Speakers and panelists

Opening remarks

Nicholas Lardy, senior fellow, economics expert, author

An expert on the Chinese economy, Nicholas is the Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He joined the Institute in March 2003 from the Brookings Institution, where he was a senior fellow from 1995 until 2003. Before Brookings, he served at the University of Washington as the director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies from 1991 to 1995. From 1997 through the spring of 2000, he was also the Frederick Frank Adjunct Professor of International Trade and Finance at the Yale University School of Management.

Cover of Lardy's book

Lardy's most recent books are Markets over Mao: The Rise of Private Business in China (2014), Sustaining China's Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis (2012), The Future of China's Exchange Rate Policy (2009), and China's Rise: Challenges and Opportunities (2008). In 2006, he contributed chapters on China's domestic economy and China in the world economy to China: The Balance Sheet (Public Affairs, 2006), while in 2004, he coauthored Prospects for a US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement with Daniel Rosen. His previous book, Integrating China into the Global Economy, published in January 2002, explored whether reforms of China's economy and its foreign trade and exchange rate systems following China's WTO entry would integrate it much more deeply into the world economy.

Lardy is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the editorial boards of Asia Policy and the China Review.

He received his BA from UW-Madison in 1968 and his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1975, both in economics. Learrn more about Nichlolas here»

Bert Barabas, Chief Technology Officer, MIOsoft, Madison, WI

Bert is the Chief Technology Officer for MIOsoft Corporation. Bert helped found MIOsoft in 1998 and has been working on big data solutions ever since including work on scalable and parallel databases, automatic data consolidation, and health care quality analytics. Prior to MIOsoft Bert was an Executive Consultant in IBM’s Object Technology Practice where he worked on large scale customer projects and also led a team in the design and implementation of one of the first automatic object-to-relational bridges. Before IBM Bert was an independent consultant and worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from stock exchange infrastructure to airline frequent flyer systems.

Kurt Bauer, President and CEO, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Madison, WI

Kurt began his trade association career in 1993 as a staff writer and media assistant for the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), the state’s largest financial industry trade group.

In 1996, he was promoted to head WBA’s government relations program. In this role, he was responsible for lobbying the Wisconsin Legislature, state agencies, and members of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation. He left WBA in 2002 to become president/CEO of the Phoenix-based Arizona Bankers Association.

In 2004, he returned to WBA to become its president/CEO, where he oversaw the association’s various banking advocacy, compliance and education efforts, as well as the wholly-owned subsidiaries Financial Institutions Product Corporation (FIPCO) and Employee Benefits Corporation (EBC).

In 2011, Kurt became just the 5th head of Wisconsin Manufacturers manufacturers& Commerce (WMC), the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business trade group. Founded in 1911, WMC represents 3,500 employers of all sizes and from every sector of the economy.

He serves on the boards of the Wisconsin Alumni Association and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership. He is also a member of the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment, Campaign Advisory Council for American Jobs for America’s Heroes, the Wisconsin Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, the Fix the Debt Wisconsin Steering Committee, the Council of State Manufacturers Associations, the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.

Kurt is a graduate of UW-Madison.

Zach Brandon, President, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison, WI

Zach became President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce in November 2012. The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,300 organizations and is focused on creating a foundation for growth for the Greater Madison region. Prior to joining the Greater Madison Chamber Zach was the director of the Wisconsin Angel Network, an early stage investment organization focused on increasing equity investments in Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs. Zach also served as the vice chair of public policy for the national Angel Capital Association.

Previously Zach served as Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and served in the agency’s senior policy and external affairs role. Zach advised the Governor, Commerce Secretary, and the Legislature on global trade and business development strategies with a heavy emphasis on expansion, investment, and entrepreneurial development.

Zach earned a BA in political science with a concentration in management from Kent State University.

Damian Felton, Director, U.S. Commercial Services—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

Damian Felton is the Director for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service office in Milwaukee, WI, where he assists Wisconsin businesses with expanding their export capabilities. Damian comes to Milwaukee by way of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China where he was a primary U.S. government representative ensuring fair and transparent access for U.S. exporters impacted by Chinese trade remedy proceedings.

Before Beijing, Damian worked in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Commerce where he helped to protect U.S. commercial interests from unfair pricing by foreign companies and unfair subsidization of foreign companies by their governments. In this role, he focused on investigations of subsidized imports from China and led verification teams to China to conduct detailed due diligence of foreign companies’ and Chinese government agencies’ financial reporting.

Damian has a BS in accounting from the University of Alabama, and was selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to study at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Executive Education for the Practice of Trade Policy.

Will Hsu, Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Wausau, WI

Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises is a family-owned company that sells and distributes dietary supplements and health and wellness products around the world. Since 1974, they have specialized in growing the highest quality American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius L.). They are the largest grower, producer, and distributor of American Ginseng in the United States. Headquartered in Wausau, WI, they also have 6 branches in North America serving major Chinatown markets in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Toronto, and Vancouver, with additional processing and distribution facilities around the world. Their businesses include Hsu's Ginseng Enterprises, Inc., Hsu Ginseng Farms, and Hsu Growing Supply, as well as 3 companies in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and 3 joint ventures in mainland China.

John Kao, Professor and Director, UW-Madison Shanghai Innovation Office, Madison, WI

John is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement professor of Pharmacy, Surgery & Biomedical Engineering and associate dean of International Studies. He was a member of the delegation that launched the Shanghai Innovation Office—the University of Wisconsin's first overseas office—in June 2012. John has served as the faculty director since then, representing the office on the campus of the UW-Madison, and making regular visits to Shanghai to oversee office activities.

John received his BSE in biomedical engineering (1991) from the Johns Hopkins University, MSE in biomedical engineering (1994), and PhD in macromolecular science (1996) from Case Western Reserve University. He held a dual appointment as a postdoctoral research associate in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland and in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (1996-98). He joined the School of Pharmacy faculty in 1998 and also has a faculty appointment in the Department of Surgery and Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Neil Karolek, President and Co-founder, TLX Technologies, Pewaukee, WI

Neil brings 30-plus years’ experience working both in engineering and business development in the automotive industry. His background includes service with Johnson Controls, a Fortune 100 company, in various positions and ending as product manager for the Vehicle System Engineering Group, gaining significant experience in both domestic and international business dealings with companies such as Ford, Chrysler, and Honda.

Neil successfully served as vice president and general manager of Applied Powers Global Automotive Business Group, a division of Enerpac Corporation. Applied Powers products included valves and solenoids for power steering, anti-lock braking, and active suspension systems sold worldwide to all the major automotive manufacturers.

Connie Li, COO, TrafficCast, Madison, WI

With offices in Madison; Chicago; Philadelphia; Atlanta; and Shanghai, China, TrafficCast is the leader in travel time forecasting and traffic information, developing technology, applications, and content based on advanced digital traffic data. TrafficCast serves the interactive, mobile, enterprise, and public sector markets. As COO, Connie focuses on operations and emerging technology areas for the company, for which she served the previous 4 years as CEO. Before founding TrafficCast, Connie founded and served for several years as CEO of TranSmart Technologies, a traffic and transportation consulting business. She is coauthor of one of the leading traffic flow texts.

Connie received her PhD in transportation engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago, her MS in transportation engineering from the University of Tokyo, and her BS in civil engineering from Tsinghua University, China.

Kening Li, Chief of IP, Miller Canfield, Shanghai

For more than 15 years, Kening has worked with clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies in managing IP assets as an integral part of their comprehensive competition strategy. He is experienced in formulating overall intellectual property strategy, resolving difficult freedom-to-operate obstacles, negotiating licensing agreements, and effectively utilizing existing intellectual property portfolio to strengthen clients' competitive positions. He is highly experienced in worldwide patent prosecution in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and chemical arts, and in patent litigations in both China and the United States and Section 337 investigations before the U.S. International Trade Commission. Kening is especially familiar with legal and commercial issues concerning technology transfer of academic or nonprofit research organizations. He holds a JD and PhD from UW-Madison.

Jennifer Lu, Economic Development Consultan , Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Jennifer has been the international trade representative/economic development consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection since 2010. Originally from Beijing, China, for the past 20 years she has helped many Wisconsin businesses develop their markets in China and Asia. Prior to joining the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Jennifer was an international business consultant, working with businesses in the agriculture, consumer products, and biotechnology sectors. She worked for Fiskars Inc., a global consumer products company as the Asian business development manager, and Promega Corporation,a leading biotech company in Madison, Wisconsin as the Pacific Asia manager. She coordinated the establishment of the first United States-China biotech joint venture, established distributor networks in Asia and overseas branch offices in China and Singapore, and set up a flagship retail store in Beijing. Jennifer studied International Finance at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics in China and received a BS in International Marketing from Baruch College, City University of New York.

Larry McManis, President and CEO, ThinkWay Strategies, Madison, WI

Larry founded ThinkWay Strategies in 2008 after an extensive career at Kraft Foods. ThinkWay provides advisory services in strategy, business case development, strategy execution, business transformation, innovation capabilities including startups, and executive leadership coaching and facilitation. Prior to ThinkWay, Larry was a senior strategy and strategic initiatives leader for Kraft Foods for several years where he led several major transformation initiatives. He was the recipient of multiple awards and the author of 2 patents including Kraft's global new product development process that handles thousands of new products a year. He has done strategic work for Kraft Foods, Mattel, Oscar Mayer, numerous other consumer brands, and has served clients in consumer products, energy, manufacturing, financial services, furniture, and other industries.

Larry holds a BS in agriculture–food science from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from the University of South Dakota.

Paul Mueller, Controller, EVCO Plastics, DeForest, WI

Paul joined EVCO Plastics in January 1986 and was involved with the company's entry into the China market three years later. Since then he has made more than 30 trips to China to oversee EVCO operations and growth. Paul is a graduate of the UW-Madison School of Business. Prior to joining EVCO, Paul received his CPA certificate with accounting firm Grant Thornton and spent five years as the City of Madison's internal auditor. He looks forward to celebrating 30 years with EVCO, a globally recognized custom injection molder.

Ryan Murray, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Ryan became deputy secretary and chief operating officer in July 2012. He previously served as deputy chief of staff and policy and legislative director to Governor Scott Walker for the first 18 months of his administration. He also played a key role as deputy director of Gov Walker's transition, assisting the Gov-Elect in developing his economic development policy agenda. Before joining the Walker for Governor campaign as policy director, Ryan served 5 years as a policy and communications staffer in the Wisconsin State Legislature, including time as a chief of staff.

In his various past capacities, Murray assisted in developing Walker's economic development platform for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, including the creation of a public-private entity to replace the state's Department of Commerce. Ryanassisted in converting the proposal into the necessary legislation and shepherding it through the legislative process culminating in the creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Murray is a native of Superior, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior and Macalester College.

John Ohnesorge UW Law Professor

John teaches Business Organizations and Administrative Law, as well as seminars in Chinese law and in law and economic development in developing countries. He is the former director of the UW-Madison Law School's East Asian Legal Studies Center, former chair of the Wisconsin China Initiative, and a member of both the Wisconsin China Initiative Leadership Committee and the Shanghai Innovation Office Steering Committee.

A native of Minneapolis, John received his BA from St. Olaf College (1985), his JD from the University of Minnesota (1989), and his SJD from Harvard Law School (2002). Along the way he spent several years in East Asia, first as a teacher and law student in Shanghai in the 1980s, and then as a lawyer in private practice in Seoul in the 1990s.

During the course of his SJD studies, he spent a year as a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and Public International Law in Heidelberg, Germany, on a fellowship from Harvard's Center for European Studies. In 2000 he served as a lecturer at Harvard Law School, co-teaching with Professor William P. Alford.

Andrew Schutz, Associate, GDLSK

Andrew is an associate in GDLSK’s Washington, DC office. He focuses on representing foreign companies, foreign governments, and U.S. importers in antidumping duty and countervailing duty proceedings before the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. He also represents clients in litigation before the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit. He has represented the government of China in numerous countervailing duty proceedings before the agencies and the courts, and is also a licensed customs broker. Andrew has lectured frequently to visiting foreign lawyers on the U.S. countervailing duty law as part of the International Law Institute’s education outreach program and has co-authored several papers addressing the U.S. countervailing duty laws as well as a chapter in Doing Business in China (3rd Ed.). He was selected as a 2014 “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers.

Fude Wang, Vice President at Discover Financial Services (DFS)

Fude just returned from China after serving as the general manager of Discover Information Technology (Shanghai) Limited, a subsidiary of DFS. In 6 years, he built an organization of more than 150 talented employees, providing decision analytics services for DFS' global businesses. Fude had 15 years of business and academic experience in the United States before Shanghai. He holds a PhD from Cornell University.

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