Judith S. Corson
Former Co-Founder and President – Custom Research Inc.
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Judy Corson is a committed board member and talented, visible executive leader. In 1974 she co-founded Custom Research Inc. (CRI), a provider of marketing research, customer satisfaction measurement, and database marketing services for multinational consumer, medical, service, and industrial product companies. She led the start-up company to be among the top 25 largest marketing research companies in the U.S., with 130 employees and offices in Minneapolis, New York, and San Francisco.
Under her leadership, she led the company to achieve world class excellence in all areas illustrated by winning the Minnesota Quality Award in 1995 and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1996. At the time, CRI was the smallest company, and the only professional services firm, to have received the Malcolm Baldrige Award. Corson was instrumental in the company’s selection as the subject of a Harvard Business School case and inclusion in Len Berry’s book, Discovering the Soul of Service, both in 1998.
In 1999, Corson was a key player in negotiating the sale of the company to GfK, a German-based firm. She remained with the company for three years to lead the transition, which ended in January 2003. She served on the GfK Ad Hoc Board of Managing Directors for three years, leading 52 companies worldwide and evaluating numerous potential acquisitions.
Prior to founding CRI, Corson worked in marketing research at Scott Paper Company in Philadelphia, and at The Pillsbury Company in Minneapolis where she developed and managed an internal profit center providing consumer research services to Fortune 500 companies.
Corson is a member of numerous corporate and professional boards. Her board style encourages team work and innovation, with a rigorous focus on governance process, financial results, and service excellence. Her corporate involvement includes Health Partners (current), VisionShare and NPD Group. In the mid-1980s to early 1990s, she also served on two New York Stock Exchange Boards, International Multifoods and Tonka Corporation. Professional boards include Chief Executives Organization, Center for Ethical Business Cultures, and Marketing Research Association. In 1980, she was the first woman member of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization, and was a founding member of The Committee of 200.
Corson gives back to the community as a member of many nonprofit and educational boards. In 1999, she chaired the board of the United Way, and chaired their campaign in 1996. She is also a former board member of Minnesota Historical Society, Greater Minneapolis Girl Scout Council, and Minnesota Orchestral Association. She served on the board of trustees at Lake Forest College, and is a Trustee Emeritus of the University of Minnesota Foundation. She chairs the Advisory Board of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management.
In 2014, Corson was inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame. She received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota in 2009, and United Way’s First Great Giving Award in 2008. Corson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota, and attended Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.