Leadership

When top talent gets together, great results naturally follow

Our leadership and management teams represent a wide variety and depth of experience from all types of industries. What unites us is a passion for client service and a desire to make a difference every day in the lives of employees and the clients we serve.

Leadership
Management
Matt Howe
Managing Director

Matt’s extensive background is steeped in wireless and telecom, and in the leadership of critical business and technology initiatives. Prior to Strong-Bridge, Matt had 10 years at T-Mobile as Director, and later Senior Director, of the Enterprise Program Office. For several years, he was actually a client of Strong-Bridge, and was struck by the integrity and passion of the firm. Matt spent his first four years at Strong-Bridge as a consultant, overseeing critical projects for key clients. Today, he is Managing Director of the Seattle office. For Matt, team is everything. He’s keenly aware of the micro-steps needed on a daily basis to arrive at successful client outcomes. He celebrates them, and the people behind them. His focus is on growing the Seattle office through the support of people, teams, and the work they perform on behalf of our client each and every day.

It should come as no surprise that people are also at the center of Matt’s personal life. He is a husband, father, and grandfather. Together, they love to ski and travel. But really, his passion is service. For many years, he and his wife have served a number of charities in Kenya and Burundi. The work of these teams and organizations has helped provide much needed assistance with housing, medical, education, and widow and orphan care. Those days in service, he says, are some of the most gratifying and enjoyable of their lives.

Renea Rayner
Managing Director
Seattle

Renea has been a pillar of the firm for nearly 10 years. When she joined Strong-Bridge, she brought a strong background in finance, account development, and team building in industries as varied as footwear and healthcare. Her years in the role of Account Director at Strong-Bridge were steeped in telecom, an industry and client base in which she excelled. During this tenure, Renea was often called a “matchmaker,” referencing her unique ability to pair the right technical skills and personalities with her clients and their needs. To that end, she has routinely created strong relationships with her clients, built on trust and with an eye (always) on doing the right thing for their business, both now and over the long term. In her post as Managing Director of the Seattle office, she is responsible for helping align the firm’s growth goals with account strategies and team development. It is a role she grew into naturally, given both her finance background and her exceptional ability to grow accounts and teams as Account Director.

In her free time, Renea is all about family—she RV’s as often as possible with her kids and family, carving out adventure one trip at a time. She is also a dedicated and proud gymnastics mom.

Carolyn O'Brien
Managing Director
Atlanta

Carolyn is responsible for furthering Strong-Bridge’s growth in the Atlanta market. She joined the company with the launch of the Atlanta office in 2015, charged with helping establish the firm in the marketplace and strategically develop a client base. Today, as Managing Director of the Atlanta office, Carolyn continues this work, with increased emphasis on growth and as a part of a leadership team that encompasses all offices and areas of the business. Carolyn brings to her role significant experience in sales, marketing, and people building. Prior to joining Strong-Bridge, she founded Tag Team Resources, a firm that placed skilled marketing talent with companies needing to augment their current teams. She is well-respected, and known for her ability to bring levity to a room, along with the needed professionalism and expertise to rally progress on a given initiative.

Carolyn is also known for her big heart and endless willingness to extend herself to those in need. Outside of her business life, Carolyn runs a non-profit organization she founded that is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming homeless, abused, and neglected dogs, both from high-kill shelters as well as off the streets. She is also an inventor, with 12 patents on products in the pet industry.

Larry Austin
Managing Director
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Larry is responsible for growing and running the Strong-Bridge practice in Toronto. His leadership is fueled by a singular passion for delivering excellence to his clients. It’s a way of doing business that has defined his career. It’s also what drew him to Strong-Bridge. With deep telecom experience amidst a broad range of disciplines, Larry’s career has included projects and positions at five of Canada’s largest telecom providers. Prior to joining Strong-Bridge, Larry was a member of the original executive management team at WIND Mobile, where he built, launched, and led a department of over 400 people serving 350,000 customers. Today, what Larry enjoys most about his role at Strong-Bridge is that every day is different, with a new set of challenges and opportunities to serve his growing roster of clients.

When Larry’s not at the office, he’s most likely spending time with his young son, or perhaps scuba diving… as long as the sun’s out. He’s also a hockey nut (see: Canadian). Another interesting fact? Larry earned his BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada and was a military officer and naval helicopter aviator before earning his MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Danyel LaGow
Customer Experience Practice and Marketing Director

Danyel is responsible for leading the growth and development of Strong-Bridge’s Customer Excellence practice, including architecting offerings, guiding teams, and providing subject matter expertise to a variety of projects across the company. She is a proven leader in the customer experience (CX) space, and is well-respected not just for her expertise but also for her unique ability to rally organizations toward a common CX goal. For 19 years, Danyel has successfully guided organizations in the technology, insurance, and healthcare industries. Prior to consulting, she was just as focused on the customer. Danyel worked for software company Vertafore, and led large-scale, client-side initiatives for the insurance company Safeco, where for nearly 10 years her efforts made an impact on everything from customer care to product offerings. Danyel is also responsible for Strong-Bridge’s corporate marketing; she leads strategic communications and event planning, thought leadership and content development, and continually identifies new ways to engage with clients.

Danyel calls herself a “CX hobbyist.” In her personal time, she loves to read CX books and keep up on the latest trends (her CX Pinterest board is bigger than her foodie board). But she’s not all business. Danyel loves being involved in her family’s activities and also leads an 11-member Girl Scout Brownie Troop. She might be known to arm them with post-it notes and flip charts. Some things you use in CX are super helpful with 8 year olds, too!

Brian Hartnett
Co-Founder, Partner

Brian co-founded Strong-Bridge with a distinct purpose — to build a firm that clients wanted to work with and consultants are proud to work for. For Brian, that meant doing great work and always doing the right thing regardless of business impact. His philosophy was that by staying focused on client success at all times, the firm would draw the right kind of consultants and broaden its client base through great word of mouth. He was right. Since Strong-Bridge started, the company has met or exceeded its growth goals, and it was recently named as the only management consulting firm on the Inc. Build 100 list. Today, Brian is focused on expanding the firm’s geographic footprint and on IP development. He appreciates driving approaches that are more pragmatic and solution-oriented than those that often come from the big consulting firms.

Away from the office, Brian is all about family. Fun fact: Brian loves going to theme parks. Even as his kids have gotten older, it’s still a top pick for their family. He also enjoys baseball — and not just the spectating. Brian is a pitching coach, with a focus on helping players with the mental side of the game.

Ken Simpson
Co-Founder, Partner

Ken is an accomplished professional with a track record of working with clients at all levels of management to develop and deliver solutions that address their most critical business challenges. After spending nine years at a “big three” consulting firm, Ken co-founded Strong-Bridge to offer a different kind of firm — one intensely focused on open communication, honesty, local service, and above all, client success. Achieving this objective required planning, goal setting, tenacity, and a willingness to take calculated risk. It’s worked. Together, he and co-founder Brian Harnett have guided Strong-Bridge to over a decade of 40% CAGR. Ken’s role at the company today is to provide strategic guidance and oversight and to assist with high-priority client initiatives.

Much of Ken’s personal time is spent coaching youth sports and traveling with his wife and two daughters for softball. Both girls are pitchers. Ken also serves on the board of his local Presbyterian church and actively supports a wide range of charities.

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