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John Folkers and Jessica Wettstein: BEI Speaker Q&A

Videojet Technologies relies on revolutionary engineering to deliver groundbreaking solutions to consumers worldwide. At this year’s BEI conference, you will have the chance to meet a few of the innovative muscle flexors behind these solutions.

Videojet’s Chief Technology Officer, John Folkers, and Director of Product Planning, Jessica Wettstein, will be leading a workshop entitled, “Ready, Set, Innovate: How Videojet Built an Innovation Engine to Double its Growth Rate.” This topic was inspired by a growing industry trend to realign key performance metrics and to rethink where company time and money is being invested.

Before they show you how to flex your innovation muscles, we wanted to learn a little bit more about who they are and why they do what they do.

BEI suggests that the back end is the most critical part of the innovation process. Do you agree? Why or why not?

John Folkers: The front end and back end are both critically important. You need to do the legwork upfront to identify unmet needs of customers, but equally you must also do the heavy lifting of delivering it to the customer. Doing both well defines winning.

How can an organization position itself for innovative strength?

Jessica Wettstein: By creating organizational structures where some employees focus on the future while others focus on the present, companies can ensure that they are striking the right balance between creating a vision for the future and maintaining efficient processes.

JF: Pure and simple, it is hiring innovative talent and letting them do their stuff. With this, an organization must also develop the next generation of innovators. It starts, however, with building a team of motivated and proven innovators. We’ll discuss this in our workshop on October 24.

What motivates you?

JF: Commercial success. It matters that customers believe our products are the best.

JW: Talking with customers, discovering their needs, and working together with teams to find solutions to those needs. There’s nothing more satisfying than customers telling you they feel heard.

Do you have any patents?

JF: I have over 10 patents covering ink and hardware technologies. I am strong believer in the value of patents and work closely with my team to ensure we have the best portfolio of technology and patents in the industry.

JW: I have 5 patents associated with processing multiple data streams using different encoding schemes and converting those data streams into label images with variable data content. It changed the way customers were able to store and transmit that data to their printers, eliminating complex middleware.

What was your first job?

JW: Straight out of college I joined Zebra Technologies as a Firmware Engineer. In that role, I was given the opportunity to work on many innovative products and features. This experience ultimately defined my career path and follow this passion.

JF: I started my professional career creating new inks at Videojet. My first job was actually stocking shoes at a local K-Mart in high school. I only stayed there about 4 months until I got a better job at a hospital as a janitor. That job paid for college.

And finally, what was the last book you read?

JF & JW: As a team, we are reading The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen. As Videojet continues to look at how to evolve our processes around identifying new areas of the market we can serve and how we can innovate, this has been a book we are all using to be able to speak a common language.

Make sure to join John and Jessica at their BEI 2017 workshop to learn how to make the most of your

organization’s innovation opportunities.

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John Folkers is a global Research & Development leader on engineered and chemical products with nearly a decade of experience leading all aspects of R&D. As Chief Technology Officer at Videojet Technologies Inc., part of the Danaher Corporation, he is responsible for R&D for Videojet, Linx, and Foba, leading the development of the industry’s most innovative products. The Videojet R&D team, with sites in the US, UK, Germany, China, India, and Russia, designs and develops new industrial coding printers, designs inks for the printers, and creates software that connects the printers. John started his career at Videojet in 1995 and has been leading R&D since 2008. He graduated from University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Jessica Wettstein is responsible for creating a future vision of Videojet’s marking and coding products. As the Director of Product Planning, she leads a team in understanding customer needs, leveraging industry insight, and defining winning market requirements for the next generation of products. Previously, Jessica worked for Zebra Technologies, a leading producer of label printers. There she served as a Firmware Engineer and later as a Product Manager, managing multiple product lines and leading the development of several new printer products. Jessica earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Engineering and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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