Bridging the Gap: The Power of Liberal Arts in the Age of the Algorithm 5/31/2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
5:30 PM–7:30 PM
Gleacher Center
450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr
Room 621
Chicago, IL 60611

Join us for an evening with industry leaders.

Traditional MBA and professional programs are coming up short for many Fortune 500 companies. Instead, top companies and organizations are actively recruiting recent liberal arts graduates to successfully apply the unique skills and techniques taught in the humanities and social sciences to the complex challenges of the business world. Positions such as innovation consultant are coming to the forefront. Why, and how, is this shift happening?

Hosted by the University of Chicago Master of Liberal Arts program, join us for an evening event that explores how to successfully apply the skills and techniques learned in the human sciences to the professional world.

We will begin with a TED-style talk from Christian Madsbjerg—author of Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm and founder of ReD Associates, a private consulting firm that applies humanities expertise to solve commercial problems for Fortune 500 companies such as Ford, Nike, and Adidas.

This presentation will lead into a moderated panel, featuring Christian Madsbjerg, ReD, Don Philips, Morningstar, and Jan Perrino, Consultant. The panel will ask each of them how their company leverages skills found in the liberal arts for professional and commercial gain and how individuals with liberal arts backgrounds can enhance the profitability and reputation of an organization.

Event Agenda

  • 5:30 p.m. | Overview & Introductions: Fred Beuttler, associate dean of liberal arts at the University of Chicago Graham School
  • 5:40–6 p.m. | Keynote: Christian Madsbjerg, Senior Partner of ReD Associates & author of the recent book, Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm
  • 6:10–6:50 p.m. | Panel Discussion: Bridging the Gap: The Power of Liberal Arts in the Age of the Algorithm
    - David Kalt, founder and CEO of
    - Christian Madsbjerg, senior partner of ReD Associates
    - Mark Miller, facilitator
    - Jan Perrino, CEO Perrino & Associates; previously director of global McDonald’s business for Campbell’s and SunOpta
    - Don Phillips, Former CEO & current director of the BoD at Morningstar
    - John Wasik, award-winning journalist
  • 7–7:30 p.m. | Beverages & Networking

About the Speakers

David KaltDavid Kalt is the founder and CEO at Since launching in 2013, David has grown the online marketplace into the most popular music gear website in the world. David started shortly after purchasing the well-known musical instrument shop, Chicago Music Exchange, and growing frustrated with the process of buying and selling guitars online. Prior to that, he made a name for himself as co-founder and CEO of online broker optionsXpress, which he took public in 2005 before the company was sold to Charles Schwab, and as founder of ClientBASE, the first CRM solution for travel agents and tour group operators. David began his career as a recording engineer/producer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in computer science from DePaul University.


Christian MadsbjergChristian Madsbjerg has been leading projects and client programs since ReD’s foundation. Christian holds a specialist role in ReD as director of client relations and focuses on ways to rigorously study human behavior and on ways to understand why particular methodologies need to be applied in order to do so. He writes, teaches, and speaks about the kinds of methods and reasoning needed for fact-based investigations of human activity, emotions, and decision-making processes. He is the author of books on social theory, discourse analysis, and politics. Christian studied philosophy and political science in Copenhagen and London and has a Masters from the University of London.


Mark Miller received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1993 and has taught at the University since 1997. In addition to teaching in the Master of Liberal Arts program, he is an Associate Professor of English at UChicago. Mr. Miller is in the early stages of a book project called The Drive of Psychoanalytic Theory: A Reintroduction to Freud and Lacan. He also teaches and writes about medieval literature and culture, especially Chaucer and other fourteenth century English writers. In 2004, he received the Mark B. Ashin Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Jan PerrinoJan Perrino is the founder of Perrino & Associates and former director of global McDonald’s business for Campbell’s and SunOpta. A 30+ year food industry veteran, Jan’s vision to help food companies deliver solutions that drive top line growth was made possible in 2001when she launched Perrino & Associates, a business consultancy in the areas of business development, marketing and product development. Jan began her career in with Campbell Soup Company, Camden, NJ, where she performed various roles. As global account director with Campbell’s, she was responsible for sales to large-scale worldwide foodservice companies. Prior to the launch of Perrino & Associates, Jan was the Assistant Vice President of Sales at SunOpta Foods (formerly Opta Food Ingredients, Bedford, MA) focusing on sales to global manufacturers of food for the food service and food retail industries. Currently, Jan works with various industry councils, however mentoring and coaching entrepreneurial-minded women and young people are Jan’s true passions. She is also working to pursue her Masters of Liberal Arts degree at the University of Chicago. She earned her undergraduate degree from Illinois State University in Normal, IL. Jan finds support for her endeavors from her husband and business partner, Mike, and three adult children. Jan and Mike reside in Naperville, IL.


Don PhillipsDon Phillips has been one of Morningstar’s managing directors since 2000, and in 2009 became president of fund research. In 2012, his role expanded to president of Morningstar’s Investment Research division, overseeing the firm’s global fund, equity, and credit research. He joined Morningstar in 1986 as its first analyst. He served as vice president and publisher from 1991 to 1996, as president from 1996 to 1998, and as chief executive officer from 1998 to 2000. He has served on Morningstar’s board of directors since August 1999, and he also serves on the board of directors for Morningstar Japan. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas and a master's degree from the University of Chicago.

John Wasik is an award-winning journalist and author of 17 books. As a journalist for over three decades, he’s written more than 1,000 pieces that have focused on business, investing, retirement, and investor protection. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Bloomberg, and Reuters.