Tom Kuczmarski

President & Founder


Thomas D. Kuczmarski is president and founder of the global consulting firm Kuczmarski Innovation and an internationally recognized expert in the innovation of new products and services. Over the course of his career he has helped hundreds of clients, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 corporations, learn to systematically unlock the value of innovation. Mr. Kuczmarski teaches creating and leading a culture of innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management where he is Senior Lecturer and Visiting Scholar in the Center for Innovation and Technology. For more than three and a half decades, his executive education courses at the Kellogg School have attracted students from around the world.

Mr. Kuczmarski is co-founder with journalist Dan Miller, of Chicago Innovation, which annually educates, connects, and celebrates innovators in the Chicago region. The Chicago Innovation Awards are endorsed by every major business association in the Chicago region and showcase the creative spirit of America’s heartland. Since 2002, Chicago Innovation has grown in scope as well as size, with now over 20,000 people in the community, and programs spanning from connecting women with the Women Mentoring Co-op, and educating and celebrating children in the Chicago Student Invention Convention.

Mr. Kuczmarski is the author of eight books on innovation and leadership, including his most recent book, Rising Together: The Story of Chicago’s Innovation Ecosystem (Book Ends Publishing, 2020), co-authored with members from the Chicago Innovation Team, that recounts Chicago’s journey to becoming a global hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. He has also recently published Lifting People Up, the Power of Recognition (Book Ends Publishing, 2018), co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski, which explores the importance (and potential pitfalls) of incorporating praise into the daily practice and culture of an organization. Innovating Chicago Style: How Local Innovators are Building the National Economy (Book Ends Publishing, 2012), written with Dan Miller and Luke Tanen, profiles the first decade of winners of the Chicago Innovation Awards and the lessons of innovation that they reveal. Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently about Leadership (Kaplan, 2007), co-authored with Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski, explores the qualities of the ideal leader and how to build those qualities into one’s own career. Innovating the Corporation (NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 2001) reveals the seven steps for achieving growth through innovation. Managing New Products (Book Ends Publishing, 2000), now in its third edition, is endorsed by the American Marketing Association and widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive treatises on the development of new products. Values-Based Leadership: Rebuilding Employee Commitment, Productivity and Performance (Prentice-Hall, 1995) provided the first comprehensive discussion on values and norms in the corporation. In 1996, Innovation was co-published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group and the American Marketing Association.

He is extensively published and cited on radio, television, and in national periodicals including a weekly Innovation Minute on WBBM Newsradio, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Newsweek, Bloomberg Business Week, The Today Show, Planning Review, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Marketing News, Advertising Age, Crain’s Chicago Business, Business Marketing, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many more. He wrote the chapter on new products and services in the Marketing Encyclopedia, a publication of the American Marketing Association, and serves on the editorial review boards for The Journal of Product Innovation Management and The Journal of Consumer Marketing.

Mr. Kuczmarski is a highly regarded speaker on innovation management and leadership, and lectures nationally and internationally to a broad range of corporations and associations. He is the chairman of the Chicago Innovation advisory board, a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, trustee of the Retirement Research Foundation, and board member the Chicago Inventors Organization.

Before founding Kuczmarski Innovation, he was a Principal at Booz · Allen & Hamilton. While there, Mr. Kuczmarski assisted more than 100 U.S. consumer and industrial goods companies in the areas of marketing, new product development, strategic business analysis and organizational planning. In addition, he led the firm’s in-depth research of the best practices employed by more than 700 U.S. firms in their new product management processes. His prior experience as a brand manager at Quaker Oats Company provided a solid and broad-based foundation unique to his consulting specialty.

He earned an M.B.A. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s Graduate School of International and Public Affairs, where he was named an International Fellow of the University. He received a B.A. in French from the College of the Holy Cross.