Associate Vice President, Research & Planning @
Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management @
Insights & Innovation Research Expert in People-Centered Design Thinking. Develops people-centered design thinking product and marketing programs for organizations interested in creating new solutions that address customers’ key needs and lowers adoption barriers. Twenty years of experience in consumer goods and financial/health services, from jeans and automotive to patient and rescue services. Thoughtful partner and innovation catalyst
Insights & Innovation Research Expert in People-Centered Design Thinking. Develops people-centered design thinking product and marketing programs for organizations interested in creating new solutions that address customers’ key needs and lowers adoption barriers. Twenty years of experience in consumer goods and financial/health services, from jeans and automotive to patient and rescue services. Thoughtful partner and innovation catalyst in managing cross-functional projects, conducting immersive consumer research, facilitating creative problem solving, implementing VoC and design thinking practices.
Insights & Ideas Consultant @ June 2013 - current
Nov. 2008 - July 2009
An experienced innovation leader who helps clients unleash their potential via immersive innovation and customer experience programs. Mapping the customer journey and uncovering their needs, wants, and behaviors. Sensing the emergence of powerful intersecting trends. Leveraging the collective insights of employees, partners and experts to inspire ideas and shape concepts. Equipping teams to rapidly iterate and launch new solutions/approaches that absolutely deliver on the consumer experience. Services offered include:
- Design Thinking: Drive innovative approaches incorporating a range of research techniques from journey mapping and ethnography, to scenario development and visual focus groups
- Immersive Research: Conduct Voice of the Customer and immersive research initiatives to uncover implicit and explicit consumer and patient needs, desires and barriers, and synthesize findings into opportunity themes for the future
- Creative Thinking: Help companies infuse creativity through divergent thinking exercises, and by establishing an environment that promotes and rewards risk taking
- Emerging Trends: Track emerging trends in core/adjacent industries, and identify areas of opportunity at the edges or cross-sections
- External Insights: Identify and recruit subject matter experts to actively bring “outside-in” thinking into the innovation process and for company-wide forums
- Idea Generation: Design and facilitate ideation sessions with cross-functional teams to identify new solutions/approaches that address consumers’ key needs and leverage emerging trends
- Validation Research: Validate concepts’ feasibility, viability and desirability with target consumers and external experts via human-centered design research including observational, journaling and online panel
- Rapid Prototyping: Engage teams in co-designing, prototyping and refining concepts based on user experience and feedback
- Strategy; Process & Tool Dev. From November 2008 to Present (7 years 2 months) Insights & Ideas Lead, Innovation Group, Strategic Planning @ Lead innovation activities across holding company of 10 Clubs and insurance company to ensure new product/service solutions effectively and elegantly address customer needs and leverage trends.
- Manage Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to gather insights on customer needs/interests. Train cross-functional teams on how to conduct customer interviews via active listening and engagement to surface critical needs that if solved for with new product/services would delight the customer.
- Facilitate Idea Generation Workshops with cross-functional group of employees & external experts to surface new ideas that solve key problems; coach concept teams in developing pitch & business plan.
- Develop Business Plans and Pitches for multiple concepts, and present the most compelling and viable ones to executive management for development funding or partnering.
- Concept-test iterations of product/marketing with user communities via internally managed online surveys; work closely with product teams to prioritize and rapidly incorporate learnings into prototype.
- Refine innovation pipeline process & tools, in promoting continuous learning & best practices.
- Oversea company idea web site to promote collaboration, discussion, & idea sharing among,
- Conduct brand/market tracking, industry landscape/SWOT assessment, and consumer segment analysis in response to BOD inquiries, and to inform innovation strategy and performance metrics.
- Manage Emerging Trends group in tracking activity “at the edge” of 15 potentially distruptive trends. From August 2009 to 2013 (4 years) Member @ From 2008 to 2013 (5 years) Senior Director @ Corporate Ventures and Strategic Alliances (2007-2008)
Innovation Portfolio Manager (2005-2007)
Market Intelligence, Global Strategy (2001-2005)
- Built business case & successfully pitched virtual world concept to executives for development.
- Promoted idea generation via creative brainstorming, web-based idea collection, & discussion boards.
- Created concept management portfolio processes and tools for the collection, selection, & management of ideas for development.
- Managed strategic partnership repository project, gathering input from multiple functional groups.
- Conducted market/competitive intelligence and scenario planning to inform strategic/marketing efforts. From 2001 to 2008 (7 years) Associate Vice President, Research & Planning @ Engagement manager for corporate branding, product, and retail design firm. Advised clients on product branding strategies using primary observational and secondary consumer research, market trend analysis, and competitive market positioning. Examples of project work:
- Led team of 10 in developing global brand strategy for automotive company that was used to set direction for logo, visual expression of the brand, and supporting architecture.
- Conducted primary and secondary research to inform evolution of global food service brand (mark, retail, packaging) while maintaining its core essence in competitive market.
- Participated in concept brainstorm session at smart snack company to identify potential intersections for innovative solutions for "home cooking" and “on the go”.
- Facilitated visual brainstorm sessions and conducted observational research to help surface new educational and healthcare product ideas, and uncover user issues with computer screen navigation. From 2000 to 2001 (1 year) Manager, Strategic Forecasting @ Partnered with senior management in establishing worldwide strategic planning process. Developed global demand forecasts and assessed marketplace potential for products in developing markets by analyzing local economic conditions, consumer preference, cultural factors, and social and generational issues. From 1999 to 2000 (1 year) Associate Director, Demand Forecasting @ - Fashion 1998-1999
- Youthwear 1996-1998
- Womenswear 1995-1996
Managed team of 10 to develop monthly sales forecasts for $900M annual retail clothing products. Facilitated process to gain corporate support for forecasts used in business planning and production.
- Assessed consumer trends and market conditions using qualitative analysis of social/consumer factors and quantitative assessments of economic and purchase patterns to generate forecasts.
- Led initiative to identify "white space” product opportunities based on strategic/financial importance.
- Conducted analysis of consumer goods landscape to determine potential impact of price increase, shifts in competitive strategies, new product introduction, and emerging trends.
- 1 of 5 Project Leads on company re-engineering project to establish new brand management organization. From 1995 to 1999 (4 years) Manager, Market Strategy and Research @ Conducted consumer and market research, and analyzed economic, industry and social trends, to inform product design and development efforts for Nissan’s North American utility and luxury vehicle programs.
- Represented the voice of the consumer in working with design, product development, and marketing throughout the product development and testing process for the Quest/Villager and Pickup Truck programs, and in the identification and specification of an all new SUV targeted at Generation Xers.
- Developed long-term plan and market strategy for utility vehicle line – Pathfinder, Quest, Xterra SUV, & Frontier, resulting in cohesive design direction and product lineup for company’s family of utility vehicles.
- Analyzed market, economic, industry & social trends, to inform product design/development efforts.
- Managed consumer research and concept testing projects (clinics, focus groups, ethnographic) to assess consumer demand/preference for future vehicle design, product features, & brand resemblance. From 1993 to 1995 (2 years)
BS, Computer Science Multidisciplinary, Minors in Economics and Cartography @ Michigan State UniversityCertificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management, with a focus on Marketing and Research @ Harvard University Karen Mason is skilled in: Customer Insight, Consumer Research, Competitive Analysis, Strategy, Market Analysis, Idea Generation, Innovation, Product Development, Voice of the Customer, Brand Management, Marketing Research, Strategic Partnerships, Consumer Behaviour, Strategic Planning, Thought Leadership
Looking for a different
Get an email address for anyone on LinkedIn with the ContactOut Chrome extension