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Work experience

Oct 2011Present

Principal Consultant

Heart of the Customer

Develop programs improve customer engagement through deep customer insights. Speaking and blogging regularly about developing great customer experiences at

Feb 2011Oct 2011

Senior Consultant


Led consulting programs with Fortune 500 executives to build great customer and employee engagement, demonstrating ROI from programs. Developed and led multiple executive presentations.

-  Sold and led $600k consulting project to change how global Fortune 200 manufacturing/service company hires talent, including the assessment and change strategy.

-Managed teams of up to ten consultants.

-Published articles in Minnesota Business on motivating employees and engaging customers.

Jun 2008Feb 2011

Director of Customer Insight/Director of Product Management

UnitedHealth Group/OptumHealth

Developed business strategy around a clearer articulation of customer needs, developed from call center data, website and behavioral analytics, and customer and consumer interviews. Partnered with business to develop a superior customer experience, including an improved website, the creation of new consumer communications programs, and the development of an employer consulting practice.

  • Developed customer experience strategy to prioritize development; projects included creation of eNewsletter (initial test saw deposits at 20x projections), simplified consumer messaging (resulting in record enrollments) and streamlined web login (20% higher logins during test period).
  • Owned P&L for $250 million product (2008) and managed $250k research budget (2009-2011).
Created analytics capability; incorporated segmentation and used results to consult with internal and external customers to build strategies off an improved understanding of consumer behaviors.
Aug 2002Jun 2008

Consumer Testing Manager

Best Buy

Retail Testing Manager (2005-2008)

Led the creation and execution of retail tests, from hypothesis development to project creation and management, including analytics and recommendations to scale, kill, or iterate experiments. 

  • Used testing to build out our customer insights, showing how customers actually shopped at our stores
  • Saw total savings of over $25 million from stopping initiatives that did not show viability in store tests. 
  • Managed teams of up to 15 indirect reports. 

Authorizations Product Manager (2003-2005) (2004-5 with Accenture)

Led private label credit card applications and credit authorizations product lines, introducing multiple innovations. Managed portfolios of concurrent projects with combined worth of $3 million, and a combined NPV of over $20 million.

  • Consulted with McDonald’s senior Finance team on credit card/gift card customer experience.

Project Manager (2002-2003)

Managed projects with combined budgets of $1 million, including all sales reporting and gift card, phone card, and credit card settlement and authorizations.


Bachelor of Arts

Macalester College

Graduated with Honors, resulting from a study on how political activists actually behaved in the general election when their candidates lost in the primaries and caucuses.  Whereas public statements claimed they would actively support the candidates, these activists rarely volunteered or donated money to the nominee, and sometimes even refused to vote for the nominee.

Jan 2001May 2006


Carlson School of Management - University of Minnesota

White Papers and Speaking


Jim has more than 20 years of experience in driving customer engagement from small business to Fortune 500 companies. Jim’s expertise has led to engagements as far-reaching as developing consumer tests at Best Buy, creating a Customer Insights capability at UnitedHealth Group, and consulting with clients ranging from global fast food giants to utilities to international manufacturing and service companies. In these travels, he has designed a retail store window in Manhattan, consulted with the Finance leadership team of McDonald’s corporation, built a full-size family room, kitchen and home office in three stores, and spoken in front of thousands of employees about such diverse topics as creating a consumer testing approach, engaging employees around their healthcare, and building a customer-centric organization.Jim is a dynamic speaker, passionate about building a world-class experience that results in customers who come back time and again. Jim's approach is to discover the customer purchase and engagement drivers for your particular organization. These drivers are developed by a combination of behavioral economics analysis, customer experience tracking (whether NPS, satisfaction, or emotional engagement), traditional market research, and the voice of the front-line employee. This results in an understanding of what motivates the most profitable customers, which is used to build a strategy attracting more customers of this type.Experienced in internal and external change consulting from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, as well as product/service development and running a P&L. Industry expertise includes retail, training, and healthcare. Expertise includes: - Customer experience engineering- P&L responsibility- Creating actionable insights to accelerate or kill programs- Change management- Fortune 500 account management- Research-based consulting- ROI development and analysis- Behavioral economics analytics

Community Engagement

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership - Minnesota,2008-present

-  President (2011-present) and board member

Fulton Neighborhood Association,2010-present

-  Treasurer and board member; member of Neighborhood Revitalization Program committee

Promising Connections Board,2011-present

-Board Member for foundation developing funds for coaching young adults with high-functioning Autism

Metropolitan State University,2008-2009

-Instructor, masters-level Project Management course

Middle School Math Coach,2007-2011

-Coached Lake Harriet Middle School Math Teams

-  Moved from fourth-place to winning the City of Lakes tournament in 2010 and 2011