Building Data-Literate Leaders – Panel Discussion

Using data to drive decision-making is vital in today’s workplace. Hear from industry leaders about how data is used in their organization, how to drive data-driven decision-making, and how to nurture a generation of new leaders who understand and value data literacy.


Keri McConnell

Keri McConnell is the executive director of the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute (NMDSI) at Northwestern Mutual. In this role, Keri is leading the creation of the NMDSI, a unique and innovative partnership between Northwestern Mutual, Marquette University and UW-Milwaukee. Keri is a business technology leader who has built her career on two key pillars – identifying systemic connections between strategy and technology and creating learning organizations. Keri brings a wealth of knowledge in designing and directing near-term and long-term strategies while leading and developing high-functioning teams. She was a founder of the analytics practice at Northwestern Mutual during a time of tremendous organizational growth. Keri’s early career was spent in telecommunications filling various operations and technology roles. She earned her MEd from Northeastern University specializing in adult and organizational learning.

Nadiyah Johnson

Nadiyah Johnson currently works at GE Healthcare as a technical product manager in data analytics. She graduated from Marquette University with a master’s in computational science and is currently pursuing a PhD with a focus on computational science and mental health. Her research is predominantly geared
toward mobile health (mHealth). Nadiyah’s research has granted her recognition at several conferences around the globe.

Nadiyah’s passion for diversity in STEM led her to launch her start-up business, Jet Constellations. Jet Constellations is a local software company that functions to promote STEM education in Milwaukee, consult tech-oriented start-ups and build a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs. As the founder, Nadiyah aims to rebrand Milwaukee as “The Milky Way” – a tech hub representative of Milwaukee’s diverse population.

Nadiyah enjoys painting and teaching computer science in her free time. She currently sells her art in pop-up shops at local art fairs. When Nadiyah isn’t painting or working in the community, she is spending quality time with her family.

Paul Poblocki

In his current role as the director of strategy and marketing, Paul leads a team to develop and support strategy and integrated marketing efforts for the Performance Infrastructure business at Johnson Controls. His team gathers, monitors and evaluates market intel to implement data-driven decision marketing and long-term strategic planning. Paul’s team is responsible for driving offerings such as infrastructure renewal, energy efficiency, water efficiency, energy storage, microgrid and renewable energy into the sales organization through competitive insight, market analysis and visualization, marketing communications and inside sales efforts.

Prior to Johnson Controls, Paul was the vice president and general manager of Poblocki Sign Company, Wisconsin’s largest architectural signage firm where he was responsible for the management and growth of Poblocki Sign Company’s Interior Sign Division. During his tenure, he grew the business at 22 percent per year over a nine-year period. Previous experience includes over 15 years in the financial technology sector as vice president and director of marketing for Mortgagebot and various marketing and project management roles at Metavante.

Paul holds a MBA in marketing and information systems from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Marquette University. He is currently an adjunct professor of business analytics at Marquette University and former president of the Business School Alumni Association.

Talithia Williams

A host of the PBS series “NOVA Wonders,” Dr. Talithia Williams is a groundbreaking professor, popular TED speaker, inspiring author and passionate STEM/STEAM advocate. She has made it her life’s work to get people of all ages and backgrounds excited about the bold possibilities of a STEM education and to “STEMpower” women and minorities to enter these professions.

Her latest book, “Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics,” reflects Williams’ passion to rebrand the field of mathematics as anything but dry, technical or male-dominated. Renowned for her popular TED Talk, “Own Your Body’s Data,” she advocates for all of us to deploy data as a way of taking charge of our own health. Dr. Williams demystifies data, statistics, probabilities and the mathematical process in amusing and insightful ways. She also passionately champions the contributions of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians and their vital role in transforming our future.