Sumeet Bhatia Laszlo Gonc
VP, Innovation CEO & Founder
Zurich Next Era Transformation
Melissa Lederer Whitney McGinnis
Chief Experience Officer Senior Director Innovation
mHUB McDonald's Corp
Dr. Raj. Ramesh Cathy Westfall
Chief AI Officer VP, Product Development
Data Foundry, A.I. Zurich


PMI Chicagoland Chapter is committed to the safety and well-being of our members and event attendees. Our job only gets more important during this critical time for members.

In light of the growing concerns about Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have made a decision cancelling the May 1st , 2020 Leadership Forum . We will be sending email communications on next steps to those of you who registered for attending the Forum


The PMI Chicagoland Chapter would like to thank our proud sponsors of the 2020 Leadership Forum.

Gold Sponsor

Virtual Sponsor


Chevy Chase Country Club
1000 N Milwaukee Ave,
Wheeling, IL 60090


Sponsorships are available. If you or your organization is interested in being a sponsor, please download our sponsorship kit!

Building a Culture of Innovation

Leaders play a critical role in creating the right culture and the right environment for innovation to flourish. To grow more predictably and survive in today’s digitally disruptive economy, we need to build a culture of innovation. Innovation reduces costs, improves quality, improves team motivation and retention, and delivers more value. Innovation is critical to maintain and grow market presence and requires an agile approach, with in-flight adjustments that keep the program on track with changing conditions.
Leadership Forum provides an excellent opportunity to mid-level and senior leaders with tangible information and insights that can be applied to the company’s organizations, making them more effective at delivering value. Come and join us to learn the latest concepts, strategies and experiences on innovation from other Chicagoland leaders.
Don't miss this engaging opportunity to meet with fellow project management leaders and gather industry knowledge and inspiration from each other. This is an excellent platform to hear experiences from innovative leaders and learn how they dealt with their unique situation. Networking with peers helps build relationships and get feedback & ideas, learn new concepts and practical tactics which allowed them to drive change more effectively.


  • Sharpen Your Saw: Return with new ideas and approaches to make you more effective.
  • Meet Experts and Influencers: Make a connection, share business ideas, find your next mentor.
  • Networking: Meet peers and senior leaders with similar challenges, socialize and form new relationships.
  • Develop Greater Focus: Relearn classic techniques with a fresh new perspective.
  • Break Free from Your Comfort Zone: Step outside of your normal routine and learn about greater opportunities.
  • Building a Culture of Innovation: Gain insights and tips to build a culture of innovation within your organization or project team.



Friday, May 1, 2020

  7:30 a.m. –   8:15 a.m.

Continental Breakfast, Networking, Exhibits 

  8:15 a.m. –   8:30 a.m.

Conference Opening Remarks

  8:30 a.m. –   9:30 a.m

Scott Ambler Keynote Speaker 1

  9:30 a.m. –   9:45 a.m.

Break, Networking, Exhibits

  9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Panel Discussion

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  

Break, Networking, Exhibits

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler Keynote Speaker 2

12:00 p.m.

Conference Closing Remarks

Keynote Speakers


Scott Ambler
Vice President,Chief Scientist of Disciplined Agile at Project Management Institute

Scott is the Vice President, Chief Scientist of Disciplined Agile at Project Management Institute. Scott leads the evolution of the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit and is an international keynote speaker. Scott is the (co)-creator of the Disciplined Agile (DA) toolkit as well as the Agile Modeling (AM) and Agile Data (AD) methodologies. He is the (co-)author of several books, including Choose Your WoW!, An Executive’s Guide to the Disciplined Agile Framework, Refactoring Databases, Agile Modeling, Agile Database Techniques, and The Object Primer 3rd Edition. Scott blogs regularly at and and he can be contacted via


Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler

Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler is the first female CEO of 1871, now the Number 1 ranked university affiliated -tech incubator in the world  
Previous to 1871, Betsy was the Chief Innovation Officer at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, responsible for portfolio innovation as well as integrating technology into the Kellogg educational experience. From 2011 through September 2015, she served as associate dean of degree programs and dean of students. 
Prior to Kellogg, she served as a principal in McKinsey & Company’s Chicago office where she led the firm’s Life Insurance Operations and Technology practice and co-led its Financial Institutions Operations and Technology practice. 
Ziegler holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and received a B.A. in economics from The Ohio State University, where she graduated with distinction. She is a member of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and the Museum of Science and Industry Boards of Directors and an advisor and investor in many young technology companies.  BackToTop

Panel Moderator


Cathy Westfall
Vice President, Zurich

Cathy Westfall is the Vice President, Head of Product Development for Zurich in North America, where she has dedicated the last 17 years. She is responsible for driving new and updated insurance products to the marketplace for customers and managing product health. Cathy has over 25 years’ experience in the insurance industry with expertise in Underwriting, Operations, Project Management and transformational technology initiatives. Prior to Zurich, she served in roles of increasing responsibility at Interstate National Corp and Prudential. Presently Cathy serves as the Chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Chicagoland Executive Council and has been an active member of the PMI Chicagoland chapter since 2002. She holds an M.B.A from DePaul University, a B.S. in Finance from Northern Illinois University, and earned PMP and CPCU professional certifications. BackToTop

Panel Speakers

Sumeet Bhatia
VP, Innovation, Zurich

Sumeet Bhatia is the Vice President, Head of Innovation for Zurich North America. In this role, he is responsible for development and execution of the North America Innovation strategy, which takes a holistic and customer-centric approach in addressing short- and long-term business opportunities. He is also responsible for identifying and assessing key emerging trends within the Insurance industry to prioritize innovation efforts and to design and develop new products, services and digital capabilities. Prior to his current role, Sumeet was a member of Zurich’s Alternative Markets’ Programs team, where he was responsible for onboarding new programs as well as developing and institutionalizing the New Programs process. Sumeet was also a member of the North America Strategic Execution team, where he was responsible for developing and driving North America’s strategy. Prior to joining Zurich, he held several leadership positions in Strategy, Innovation and Product Development across multiple industries. Sumeet holds a Master of Science - Engineering degree from the University of Texas and also completed the executive management at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.. .BackToTop

Laszlo Gonc
Founder and CEO, Next Era Transformation Group, LLC

Laszlo is a recognized senior executive with thirty years of progressive experience in business and information technology. He is responsible for helping organizations – corporate and nonprofit alike – navigate the digital frontier, advising clients on cybersecurity, IT risk mitigation, and building digital technology strategies that drive both performance and business value. He has experience across several industries, consulting for senior executives and boards, developing cybersecurity strategies, evaluating IT risk, and spearheading critical security and transformation projects for senior leadership. Laszlo’s areas of expertiser include healthcare, manufacturing, mining, legal, insurance, marketing, advertising and banking. Laszlo is a member of the Forbes Technology Council, PEER150, and sits on a number of nonprofit and professional advisory boards. He served as Chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Chicagoland Executive Council, Executive Vice President for the Chicago chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), and is a Board Member for both the Society for Information Management (SIM) Chicago and the ISACA Chicago Chapter (ISACA). Laszlo is a member of Chicago FBI Infragard and Information Systems Security Association (ISSA). .BackToTop

Melissa Lederer
Chief Experience Officer, mHUB

Melissa Lederer, Chief Experience Officer, is focused on leading teams to design solutions that drive engagement, collaboration, and success for mHUB’s corporate partners and startups. A seasoned business professional with more than 20 years of broad experience in both corporate and agency settings, Melissa has served a variety of technology-based businesses of all sizes. Melissa has a special passion for supporting high-growth startups on brand formation and scaling into new markets. Over the past 10 years, Melissa has been an active force in helping to build Chicago’s robust entrepreneurial community. Melissa was a member of the founding team of 1871, Chicago’s innovation hub recognized by UBI Global as the #1 university-affiliated incubator in the world and served as its chief marketing officer for more than two years. Following 1871, Melissa helped found Chicago’s healthcare incubator and innovation center MATTER, where she was responsible for defining and building the MATTER brand through marketing, communication, and events. Melissa continues to support MATTER’s strategic initiatives and special projects. BackToTop

Whitney McGinnis
Senior Director for McDonald’s Corporation

Whitney McGinnis is a Senior Director for McDonald’s Corporation and loves using technology to solve complex operational challenges at scale. She considers herself lucky to have had an exciting and diverse career at McDonald’s, where she has spent the last 19 years.  She enjoys getting the chance to learn new areas of the business through a technology lens and has spent time supporting most of the major business functions in McDonald’s, including marketing, operations, business insights and corporate departments. Over the course of her career she has taken on increasingly complex roles, including leading the transformation and deployment of McDonald’s eCommerce Platform to 20,000 stores. Most recently Whitney has established the Product Capabilities and Innovation Team, which is implementing cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation.  Whitney has two kids, Bennett (9) and Haley (11) who keep her days busy and fun!  She feels most proud when she gets to connect work and family and see her kids use technology she worked on. BackToTop

Raj Ramesh
Chief AI Officer, DataFoundry AI

Raj Ramesh has more than two decades of experience in the fields of software engineering, artificial intelligence/machine learning, business architecture, and enterprise design. He has architected multi-million-dollar digital transformation. While helping companies integrating AI technologies in their transformation, he often faced the reality of considering employees perspectives and how their jobs will change with the introduction of such technology. His desire to help the employees in the equation resulted in this book, which discusses a general set of tools and modeling methodologies that people can use to understand their own environments and adapt quickly. Dr. Ramesh, who holds a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence, is a prolific author and speaker. He creates easy to understand videos on the topics of artificial intelligence and architecture, which can be found on YouTube at .BackToTop

From Our Past Attendees: 

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