Starcher Group

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We are a networked practice assembling the right team for each client project. We bring together partners with over 20 years experience in their field at senior levels.
Michael Casaburi
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Mr. Casaburi is a 13 year veteran of Bain & Co where he analyzed markets, developed and executed growth strategies, including M&A, for Fortune 500 clients. Mr. Casaburi managed the fastest-growing practice (>50 affiliates; ~$200M revenue), led teams, built client relationships and facilitated strategy workshops.

Examples of value that Mr. Casaburi has provided to clients include:

Growth Strategy: as a global industrial company was challenged to prioritize their growth initiatives, a deep assessment was required of the company's customer base, its competitors and its opportunities for growth. Through a tailored growth strategy program, the company's top initiatives were pursued both inside and outside of the core business.
Capacity Expansion: when one of the world's largest corrugated box producers was considering an expansion of their plant capacity, analysis of their marketplace – including customers and competitors – uncovered all the vital factors necessary for the company's management to make a truly informed decision on going forward.
Core Growth: one of the world's largest banks needed to identify growth opportunities for its core business. Analysis helped discover over $300 million worth of these opportunities – and the client implemented them.
Competitive Response: a global technology company felt a threat from new competitors in its industry was possible yet couldn't fully identify who these competitors were and how to leverage opportunities against them. A specialized growth strategy not only identified these new competitors but reallocated millions of dollars to help the company better defend its position in the marketplace.
Data Driven Decision Making: at times, analysis can actually provide the insight to show that the best move for a company is not making one. Case in point: When a North American health care company was considering the market for a new product it might develop, a deeper level of analysis provided the clarity that, in fact, the company could not become a market leader with such a product. As a result, the product was not developed, potentially saving the company millions of dollars and wasted effort.

Mr. Casaburi is a graduate of Wharton Business School (MBA), Boston College Law School (JD), Harvard (MA Government) and the US Merchant Marine Academy.
Don Jastrebski
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Don specializes in Culture, particularly its influence on leadership, strategy, organization design, and performance to plan. He is an expert in creating high performance cultures, culture-specific talent & acquisition systems, and utilizing culture in large-scale change. Moreover, Don is an authority on the talent lifecycle: job design, selection, staffing, succession planning, performance management, and talent management.

Prior to founding In3, Don led Towers Watson’s regional Organization Effectiveness practice, and was one of the Think Tank leaders that started Accenture's change practice, where he regularly presented as firm-wide expert in Culture, Change, and Talent management.

Don’s services are valued at both large & small companies, but recognizable ones include: Accenture, AT&T (Ameritech, GTE, PacBell), Aramark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Brylane, Cabot, Delta Airlines (Northwest), Deutsche Financial Services, Educational Testing Service (ETS), GE Capital, Guardian Industries, Land O’Frost, Linde Group (BOC), Mary Kay, McDonalds, Microsoft, Motorola, Owens Corning, PepsiCo, Roadway, RR Donnelley (Moore), ServiceMaster, SPX, Tenneco, and Underwriters Laboratories.

Don is a magna cum laude graduate of Loyola University, Chicago, where he earned an M.A. in behavioral sciences and a B.A. in history. He is also a graduate of executive programs at multiple universities.

Don is a former board member of Institute of Educational Partnerships, former board chair of Emmaus-Chicago, and chief dish & bottle washer at the St. Thomas Soup Kitchen in Uptown-Chicago.
Mike Hobbs
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Mr. Hobbs is a strategic and operational business leader with a successful track record of optimizing value in the manufacturing space. Throughout a career of demonstrated success, Mike has capitalized on market potential and built strong internal and external partnerships.

As CEO of Engineered Glass Products (EGP), a global leader in engineered glass products, Mike introduced a vision and culture of continuous improvement that resulted in sales and profit growth exceeding 500% from 1995-2007. During that time, he orchestrated a management buyout of the company and significantly modernized corporate structure and processes. Mike is a passionate leader who is true to his word and has been a trusted advisor to both ownership and associates. He cultivated the next generation of executive leadership and stewarded leadership succession.  Prior to EGP, Mike excelled in a commissioned sales position in the wholesale glass business and earlier, served as General Manager of a 22-store retail auto glass installation business. 

Mr. Hobbs understands and practices servant leadership. He is goal-oriented and collaborative, welcoming diverse personalities and viewpoints. In both business and in civic and volunteer leadership, Mr. Hobbs has fostered strong leadership teams, defining the right goals and allowing people to learn through their successes and challenges. 

Mr. Hobbs holds a BA in Philosophy and a Master’s in Business Administration from Bellarmine University. Mike has pursued continued professional development over the past 15 years as member and mentor of Vistage, a global organization that provides executive coaching, leadership development and business mentoring.
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Ms. McManus is a B2B Marketing Expert with specialties in Product Strategy and Marketing, Channel & Customer Development Marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications, Brand Strategy and Positioning.

Ms. McManus works with clients to help improve their marketing strategy and initiatives. Recent engagements include:

Outlining strategy for clients including trends, market assessment and sizing, competitive analysis,
customer insight and opportunity identification.
Development of marketing strategies including: product strategy, development and launch; 
Brand strategy and positioning; Go-to-Market strategy and plans
Experienced in understanding client objectives and designing an execution plan to address goals.
Delivery and execution of marketing calendar.
Identification of strategic partnerships.

Ms. McManus holds a BS in Business & Organizational Behavior.

Mr. Liefeld has spent most of his career helping lead small businesses. This was launched upon leaving a successful Fortune 500 career in engineering sales to help turnaround a business is crisis resulting in a doubling of sales. Next he joined a service company as part of the leadership team to help build it to be an internationally recognized innovation consulting firm helping its clients generate over 8 billion in revenue. At the same time he co-founded a marketing communications company and has spent countless hours working alongside pastors and their teams to lead initiatives solving the barriers they faced.
His passion for seeing people succeed led him to leverage his broad business experience as an interim executive working with business owner/operators. His facilitation skills help groups solve pressing issues. His operational and engineering background provides a pragmatic and systematic approach to business. Yet, his interest in the potential of the individual and the power of community drives him to promote cultures that allow employees to flourish so that innovation and operational success at the organizational level can thrive.

Mr. Liefeld holds a B.S. is Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana and completed the Kellogg Management Institute Program at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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Mr. Lowder enables companies to set new sales records year after year and is the author of “Smooth Selling Forever” – Charting your Company’s Course for Predictable and Sustainable Sales Growth. He is a seasoned business veteran with more than 30 years experience helping small and mid-size business owners achieve their sales goals. For the majority of his career, he has served in senior sales leadership and advisory roles. His expertise includes Sales Strategy Development, Sales Channel Management, Sales Operations and Marketing. Craig’s experience spans a variety of B2B and B2C industries, such as retail, manufacturing, capital equipment, information technology, software, and business services. He has guided numerous business start-ups, helped return several companies to profitability, launched a number of new products, and orchestrated the acquisition and sale of several businesses.

Mr, Lowder produces tangible results for his clients. Some examples include:

- Developed and launched a new sales strategy that achieved 122% of sales plan, increased gross margins by 12% and reduced sales expenses by 16% over a six-month period for a $175 million wholesale distribution company, resulting in the sale of this private equity owned company.
- Achieved 108% of sales plan in year one and 113% in year two for a $21 million software technology company, resulting in the sale of this privately owned company.
- Built a $20.1 million sales pipeline and generated $1.9 million in sales within 9 months of business launch for an eLearning / software technology start-up.
- Increased annual sales from $9.9 million to $21.6 million in two years, while increasing sales productivity by 65% and expanding the sales pipeline by 332% to $35.8 million over the same period of time for a division of a $325 million global communications technology company
- Supported, as an internal sales consultant, three Area Vice President’s, 16 Sales Directors and 94 sales professionals responsible for $125 million in annual sales quota; the three Area Vice Presidents’ sales performance was ranked 3rd, 4th and 7th out of a peer group of 35 for a Fortune 100 company.

Mr. Lowder has a B.S. in Marketing and Psychology (with Honors) from Bradley University and an M.B.A from DePaul University.
Arezou Zarafshan
Ms. Zarafshan is a business executive with over 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 and Inc 5000 companies. She has led Product Development, R&D, innovation and Customer Experience, Business Intelligence and Product Management in public and private companies within Technology, Office Products, Footwear and Consumer Accessories domestically and internationally. Most importantly she is a mother, wife, mentor, passionate advocate for women and someone who loves life and all the adventures in it.

Over her career, Ms. Zarafshan has created significant value by linking Technology with Customers and Business Outcomes:

Product Development: positions of increasing impact at Hewlett Packard and ACCO Brands, with a final role as VP, Global Product Development.
Customer Experience: VP level engagement to bring about a culture shift towards Customer Centricity across operations at Crocs.
Product Development, Innovation and Customer Insights: VP level leader transformed the Innovation function, integrated the disciplines of Customer Insights and Business Intelligence into the fabric of the company.
Innovator: co-Founder and CMO at a start up company
Consultant: Principal at Arezou Zarafshan and Associates, a consultancy specialized in Brand Strategy, Innovation, Customer/Consumer Experience and Data-Driven Marketing.

Ms. Zarafshan holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Washington State University and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology.

Ron Benton
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Ron Benton brings practical expertise to accelerate the critical conversations, decisions, and processes essential to creating strategic organizational value. Ron has guided high technology, manufacturing, financial services, and non-profit organizations in identifying and aligning to achieve billions of dollars in revenue opportunities and over $1B in cost reductions.

Ron is President of Ron Benton & Associates, Inc., and has three decades of experience consulting to leaders of global businesses and their functional leaders. He and his network of experienced industry consultants deliver a broad spectrum of services, including strategy development, business performance measurement, strategic decision acceleration, organizational alignment and governance, business transformation, and customer experience strategy consulting.

Since launching his own firm in 2006, Ron has worked extensively with a variety of firms, primarily in Europe and Asia. Clients include many insurance, commercial banking, and retail banking units of a global financial services firm, a Norwegian manufacturer, and a UK utility.  He also serves as a knowledge expert in performance measurement for a variety of European firms.

Previously, Ron directed Hewlett-Packard’s business strategy, organizational acceleration, and performance measurement  internal consulting practices.  He led the definition and implementation efforts for three company-wide HP performance measures.  Ron personally oversaw consulting engagements with many enterprise and consumer product groups and divisions from $50M to over $5B in revenue, as well as with emerging country and region leadership teams.
Ron is an innovator who shares a patent pending for a framework that assesses an organization’s capability in delivering customer value.  During the HP-Compaq merger, he co-designed the new company’s Quality / Total Customer Experience management system and strategy.  Earlier, he led the team that created and implemented HP’s global competitive customer measurement system.  He also served as a product division R&D productivity manager and consulted to R&D managers throughout the company on R&D management practices.  Ron holds a Masters in Management from the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Pacific Lutheran University.
His career and consulting practice benefit from significant executive development experiences from the Institute for Management Development In Lausanne, Switzerland; Conversant in Boulder, Colorado; Strategic Decisions Group in Menlo Park, California; the National Technological University in Fort Collins, Colorado; and HP’s Advanced Development Program for executives in both Asia and North America.

Away from work, Ron has served as a City Council President, Health District Vice-Chair, and Board Chair of both a Senior Center and an organization serving developmentally disabled infants and adults.  Beyond family, service, and work his passions include climbing, skiing, ski mountaineering, and working across cultures.
Dan Berne
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Dan Berne is a recognized business building consultant. He has more than 20 years experience as a marketing and brand strategy development specialist for high-tech and consumer products and services. His work in managing high-tech brands is featured in the textbook “Brand Management” (McGraw-Hill, October, 2009). He is an affiliate of The Chasm Institute.

At Hewlett-Packard, Dan directed the brand and product design strategies for HP's Inkjet businesses, including the Deskjet®, Officejet®, and Photosmart® product lines. Dan revamped HP’s low-end printer business model, which created a turnaround to a positive profit margin in that market segment and increased worldwide market share leadership.

Dan provides workshops on Innovation Leadership, Brand Strategy and Customer Insights for both consumer and technology-based groups across the United States and in such diverse locations as Singapore, China, India, Ireland, Germany and Brazil. He is a certified facilitator of Innovation Games ®.
Debbie Mrazek
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Ms. Mrazek has over three decades of experience working with and consulting to leaders of global businesses and nonprofits. She and her network of experienced consultants deliver a broad spectrum of customer-centered services including customer-centered product and strategy development, stakeholder-centered decision acceleration, business transformation, professional development and customer experience strategy consulting.

Ms. Mrazek has experience with public and private companies, nonprofits and startups. She is an international expert on Design Value. Over her career, Ms. Mrazek has created significant value by working at the intersection of what matters to stakeholders, creating growth opportunities and leveraging the organization's capabilities.

Customer-Centered Product Development: positions of impact at Hewlett-Packard and with an internet startup
Stakeholder-Centered Decision Acceleration: developed and facilitated the necessary systems internally and with select partners to engage and harness stakeholder voice in strategy decisions at the product level, business level or community level
Business Transformation: instrumental in increasing design’s strategic contributions across Hewlett-Packard, including the creation of the first company-wide Design Value Metrics System
Professional Development: deliver open-enrollment and in-house professional development on Design Thinking, The Value of Design, Journey Mapping and Leading Creative Teams
User/Customer Experience Strategy: lead positions in the power and technology industries

Ms. Mrazek holds a B.S.E. in System Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana and an M.S. in Industrial Engineering and Human Factors from Arizona State University. Ms. Mrazek has contributed to a number of professional design publication.
Cindy Romaine
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Ms. Romaine is the principal of Romainiacs Intelligent Research, LLC, a consultancy focused on information intense projects and content strategies. Romainiacs are information research and analysis experts. We immerse ourselves in our client’s industry in order to understand how their industry work and where the richest information sources are. Capabilities include:

Voice of the Consumer and Win/Loss Interviews: Gain a better understanding from the customer’s perspective of the key factors they value. Obtain insight into gaps where your product may not have met expectations, pricing issues or concerns, perceived competitor advantages and how your product or service is utilized. 

Deep Dive Technical Research and Environmental Scans: Romainiacs conducts extensive literature research using authoritative sources, such as dissertations, scientific journal articles, patents, news reports, product information, and think-tank research. We research a broad range of subject disciplines.

Content Strategy and Aggregation: The Internet is rich with news alerts, podcasts, correspondence, RSS feeds, videos, white papers, newsletters, blog posts, and tweets. In order to better draw insight from these wide ranging resources, Romainiacs utilizes cutting edge technologies to get the right information to the right people at the right time. Romainiacs combines information streams and produces briefings customized to your team and integrated into their workflow. 

Competitive Intelligence and Analysis: When you have a perplexing business issue that requires a trusted third party to gather and analyze information from multiple primary and secondary sources, Romainiacs can assist you. Romainiacs provides a thorough analysis of information with supporting references and relevancy from primary and secondary sources.

Ms. Romaine holds a B.A. in History from the University of Oregon and an M.L.I.S in Library and Information Science. She also holds a certificate in Sustainable Enterprise from Willamette University and is a Fellow with the Special Libraries Association.
Jeffrey Baum
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Mr. Baum has been the Managing Director of PROXI Management Decisions, since April, 2002. Previously, he was a management consultant with PRTM (acquired by PwC) in their Tokyo, Japan and Mountain View, California offices.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Baum spent 11 years developing new products with Motorola Semiconductor in both Phoenix, Arizona and Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Baum has more than 20 years of technology management experience within the semiconductor, imaging & printing, telecommunications, medical devices, oil & gas, and enterprise software industries.

Mr. Baum has extensive expertise in leveraging business analytics tools and simulation technologies for robust business case forecasting, rigorous risk simulation, portfolio optimization, and strategy testing at global companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Ericsson, TRW, Agilent Technologies, Freescale Semiconductor, Motorola, ACCO Brands, Alcatel-Lucent, Rambus, Halliburton, and Fujitsu.

Mr. Baum holds a BS Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, earned his, an MS Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona and an MBA at the University of California Berkeley – Haas School of Business.

Mr. Baum is the inventor of four U.S. patents and has advanced proficiency in Japanese.
Eustace DSouza
Eustace is a Principal Consultant with First Circle Practice in Mumbai, India. He focuses on Indian Mid-Market companies where the combination of Strategy Development and Execution Planning will help clients grow their businesses profitably. He is Head Market Development for Asia, Africa, Australasia and Middle East for The Starcher Group.
Thomas Schlick
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Mr. Schlick is an experienced Executive who leads and achieves change and transformational growth in manufacturing services businesses, able to move from vision and strategy to tactical development, implementation, and operation. He has built a number of high performing teams that work cross-functionally and in alignment with common goals, and his experience creating and implementing customer-driven strategy and technology plans, new product portfolios and pipelines and continuous operational improvements has been the foundation of his team’s success.

Mr. Schlick’s industry experience spans healthcare/medical devices, process control, transportation/trucking, secure ID/financial services, and office products & equipment. He has held COO, SVP, EVP, and VP positions with P&L responsibility at small, medium and large corporations, both public and privately-held. His operational experience includes Johnson & Johnson (Sterilmed, Inc.), Emerson Electric, ACCO Brands, XRS Corporation (now part of Qualcomm), Entrust Datacard, and General Electric.

Schlick and Associates provides the leadership and skills to identify opportunities for faster growth and execute difficult turnaround situations.

Mr. Schlick holds an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt. Mr. Schlick has been a mentor with the MENTTIUM Corporation for over 15 years, mentoring high potential executives from many companies. He currently serves on the advisory boards of The Service Council and the Society for Service Executives. He was the past President of AFSMI (Association for Service Management International). In addition, Mr. Schlick has been a guest speaker at several large national professional conferences.