Interactions between Manufacturers, Retailers and Shoppers in a Consumer-centric Environment

What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding the new consumer relationships being established?

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


August 13, 2008 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


Free for Digital Campus participants. $80 for non-participants.

A new paradigm of relations between consumers, retailers and manufacturers is upon us with the advent of recent technological advances and changes in demand.  How can we reach an appropriate balance between consumer pulls and technology pushes?  How can manufacturers keep up with ever-shorter product cycles and the need for greener and cleaner products and processes?  What are the new opportunities and challenges in this quickly changing environment and what’s coming next?

Join our esteemed panel of experts who will address these topics and more in an intimate setting and have the chance to ask them your own pressing questions at swissnex San Francisco.  This event is co-hosted by the Greater Zurich Area.


6:30 – 7:15 pm doors open, networking reception

7:15 – 8:15 pm roundtable discussion and Q&A;’s with panelists:
Sara M. Roberts, President & CEO, Roberts Golden Consulting Inc.
Amanda Steele, CEO, Dreamerz
Kathy Wahrer, IT Innovation Services, Safeway
Jory Des Jardins, Co-Founder, BlogHer
Moderated by Mark Gross, The Washington Post Media Company

8:15 – 9:30 pm more networking with food and drinks


Jory Des Jardins

Jory Des Jardins in an author and media strategist.  She is president of global sales and business development for BlogHer, Inc. Since co-founding BlogHer in 2005, Jory has developed strategic relationships with Fortune 1000 brands and led innovative campaigns to integrate contextual marketing and advertising into communities of women interested in every topic, from food, health and family to business, finance and technology.
As an author and media strategist, Jory regularly writes on women’s business issues, blogging, relationships and pop culture for such publications as Fast Company, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and her blog, Pause. She’s also written for Sports Illustrated for Women, Working Woman, USA Today Magazine, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times and edited for The New York Times Syndicate and Time Inc.’s Custom Publishing Division. Jory has helped high-technology start-ups Pluck and Rojo launch successful blog syndication initiatives and produced Third Age’s successful network of bloggers. In addition to her personal blog, Jory blogs about personal career growth and entrepreneurship on BlogHer.

Mark Gross

Mark Gross is a twenty year veteran of The Washington Post Media Company.  Twelve of those years he spent in Washington DC managing national retail accounts during their explosive expansion into Washington DC and navigating through the changing retail landscape and fierce competition of the 1990’s.  Working with clients on innovative marketing programs to expand market share, Mark has worked with almost all of the national and local retailers in all industry segments.  Mark  currently manages the West Coast Advertising office for The Washington Post Media Company which focuses on technology, telecom and corporate start-ups.  He is the “eyes and ears for the mothership” and the  ambassador for the Washington Post Media Company presence in Silicon Valley.  Mark is an active participant in the San Francisco Business community and a graduate of Leadership San Francisco.  He  has an MBA from Marymount University in Arlington Virginia and an MFA in Writing from John’s Hopkins in Washington, DC. The Washington Post Media Company owns The Washington Post,, Newsweek, Slate, El Tiempo Latino and Express.

Sara M. Roberts

Sara M. Roberts is the President and CEO of Roberts Golden Consulting based in San Francisco, California.  A seasoned leader, she and her team have led change management and
performance improvement efforts for Fortune 500 companies such as FedEx, Cisco Systems, Safeway, McKesson, Hilton Hotels Corporation and Alcatel-Lucent. Prior to founding Roberts Golden, she held senior consulting positions within companies including Sprint, Andersen Consulting and Ketchum.
Roberts Golden’s work focuses on providing strategic change management and organizational effectiveness solutions for companies undertaking transformation efforts with a particular emphasis on helping them create a corporate culture that enables collaboration and innovation.
Sara is the co-author of the best-selling book, Light Their Fire: Using Internal Marketing to Ignite Employee Performance and Wow Your Customers (Kaplan 2005) and has been quoted in numerous publications including Inc. Magazine and Forbes. She received her M.S. in Instructional Technology from the University of Nebraska.

Amanda Steele

Amanda Steele is the CEO and co-founder of Dreamerz Foods, a start up functional foods company committed to helping people perform their best each day by offering great-tasting, natural foods with safe and effective ingredients. Dreamerz products address the growing need for stress reduction and healthy sleep as critical contributors to a healthy lifestyle and are distributed on-line as well as in traditional natural, grocery and drug channels.
Dreamerz Foods is a spin-off company of Brand New Brands, a Mill Valley innovation incubator operating from 2005-2006. Brand New Brands developed and launched four branded functional food companies to meet consumer demands for delicious products with benefits in substantial health areas in record time to market.
A food industry veteran, Amanda has more than 16 years of experience in food and beverage consumer products as a brand marketer, innovator and package design leader.  In her nine years at Nestlé USA, she developed and launched Nescafé Frothé and Nescafé Ice Java, under Nestlé’s largest worldwide strategic brand. Amanda began her career in package design, at Kraft Foods and later at Nestlé, where she led award-winning, category-busting structural innovations like the Nesquik liquid milk and Coffee-mate liquid packages.  Amanda holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Kathy Wahrer

Kathy Wahrer is a program manager in the Safeway IT Innovation Services area. She is actively involved in researching emerging trends related to retail and technology in general.  Since the inception of the Innovation Services in late 2007, Kathy has lead a variety of research “proof of idea” initiatives focusing on a verity of areas including product tracking using RFID, in store image recognition and mobile technologies.  Pilots have involved a variety of technology vendors and business area sponsors.
Kathy has a total of 13 years experience in the retail industry, five with Safeway and over 20 years in information systems.  She has completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems at the University of Arizona, a certificate in Project Management from Santa Clara University and course work toward a master’s degree in Systems Management from the College of Notre Dame in Burlingame California.


Photo: Myleen Hollero