Our Leadership

Executive

Davin Cushman

Chief Executive Officer
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Davin Cushman is a 25-year veteran of the software industry with a passion for taking customer value to extraordinary levels through investments in product strategy, differentiated customer success, global operations, and accretive M+A targeted at existing customer needs. His career began with enterprise application pioneer Trilogy, where he created strategies for inspiring innovation from some of the world’s most talented engineers and entrepreneurs. Davin’s professional experience also includes roles in operations and workforce strategy with Capital One, and he most recently completed a 10+ year stint as CEO of Ignite Technologies, a privately held enterprise software company with a large suite of enterprise software solutions built through acquisition.

Davin earned an MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern University and AB from Princeton University. 

First job: At 15 I mowed every lawn my push mower could reach. Desperate to expand beyond wheeling distance of my mower, I was first in line to get my driver's license on my 16th birthday.

Ken White

President
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Ken has a strong background in innovation, consulting, and technology; applying more than 20 years’ experience toward enhancing clients' customer experience programs. As President, Ken leads SMG’s go-to-market strategy, working with global teams focused on growth and new opportunities in the experience management space. Ken has held various roles and leadership positions in his time at SMG, including Chief Operating Officer in which he oversaw SMG’s technology, product development, innovation strategies, and data science initiatives. Prior to SMG, Ken held various product development, technology, and operational leadership roles at H&R Block and consulted with Fortune 500 companies in large business transformational projects at Accenture. Ken earned his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University.

First Job: I grew up on a farm, so my first job — at the age of 5 — was feeding our chickens and collecting their eggs.

Mary Widmer

Chief Financial Officer + Chief Strategic Officer
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Mary is responsible for resource planning, forecasting, and all financial aspects of the company. She directs SMG's strategic human resource initiatives and leads the company's administrative team. Mary also works closely with SMG’s clients during agreement negotiations and provides analysis and pricing of services. Prior to joining SMG as Chief Financial Officer + Chief Strategic Officer, she was a partner in a CPA firm where she provided management, tax, and accounting consulting to a variety of businesses — including SMG. Mary earned her accounting degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia.

First Job: I had every 13-year-old's dream job...detasseling corn for DeKalb. I was in the fields by 6 AM, and by the end of the summer I had extremely tan arms (covered in cuts) and the whitest legs in three counties.

Marty Williams

Chief Information Officer
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As CIO, Marty is responsible for SMG’s enterprise technology strategy, product engineering and platform development, and ensuring the security and scalability of smg360 amidst growth. He is passionate about amplifying the client-focused mindset and helping brands use technology to achieve better business results, improve customer satisfaction, and increase employee engagement. Prior to SMG, Marty held technology leadership roles at NIC Inc., YRC Worldwide, and Sprint. He also served as a Communications and Information Systems Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management with a finance focus from Tulane University, a Master of Business Administration from Campbell University, and a Master of Science in Telecommunications from Southern Methodist University.                                                           

First job: I worked as a ride operator at an amusement park—my first foray into customer service!

Todd Leach

Chief Client Officer
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Todd specializes in developing creative approaches for improving customer loyalty and engagement. To his role as Chief Client Officer, Todd brings more than a decade of experience in market research, competitive intelligence, and business improvement across diverse service-based industries. Prior to joining SMG, Todd helped companies such as H&R Block, Mutual of Omaha, Farm Credit Services, and Cerner Corporation to further refine their marketing, client service, and new business strategies. Todd earned his MBA from Bellevue University and holds a BA in both sociology and political science from Northwestern College.

First Job: I was a busboy at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti restaurant in Omaha. As you might suspect, there were some especially dirty tables.

Matt Krueger

Chief Sales Officer
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Matt is tasked with leading the overall sales strategy and developing new client partnerships to support market growth. He strives to clearly understand and align with client goals early in the sales process, ensuring SMG is able to help strengthen their brand, provide efficiency in their business, and improve overall profitability. With over 20 years of experience leading and developing sales teams for multi-billion-dollar organizations, he brings a unique perspective to client engagement. Matt earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University and an MBA from the University of Hartford. 

First job: My first job was at Dairy Queen, where I tweaked the settings on the soft-serve machine to ensure I could make the tallest cones every time.

Stephanie Ayers

Chief Marketing Officer
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Stephanie leads the marketing team to position and market SMG globally. She works closely with sales and technology teams to ensure the activities of the marketing organization are aligned with business objectives, go-to-market strategy and revenue goals. Stephanie is passionate about building things and loves the challenge of ever-evolving buying behavior and martech solutions. She is a culture champion who makes company and team culture a primary focus. Prior to joining SMG, Stephanie held global B2B marketing leadership positions and worked with a wide range of brands across the healthcare, restaurant, retail, services and technology industries. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

First job: Bussing and waiting tables at a small restaurant, which taught me the value of time management, top-notch customer service and a limitless supply of soft serve ice cream.

Jeremy Michael

Managing Director, EMEA
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Jeremy leads SMG’s UK branch, bringing his deep industry knowledge and contagious energy to multi-unit brands seeking to drive loyalty. Having been heavily involved with over 100 clients, Jeremy has focused on both customer satisfaction and mystery shopping programmes. Prior experience includes time at global research agency TNS, where he worked on projects for brands such as Harrods, Holiday Inn, and Pret a Manger. Jeremy graduated with an honours degree in French and Spanish and a master’s degree in tourism and hospitality management. Jeremy has served as an official judge at the UK Customer Experience Awards and has appeared as a thought leader on BBC1, ITV, CNBC, and BBC Radio Five Live.

First Job:
 I worked in Brittany, France as a holiday rep and campsite entertainer. At that point I had to choose between a career in customer service or as a full-time juggler.

 

Junichi Kato

Managing Director, Japan
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As Managing Director, Junichi oversees the daily operations and long-term strategy of SMG’s Japan branch. With a background in international business and research, Junichi is passionate about improving client programs and is a big proponent of The Service Profit Chain—SMG's founding principle that links employee engagement, customer loyalty, and profitability. His previous experience includes working internationally in Belgium and Singapore with global logistics company DHL and time at a global professional service firm. Junichi studied tourism and consumer psychology in Japan and earned an MBA and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in the UK.

First job: I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool and achieved a tan you wouldn’t believe.

Client Insights

Josie Gaeckle, CCXP

SVP, Client Insights
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As Senior Vice President, Client Insights, Josie leads a team that serves multi-unit retail and restaurant clients—helping define and implement strategic business goals that enhance the customer experience. Since joining SMG in 2006, Josie has developed programs and delivered insights for some of SMG’s largest clients, contributing to an impressive number of Top Partnership Insight awards. In fact, it’s what she enjoys most about her role: sharing findings with clients that lead to tangible improvements in the experience, sales, and profitability. In addition to her experience on SMG’s core customer experience offering, Josie also leads SMG’s Analysis & Insights Cadre—training our employees on insight best practices. Prior to joining SMG, Josie worked in marketing for Nissan North America. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business from La Salle University. 

First job: I’ve always loved retail. At 16, I worked in the mall folding clothes, cleaning fitting rooms, and attempting to master the overly complex POS system of a still-thriving apparel chain.

Jen Grimes, CCXP

SVP, Client Insights
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Jen leads a team of client services professionals that serves several large multi-unit clients in the retail and restaurant industries. She specializes in guiding her team toward understanding the client’s business needs, determining strategic goals of the project, and delivering quality insight. Prior to joining SMG in 2008, Jen spent five years at American Century Investments, where she held positions within the marketing division that included responsibility for retention of assets and product marketing. Jen has over 21 years of experience in database marketing, product marketing, client retention, research implementation and analysis, and program management. Jen earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Southern California.

First Job: I worked behind the deli counter at our local Hy-Vee supermarket. To this day, I have superb meat-slicing skills

Will Mariner

SVP, Client Insights
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As Senior Vice President, Client Insights, Will leads a team to deliver actionable insights that create business impact for several clients in the retail and restaurant industries. In addition to specializing in QSR analytics and insights, he is part of the internal hiring cadre and plays a critical role in maintaining and updating SMG’s industry-leading data integrity efforts. Prior to joining SMG, Will worked as a Management Trainee for Balfour Beatty—a UK construction company—helping to identify safer on-site working practices.

At SMG, he enjoys working with a strong team of ambitious people and interacting with clients to share how SMG solutions can help answer their most pressing business questions, and clients especially appreciate his forthright approach. Will holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Business from the University of Surrey, England, as well as an MBA from Southampton Solent University, England.

First Job: Cleaning dishes at Pizza Express—a current client!

Jacqueline Mueller, CCXP

SVP, Client Insights
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Jacqui leads a talented group of SMG client services teams to deliver solutions to multi-unit consumer brands, enabling them to better serve their customers, accelerate customer loyalty, and drive financial performance. Having prior experience in both executive sales and strategic accounts at Market Force, her expertise spans from customer service and relationship management to business strategy and new product innovation. Jacqui enjoys collaborating closely with bright, hard-working people to identify and implement break-through service insights that lead to results. Clients consistently note their appreciation for her honest approach and her commitment to understanding their business and helping them successfully meet their vision. She has a Bachelor’s of Commerce from The John Molson School of Business at the Concordia University in Quebec.

First Job: I was a sandwich maker at Mr. Goodcents Subs and Pastas. I successfully preserved my fingers from any meat slicer mishaps.

Kate Sizer

SVP, Client Insights
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As Senior Vice President, Client Insights, Kate works with our clients to better understand and optimise their customer experiences. Prior to SMG, she spent 8 years in various director roles, including positions at Tesco and dunnhumby, where she focused primarily on grocery retailing. That experience lends itself well to her current position, where she helps her clients ask the right questions so they can get real, tangible value from SMG’s products and solutions. Her clients especially love her passionate, courageous, and collaborative approach to solving problems and delivering results. Kate holds a BA in Business Studies with 1st class honours from Coventry University.

First Job: Whilst studying for my A-levels, I was a lifeguard at a swimming pool. My main responsibilities were whistle-blowing and rescuing lost locker keys.

Technology + Operations

Chris Atkinson

VP, Architecture
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As Vice President of Architecture, Chris partners with product, data science, and engineering teams to provide technology architecture solutions for product roadmaps. He leads various teams responsible for technical architecture, DevOps functions, and big data systems operations. Chris thrives in the ever-changing CX space and aims to solve industry problems with technology and innovative products—setting us and our clients up for continued success. He’s held multiple engineering roles at SMG and has been responsible for the rollout of multiple game-changing projects over the years, including data anomaly and text analytics. Chris has a degree in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University.

First job: I had a two-month stint printing prepaid landline phone cards for a small business entrepreneur. I used the money I made there to purchase my first car—a blue Pontiac T-1000.

Michael Beesley

VP, Engineering
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As Vice President of Engineering, Michael is responsible for the development of all mobile innovations, API integrations, and custom client requests. He leads the engineering team while working with other business functions to deliver the best technology for our clients. Michael started at SMG in 2007 as a project coordinator on the Client Insights team—providing skills he still uses today when interacting with clients and creating problem-solving solutions tailored to their needs. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Fort Hays State University and an MBA in Data Analytics from the University of Kansas.

First job: My first job was working on the family farm, where I spent countless hours driving the tractor. Only one radio station came through—a country music station—which explains my encyclopedia-like knowledge of 90s country.

Bennett Gamel

VP, Product Management
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Bennett drives the strategic vision and tactical execution for software product development and product lifecycle management at SMG. By leading development of our product roadmap, he is responsible for prioritizing initiatives based on strategic value and client need. Bennett brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in product management and development at multiple Fortune 500 firms in the financial services and telecommunications industries. In 2001, he led the team that created the business plan and product strategy to enable wireless internet access on mobile devices on the first national network. He is also an inventor with two U.S. patents. Bennett has a master’s of business administration from The College of William and Mary.  

First Job: When I was 14, I set up broadcasting equipment for remote radio shows and lined up interviews for the on-air talent at WSDR 1240-AM in Sterling, Illinois.

Chris Bosco

VP/GM, Digital
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Chris leads SMG’s digital practice—overseeing product development for e-commerce measurement solutions, helping clients turn feedback into insights, and providing industry thought leadership. With more than two decades of experience in e-commerce operations, product management, and digital technologies at Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive, he’s passionate about leveraging that deep expertise to help clients achieve their digital objectives in ways that lead to bottom-line results. Chris especially enjoys collaborating with SMG’s seasoned team of customer and employee experience professionals to help clients evolve their digital measurement strategies. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Kansas State University.

FIRST JOB: I was a referee for youth soccer and basketball and have continued doing this for years. I even became a certified FIFA referee to be able to officiate at the college level!

Charlie Moore

VP/GM, CX Solutions
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Charlie leads SMG’s CX solutions, bringing expertise to measurement of online, mobile, app, and contact center experiences. Prior to joining SMG, he worked in the healthcare industry, leading client operations and account management organizations delivering population health services. Charlie also directed the customer experience measurement strategies, customer service operations, and account sales for a leading global retailer, during which time he was an SMG client. In this role, he led the global effort to improve associate interaction with customers across multiple channels, leading to significant year-over-year increases in satisfaction and customer loyalty. Charlie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois.

First Job: I worked for a big box retail discount chain, where I met the love of my life under a blue light special.

Charles Cornwell

VP/GM, Employee Engagement
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As Vice President and General Manager of Employee Engagement, Charles leads his team to innovate and deliver insights that enable companies to improve their connection with employees and drive greater customer satisfaction and business improvements. Charles draws on his history at The Gallup Organization and Towers Perrin to introduce solutions that empower employees with the opportunity to give candid and life-changing feedback about how to improve their working lives and those of their colleagues. Charles holds both a master’s degree in statistics and a bachelor’s degree in operations management from the University of South Carolina, and he recently completed a certificate program in diversity, equity, and inclusion from Cornell.

First job: My first two jobs out of high school were as a salesperson at a clothing boutique and detailing exotic cars—a great combo of my love for both sales and cars.

Kim Klosak

VP, Human Resources
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As Vice President of Human Resources, Kim is responsible for SMG's global activities in talent acquisition, development, organization design, and compensation benefit and wellness strategy. She is also responsible for contract negotiation, corporate structure, compliance, and general legal affairs. Prior to joining SMG, Kim served as an HR Relationship Manager at Sprint, where she led cross-functional HR teams in designing and delivering HR solutions. Kim holds a BSBA in Human Resources from Rockhurst University and a Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law.

First Job: I worked at Six Flags with 400 of my favorite friends—great way to spend the summer!

Customer Engagement

Brett Brende

VP, Customer Engagement—Healthcare
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With a strong background in healthcare solutions, Brett collaborates with internal experience management and product development teams to grow SMG’s healthcare portfolio. He takes a client-centric approach to his work, focusing on providing the best possible program to potential clients to help meet the needs of their patients. Prior to SMG, Brett worked at AMN Healthcare/B.E. Smith as an executive leadership solutions professional, helping health care organizations accomplish strategic and operational goals through leadership acquisition. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from South Dakota State University and an MBA from the University of Iowa.

First job: I mowed the ballpark and cleaned a local bar/restaurant on weekends in my small hometown. I loved the sense of a finished product after the job was done!

Zach Brown

VP, Customer Engagement—Retail
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As Vice President of Customer Engagement, Zach spearheads the growth of SMG’s retail segment—implementing strategy and training best practices to lead a skilled and knowledgeable Sales team. Having started his SMG career in Client Insights, Zach draws from his direct experience of managing CX programs for multiple retail organizations. This first-hand perspective gives him unprecedented knowledge of the industry and the ability to deliver actionable insights that help clients achieve stronger customer loyalty. Zach is well-versed in all SMG products and enjoys the challenge of working with prospective clients, dreaming up new and inventive ways to best use these services. Prior to joining SMG, Zach was a financial consultant, specializing in employee benefits and company retirement programs. He graduated from Kansas State University with a business degree in marketing.

First job: Mowing lawns in my neighborhood. I promoted my business with custom-made flyers listing “Top 10 reasons to hire Zach to mow your lawn.” I was destined for a profession in Sales.

Katie Cofer

VP, Customer Engagement—Restaurant
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Always challenging her team to create win-win CX solutions, Katie cultivates strategic relationships with prospective clients to help turn them into long-term partnerships that drive business results. With progressive roles across brand management, new business development, and strategic communications, Katie leverages her consumer insights expertise to create defined paths to success for some of the world’s largest restaurant brands. Clients particularly appreciate her passion for being a trusted partner, advocate, and extension of their teams throughout the onboarding process. In addition to serving on the marketing and advocacy board for The Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, Katie helps steer community engagement efforts at SMG through her involvement in our internal charity cadre. She holds a B.S. in Journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications, a B.A. in Spanish, and a M.S. in Journalism, Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Kansas, where she graduated at the top of her class.

First Job: I was a lifeguard and swim lesson instructor at the age of 14—pool-side red cream sodas and cheese pizza every day!

Brian Dennis

SVP, Customer Engagement—Retail
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With a lifelong passion for delivering the ultimate service performance, Brian joins SMG as the SVP of Retail Customer Engagement. In this role, he provides customer solutions and creates awareness of SMG’s technology and insights to some of the largest retailers in the world. Brian strives to position customers for measurable success and takes a team approach to ensure clients receive the best support possible. Prior to joining SMG, Brian served as Vice President of Customer Experience & Recognition for Kohl’s Department Stores—developing CX strategy and leading all things “customer”. He is a frequent keynote presenter on CEM insights and trend forecasting, and the author of two books on the topics.

First job: My first job was selling seeds door-to-door at the age of 6—my sales doubled the following year when I was finally allowed to cross the street.

Ritch Steffensmeier

VP, Customer Engagement
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Ritch focuses on helping existing clients maximize the value of their XM program, understand industry best practices, and leverage SMG’s technology and professional services pairing. As a lifelong problem solver, he is passionate about helping brands produce business-changing insights and provide exceptional customer service. Prior to SMG, Ritch spent 25 years building and managing global consulting and professional services organizations for companies like IBM and Accenture. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University and an MBA from Seattle University.

First job: The first job I ever got paid for was “walking beans” on the family farm in Iowa.

Anthony Goltser

VP, Customer Engagement
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From the beginning of his career, Anthony has had a passion for the financial services sector. As VP of Customer Engagement in financial services, he brings more than 15 years of experience leading companies within the CX space in industries like banking, wealth management, insurance, and beyond. He utilizes his extensive background in the financial services sector and an entrepreneurial spirit of creativity to help clients apply business-changing insight for measurable success. Anthony earned his BA from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, his MBA from Loyola University Chicago, and started his professional career at the Chicago Board of Trade.

First job: At the age of 13, I commandeered the family mower to cut lawns. My target buyers were neighbors who were too old to push their mowers, do-it-yourself types who were too busy to keep up with the grass, and younger homeowners who didn’t want to bother!

Zach Loes

VP, Customer Engagement
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As Vice President of Customer Engagement, Zach builds relationships with clients around the world and helps a wide variety of brands identify, analyze, and solve complex problems using SMG’s solutions portfolio. He is driven by aiding brands as they meet their full potential, driving sales + growth from the field to the corporate office. Having worked with brands like Michaels, Ross Dress for Less, and Giant Eagle in his previous role as Director of Customer Insights, Zach has been frequently recognized for his unique ability to drive insights with clients and help them achieve their financial and company goals. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Kansas with an emphasis on Strategic Communications.

First Job: My first real job was working the drive-thru window at Culvers, where I learned what it means to be a team player, that hard work pays off, and that I have a weakness for vanilla + Oreo concretes.