Morning Keynote   |   Afternoon Keynote


J Walker Smith

Morning Keynote: The Pivot to Passive: The Consumer Journey in the Digital Tomorrow

J. Walker Smith
Executive Chairman, Kantar Futures

J. Walker Smith is Executive Chairman of Kantar Futures, the leading global foresights and futures research consultancy, that is part of the Kantar Group of WPP, with a core purpose of helping clients “Profit From Change.” Walker has been described by Fortune magazine as “one of America’s leading analysts" on trends, futures and business strategy.  

He is the coauthor of four highly regarded books, including "Rocking the Ages," a book about generations that is now regarded as one of the standards in the field and included in the Cracking the Millionaire Code list of the top 101 books, and "Life Is Not Work, Work is Not Life," selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best work-life books of 2001.

Walker is a much sought-after speaker, a columnist for Marketing News, a blogger, an avid daily tweeter of links to must-read material and a former weekly radio commentator for almost 10 years on Smart City, a public radio show about cities and community life. His presentation at TEDxPeachtree 2012 led off the program. He is a 2012 inductee into the N.C. Advertising Hall of Fame. In 2014, he won the WPP Atticus Award for thought-leadership in Strategy and in 2013 for Consumer Insights. He was a featured expert interviewed by Tom Brokaw for a segment in the 2010 CNBC special, BOOMER$, as well as one of the authorities narrating the “Generation Boom” bonus content included with the Season 7, Part 2 "Mad Men" DVD.

Walker holds a doctorate in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Alison Levine

Afternoon Keynote: On the Edge: The Art of
High-Impact Leadership

Alison Levine
First American Women's Everest Expedition Team Captain and Author of The New York Times Best-seller, "On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Everest and Other Extreme Environments"

Alison Levine served as the team captain of the first American Women's Everest Expedition, scaled the highest peak on every continent, and skied to both the North and South Poles — an accomplishment known as the Adventure Grand Slam, which fewer than 40 people in the world have achieved.

This world-renowned adventurer shares lessons learned from various extreme environments — ranging from Mount Everest to the South Pole — and explains how they apply to business and beyond. Her advice is flat-out contrarian and flies in the face of what you've been told by well-known management gurus and highly-paid executive coaches: encourage big egos, go backward — away from your goal, ignore the rules, ditch the plan, deprive yourself of sleep, and reward failure. But it works for her, and it can work for you too.

Alison provides a roadmap to help you scale whatever big peaks you aspire to climb — be they literal or figurative — by offering practical, humorous, and often unorthodox advice about how to reach your potential as a leader.

In addition to having tackled some of the most extreme environments in the outdoors, Alison spent four years as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership. She is an advisor to the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point and is on the board of the Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics at Duke University. She is the founder of the Climb High Foundation, which trains jobless women in western Uganda to work as trekking guides in the Rwenzori Mountains. She is one of few who have presented at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Her book, "On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Everest and Other Extreme Environments," is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller.

Questions about the conference? Contact UWEBC Member Services and Events Manager Jennifer Anderson at 608-890-1406 or


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