Gemic

Meet the Gems

We are a team of serious thinkers and collaborators.

Explore the methods that power our engine room

Aditi Surie von Czechowski

Senior Strategist

Aditi Surie von Czechowski

Aditi is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s Berlin office.

Aija-Rose Farnill

Operations Coordinator

Aija-Rose Farnill

Aija-Rose is Gemic’s Operations Coordinator based in New York.

She believes that the best operational practices are driven by empathy and efficiency. She brings nine years of professional experience managing inventory, events, and communication in several complex industries including, arts non-profit, publishing, digital fabrication, private household management, and health tech.

Aija-Rose is a graduate of SUNY Ulster, a public community college in upstate New York where she studied Art History and Graphic Design. She has earned certificates in Brand Management and Illustration from the School of Visual Arts and is pursuing a degree in Labor Relations from the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. 

Alex Cheston

Strategy Lead

Alex Cheston

Alex is a Strategy Lead based in Gemic’s New York office. 

He believes that culture can be measured; in sales volume, likes and other digital artifacts we create every day. At Gemic, he works to quantify culture for companies ranging from CPG to consumer tech, helping business leaders parse the hype from the real opportunity. 

Alex graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in English. Prior to joining Gemic, he worked in international development through the Princeton in Africa Fellowship in Kampala, Uganda. Outside of work, Alex loves adventure sports and spends his sunny Saturdays kitesurfing in Brooklyn. 

Anna Schwarz

Strategy Lead

Anna Schwarz

Anna is a Strategy Lead in Gemic’s Berlin Office.

In her thinking, she has been influenced deeply by the idea of “adaptive leadership”, the notion on how in times of constant changes, the ability to adapt and thrive in challenging environments is critical. Anna brings a rich portfolio of experiences in accompanying complex change in various settings. In her experience, whenever people face change they share a fundamental need for leadership that provides clarity, direction and vision.

Anna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology Management from TU Munich and an honours degree from CDTM Munich. She also holds a Master in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy school of Public Policy. Prior to Gemic, Anna worked for the strategy consulting firm BCG, specialising in the energy and public sector, with a lens on innovation. Next to her work, Anna is engaged in building job markets for people fleeing from war zones, with her initiative Imagine Ukraine. 

Arth Gupta

Strategist

Arth Gupta

Arth is a Strategist out of Gemic’s Toronto office.

Basil Towers

Senior Advisor

Basil Towers

Basil is a Senior Adviser based in London.

He brings decades of experience advising leading organisations on trustworthiness. He believes that trust is an under-developed sources of advantage for businesses. He also believes that the Corporate Affairs function has even greater potential to help their organisation earn material trust.

With over 40 years consulting experience, 25 of which in building his own businesses, Basil has undertaken research and advised companies in the US, EMEA and Asia.

He is an Honorary Fellow of Glyndwr University where he was a governor. He helped establish the Corporate affairs Academy in partnership with the Centre for Corporate Reputation at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.

Behzad Sarmadi

Director

Behzad Sarmadi

Behzad is a Director based in Gemic’s Toronto office.

He believes in the combined power of Social Science and Human-Centered Design to identify new product and service opportunities while generating the actionable strategies required to unlock them for clients, their customers, and stakeholders. 

Behzad has honed this ability across client-side and agency-side roles, from steering exploratory innovation projects detailing new lines of business to the design and de-risking of new products to enable them. He holds a PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and specializes in the social study of finance, technology, and identity. Prior to joining Gemic, Behzad led design research initiatives for AI product teams and helped clients discover customer-facing AI opportunities while working at Element AI. 

On the weekends, he enjoys cycling with his son. 

Benjamin Pape

Strategy Lead

Benjamin Pape

Benjamin is a Strategy Lead based out of Gemic’s Berlin office.

Benjamin truly enjoys immersing himself in the worlds of consumers, patients and health care professionals and other people to gain real insights into their lives, desires, needs and challenges. He’s done this most recently on projects for clients in the smartphone, pharmaceutical, chocolate, cosmetic and other industries. An ethnographer and innovation consultant, Benjamin draws on his experience cultivating and developing insights to help brands rethink their central offerings and core value propositions.

Before Gemic, Benjamin worked at the innovation consultancy ReD Associates in Copenhagen, New York, and London. In his free time, he is a passionate jazz drummer, downhill skier, and bread-baker. Benjamin holds a degree in Communication & Cultural Management from Zeppelin University (Friedrichshafen, Germany) and Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia).

Bernardo Presser

Visual Communications Lead

Bernardo Presser

Bernardo is Gemic’s Visual Communications Lead based in the Berlin office.

He believes visual design is an instrument for fostering clarity, understanding and action. Bernardo has honed his ability to tell stories visually through his background in the editorial, web and information design fields. He has also helped brands transform strategy into visual expression. 

Bernardo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Santa Catarina Federal University and a Master’s degree in Information Design from the University of Reading. Prior to Gemic, Bernardo has worked as a designer at an independent publishing house, co-founded a design studio in Brazil, and worked for a fintech startup in London. When not working, he can be found admiring the beauty of vernacular graphic design he finds on the streets.

Caroline Laidlaw

Director of Operations

Caroline Laidlaw

Caroline is Gemic’s Global Director of Operations

Results oriented and empathetic, Caroline believes that no initiative can be successful without the involvement of the people who it aims to empower. Leveraging this philosophy, she brings over 10 years of operational and project delivery experience,  managing the lifecycle of strategy and innovation projects and enabling teams to yield human-centered solutions to complex problems. 

Caroline is Prince 2 certified and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland, with a major in Psychology. Formerly at Idea Couture, she led delivery excellence initiatives, the creation and management of a Project Management Office, and the integration of project delivery and operational systems into those of the parent company post-acquisition.

Charles Halvorson

Strategy Lead

Charles Halvorson

Charles is a Strategy Lead based in Gemic’s New York office. 

Recognizing that the present already holds the future, Charles uses his insight as a historian to help companies discern what will be valuable tomorrow and develop winning strategies to capture that value. 

Charles received his PhD in History from Columbia University, where his research explored the translation of popular ideas about environmental value into public policy over the past half-century. Prior to joining Gemic, Charles was a visiting professor at Wesleyan University. Forever a historian, Charles loves thinking deeply with clients about change over time.

Christian Laheij

Senior Strategist

Christian Laheij

Christian is a Senior Strategist out of Gemic’s Berlin office.

He believes in the power of holistic insight to drive the creation of valuable futures. Attentive to the productive interspace between what is, and aspiration, he helps clients uncover lived experiences of consumers as well as emergent perspectives that shape tomorrow’s world.

Christian received his PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics. Prior to Gemic, he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany where his research explored dynamics of cultural change, radical uncertainty and urban transformation.

Constance Mueller-Trimbusch

Operations Lead

Constance Mueller-Trimbusch

Constance is the Operations Lead in Gemic’s Europe offices.

She believes in human connection, data based decision making and efficient process design to reach strategic goals and create an environment that serves a company’s purpose and people alike.

Constance is a certified Scrum Master and holds a BA(hons) from European Business School in London. She started her career as a Lean Process Consultant. Later she headed the Operations Controlling at the pharmaceutical company Merckle/ratipharm and led a number of large Operations teams in the E-commerce / Tech environment of Zalando. In her spare time she studies Hindi, enjoys hiking and travels with family and friends.

Dave Archer

Senior Advisor

Dave Archer

Dave is a consumer insight and market strategy expert with 32 years of experience in identifying opportunities for Procter and Gamble to launch and grow brands and businesses. He was inducted into P&G’s ‘Brand Mastery Society’ in recognition of a life-long career of brand-building. He’s guided the launch, growth and sometimes the revitalizing of dozens of household-name brands in multiple countries, categories, and market contexts.

Dave’s skills in insights and pattern recognition, honed over decades, enable him to rapidly ‘see the wood for the trees’ and highlight where to focus to maximize the value of your ideas for both you and your customers.

Dave received a first-class honors degree and MA in Human Geography from Cambridge University, and has served on the advisory boards of several US universities.

David Alworth

Strategy Lead

David Alworth

David is a Strategy Lead based in Gemic’s New York office.

He believes that the best strategy discovers clarity in ambiguity to create meaningful change for clients, partners, and society at large.

With over a decade of experience in global higher education, he is currently a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Business and Government and an award-winning author of multiple books on art, design, and social theory. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

David Ginsborg

Strategist

David Ginsborg

David is a Strategist based in Europe.

An anthropologist by training, David is supremely interested in the stories that people tell about themselves. And as a strategy consultant, his aim is to help clients become a transformative part of those stories, in a positive and empowering way.

Originally, from Florence, Italy, David has a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. In his academic research prior to Gemic, he explored questions of individual and collective self-cultivation and cultural change from the somewhat unusual perspective of hardcore football fandom. He is an experienced and highly analytical field researcher.

Devika Kumar

Strategist

Devika Kumar

Devika is a Strategist based out of Gemic’s New York office.

Driven by curiosity and a commitment to following her intuition, Devika believes a multi-disciplinary perspective is key to understanding human decision-making outside of a one-dimensional, homo economicus framework. In her work, she delivers growth strategies that sit at the intersection of generations, cultures, and spaces, with an understanding that sustainability has to underpin any system bent on success.

Devika graduated with Special Honors in International Relations and Global Studies, Economics, and Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining Gemic, she led research in sustainability, circularity, and international environmental regulation at an Austin-based research lab. When she’s away from her computer, Devika can be found testing new blends of hojicha tea at home or creating something new at the local pottery studio.

Elisabeth Bennett

Director of Strategy

Elisabeth Bennett

Elisabeth is a Director based in Gemic’s Toronto office.

Over the past 13 years, Elisabeth has been immersed in both brand and innovation strategy worlds, namely within life sciences, health delivery, consumer health and technology sectors. She has a passion for human understanding and delivering solutions that is deeply shaped by her philosophy that good strategy is both a critical and creative endeavour.

Elisabeth came to Gemic from her role as Head of Strategy of the Health Team at innovation firm Idea Couture, and since joining Gemic has led the growth of both the Toronto team and the Health & Wellbeing practice. She holds a diploma in Fashion Design and a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology, Literary Studies and Political Science from The University of Toronto.

Harper Hagedorn

Director of Strategy

Harper Hagedorn

Harper is a Director of Strategy at Gemic.

She believes that the most powerful brands are those that do not rely on constant competitive audits, but stay true to what they are all about. Carving out and deploying a unique position in the world as a means for innovation is Harper’s specialty. She has led this kind of thinking for brands across industries and around the globe.

Prior to joining Gemic, she led brand strategy for MINI within the BMW Group, growing the brand value by 35%, according to Interbrand Top 100 rankings. Previously, Harper worked at the innovation agency, Redscout, and global advertising companies, like Ogilvy & Mather. Her work spans categories, from automotive and consumer packaged goods, to fitness and media, to e-commerce and cultural institutions, to real estate and non-profits. She won an Effie for her strategy work within CPG, conceived award-winning new products in food and beverage, and starred in a national campaign of one key client. 

Harper has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Vermont and is a born and bred New Yorker

Ian Beacock

Senior Strategist

Ian Beacock

Ian is a Senior Strategist in Gemic’s Toronto office.

He believes that transformational strategies emerge from a clear understanding of what’s most deeply at stake for people, organizations, societies, and the planet. And he knows that inclusive and participatory processes drive the most visionary insights and sustainable solutions.

To his practice at Gemic, Ian brings 10+ years of experience in academia, public policy, and journalism. Originally trained as a historian (PhD Stanford), he has worked with complex organizations across a wide range of industries, from healthcare systems and technology companies to several world-leading public transit agencies. In 2020, he coauthored a report on Covid-19 communications that was featured in The New York Times and attracted the attention of public health officials worldwide. As a critic and journalist, Ian has written for The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere. He remains a frequent contributor to The New Republic.

Sometimes he can be found far away from his computer screen, running along the water or settling into a woodsy cabin for a cozy weekend retreat.

Jahmel Edwards

Finance Lead

Jahmel Edwards

Jahmel is Gemic’s Finance Lead based in our Toronto office.

He believes that an effective and impactful Finance function is based on transparency, accuracy, and a forward-looking mindset to changing business needs. 

Jahmel graduated from York University with a double degree in Business Administration and History. Before Gemic, he has worked for 8 years in technology and professional services. 

James Hamilton

Senior Strategist

James Hamilton

James is a Senior Strategist based in our London office.

He is passionate about helping organisations to improve their decision-making by thinking very deliberately about the human values that underpin the attitudes and behaviours of the people they are trying to reach.

James holds a BA in Human, Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Before Gemic, he worked in the Office of the Founder/CEO at a FTSE 100 home services conglomerate and as a staffer to Members of Parliament in the UK House of Commons.

Outside of Gemic, he can be found struggling to convince people that he is in fact fully Swedish or showing people pictures of his two cocker spaniels, Bella and Minnie.

Jana Jevtic

Senior Strategist

Jana Jevtic

Jana is a Senior Strategist in Gemic’s Toronto office.

She brings the belief that foresight is a capacity to cognize change and consequence and inform action in the present. At Gemic, Jana links foresight to action to develop winning strategies, and provide insights into cultures, perspectives, and interests that lay the foundations for the future people want to create.

Jana earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Central European University, where she studied the intersection of Islamic ethical traditions and consumer boycotts in Europe, North America, and the Middle East. She continues to remain active in academic spheres, both teaching and publishing.

Jehanne Wyllie

Director of Strategy

Jehanne Wyllie

Jehanne is a Director of Strategy in Gemic’s New York office, where she also spearheads Gemic’s thought leadership.

She believes that the most impactful brands tell the most compelling stories, not just about goods, but about the future; and not just through marketing, but through a unique value logic, innovation process and exchange with everyday people. As a result, she embraces challenges that combine insight, strategy and innovation, helping to galvanize and focus growth around a clear future vision for companies in the tech, luxury, apparel and CPG space.

Jehanne graduated from Williams College with degrees in English Literature and American Studies. As a national Herchel Smith Fellow, she went on to study Anthropology at Cambridge University and apprentice at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. A quintessential millennial, she boasts several occupational past lives and stints overseas that shape her self image as “a woman who knows a little about a lot.”

Jere Seikkala

Director of Strategy

Jere Seikkala

Jere is a Director in Gemic’s Berlin office. 

He believes that human value and business value intertwine, focusing his efforts on helping European companies align their strategy with emerging paradigms of what people truly find meaningful. Over several years at Gemic, he has duly guided business leaders across FMCG, finance, tech and luxury toward sustained growth, helping them identify and innovate around new engines of value in European, Asian and American markets.  

Jere holds a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics. Prior to Gemic, he worked in a variety of fields ranging from construction and nursing, to manufacturing and foreign affairs, which trained him to intuitively connect pragmatic know-how with abstract theoretical knowledge. Wherever he is in the world, he likes to start the day with a run, soaking in all he can of the local air and culture.

Jessica Hamel-Akre

Senior Strategist

Jessica Hamel-Akre

Jessica is a Senior Strategist in Gemic’s London office.

She has over 10 years academic experience in deep historical, textual, and philosophical analysis, Jessica explores how people navigate moral life with everyday storytelling and material culture. She believes that the future can be found somewhere between the real and the imagined, and with her interdisciplinary approach, she aims to reveal the meaning within the belief systems we use to ground our daily experiences. Before joining Gemic, she worked as a research fellow in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge where she studied the intellectual and cultural history of women’s appetite control, dietary medicine, and body image. 

Jessica holds a PhD in English, plus a specialization in Gender Studies, from the University of Montreal. She is also a creative writer and an avid home seamstress.

Johannes Suikkanen

Founder & Chairman

Johannes Suikkanen

Johannes is the Founder and Chairman of Gemic. Based in New York, he advises executives in fashion, automotive, tech and FMCG on how to respond to cultural, structural and behavioral change.

To do this, he believes in starting with the right questions: What business are banks really in? What role do “indulgences” actually play in our lives? Where is the value in being an “iconic” brand? In helping executives arrive at the right questions, Johannes has helped top-tier companies define their markets and create meaningful value for shareholders and everyday people. 

Johannes received his Master’s degree in Business and Culture studies from Copenhagen Business School and studied at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Besides serving as a mentor across Gemic’s professional and intellectual community, he is an avid Arctic skier.

Jun Lee

Partner

Jun Lee

Jun is a Partner in Gemic’s New York Office, where he brings 20 years of experience in research and product development in communications, digital media use, automotive mobility, and home life. 

His long career has been defined by a desire to understand why people embrace, reject, and in some cases, appropriate technologies in unanticipated ways. At Gemic, this translates into a desire to help companies reimagine the ways technology might change how people work, socialize, and connect to one another. 

Jun has a Master’s degree in Design from the Institute of Design and an BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University and has lived abroad in Seoul and Copenhagen before returning to New York.

Justin Harnoss

Partner

Justin Harnoss

Justin is a Partner based in Gemic’s Berlin office. 

As a digital entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience developing successful business models and a former Product Owner and Agile Coach, he is passionate about translating strategy into actual products and coaching agile teams to work at their best.  

Justin holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and an MSc in International Management from Instituto de Empresa, Madrid. Before Gemic, he worked at McKinsey & Company leading strategy and innovation projects across firms such as Siemens, BMW, Deutsche Bank, and Adidas. Later he served as COO to Digital McKinsey’s Berlin Studio, growing the design and engineering team and building new technology businesses for clients from scratch. An Improvisation Theater enthusiast, Justin sometimes performs in Berlin. 

Katalin Kleemann

Director of Strategy

Katalin Kleemann

Katalin is a Director at Gemic’s New York office.

She believes that good strategy is all about helping organizations shape clear pathways towards an internally shared vision of a desirable future, based on a thorough and systemic understanding of today’s reality as well as a good dose of logic, creativity, and cultural awareness.

Katalin has 10+ years of industry experience (focused on CPG, food and beverages, consumer health and technology) and holds a Master’s degree in Communications from the University of Arts Berlin. A born and raised German and half Hungarian who has traveled extensively, while living in London and New York for most of her adult life, she has not only developed strong cultural fluency but also a rather odd accent.

Keane Knapp

Senior Strategist

Keane Knapp

Keane is a Senior Strategist in Gemic’s Toronto office.

Laura Murray

Senior Strategist

Laura Murray

Laura is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s Toronto office.

She is a global researcher and human insights expert. Trained in anthropology,  semiotics, and filmmaking, she specializes in using ethnography and social theory frameworks to illuminate overlooked, unknown, and emergent facets of lived experience. She is committed to building groundbreaking business strategy on the basis of real human emotion, desire, and need.

Laura holds a PhD in Anthropology from New York University, as well as an M.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from the University of Toronto.

Laura Sancken

Senior Strategist

Laura Sancken

Laura is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s New York office.

She believes that good strategy centers people and their needs, values, and relationships. She has a fascination with systems-thinking, organizational design, and multi-disciplinary approaches to aligning culture and business strategy.

Laura brings over a decade of strategy experience in the arts, education, and philanthropy sectors. She applies a strong mission and impact-driven lens to her work. Laura holds a M.S. in arts administration from Drexel University and a B.A. in music, management and women’s studies from St. Olaf College.

Lindsay McComas

Operations Lead

Lindsay McComas

Lindsay is Operations Lead in Gemic’s New York office, where she brings 16 years of administrative support and operations experience

Lindsay believes that a careful, yet efficient approach to Operations Management is key to cultivating a successful office culture. She brings a wealth of technical knowledge of office systems, policies, and procedures married with quick thinking, excellent customer service, and communication skills. 

Lindsay holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Susquehanna University, a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Prior to Gemic, Lindsay worked for an interior design & architecture firm specializing in public libraries and cultural institutions, affording her the opportunity to learn more about service design, community engagement strategies and processes, and strategic planning practices.

Liubava Shatokhina

Research Lead

Liubava Shatokhina

Liubava is Research Lead in Gemic’s Helsinki office. 

She believes that anthropological imagination paired with critical thinking can uniquely inform complex business decisions. Intensely curious about human behavior and the cultural factors that shape it, Liubava has worked with companies across automotive, tech, food, facility management and more to develop systemic approaches to innovation and growth. 

Liubava holds three master’s degrees, in the philosophy of culture, comparative sociology, and cultural anthropology. Before joining Gemic, Liubava worked as a researcher at the Center for Science and Technology Studies at the European University at St. Petersburg, taught social science in and outside academia, and organized art events to foster social change. She is an avid fan of art film: there is a good chance she has been to your local independent movie theater.

Louis Elton

Senior Strategist

Louis Elton

Louis is a Senior Strategist based in our London office.

He believes that the most thrilling innovation comes from the alchemy of combining disparate ideas and methods from multiple disciplines. Louis brings a wealth of niche expertise, insatiable curiosity, and a passion for generating unique and useless thoughts and speculations.

Louis was trained as a chef at Leiths School of Food and Wine. He then graduated with a BA in Theology, Religious Studies, and the Philosophy of Religion from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet from the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. 

Before Gemic, he spent his early career juggling artificial intelligence policy and working at a beloved fermented foods laboratory under a railway arch in London. Outside of Gemic, he can be found eating, drinking, walking his poodle Moses Mendelsohn — and obsessively doing the washing up at 2 am while listening to audiobooks.

Mara Block

Director of Strategy

Mara Block

Mara is a Director of Strategy in Gemic’s New York office.

By uncovering what’s meaningful to consumers across different industries, she leads organizations to better business decision-making. Her work at Gemic involves two main functions: 1) immersing herself in the worlds of everyday people to explore changing relationships to things like health, money, time, identity, and technology; and 2) developing commercial strategies out of a deep understanding of the human experience. 

Before joining Gemic, Mara’s advisory work spanned projects ranging from designing an innovative operating model for a new university in an emerging market to developing a human-centric go-to-market strategy for a big data consultancy. A teacher at heart, Mara is a former professor who developed award-winning courses on anthropology and global health & health policy at Harvard University. Mara is also a flying trapeze instructor. She holds a PhD in religion and the history of medicine from Harvard and a BA in physics from the University of Redlands.

Mara Stolzenbach

Strategist

Mara Stolzenbach

Mara is a Strategist is Gemic’s New York office.

An anthropologist by training, Mara focuses on how our everyday sensibilities serve to prefigure, inform, and reproduce broader socio-political phenomena. Her expertise lies in understanding how virtual and online communities– from gamers to influencers and chat forums – construct and navigate a sociality through the architecture of their respective digital worlds. In the past, Mara has worked on research projects covering content moderation methods, political conspiracy theories, online toxic masculinity, playtesting in video games, barriers to transgender healthcare in New England, and financial literacy in Maine. 

Mara holds a BA with Honors distinction in Anthropology and Politics from Bates College. Prior to Gemic, she has worked in interfaith engagement, LGBTQ+ youth programming and mentorship, and political consulting.

Marc Mercer

Managing Director

Marc Mercer

Marc is Gemic’s Managing Director for the EMEA region, based in our London office.

He believes that trust and reputation are critical, strategic assets for the defence, sustainability and growth of any organisation. Behind these assets lies a myriad of considerations that should be shaped through deep insights, such as organisational culture, governance, brand and strategic communications, for example. Marc brings a wealth of experience in advising leaders and their organisations on culture, leadership and pathways to future growth through the lens of trust and reputation.

Marc holds a Master’s degree in global affairs and civil society from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in International Studies from the University of Western Ontario.

Mariana Saavedra Espinosa

Strategist

Mariana Saavedra Espinosa

Mariana is a Strategist based out of Gemic’s New York office.

Mariana’s value proposition is rooted in the simple but generative exercise of making the familiar strange. Committed to the idea that the best insights come from participants’ own analyses of their circumstances, she is a firm believer in collaborative ethnographic research that invites theorization and experimentation from everyone involved. In her work as an innovation strategy consultant, she draws on her training as an economic anthropologist and organizational ethnographer as well as on her 10+ years of experience as an educator to facilitate both research and client interactions that result in actionable recommendations and transcendent shifts in perspective. 

Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Mariana holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University and was formerly Assistant Professor of Global Commerce at Denison University. Prior to joining Gemic, she spent a year working on her first book with the support of the Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. This upcoming monograph draws on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia’s private sector and analyzes the social and cultural dimensions of corporate governance among Colombian family-owned business conglomerates.

Mei Chen

Strategist

Mei Chen

Mei is a Strategist based out of Gemic’s Berlin office.

She values the power of in-depth, contextualized analysis. She believes that in order to understand the future, it is necessary to trace the long process of how we arrived at where we are. Combining journalistic and academic expertise, Mei is passionate about telling the untold stories of humans and societies by weaving together data in various forms.

Mei is currently pursuing a PhD at Freie Universität Berlin, conducting research on China’s health policies. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Hong Kong and an MA in Modern East Asian Studies from Frankfurt University. Previously, she worked for magazines and TVs in Asia as a reporter and editor, covering sociopolitical and cultural issues in the region.

Michael Wang

Strategy Lead

Michael Wang

Michael is a Strategy Lead in Gemic’s New York office. 

He believes the most effective strategic decisions are informed equally by people and technology, individuals and systems, art and science. Michael has ten years of consulting experience and has worked across many sectors including the technology, automotive, and luxury industries. 

With a B.A. in Social Anthropology from Harvard, an M.A. in Performance Studies From NYU and a Masters of Architecture from Princeton, Michael combines the tools of social science, cultural analysis, and design in his approach to strategy and innovation. Outside of this work, Michael creates artworks that engage the systemic underpinnings of contemporary life, with a focus on the intersection of art, architecture, and ecological systems.


Michele Likely

Strategy Lead

Michele Likely

Michele is a Strategy Lead in Gemic’s Toronto office. 

In work and in life, she has been influenced by the concept of “cathedral thinking:” the bold vision, clear blueprint, and shared commitment to long-term implementation that enabled stonemasons and architects to begin work on a cathedral knowing full well that they would never see it finished. She believes that this mindset can help drive sustainable transformation and innovation in an age of short-term thinking.

With a passion for learning at the intersection of diverse disciplines, Michele holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Development from the University of Guelph, and a Master’s of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining Gemic, she worked at the Royal Bank of Canada managing strategy and partnerships for payments and e-commerce innovation. 

Minette Yao

Managing Director

Minette Yao

Minette is Gemic’s Managing Director for the North American region, based in our New York office.

She believes the way forward for culture lies in the hands of people and businesses willing to ask themselves “how does culture work, and what is our place in powering it forward?” She’s particularly interested in the physical world: the objects we interact with on a day-to-day basis and the meaning we ascribe to them. With this theory of ‘things’ in mind, she consults clients in food, packaged goods, footwear and apparel, consumer tech, healthcare, and financial services to build robust ideas and grounding principles for what businesses should do today in order to create meaningful impact on the world tomorrow.

Minette holds a Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University, and a Masters in Material and Visual Culture from University College London. She came to New York by way of North Carolina, with pit stops in the UK, Malaysia, Tanzania, and Czech Republic. No matter which city she finds herself in, she can be found trawling new neighborhoods and streets for on-the-ground clues about what’s mundane and what’s extraordinary.

Monica Park

Senior Strategist

Monica Park

Monica is a Senior Strategist based in our London office.

Otto Utti

Managing Partner & Co-Founder

Otto Utti

Otto is Gemic’s Managing Partner. 

Based in New York City, he has spent the past 15 years advising many of the world’s leading companies on innovation and corporate strategy.

Trained as a social scientist, Otto believes the most successful strategies start with a systemic understanding of how the co-evolution of culture, technology, and human behavior gives rise to new sources of consumer value. He uses this approach to empower business leaders to proactively shape the future of their industry, rather than reacting to market conditions created by other players.  

Otto holds a Master’s degree in political economy from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in political science from the University of York (UK). Having grown up and lived in five countries, he is embarrassed to admit being fluent in only two languages.

Penny Lau

Senior Strategist

Penny Lau

Penny is a Senior Strategist based in Hong Kong. 

She believes that we live in stories we tell ourselves, others and of our surroundings, and by making sense of these unspoken narratives reflected in our physical and non-physical environment, we can foresee the natural next steps and respond with the so-called innovations that are bound to happen. 

Penny graduated from Northwestern University with a BSc in Journalism. She has a not-so-distant past as a financial reporter in Beijing and as a field researcher going into more than 50 countries to analyze inflation data while looking for stories about people in their cultures.

Pierre Lee

Senior Strategist

Pierre Lee

Pierre is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s Toronto office.

He believes that the most impactful strategies surface the unexpected intersections of people, places, and practices. During his time at Gemic, Pierre has helped gather insights and develop strategies around the future of F&B, mobility and the creative economy – working with leading automotive and technology companies.

Pierre holds a degree in Human Geography from the University of Manchester, and a Master’s degree in Heritage & Museums from the University of Cambridge. Prior to Gemic, Pierre contributed to a book that profiled the forgotten stories of World War 1 soldiers inscribed on the Cenotaph, a war memorial in Singapore. Outside the office, Pierre can be found experimenting in the kitchen preparing for weekly supper clubs.

Rebekah Park

Partner

Rebekah Park

Rebekah is a Partner based in Gemic’s New York office who has spent the last two decades applying anthropological theory and methods to create change through her work in business, academia, public policy, and NGOs.

She believes in intense involvement with people, objects, and structures, exploring lives in a holistic way, and conducting participant observation as close to the object of study as possible. This approach offers clients new insights about the world and uncovers hidden processes at work. 

Rebekah has a PhD in Anthropology from UCLA, a MA in Applied Medical Anthropology from University of Amsterdam, and a BA in American Studies from Northwestern University. Previously, she was a professor at Marlboro College, serves on the board of the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology, and enjoys all endurance sports. 

Rowland Hobbs

Senior Advisor

Rowland Hobbs

  • Senior Advisor

Rowland is a Senior Advisor at Gemic, advising clients on brand, growth, organizational design, marketing communication, crisis management and product strategies. 

Rowland is the co-founder of Stake, the first loyalty program to invest in renters. Working at the intersection of customer experience and social purpose, he has also created products and branded experiences for companies in banking, tech, financial services, the arts, interiors, and fashion, and been on boards of social impact funds. 

Previously, he ran design and innovation at Teneo, a CEO advisory firm, and was head of product design for Accenture North America. His work has been nominated for an Emmy and he has been recognized for design Fast Company and Forbes. Rowland holds a M.A. in philosophy from K.U. Leuven, Belgium and lives in Manhattan, New York.

Sahar Hadidimoud

Director

Sahar Hadidimoud

Sahar is a Director in Gemic’s Berlin office.

She believes that Futurists don’t predict “The Future”, but use foresight to describe what could and, in some cases, should happen in the future. Effectively applying foresight to robust insight, Sahar develops strategies and translates these into tangible roadmaps to help clients act today and shape their tomorrow. She has designed and led strategy and innovation projects for international clients across public, private, and third sectors, advising on everything from the future of work to philanthropic donation, consumer healthcare, payments, snacking, and the future of mobility. A strong believer that good enough isn’t, Sahar interrogates the nuances of behaviours, practices, and processes to find ways to be better, and do better.

Sahar holds a degree in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford, and had lived and worked in the UK, Netherlands, Iran, Vietnam, Finland, and Germany.

Sakari Tamminen

Partner & Co-Founder

Sakari Tamminen

Sakari is Gemic’s Co-Founder. Based in the Toronto office, he helps technology companies humanize emerging technologies and reimagine the future of customer experience. 

He believes in leveraging insight from the world of biological governance, bioinformatics infrastructures and cultural theories of the non-human and technology to develop the kind of experience strategy, new business models and future scenarios that guide clients towards actionable and prosperous tomorrows. 

Sakari, holds a PhD in Social Psychology and Anthropology from Helsinki University, and a pre-doctoral degree in user-centric design from the Aalto University School of Engineering. He was formerly a Visiting Researcher at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science, a Research Fellow at Austria’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Science and an Adjunct Professor in Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. As an active member of the academic community, Sakari continues to publish in scholarly work. 

Sara Bernat

Senior Strategist

Sara Bernat

Sara is a Senior Strategist in Gemic’s New York office.

She believes that in this saturated branded world, abundant in easily available goods and services, smart positioning and authentic storytelling are more vital than ever. A former fashion model turned doctoral researcher, she is keen to understand how people wish to represent themselves, and how their aspirations shape their consumer choices. 

Sara has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Humboldt Universitat Berlin, and an MA in Branding from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Before joining Gemic, she worked on heritage and emerging luxury accounts for Mejuri, Borghese, Nanushka, and many more. 

Sebastian Kobler

Strategist

Sebastian Kobler

Sebastian is a Strategist in Gemic’s Berlin office.

He believes in the importance of understanding and appreciating the nuances of cultural factors which drive the decisions people make and the values they hold. He strives to approach problems from an interdisciplinary perspective and believes that the most effective solutions are underpinned by a theoretical framework. 

Sebastian holds a BA in English from the University of Cambridge. Prior to Gemic, he worked at a digital consultancy in London

Serena Chao

Senior Strategist

Serena Chao

Serena is a Senior Strategist out of Gemic’s Toronto office.

As a writer at heart, she believes that innovation at its best should amplify the human journey towards personal and collective pursuits by tapping into their core experiences and stories. At Gemic, she encourages the arts and sciences to work in tandem to highlight the contexts of today and tomorrow.

Serena graduated with a BASc in electrical engineering from the University of British Columbia. Prior to Gemic, Serena managed educational VR and AR projects and STEM outreach initiatives in Vancouver. Always hoping for bluebird days, she spends her time on the mountains either snowboarding or hiking for the views.

Sofia Lesur Kastelein

Senior Strategist

Sofia Lesur Kastelein

Sofia is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s New York office.

She believes that the best decision-making is attuned to socio-historical context and attentive to on-the-ground experiences. Starting from the premise that “the economy” is inseparable from social and cultural life, Sofia develops an understanding of how norms vary across time and space to help clients rethink the practices we take for granted and imagine future directions.

Sofia holds a Master’s in Social Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in History, both from the London School of Economics. Prior to joining Gemic, Sofia carried out research for Doctors Without Borders and the Mexican Embassy in London, worked in the heritage sector and was a translator for small trade unions. Outside of Gemic, she can be found enjoying long conversations over a home-cooked meal.

Stuart Montgomery

Senior Strategist

Stuart Montgomery

Stuart is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s New York office. 

Stuart brings the belief that strong foresight marries a fine-grain understanding of human behavior with a macro-understanding of the systems in which they exist. Combining his research background in cognitive science and anthropology, in topics ranging from the aesthetics of urban farming to algorithmic transparency, Stuart works with clients to develop their understanding of everyday human behavior and the actors that shape it. 

He graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Anthropology, with a concentration in the anthropology of science and technology. Prior to Gemic, he worked in the non-profit sector in housing reform and legal advocacy

Sufyan Dabbous

Strategy Lead

Sufyan Dabbous

Sufyan is a Strategy Lead based in Gemic’s New York office.

He believes that successful innovation hinges on a strong diagnosis of the phenomena that shape people’s lives. Beginning with his academic research into published quantitative analyses of the socio-economic impacts of corruption & globalization, Sufyan has honed an ability to measure and interpret the impact of these phenomena on future opportunities for companies ranging from PepsiCo to Procter & Gamble.

Sufyan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Prior to Gemic, Sufyan worked on the capital markets side of the New York real estate industry and for an AI-enabled knowledge network in Hong Kong. In addition to a stint in Hong Kong, he has lived in Cairo, Beirut, Philadelphia and London. When not in the office, he can be found running on the streets of the Lower East Side.

Tamta Gogitidze

Global People Lead

Tamta Gogitidze

Tamta is a Global People Lead based in Gemic’s Berlin office.

She is a high impact HR Leader, experienced in engaging with leadership as a strategic partner and trusted advisor to enable positive change within the organization. Tamta strives to maximize the potential of companies’ greatest assets – employees by developing and implementing policies and services that align with organizational goals, creating a safe and compliant workplace as well as an effective training and professional development programmes. She is a big believer in data-driven decision making, transformative HR and employee-enablement.

Her 10+ years of professional experience is reinforced by a Master of Arts degree in International Consulting and Human Resources Management from Berlin School of Economics and Law. Tamta is a life-long learner and holds Scrum Master and PHRi certifications. Prior to joining Gemic, she built HR functions from the scratch for 300+ employee company in the industrial IoT space and was the Head of the People department. In her free time Tamta enjoys doing drone photography and visiting art galleries.

Todd Carmody

Senior Strategist

Todd Carmody

Todd is a Senior Strategist based in Gemic’s New York Office.

He is an innovation and strategy consultant, the author of a book on social policy and the future of work, and an expert in the U.S. and German markets. He draws on his interdisciplinary expertise and global perspective to help clients act on what is not yet common sense.

Todd holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and has been a research fellow at Harvard, Berkeley, and the Freie Universität Berlin. At Gemic, he advises senior leaders in social technology, mobility, and higher education, among other sectors.

Vishnupriya Das

Senior Strategist

Vishnupriya Das

Vishnupriya is a Senior Strategist in Gemic’s New York office.

She believes that making impactful decisions requires paying attention to the messy ways in which humans navigate the world, looking at cross-regional shifts, and attending to the ways in which history repeats itself. As an anthropologist trained to study media and technology businesses, she believes that it is vital to empathetically consider the social, infrastructural and institutional pressures clients operate within, to help companies make thoughtful long-term strategic decisions. 

Vishnupriya has a PhD in Media and Communication Studies from the University of Michigan, and experience working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Researcher in the International Development sector. Her academic research is centered around ideas about intimacy, sexuality and emerging digital cultures.

Xiaoyan (Adele) Hu

Strategist

Xiaoyan (Adele) Hu

Xiaoyan (Adele) is a strategist out of Gemic’s Berlin office.

In the past seven years, she has enjoyed herself studying, working, and living different places in Europe. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris and Hertie School in Berlin, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from France and Russia. In between her studies, she has worked in Brussels on European public affairs.

Before joining Gemic, she worked in journalism in China (Phoenix and Caixin) and consulting in Europe. Her intellectual passion lies in understanding the interplay between state, industry, and human desire. When she runs out of vocabulary, she sometimes uses food and wine as metaphors to navigate complexity.

Zach Safford

Director of Strategy

Zach Safford

Zach is a Director of Strategy who oversees Gemic’s West Coast operations. 

He believes that the best strategy is born out of a simple formula: the right conversation, with the right people, at the right time. Zach was Gemic’s first full time employee in New York and has played a key role in building out Gemic’s retail, CPG, and automotive practice. 

He has an MSc in Design Ethnography from the University of Dundee in Scotland and a BA in History and Theater from Williams. Outside of work, Zach runs an upcycling side hustle with his wife and is an avid hiker and camper.