Sheryl Connelly

Manager of Global Trends & Futuring at Ford Motor Company
Sheryl Connelly
  • Leading global consumer trends expert
  • Named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company magazine twice and listed among TechWeek's “Top 100 Innovators”
  • Helps business leaders to think like a futurist to effectively track, analyze, and predict how global consumer and lifestyle trends will impact organizations across industries

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Sheryl Connelly has served as the in-house futurist for Ford Motor Company for over a decade. In this role, she identifies and analyzes global consumer trends to aide in the discussion of long-term planning and strategy across the entire company, including design, product development, and corporate strategy and help anticipate and predict the needs and desires of consumers.

Sheryl is skilled at identifying what’s coming around the corner and the potential influences to customer attitudes and behavioral patterns that directly impact business strategy. With the unique ability to translate how consumer and lifestyle trends will affect organizations across industry sectors, Sheryl outlines how to develop a futuring mindset, to act decisively in high-stakes business environments. Fast Company magazine twice named her one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and TechWeek listed her among its “Top 100 Innovators”. Sheryl was also a featured speaker at TED and TED Global, and her strategic viewpoints have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Financial Times, and the BBC, and she has been profiled in Automotive News, Forbes, and Edmunds. She has also appeared on CBS’ This Morning with Charlie Rose, CNBC’s Fast Money, and NPR’s All Things Considered with Robert Siegel. She is also a former member of the Global Advisory Council on transportation for the World Economic Forum. 

Her insights into what’s next helps others understand how STEEP factors—Social, technological, economic, environmental, and political trends—will affect business in the short-and long-term.

From population growth to the proliferation of technology, to mindfulness and the tiny home movement, Sheryl’s big picture outlook ensures that organizational leaders recognize and take advantage of the trends that shape the way we live. With perspective that will revolutionize your approach to long-term planning and strategy, Sheryl reveals her secrets for how to think like a futurist, and delivers the insights necessary for business leaders and organizations across industry sectors to thrive, innovate, and remain relevant in the new age of constant innovation and disruption.

Prior to joining Ford's trends team, Connelly spent eight years of her 18-year career with Ford working in a variety of marketing, sales, and service field positions for Ford Division, where she learned about everything from dealer relations and owner loyalty to new product launches and government regulations. Before she started working at Ford, she practiced law. In addition to a Juris Doctorate, she holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration. But after doing a short stint as a civil litigation attorney in Buffalo, NY, Connelly realized quickly that practicing law might not be the ideal fit for her, so she decided to look for the sweet spot of intersection between finance, business, and law.

"I took an unconventional path to get here, but I think everything I learned along the way helped me. Law school taught me how to put together a persuasive argument and how to research, analyze and distill information," she said. "And I think my love of art helps me understand how to think visually and reinforce complex ideas with simple images."

Connelly is openly passionate about her work but readily admits that the road that led her to where she is today included a few unexpected twists and turns. She teaches design research at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. Sheryl has also been a guest lecturer at Massachusetts Institute for Technology, University of Michigan, and Wharton School of Business.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in Birmingham, Michigan.

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Speaker Video

Sheryl Connelly: The Young Rebels & Renegades

Confessions Of A Corporate Futurist: Coming Trends That Will Revolutionize Your Business. No one knows what the future holds and despite our best efforts to prepare for the unknown, the future plays out in unexpected ways. All too often, the success and failure of an organization comes down to its ability to manage uncertainty and effectively identify how external—and seemingly unrelated—trends could have significant impacts to one’s business. In this compelling keynote talk, Sheryl Connelly reveals her secrets for how to think like a futurist, providing audiences with the expertise and strategies necessary for effectively anticipating change. From the 10 mega trends that could change the world as we know it before the year 2050 (which is a lot sooner than it seems), to perspective that will forever change one’s approach to long-term planning and strategy, Connelly delivers the insights necessary for organizations across industry sectors to thrive, innovate, and remain relevant.

Future Trends & Business Strategy.Sheryl Connelly offers audiences a look at the future and tips for scenario planning at their organizations. From exploring the things you can’t control to planning for multiple futures, she looks at how embracing the future, rather than fearing it, opens up immense opportunities. Tracking changes across social, technological, economic, environmental, and political arenas and shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors, she shares insights on the factors that will most affect business in the years to come. Connelly first covers both broad, “bird’s-eye view” trends like declining fertility rates, the global talent shortage, China and India, and the rising female frontier. She then moves to ground-level trends like ethical consumption and access versus ownership to assets. She takes these concepts and applies them to how consumers are acting today and will be in the near future, and her unsurpassed grasp on the future of business proves invaluable as she helps audiences take advantage of what’s next.

Innovation. With a constant eye on the future and a keen grasp on the trends that will affect business in the coming years, Sheryl Connelly is on the cutting edge of innovation. With the belief that if you are not innovating, you are falling behind, she shares insights on the disruptive ideas, technology, and trends of the coming years and offers tips for how to match the rapid pace of change we see in the marketplace. Incorporating her immense expertise on future trends and scenario planning, she helps organizations understand and prepare for the next wave of innovation.

The Future Of…Sheryl Connelly tailors her speech to the specific area of interest to her audience. From the future of leadership and the future of work to the future of luxury or women in business, she shares insights on the key trends that will affect her audience and their industry and offers tips for taking advantage of what’s coming down the pipeline in the years to come.

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