About HCI

Brian Nairn

Interim CEO and Chairman

Brian Nairn is currently a Partner at Education Growth Partners a private equity firm focused on funding education businesses.  Prior to that Brian was CEO of Elsevier Health, a division of Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of Scientific, Technical and Medical information products and services from 2001 to 2008. Elsevier Health publishes books, journals, magazines and on-line resources for physicians, healthcare practitioners, pharma professionals, researchers and educators around the globe and in more than 20 language.

Before he joined Elsevier Health, Brian’s career spanned more than 20 years serving  some of the most recognized names in publishing in senior leadership positions, including serving as President and COO of Cahners Business information, an $800 million U.S. based provider of magazines, data and online services across widespread geographic locations and multiple, diverse verticals.

Courtney Vital

Chief Learning Officer
Courtney Vital is Chief Learning Officer for the Human Capital Institute. In this role she leads the growing function that provides professional development, certification, and training to HCI’s individual and corporate members around the world. Courtney’s team oversees all aspects of educational strategy, program development, instructional design, delivery platforms, faculty management, and operational execution. Developing engaging and impactful learning experiences through a blend of modalities is Courtney’s passion. Prior to joining HCI, she spent 10+ years at the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD). Courtney had the opportunity to lead and grow ATD Education into a global training operation that has developed more than 80,000 learners to date. Having spent her entire career in professional education and training, Courtney is proud to hold the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance© (CPLP) credential. Courtney earned a B.A in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Masters in Adult Education candidate from Pennsylvania State University.

Bob Birdsong

Chief Marketing Officer
Bob Birdsong is the Chief Marketing Officer at Human Capital Institute and is responsible for developing and leading HCI's marketing strategy and execution, including product and channel marketing, brand, public relations, demand generation, marketing operations and sales enablement.
Bob has a strong track record of executive leadership with deep expertise leading teams across functional and business segments in myriad industry sectors. Since joining HCI, Bob has refined the firm’s market and brand position as a company dedicated to the education and empowerment of strategic talent management professionals.
Bob previously served Senior Director of Marketing for CEB, where he was responsible for planning and implementing go-to-market strategies for the firm's Talent Management Solutions division. Prior to CEB Bob served as Vice President of Marketing for SMS Holdings, responsible for executive leadership and management of the SMS Holdings’ marketing organization and all related activities.

Chad Boydston

Chief Financial Officer
Chad Boydston is the Chief Financial Officer at Human Capital Institute, Inc., leading the company’s finance and accounting functions, including planning, reporting, treasury, and tax. Prior to joining HCI, he served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller and Emerging Business CFO of Scripps Networks Interactive from 2006-2014. Boydston previously spent five years as a vice president in the internal audit division at Fifth Third Bancorp and eight years in the assurance and advisory services practice of Deloitte & Touche. He is a graduate of Xavier University.

Kara Schott

Vice President, Online Content and Community Operations
Kara Schott joined HCI in 2012 and serves as the Vice President of Online Content and Community Operations. In her role she provides oversight for the strategy and production of HCI’s online content, research reports, and live conference programming. Additionally, this team works to nurture the relationship between HCI and its external partners to deliver timely, relevant, and thought-provoking solutions to industry stakeholders. Prior to joining HCI Kara served in the financial service and retail industries, and was recognized by J.D. Power & Associates for excellence in customer retention. Kara holds a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Shane Lennon

Executive Director, Sales
Shane Lennon is HCI's Executive Director of Sales, overseeing the companies strategic relationships portfolio, which includes delegate acquisition for all conferences and educational trainings. Shane's professional background originates from the conference industry, having started as an intern at IQPC in 2005, before going on to serve as the Director of Inquiry sales. Mr Lennon holds a BSC in Psychology from Queen's University Belfast and received his Postgraduate Diploma in International Business Practice.

Barry Upbin

Senior Vice President, Client Relations
Barry Upbin joined HCI in 2009 and serves as Senior Vice President of Client Services. In this role, Mr. Upbin oversees the groups responsible for identifying partners who align to HCI’s mission and can help provide industry stakeholders with the information they need to source and retain high-performing employees, build a diverse, inclusive workplace, and foster both individual and team performance throughout their enterprise. Prior to joining HCI, Mr. Upbin served as the Sales Manager at IQPC, assisting enterprises with training across a wide array of educational conferences. Mr. Upbin holds a Bachelor of Science in Management and Marketing from the State University of New York at Albany.

John Freshwater

Senior Vice President, Corporate Solutions and Global Partnerships
High-growth companies provide the primary lens through which John sees the professional and annuity services world. Serving global teams and diverse client base he brings deep commercial and operational expertise in all aspects of high-growth inside sales and field sales for leaders and sales reps. John has worked in multiple fields, with a focus on the Performance and Human Capital space. A high-growth company is as much about people and change as it is about product and revenue. John’s passion for what makes for effective change enables individuals to see the world of work differently, customers to value the company offering, and executive team counterparts to bring both entities along the journey together.

John is from Denver, Colorado and currently resides in London, UK. John received his B.S. from Colorado State University, his MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado, and sits on the advisory board for select start-up ventures.