SVP Business Integration & Strategy, RH
Gene lives to grow businesses, cultivate good taste, and promote great design. Gene started his career as an industrial engineer but soon found himself drawn to strategy and marketing. He earned an MBA from Boston University and entered the world of management consulting with Booz Allen & Hamilton, a global strategy, technology, and engineering consulting firm, working with many Fortune 500 clients including AT&T and the New York Stock Exchange. He later became a partner with Marketing Corporation of America (MCA), a leading marketing services and venture development firm working with scores of blue chip clients including Disney, Apple and Marriott. He moved to San Francisco for love and money and founded his own consulting firm, Intellectual Capital Partners, where he settled into the home retailing industry providing strategic consulting and business development services to leading players like Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware (RH). Gene joined RH in 2016 in the newly created role of SVP Business Integration & Strategy, where he focuses on mid- to longer-range business growth and development. He also leads the RH Members Program, an innovative paid membership program that provides standing discounts and complimentary interior services to its members.
Partner, IA Collaborative
Matt Alverson is a Partner at IA Collaborative, a global design and innovation consultancy. By using design methods, he helps companies realize new growth, overcome market disruptors, and more closely connect with their customers.
Matt has led transformative projects for some of the largest brands in the world, including Nike, Samsung, Audi, Hyatt, Charles Schwab, Steelcase and Herman Miller.
He speaks globally on the value of a “design mind" in business from Mumbil to Shanghai to Silicon Valley. Matt was named a “Breakout Leader” by Chicago Ideas Week, dubbed a “Design Visionary” by the IFA Summit and recognized through his work by SxSW.
In his free time, Matt serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Notre Dame where his course, Design Thinking for Business, has been required for all eMBA students since 2012.
Senior Vice President, California Association of Realtors
Leslie Appleton-Young is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.). Appleton-Young directs the activities of the Association's Member Information Team. S he oversees analysis of housing market and brokerage industry trends, brokers relations , and membership development activities. She is also closely involved in the Association's strategic planning efforts and is a well-known speaker in California’s real estate community. She currently serves on the State Controller’s Council of Economic Advisors and in 2017 was recognized as a Woman of Influence by HousingWire, a prestigious honor to high-achieving women across the U.S. housing economy. Appleton-Young earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. C.A.R. is a statewide trade organization with more than 200,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate.
Senior Vice President, Architecture and Design,
Ann Thompson is senior vice president at Related Midwest. She directs the company’s Architecture and Planning Department and is responsible for architectural design, engineering, zoning and municipal approvals for all of the company’s projects. Since joining Related in 1995, Ms. Thompson has managed numerous residential and mixed-use developments for the company, overseeing the design of nearly 2,700 residences throughout her career. Her notable projects include Park Tower, Residences on Lake Shore Park and 340 on the Park, the first LEED-Silver residential tower in the Midwest. Ms. Thompson was involved with the redevelopment of three stalled condominium towers in the South Loop now known as the South Loop Luxury by Related collection. Additionally, Ms. Thompson has led design efforts for Related Midwest’s luxury rental developments in Chicago: 500 Lake Shore Drive, OneEleven, Landmark West Loop and One Bennett Park.
Ms. Thompson is a licensed architect in Illinois and a member of the American Institute of Architects. She serves on the board for both Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Chicago Loop Alliance and the Women’s Board of the Alliance Français. She received her Bachelor and Master of Architecture degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Founder, Compass South Consulting
Alyssa Hellman is the Founder of Compass South Consulting, a company on a mission to help clients unlock their passion. As a speaker, Alyssa’s goal is to help audiences tackle the modern-day challenges of the business - branding, marketing, lead generation, and life and provide actionable strategies to overcome those challenges and live the life they were meant to live.
After building a successful sales career and earning accolades such as Realtor Magazine's 30 Under 30, Inman News' Top 101 Most Influential People in Real Estate, and the Swanapoel Power200 Top 20 Social Influencers in Residential Real Estate (twice) all before she was thirty years old, she found her true passion when she began helping others succeed. Through an expansive study of leadership, teams, culture, productivity, and so much more, Alyssa has an undeniable knack for connecting with audiences in a genuine way that prompts action.
Each time she gets on stage, she’s laser-focused on one thing: how can we leave here better than we came?
Owner/President, Red Oak Realty
A native New Yorker and a Penn State University graduate, Vanessa started her career in real estate in 2003 in the state of California as a sales agent, moving into management a year later. For three years she ran a large franchise, growing it to the #2 in profitability in the Northern CA region. In the 2007 downturn she left to manage a small, independent brokerage, one year later becoming General Manager of the entire company, and ultimately acquiring the then 35 year old brokerage. Since then, she has rebranded and reshaped the entire organization, moving it from 12th in market share to 3rd. Presently, she oversees 100 sales agents in two offices located in Berkeley and Oakland, California. She has spoken about branding, culture and agent retention at several organizations and conferences including ICSF, ICNY, NAR, RIS Media, REALTOR.COM, California Association of Realtor's and Who's Who in Luxury, Luxury Connect, and Leverage Global Partners. She was part of C.A.R's Strategic Planning and Finance committee through 2017 and is an active participant in organized real estate's state and local level. In 2013 and 2016 she was named as one of Inman's 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate. In 2016 and 2017 she was also named as a Social Influencer on the Swaenpoel Power 200 and Red Oak was ranked 37th in the Top 100 women owned businesses in the SF Business Times. She currently resides in Oakland and Napa County, California with her husband and two children.