learning and Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Culture and Engagement. Most recently, Dee Ann launched and led the Sustainability function focusing on Chick-fil-A’s strategy to implement sustainable practices at the $11 billion company.

 

Today, she leads her own organization, Dee Ann Turner, LLC, writing books, speaking to over 50 audiences per year and consulting and coaching leaders globally. She is the author of the best seller, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture. Her latest book, Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture and Win the Hearts of Customers, will be released in September 2019.

 

She is a graduate of Clayton State University with a degree in Management. She also completed executive education courses at Emory University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia’s Darden Business School. She is a 2009 alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

 

Dee Ann has been married her husband, Ashley for 35 years and they are the parents of three grown sons. She has served numerous non-profit boards in the past including The Kenya Project, Eagle Ranch and Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has also served on the board of advisors for Lubbock Christian University and First Care Clinics. When she is not traveling, she can often be found on her Peloton bike in her home outside of Atlanta or on her stand up paddleboard at Lake Hartwell in northeast Georgia.

Tyler Merrick | Founder

Project 7 is a specialty candy brand based in Orange County, California in a small beach community called San Clemente. Our name comes from our social mission; which is to use part of our profits to help support 7 areas of basic humanitarian need both domestically and abroad. We have a mandate to give a minimum of 10% of our profits annually but historically have been at 30-50% of our profits.

 

We are most well known for our award winning chewing gum that comes in lots of innovative and fun flavors in a convenient pocket and purse pack. Around 4 years ago we added organic gummy bears to our family and this year we introduced our latest organic candy called “Chewies.”

 

Our products are made in America with both domestic and international ingredients and are proud to say that they are carried in great retailer partners such as Target, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Cost Plus World Market, HEB, Wegmans, Caribou Coffee, Meijer, Dollar General, and REI to name a few and in total over 20k retail locations nationally as well as internationally in retailers such as Loblaws in Canada.

Susan Rodgers ’01 | Chief Marketing Officer

Susan Rodgers serves her clients as the Chief Marketing Officer at Lane Bryant, Cacique Intimates, and Catherines Plus. She’s a passionate advocate for the customer every day, and a believer that data gets you far, but a great brand that loves the customer gets you farther. She’s been with the Ascena Retail Group for one year this month. In that time she’s transformed the marketing organization, introduced brand priority strategy to the conversation in the up-front planning process, re-engineered process where there was none, and led the charge in developing and telling a brand story that champions the client first.

 

Susan is a recent transplant to Columbus, Ohio from the much warmer climate of Fort Worth, Texas. She spent the previous fourteen years at Pier 1 leading the Marketing Strategic team, and re-positioning the brand. Prior to Pier 1 she spent time in the CPG world at Nielsen, working for clients like Kimberly-Clark, Dr. Pepper/7-Up, Alcon Labs, Mission Foods, and Frito Lay. She’s a native Texan, still says “y’all”, and wonders daily if she’ll ever find the perfect bowl of queso in Ohio.

 

Susan has been a thought leader and speaker at CRMC in Chicago for years, a frequent guest lecturer at Texas A&M University (Gig ‘em!), and a passionate member of multiple philanthropic activities. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Texas A&M University and her MBA from the University of Dallas. She resides in New Albany with her husband and twin 6-year-old girls.

David Weiss | Partner

David is a Partner at McMillanDoolittle, a retail-focused consulting firm that began 35 years ago by developing Target’s positioning statement.

 

Prior to joining the firm in 2017, David was a retail executive for nearly twenty years with roles in merchandising, strategy, operations and product development. His employers were diverse – including Old Navy, Levi Strauss, Abercrombie & Fitch, JCPenney, DRIFIRE – a private equity owned portfolio company, and Monica + Andy – a digitally native start-up.

 

Rooted in the fundamentals of merchandising, David has a deep expertise in retail and brand strategy, the integrated customer journey, go-to-market strategies and retail operations improvement.

 

He is a frequent commentator on industry developments and a Forbes contributor.

 

David has a B.A. from Harvard University and an MBA in Marketing & Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ranjan Sinha | President

President of Axis Group, Ranjan is responsible for the strategic direction of the company, partner relations and overall sales. With more than 30 years of experience developing and managing data-centric solutions, Ranjan has witnessed, worked with and deployed data solutions across most vertical industries to help organizations take advantage of their data assets.  By combining his deep technical back ground and many years of business experience Ranjan has helped Axis become a leader analytics in the industry.

 

Axis Group has mastered the process of designing, deploying and operating analytical solutions for clients across all industries (including Fortune 500 retailers). Axis Group’s end to end Enablement Approach to analytic solutions holistically helps its customers realize the most value from their data and technology investments.

Wayne Orvis | Group Vice President

Kenneth “Wayne” Orvis is a group vice president for Walgreen Co., the nationwide drugstore chain headquartered in Deerfield, IL, and a division of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

 

Orvis began his career at Walgreens in 1997 as a management trainee in Wichita Falls, Texas. He held field leadership positions of executive assistant manager, store manager, and district manager in the Dallas metro area, then in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

In 2010, Orvis joined Store Operations at the Deerfield support office as Director of Retail and Capacity Planning. He led his team in successfully building the front end labor model, and implemented COMPASS as the company’s new communication and workload capacity planning tool. In 2011, Orvis was promoted to Senior Director, Operations and Community Management. During that time, he led the Field Transformation initiative, a structural reorganization that redefined the roles and expectations of each field position in Walgreens Store Operations. This major effort shaped the way Operations leaders and team members worked together to deliver extraordinary customer service and operational excellence

 

In 2012, Orvis was promoted to Divisional Vice President of Customer and Employee Initiatives. In this role, he worked closely with the Human Resources and Customer Experience teams on programs that delivered on the company’s strategic goal to help Walgreens patients get, stay and live well. In 2014, he was promoted to market vice president of the Dallas market, and then transitioned to regional vice president in 2015. In 2016, he returned to the support office, where he led the Operations workstream for the acquisition of 1,932 Rite Aid stores, one of the largest retail acquisitions in U.S. history. He was promoted to his current role in 2018, and oversees the Retail Operations, Capacity Planning and Communications, Store Implementation and Retail Integration teams.

 

Orvis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.