Gies Business and Solstice: Leaders in innovation


Gies College of Business is committed to leading the world in innovation and life-changing access to business education at the both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Gies Business brings that mission to life by creating an environment where purposeful leaders get the tools they need to pursue their passion to make the world a better place. The College calls it Business on Purpose.
To show this approach in action, Dean Jeffrey Brown will join a discussion with the leadership team of Solstice, which helps Fortune 500 companies develop high-speed cultures of innovation and seize new opportunities. The University of Illinois played an integral role in preparing the eventual founder and leadership team of Solstice to become an industry leading digital innovation firm. Headquartered in Chicago, with offices in New York, London, and Buenos Aires, Solstice is in the heart of the largest population of passionate alumni.



March 12, 2019
Chicago Marriott Naperville

1801 North Naper Boulevard, Naperville, IL  60563

6:00 - 6:45 p.m. Registration & Networking

6:45 - 7:15 p.m. Program begins

7:15 - 8:45 p.m. Panel discussion 

8:45 - 9:00 p.m. Q&A

Heavy hors d' oeuvres provided with cash bar

Ticket Price:

Individual $35
Table of Eight* $250

*For more information about table and event sponsorship contact, for details.

Click here to buy tickets!!!

Get to know the panel

Jeffrey R. Brown
Josef & Margot Lakonishok Professor of Business and Dean
Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jeffrey Brown is the Josef and Margot Lakonishok Endowed Professor of Business and Dean of Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also serves as a professor of finance and was the founding director of the Center for Business and Public Policy. Jeff is co-director of the Disability and Retirement Research Center at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in Cambridge, MA; a trustee and chair of the Investment Committee for TIAA; a member of the Governing Board of the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ); vice chair of the Board of Managers of UI Singapore Research LLC; and a member of the Advisory Board of the Urban Institute/Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center. Previously, he has served as a senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He earned his PhD in economics from MIT, his MPP from Harvard, and his BA from Miami University (Ohio).
Dan Kardatzke
Gies College of Business '96
President and Chief Financial Officer
Dan Kardatzke is the President & CFO of Solstice, a Chicago-based, digital innovation firm serving the Fortune 500. At Solstice, Dan leads the global operations team along with a variety of other strategic projects. Over the last 6 years, Dan helped lead Solstice through its double digit growth trend as Solstice expanded heavily in Chicago, New York, Buenos Aires, and London. Prior to Solstice, Dan has held a variety of roles in the technology & services sector along with co-founding a software start-up that was sold to Google. Dan is also committed to giving back to the community that supports him and is the board chair for Volunteers of America of Illinois and a member of the alumni board for the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. dan150
Marisa Mann
College of Fine and Applied Arts '98
Chief Operating Officer
Marisa Mann has over 20 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries, working on large scale enterprise initiatives. Mann is passionate about how the endless possibilities technology enables the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving excellence in the consumer experience. She is a leader with proven ability to define opportunities, identify trends, and outline strategy and roadmap within an organization. Mann is a motivated, results-driven COO, excelling in the planning and execution of programs for enterprise clients. Mann has an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Prior to Solstice, she worked at JP Morgan Chase and Accenture.
Gregg Wheeler
Gies College of Business '96
Chief Growth Officer
Gregg Wheeler is the Chief Growth Officer at Solstice, a Chicago-based, digital innovation firm serving the Fortune 500. Gregg is responsible for driving growth at Solstice, and leads the global Demand organization which includes the Sales, Partnerships, Marketing and Business Development teams. Prior to Solstice, Gregg held a variety of roles in the technology sector at Accenture, JP Morgan Chase, and two tech startups. Gregg studied Finance at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. Gregg is also committed to giving back to the community by serving as an active supporter of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago through his fundraising and volunteer efforts.
Eric Rosenzweig
College of ACES '98
Managing Director of Financial Services
Eric Rosenzweig is the Managing Director of Financial Services at Solstice. Solstice, part of Kin & Carta, is a Chicago headquartered digital innovation firm serving the Fortune 500. Eric has played a number of roles at Solstice for over 10 years and currently leads its financial services practice. Before joining Solstice, Eric held a variety of roles in the technology and financial services sectors, from working at startups like to trading international futures and wholesaling sub-prime mortgages. However, after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his first job was as a flight instructor at, what is now, Chicago Executives Airport. Eric supports his community by serving on the board of the La Grange Park Little League and participating in charity fundraising events to benefit Lurie Childrens Hospital and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Paul Heckel
College of Liberal Arts '99
Vice President of Solution Delivery

Paul Heckel is the Vice President of Customer Experience at Solstice and leads the firm's User Experience (UX), Product, and Strategy consulting practices. His 19 years of professional experience span across a variety of technology domains. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Masters of Science in Technology Management from the University of Maryland. His diverse professional background includes hands-on experience in 17 foreign countries. Outside of technology, Paul’s passions include international travel, soccer, and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. He is a Chicagoland native and currently resides in Andersonville with his wife Candice.

J Schwan
College of Engineering '97
Chief Executive Officer of Kin+Carta

J Schwan founded Solstice, a digital innovation firm, and scaled it to 400+ employees across Chicago, New York and Buenos Aires. J sold Solstice to Kin + Carta, plc (KCT.L) in 2015. In 2018, J became CEO of Kin + Carta.      

J received his Bachelors in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and began his career at Accenture. J has been inducted into the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, is an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist, was awarded the University of Illinois College of Engineering Young Alumnus of the Year award and is a multi-year recipient of the Tech Week 100.  J is on the Foundation Board of Lurie’s Children Hospital in Chicago and is a former YPO Chicago chapter board member.



6:00PM - 9:00PM Tue 12 Mar 2019, Central timezone


Chicago Marriott Naperville
1801 North Naper Boulevard
Naperville , IL 60563

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