An organizational culture change
For nearly four decades, Autodesk has navigated disruptive technology changes and platform shifts to become a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.
In 2017, the company began a new era by making the Autodesk customer experience the focal point for its product and business innovation. Newly appointed CEO Andrew Anagnost gathered the Autodesk leadership team to identify the core elements Autodesk must have to fulfill its vision of helping people imagine, design and make a better world. They defined what they called the Autodesk Culture Code: the “Values” and “Ways We Work” that would enable Autodesk to become a “Customer Company.”
What was needed
The challenge: how to communicate this foundational shift in the company’s collective mindset so employees would not only be inspired by it but would embrace it? And more immediately, how to introduce the Autodesk Culture Code at an all-hands meeting that was coming up in just two weeks’ time?
But tall orders with short timeframes have never stopped ROI. In fact, you could say we specialize in them. So when Autodesk called and said they needed help introducing their Culture Code, we gathered our people and got to work on a communication strategy and execution.
- Communication strategy
- Key messaging
- Executive writing
- Creative direction
- Visual identity
- Presentation design
- Digital and print assets
- SharePoint site design & development
What we did
For the launch to succeed, we knew the initial all-hands presentation had to stand apart. It had to be bold, genuine and so visually compelling that it took on a life of its own—one that embodied the aspiration of the Culture Code itself. In lightning speed, we pulled together an Ocean’s 11-like team of experts across many fields, including writing, visual design and communication strategy, and we worked alongside Autodesk’s head of culture, diversity and belonging and her team to create a presentation that Anagnost himself called “some of the best imagery” he had ever seen.
But we didn’t stop there. We devised a comprehensive communication strategy and execution plan that would inspire employees at every turn, and we developed a range of communications to help bring this new culture to life, including websites, visual branding, manager toolkits, performance guides, posters, leader emails, articles and so much more. If Autodesk was going to change its way of working by embarking on this culture journey, we were going to join them by providing the communication tools they would need along the way.
“ROI quickly ascertained our objectives, captured our voice, and created a visual identity that even our CEO said is some of the best imagery he has seen at our company.”
– Rita Giacalone, Autodesk Global Head of Culture, Diversity and Belonging
How it turned out
As a result of the work the joint ROI and Autodesk team did, the organizational culture change became real—so much so that leaders heard from employees about how much they love the direction the company is heading.
And that was just the beginning. Since that initial roll out, Autodesk partnered closely with ROI to integrate its culture into company programs and processes, and we continue to work with Autodesk on a number of fronts, making sure the changes that began three years ago remain just as effective today.
So whether it’s jumping in last minute to aid with a presentation or devising a communication strategy and execution to roll out a new way of working, there’s really no order too tall or project too big if it will help make our clients successful. You could say that’s the kind of thing we specialize in, but really, it’s just what we do.
The team that made it happen
Senior Vice President, Account Director
Senior Vice President, Account Director
Laura Dantes has been a top communications professional for more than 20 years, but traces her interest in the field even earlier – to the fourth grade. As a ten-year-old in Ohio, she entered and won a statewide caption contest sponsored by The Humane Society in the Akron Beacon Journal, suggesting that the words beneath a photo of a puppy and kitten read: "Don’t sweet meow me…"
This early evidence of Laura’s enduring belief in direct, transparent and engaging communications has been borne out in her subsequent career. Beginning as a technical writer and internal communications specialist in the aerospace industry, Laura moved on to become an account manager and executive with a series of public relations agencies, eventually rising to serve as a Partner and Managing Director of Copithorne & Bellows in San Francisco, which grew from $8 million to $13 million and a staff of 80 during her tenure. Subsequently, after the firm’s merger with the public relations firm Porter Novelli, she became both a Partner as well as Global Director of Knowledge Development and Client Services.
In 2008, Laura took a leadership position at a boutique marketing firm, The Linus Group, as Director of Client Services, before joining ROI Communication in 2010.
"I like giving people the tools to do their jobs well," said Laura, who has planned employee engagement initiatives, led integration task forces, designed training and leadership conferences, and coached top executives. "My approach is to watch and listen," she added. "Once I take it all in and understand the client’s goals, I focus on the best possible strategy and execution."
As a volunteer, Laura has mentored young people and served on the Advisory Board of the UC Berkeley’s SAGE Scholars Program, which promotes professional leadership training and career development research among low-income, high-achieving undergraduates.
Laura is a graduate of Willamette University, and has completed post-graduate coursework in several fields at American University, Pepperdine University’s executive business school, San Francisco State and UC Berkeley.
Catherine Forman has worked in corporate communication for nearly two decades, developing a deep expertise in strategic planning and employee engagement. Formerly the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Quantum Corporation – which grew from fewer than 1,000 to about 11,000 employees during her tenure – Catherine understands that effective internal communication can make a real difference in a company’s performance.
"Employee engagement is driven by a complex set of motivations, and a strong, effective internal communication program can really motivate people in ways that improve business performance and the bottom line," she said.
Since joining ROI Communication in 2003, Catherine has helped manage a wide range of projects, with a special focus on strategy, communications and change management, and measuring the effectiveness of communications within large organizations.
Making an analogy between good internal communication and another of her passions – rock-climbing – Catherine believes that both require a strategic approach, a focus on mechanics and no small measure of finesse. "If you succeed in combining those elements well, you can overcome even the most daunting challenges."
During her decade at Quantum and the company that acquired it, Maxtor Corporation, Catherine was responsible for the development and execution of the company’s internal and external communication strategies, and worked closely with senior executives on a full range of communication initiatives and investor relations.
Catherine began consulting in 2001, working with a diverse set of clients including the University of Colorado Foundation, Lefthand Networks, ONStor, Maxtor and Wyatt & Jaffe. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary, and an M.A. in Economics from Stanford University.
As a graphic designer, Jacqueline Justice believes that less is more. Not just because she personally prefers a cleaner visual aesthetic, but also because simplicity makes a bigger impact.
“I consider myself a minimalist,” she said. “My studio is very spare. My desktop is clean, and I try to be as organized as possible.” Having eliminated most distractions from her peripheral vision, she is able to focus more intensely on client projects – creative work that often her absorbs her for hours on end. “I love what I do, especially the variety.”
Jacqueline joined the ROI Communication team in 2018 after years honing her skills as a designer, photographer, art director and brand ambassador for a range of creative and public relations agencies. Immediately prior to partnering with ROI, Jacqueline designed and oversaw the development of print and interactive publications, presentations, and visual identities, led rebranding initiatives and ad campaigns, and managed print and visual production for c|change inc, where she was Senior Art Director.
Earlier, Jacqueline worked as a designer for Edelman Public Relations, conceptualizing and developing campaigns for local, national and global clients. Previously, at a web development firm, she created responsive web layouts and improved conversion rates through A/B testing and other analytics, and also worked at an ecommerce company, developing marketing collateral and branded experiences for trade shows.
“I like working with a blank canvas,” Jacqueline said. “I like to get to know a company and understand their goals, then help associate colors, images, and typography to achieve them. Design is so important, it can ruin everything or make it great.”
A native Texan, Jacqueline earned a BA in Art and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas. When she’s not working, she loves traveling, hiking, and spending time with her rescue dog, Sophie. She lives in Chicago, where her studio overlooks Lake Michigan.
As a journalist, Scott Kaul focused on three things: uncovering the facts, determining their relevance, and translating this information into articles that grabbed his readers. As a writer for ROI Communication, Scott does the same, capturing the interest of readers on company intranets.
"I’ve always been interested in writing and communication," Scott said. "I bring clarity to communication, and help people understand what’s really going on."
Before joining ROI Communication in 2009, Scott worked closely on industry reports for Tiburon Strategic Advisors, a financial consulting firm. Prior to that, he spent three years as a staff writer and copy editor for the Lodi News-Sentinel, covering news, editing stories and updating the paper’s website. While at the paper, he also helped launch a series of blogs, engaged readers to produce content, and collaborated on the redesign of the publication’s front page.
Prior to his work in journalism and consulting, Scott tutored and taught writing for two years at California State University at Stanislaus, his alma mater. Working in the university’s Writing Center, he helped remedial students improve their grammar, punctuation and other writing skills. "Writing is the core of communication. It forces people to be specific and articulate what they’re thinking," he said.
In addition to writing, Scott is passionate about strategic board games, which build his critical thinking skills – skills that make him a better communicator. "When you’re communicating, you have to think a couple steps ahead of what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it," he said. "You can’t just go in guns blazing."
Though we live in the age of social media, Emery Lees’ views on such technology were subtly shaped by months of face-to-face conversations she shared in a 3,000-year-old Italian hill town. There, talking every day with students from around the world whose only common language was rudimentary Italian, she felt the joy of building a community around common interests and goals.
Years later, that experience continues to influence the counsel she provides large companies seeking to take advantage of digital tools and social media within their organization. “It’s not about any given technology or platform,” Emery said. “It’s about the authenticity and value of the connections that employees create, and about helping those relationships strengthen and grow.”
Emery, who joined ROI Communication in 2015, is a San Francisco-based Community Manager and Social Strategist who works to help companies make the most of enterprise social networks such as Yammer, Jive and Chatter. According to Emery, the impact of enterprise social media is directly related to how any given organization already communicates, and how individual work habits evolve over time. That’s why developing the long-term value of these networks requires not just an up-front investment, but an ongoing commitment.
Prior to joining ROI, Emery spent six years at URS Corporation, an $11 billion global design, engineering, construction and technical services company. Originally hired to support the company’s CEO, she got a first-hand look at how the company’s 50,000 employees communicated, and was soon invited to become the company’s first Social Media Strategist. In this role, she helped the company roll out Yammer, encourage employees to make the most of it, and measure its impact.
Before working at URS, Emery worked in marketing at Google and at Saints Capital, a venture capital fund. Earlier in her career, she was an executive assistant in the investment banking industry at Jefferies & Company and Deutsche Bank. “In working for senior executives and watching their impact on people, I learned the difference between bad management and good leadership,” Emery said. “Thoughtful, interactive communication is absolutely essential to success.”
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Emery earned a BA in Mass Communications from the University of California at Berkeley and studied in Italy at the Università degli Studi di Siena. When she’s not working, Emery enjoys listening to live music, reading, trying new restaurants and polishing her Italian.
Senior Graphic Designer
Senior Graphic Designer
Rosanna Menza has a passion for designing mazes – a challenge that is not only aesthetic but also rigorously intellectual. “Good design can’t just be decorative; it should be functional,” she said. “It has to solve a problem, and I love solving problems.”
Over the past three decades as a graphic designer, Rosanna has helped hundreds of clients solve their problems – engaging customers, developing brands, and achieving business goals through an array of visual tools and strategies.
“I start projects by trying to understand a client’s intentions,” she said. “Intention is everything. Intention guides mood, character and impact. Most importantly, it defines how the world sees you.”
One of Rosanna’s favorite projects in recent years was designing the logo for Gulliver’s Gate, a quirky attraction in Times Square featuring an enormous display of miniature monuments and landscapes from 50 countries around the world. Designed to inspire wonder and delight, Gulliver’s Gate unfortunately went bankrupt, but her Escheresque logo lives on.
Rosanna traces her love of graphic rigor to a childhood of puzzles, doodling, hidden-object books and playing with Lite-Brite, a toy that allows users to create pointillist designs by inserting translucent pegs into a back-lit grid. “I always knew I wanted to be a creative,” she said.
After graduating from Rutgers with a BA in Fine Arts, Design and Photography, Rosanna joined Schell /Mullaney Advertising, where she helped design ad campaigns, annual reports, packaging and collateral. Later, at Inc Design, the White Horn Group, dpgw and her own design firm, she helped develop brands, design campaigns, manage creative teams and create award-winning visuals for clients that included PepsiCo, Miele, Nickelodeon, Oxygen Media, SlimFast, Jennifer Convertible, KPMG and the Food Network, among others.
“I love what I do because every project is different,” she said. “It’s always new. And that constant challenge is satisfying.”
When she’s not helping clients solve problems, Rosanna enjoys being outdoors, playing with her miniature dachshund, designing patterns and reading voraciously. She lives in Brooklyn.
Beth Miller Thiel
In the age of social media, Beth Miller Thiel believes that companies need good writing more than ever – in part because it’s relatively rare. “The most successful people and organizations articulate what they believe succinctly and clearly, then follow through,” she said. “I love to help leaders find those words and ways to connect with their teams, customers and communities.”
A former journalist, Beth has served in senior corporate communication roles across Silicon Valley for more than 20 years, applying deep expertise in employee engagement, internal communication, digital marketing and public relations.
She joined the ROI Communication team in 2018 from Plex Systems, where she served as Senior Director of Corporate Communications. Prior to her tenure at Plex, Beth held a succession of senior communication roles at Polycom, Sybase, Oracle, PeopleSoft and AMD – managing communication strategy, change communication, employee engagement, social enterprise networks, crisis communication, M&A communication, events and other communication functions.
Beth began her career as an editor at the Paradise Post, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and later worked as a reporter and columnist at the Tri-Valley Herald and Valley Times in Pleasanton, California. This early experience in journalism shaped her approach to corporate communication. “Unless you’re telling a concise, accurate and compelling story, you’re going to lose your audience,” she said. “That’s especially true in today’s environment of information overload.”
Beth earned a BA in Information and Communication Studies from California State University at Chico. She lives in Pleasanton with her son and cat. When she’s not advising clients, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, watching and playing sports, reading, and reveling in the Bay Area’s rich live-music scene.
While most people learn cursive with pencil and paper, Denise Rotman learned with shaving cream. And though decades have passed since then, that early sense of flow – how to communicate ideas with beauty – has never left her.
“Clients generally know what they want to achieve, but not always how to achieve it,” said Denise, who now serves as ROI Communication’s Creative Director. “I like coming up with solutions that are visually appealing and easy to understand, but also a little different.”
Adept at a wide range of design-related software packages, Denise’s skills include creative direction, visual and web design, front-end development, motion graphics, video editing, design strategy, product design, copywriting, storyboarding and branding. She is also fluent in English and Spanish, and proficient in Portuguese – languages she acquired from her parents and living abroad.
“Growing up in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the United States, I became very aware of the similarities people share, as well as certain differences in how we communicate,” Denise said. “As a result, I’m a good listener and observer. I try to never jump to conclusions.”
Denise joined the ROI team in 2016 from the Spark Creative Group in Boca Raton, where she served as the firm’s Creative Director and developed dynamic user interfaces, helped a toy company develop an ideation platform – a structured process to engage the public in creating and developing new products – and produced explanatory videos.
Earlier, as Creative Director at Grass Roots America – a performance improvement company – she focused on developing more effective rewards and recognition programs for major corporations. Prior to her tenure at Grass Roots America, Denise served as an On-Air Motion Designer and Chyron Artist for ION Television, where she created promotional graphics for NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, Sony and other clients.
A Northeastern University graduate with a BA in Communication Studies and Visual Arts, Denise also studied at the Studio Art Centers International in Florence, and the School of Visual Arts in New York. When she’s not working, Denise loves to cook, practice yoga, and play her guitar.