By Steve Jagler Special to Published Sep 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM

BizTimes is taking the editorial stance that a smarter Milwaukee will be a better Milwaukee, and a better Milwaukee will be best-positioned to compete in a global economy in the 21st century.

Though that premise may seem obvious, the path to a smarter and better Milwaukee is fraught with obstacles, challenges, distractions and strained financial resources.

We'll begin this mission with the cover story in the latest issue of BizTimes Milwaukee magazine. The story features interviews with the new leaders of Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Father Scott Pilarz brings a New Jersey flair to his job as the president at Marquette, and Mike Lovell brings a western Pennsylvania moxie to his position as chancellor at UWM. Both are determined to help build the human pipeline that will be needed to drive Milwaukee forward.

And forward we must go, as the BizTimes Get Smarter Conference will provide business owners, top-level managers and human resource leaders with insights on how education and workforce development can be the catalysts for economic growth in the region and throughout the state.

The conference will take place on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, beginning with a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. After breakfast, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers will provide opening remarks about the state of education in Wisconsin.

The conference will then feature a panel discussion about southeastern Wisconsin's educational infrastructure and the need to prepare today's students for tomorrow's jobs.

Panelists will include:

  • Melanie Holmes, vice president of World of Work Solutions at Manpower Group and chair of the Milwaukee Area Technical College District Board.
  • Paul Sweeney, founding partner at PS Capital Partners LLC in Milwaukee and chairman of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's Education Committee.
  • Robert Rauh, principal of Milwaukee College Prep School.
  • Renee Herzing, president of Herzing University.
  • Gregory Thornton, Ph.D., superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools.

Each of the panelists will bring a different vantage point to the forum, which may be the first holistic discussion of its kind about connecting dots between the region's educational resources and the workforce of the future.

Continuing in the "Get Smarter" vein, after the panel discussion, the conference will present several concurrent educational workshops for business executives. The leaders of the workshops will include:

  • Scott Jansen, talent dividend director at the Greater Milwaukee Committee. Jansen and the GMC are exploring ways to transform Milwaukee into a "City of Internships." Jansen will lead a workshop to help employers establish internships to develop young talent.
  • Christine McMahon, principal at McMahon & Associates, a sales training and coaching firm. McMahon also is a columnist for BizTimes Milwaukee magazine. McMahon will lead a workshop about "leadership plasticity," or the ability to be flexible, adaptable and resilient during times of rapid change.
  • Susan Marshall, a consultant and founder of Executive Advisor LLC in Oconomowoc. She also is the author of "How to Grow a Backbone." Marshall will lead a workshop to share insights about building confidence and competence for young executives.
  • Aleta Norris is a co-founding partner of Impact Consulting Group and Living As A Leader, a leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. Norris will lead a workshop to help companies to develop tomorrow's workforce.

BizTimes readers are welcome to join us at the Get Smarter Conference. To register, visit

Steve Jagler Special to

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes in Milwaukee and is past president of the Milwaukee Press Club. BizTimes provides news and operational insight for the owners and managers of privately held companies throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Steve has won several journalism awards as a reporter, a columnist and an editor. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

When he is not pursuing the news, Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, Kristi, and their two sons, Justin and James. Steve can be reached at