DI People: Vari, Sigfox, KAI, Mr. Cooper, and More Make Executive Moves

In this week's roundup of hires and promotions in North Texas, you'll also find news from Reed Smith, SMU, LGE Design Build, Accolite, Conner Industries, FireMon, and others.

Across North Texas, companies are promoting and hiring people to take on leadership positions within their organizations.

Dallas Innovates covers prominent personnel moves in Dallas-Fort Worth businesses and nonprofits—from the newest startups to well-established companies. Here are the people moves tied to innovation and technology in the region.

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Industry veteran joins the Vari executive team 

Brian Trego

Coppell-based workspace innovator Vari has added Brian Trego to its lineup of season executives as the senior vice president of product development.

Trego will be tasked with bolstering innovation and expertise, Vari said. In his new role, the furniture industry expert will lead the company’s product strategy and development, from research to execution.

“I know [Brian] will raise the bar as we continue to deliver the innovative and flexible workspace solutions our clients are looking for,” Vari Founder and CEO Jason McCann said in a statement. “We wanted to find a servant leader that would uphold our values, coach our teams, and elevate our product line. Brian embodies all of that and more.”  

According to Vari, Trego’s deep expertise will be a valuable asset as it “continues to innovate and remove the headaches traditionally associated with office furniture.” He was previously the vice president of HNI, parent company of HON and Allsteel, in which he implemented product strategies that drove growth and profitability.  

“Vari is doing things differently, and that’s an exciting thing to be part of,” Trego said in a statement. “I am looking forward to being part of the company and continuing to innovate, elevating my team, and making an impact as we create workspaces that elevate people.”

Sigfox U.S.A. appoints a VP of Sales

Hussain Suleman

Dallas-based Sigfox U.S.A., a network operator for French global network operator Sigfox, has named Hussain Suleman as its new vice president of Sales.

Suleman brings telecom industry experience spanning multiple continents to the company. He will be tasked with helping drive business growth and revenue retention, along with executing Sigfox’s revamped go-to-market strategy that he developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He joined Sigfox U.S.A. in January as the director of Business Development, and before that was the country director for southern and eastern Africa for Sigfox Group.

Suleman was also Sigfox’s first employee on the African continent, based out of Johannesburg, South Africa. There, he launched the business in South Africa and grew the brand along with Sigfox Operator SqwidNet into a leading IoT network.

“As COVID-19 changed the way we work, organizations have looked to technology to solve many of the issues brought on by the pandemic,” Suleman said in a statement. “As we continue to move forward, the IoT will be critical to enabling the more connected world required to help us navigate future global disruptions more successfully. I am thrilled to be at the forefront of this movement and to provide our customers with the key insights that the Sigfox 0G network can provide.”

Cook Children’s gets its first chief diversity officer

Winifred King

Cook Children’s has hired its first-ever chief diversity officer, Winifred King, who was previously the health system’s assistant vice president of public relations, corporate communications, and social media.

King has worked with Cook Children’s for 13 years. In her new role, she will help the organization become more diverse and strengthen equity and inclusion efforts.

“I’ve always been impressed with Wini’s love for Cook Children’s and her desire to do the right thing for our patients, their families and our staff,” Cook Children’s CEO Rick Merrill said in a statement. “She understands the importance of honest conversation and has always pushed for the integrity of this institution. I believe she will bring her passion for this place and its people to this new role.”

Prior to joining Cook Children’s, King was in brand marketing and public relations working for Texas Southern University in Houston and Walt Disney World in Florida.

“It is hard to put into words what this decision and investment means to people of color and anyone who has ever felt different or excluded,” King said in a statement. “For all of us who may have experienced inequities and mistreatment in our lifetimes, it is comforting to be a part of an organization that accepts our differences, our failures, and is willing to look inward and truly examine what is at the heart of our culture.”

Mr. Cooper names a chief legal officer

Eldridge Burns

Mr. Cooper Group Inc, a Dallas-based provider of servicing, origination, and transaction-based services related to single-family residences, has appointed Eldridge Burns as its executive vice president and chief legal officer.

In his new role, Burns will be on the executive leadership team, in which he will lead the company’s legal department. He brings more than two decades of experience in the legal field to Mr. Cooper, specifically in financial services, regulatory compliance, capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions.

Most recently, he was general counsel for Topgolf, and before that served as chief legal officer and general counsel for Santander Consumer USA Inc. for ten years. Prior to that, Burns was VP and senior corporate counsel at Blockbuster.

“Eldridge is an accomplished attorney with a successful track record in both financial services and in the consumer industry, and we’re excited to welcome him to the Mr. Cooper Group team,” Jay Bray, chairman and CEO of Mr. Cooper Group, said in a statement. “Our legal team plays a critical role at our company, and Eldridge’s strategic mindset and executional leadership make him a great fit for the team.”

SMU adds a chief diversity officer to its team

Maria Dixon Hall

SMU President R. Gerald Turner announced that Maria Dixon Hall has been named to the Dallas university’s newly created position of chief diversity officer.

SMU said the move represents that it is “moving forward to accomplish shared goals developed with Black students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

Hall is a campus leader who is currently the senior advisor to the president for Campus Cultural Intelligence Initiatives and associate professor of corporate communications in the Meadows School of the Arts. In her new role, she will serve as a senior-level resource and a strategic partner to collaborate with faculty, students, administrators, and staff, according to SMU.

She will also initiate and report the outcome of diversity initiatives, policies, and programs, while working to implement SMU’s efforts to recruit, retain, support, and promote diverse faculty, staff, and students. This will involve convening a University Diversity Council to connect the missions of the diversity officers of each school and administrative unit on the SMU campus.

“We are at an important crossroads for our country and campus, and the challenges to reweave the fabric of civility, diversity and inclusion that binds us are daunting,” Hall said in a statement. “However, I believe that as Mustangs, we are more than able to meet this challenge together in authentic and collaborative ways that affirm the sacred worth of every student, staff and faculty member. Every day, I hope you will walk with me on the journey to create a campus where every Mustang knows they are valued.”

Conner Industries gets a new VP of Sales

Art Lewis

Fort Worth-based Conner Industries Inc has announced that Art Lewis III has been added to its executive leadership team member as the new VP of Sales.

At Conner Industries, a provider of industrial wood and packaging solutions, Lewis will lead the company’s sales and business development efforts across all of its product lines.

He was most recently the North American General Manager at Maillis Strapping Solutions, where he developed and implemented new market-facing and industry growth strategies.

“With more than 14 years of load securement and protective packaging experience, involvement with one of our major competitors, and over 20 years of combined sales and sales leadership experience, Art brings an enormous amount of value to Conner,” CEO David Dixon said in a statement. “I’m confident that Art is the right person to lead our sales strategy to expand our multiple product lines in current and future markets.”

KAI hires a senior interior designer

Sanja A. Zilic

At its Dallas-Fort Worth office, KAI Design has brought on Sanja A. Zilic, LEED AP BD+C as a senior interior designer.

In her new role, Zilic will supervise the interior design team, guiding them through all stages of the design and construction process, according to KAI. That includes interpreting program requirements, surveying building interiors, developing working plans, and more.

Before joining KAI, she was an interior designer at Perkins + Will in Dallas and a junior designer with Planning Design Research (PDR) in Houston.

“Sanja is driven to create thoughtful, well-articulated designs that exceed her clients’ program and design aspirations,” KAI Managing Partner Brad Simmons said in a company release. “Her portfolio spans a range of markets and project types. As an Interior Designer, she has shown the ability to fluidly move between diverse design challenges with a restrained clarity in her approach and outcome.”

Accolite appoints a new chairman of the its Advisory Board

Arjun Malhotra

Accolite, a new age digital transformation tech services company based in Dallas, has made Arjun Malhotra the chairman of its Advisory Board.

Malhotra is an IT pioneer—in 1975, he co-founded and grew HCL group from a garage operation to one of India’s largest IT corporations.

He has previously served as the chairman of Headstrong’s Board of Directors before its acquisition in 2011, and before that was CEO and chairman at TechSpan. Accolite said his rich expertise, strategic insights, and network will immensley benefit the team in terms of scaling and attracting top talent.

“It is super exciting to re-create a Headstrong like ecosystem at Accolite and enable the Company expand as a powerful player in the global tech ecosystem,” Malhotra said in a statement. “My aim is to ensure a 10 fold growth over the next 5 years across Accolite’s core verticals.”

LGE Design Build gets a project executive

Taylor Mitcham

Premier design-build construction firm LGE Design Build has added Taylor Mitcham to its team as a project executive in the Dallas office.

As an accomplished commercial real estate professional, Mitcham brings more than a decade of commercial real estate experience across multiple asset classes to the firm. For LGE, he will facilitate client-partner relationships throughout the southwest, leading the Arizona-based firm’s business development across Texas markets.

“I’m excited to bring my experience to further expand the LGE Design Build footprint in North Texas,” Mitcham said in a statement. “Market demand remains consistent for the asset classes LGE specializes in, particularly in the greater Fort Worth and Dallas markets. This a great time to join this team.”

Restructuring and bankruptcy lawyer joins Reed Smith

Omar Alaniz

Omar J. Alaniz is joining Reed Smith’s Financial Industry Group in Dallas as a partner.

The move represents a significant addition to the firm’s bankruptcy capabilities throughout Texas, according to the global law firm.

Restructuring and bankruptcy lawyer Alaniz was previously a partner at Baker Botts, and in the past twelve months has represented a member of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the Philadelphia Energy, Emerge Energy Services, Shale Support, and Vista Proppants bankruptcy cases.

“Omar has earned a reputation as an outstanding lawyer, and brings to the firm a highly regarded bankruptcy practice at a time of significant demand and growth for our global restructuring capabilities,” Ed Estrada, global chair of Reed Smith’s Financial Industry Group, said in a statement. “Given the economic uncertainty businesses are facing across various sectors, and the uptick in demand for complex bankruptcy experience, his arrival is timely and will strengthen and add depth to our global restructuring practice. Omar’s arrival does just that, while also giving an already impressive Dallas team additional gravitas in the region.”

FireMon appoints a chief revenue officer

As Dallas-based FireMon prepares to exceed market growth expectations with 300 percent growth, the network security policy management company has brought on Brian Keets as its chief revenue officer.

FireMon brings visibility, control, agility and automation to enterprise cloud and hybrid network infrastructure,

In his new role as CRO, Keets will capitalize on FireMon’s extensive market growth while opening new opportunities. He will be tasked with working across the organization to identify revenue opportunities in current and emerging markets, driving expansion and optimization for FireMon’s partners and customers.

Keets formerly served in the same role at ETQ, a business application software leader.

“Brian joins us at a crucial time in our growth,” Satin H. Mirchandani, FireMon’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “As the only security vendor that offers continuous network security policy automation, dynamically securing everything from the physical firewall to the cloud under a single interface, we’re exceptionally well-positioned to help our customers accelerate their cloud, automation and digital transformation initiatives.”

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