Edward Lawrence Kersten

Edward Lawrence Kersten

leader, Strategist, builder, operator

Work History

Work History
May 2012 - Jun 2015

President & COO

Amplifier, Inc. 

Reoriented the organization to focus on client & customer needs, closed gaps in the service offering, identified and reported on KPIs, introduced new technologies, developed leaders to manage growth, and reduced waste and expense.

  • Developed metrics to track employee and organizational performance.
  • Increased throughput of our fulfillment operation by over 148% to > 1.2M shipments.
  • Created the organizational infrastructure to enable company to increase top-line revenue by 300% in 2 1/2 years.
  • Reduced receiving time by over 75%. This increased client-satisfaction and reduced inventory errors.
  • Reduced Mean Time to First Response for Customer Service by 86%.
  • Reduced Cost Per Shipment by over 40%.
  • Redesigned the RMA process to increase customer satisfaction, reduce waste, and facilitate rapid restocking.
  • Created a dedicated client service team to alert clients of potential problems with their own ecommerce stores and to sell additional Amplifier services where appropriate.
  • Leveraged new technology to increase printing throughput by over 100%.
  • Lead the launch of and continued operation of a new online merchandising platform that manufactured items for the design community. Developed dashboards and processes to improve accuracy, reduce waste, and increase throughput.
  • Introduced LEAN Principles to reduce waste and improve production flow. We reorganized the warehouse, developed work cells, and created Kanbans to manage inventory and improve workflow.
  • Reduced processing time for B2B shipments for key client by 80%.
  • Helped leaders focus on goals, data, performance, and accountability.
Feb 2003 - Sep 2013

Co-Founder/Former COO

Despair, Inc

Despair, Inc. is a direct-to-consumer, internet based consumer products & online media company. Despair is best known for its popular Demotivator® products which were instrumental in creating the motivational poster parody industry. We began by selling calendars, note cards, and lithographs, and over the years we have expanded our product mix to include clothing, books, glassware, candy, awards, software, audio, video, and giftware.  

Despair has been a pioneer in the use of online marketing, including audio and video podcasting, social media, and email marketing. This has enabled us to extend our brand and create a community of followers that we have begun to enlist in the co-creation and promotion of new products. By creating a community of advocates, we have been able to extend our reach with minimal costs.  We were able to drive more traffic to our website with a single video podcast than we were with a catalog that was sent to 2 million addresses.

Despair has also leveraged new technologies to develop a mass customization approach the creation of many of its products.  This has enabled us to develop new products both quickly and with very little risk, reduce waste, improve cash management, and retain product margins. 

  • Co-developed a direct-to-consumer e-commerce company to successfully target and market unique online content to a wide audience. The company ships products around the globe and has been profiled in (or on) The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, London Times, Financial Times, Australian Financial Review, Newsweek Japan, Fast Company, NPR, BBC, CNN, Fox News, Nightline, and many others.
  • Led the transformation of the operation to a "mass customization" production process. This improved cash management by enabling the company to save money on inventory, improved cash flow, and eliminated over 80% annual waste. It also enabled the company to engage in rapid product development and test the market’s receptiveness to new products at a fraction of the cost required for traditional printing production.
  • Led the effort to increase customer engagement with the brand by facilitating user generated, customized products. This transformed the company’s products from simple, functional novelty items to highly personalized gifts that command a premium price.
  • Created several of Despair’s most successful products, including The Art of Demotivation, a book that was widely praised, sold out through two printings, and drove media attention for Despair, Inc.
  • Reduced fees by 28% and improved service by renegotiating the contract and service level agreement with a key service provider.
  • Created international sales channel with UK reseller.
Sep 2000 - Nov 2002

Vice President of Operations

Separate Account Solutions

Separate Account Solutions was a Vertical Applications Company that provided both software & outsourced operations that enabled banks and financial services firms to offer institutional money management services to their high net worth clients.

  • Built service operation from the ground up and was managing live accounts within six months.
  • Oversaw all securities compliance and regulatory issues for the firm.
  • Responsible for hiring and benefits administration. 
  • Led all operational activities for major project to transfer $5 billion in assets for large international private bank to the firm's existing portfolio accounting system.
  • Helped raise more than $5 million in capital funding raised by effectively presenting the firm's value proposition to venture capital firms and investors. 
Dec 1999 - Aug 2000

Director of Testing and Change Control

http://www.verio.com

While working on the Change Management team it became clear that there were technical problems with the enterprise IT systems which were creating resistance to their adoption by regional offices. I was tasked with creating a new department to manage the testing and change control functions across all of the IT systems. This was necessary to restore the credibility of the IT department and get the migration project back on track. 

  • Created processes and policies that required developers to schedule and submit system modifications for testing.
  • Developed on online test reporting tool that provided transparency to developers and helped them understand application failures and system interactions. 
  • Over 95% reduction in errors for enterprise system modifications achieved by rolling out a multi-stage approval process.
  • Oversaw the development of a training program for a proprietary provisioning tool.
  • Established a change control plan to introduce new features into the enterprise IT systems.
  • Enabled the migration project to resume.
Feb 1999 - Dec 1999

Director of Change Management

http://www.verio.com

I was part of a team responsible for migrating local operations of acquired companies to national business systems included billing, sales force automation, service provisioning, and a new network architecture.

  • Worked with local leadership to develop plans to migrate their business and technical operations to national business systems.
  • Developed a communication plan to facilitate the integration of regional branches. 
  • Managed the development and rollout of a national training plan.
  • Successfully migrated three locations to the new services in less than 12 mos. 
Aug 1996 - Feb 1999

Director of Customer Care

http://www.verio.com

Led the operations providing technical customer support for consumer and corporate Internet services. Built department from an initial footprint of 8 employees servicing 1 Internet Service Provider (ISP) to a group of 140 employees servicing 30+ ISPs. Oversaw employee recruiting, career development, performance management, and customer service initiatives. Developed training department to service the needs of the support operation. Acquired and implemented telephony and Web-based knowledge bases to cut costs and improve service offerings.

  • Developed and led national support center for startup ISP that grew 2400% in two years.
  • 20% increase in employee productivity garnered by implementing performance-based programs to track, measure, and improve delivery of customer service across operations.
  • Consistently achieved better than 80% customer satisfaction with support services, 23% higher than the industry average.
  • Improved quality of customer service by simplifying processes that enabled the customer care center to publish branded support information for a growing number of acquisitions.
  • Created internal quality review team to monitor progress, follow up with unhappy clients, and provide recommendations for improvement.
  • Created and implemented process which reduced mean time to resolution for open support cases more than 50%.
  • Led the implementation and continued development of enterprise CRM application. 
  • Developed branded center-within-a-center for Japanese counterparts that enabled us to offer support to Japanese companies with an operational footprint in the US.
  • Managed $7M budget.
  • Represented the support operation to Wall Street analysts and investors.
May 1995 - Aug 1996

Vice President of Operations

Onramp Technologies

Onramp Technologies was the first Internet Service Provider in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. I was originally recruited to oversee the quality of the services being delivered, but quickly became responsible for a variety of organizational development functions. I was put in charge of various "pain points" once they began to impact the operation.

  • Was responsible for most of the recruiting of the non-engineering employees until suitable managers were in place to take over that role.
  • Led the customer support and network operations functions.
  • Developed technical training for sales and support teams. •Developed procedures to support business partners.
  • Part of the leadership team that presented the value proposition to potential investors and acquirers. 
  • Onramp Technologies was acquired by Verio.
Aug 1988 - Aug 1992

Graduate Teaching Assistant

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
  • Communication Consultant, MBA Program, Graduate School of Business.
  • Research Assistant, Center for Crisis Management, Department of Management and Organization, Marshall School of Business.
  • Dean Selection Committee, Graduate Representative

Education

Education
Aug 1988 - May 1992

Ph.D.

University of Southern California

My research focused on how customers were informally "branded" in service organization and how that branding influenced the delivery of customer service. I found that despite the leadership's attempt to position the company as the "high-touch," customer-centric market alternative, some service managers were inadvertently undermining those efforts by supporting and encouraging negative perceptions of customers. These negative perceptions were associated with an increase in service failures, lower customer satisfaction, and increased employee turnover.

Aug 1983 - May 1985

MA

California State University, Fresno - College of Arts and Humanities

Areas of specialization were social influence and instructional communication.

Named a Distinguished Alumnus for the Colleges of Arts and Humanities Centennial Celebration.