Advancing the Value of Ethnography

The Long View: Collective Wisdom on Where We’ve Been and How Ethnographic Practice Evolves to the Future


Seasoned leaders discuss how ethnography needs to evolve at a time of professional, social, and ecological upheaval.

The pandemic, layoffs, AI, inflation/deflation, climate change…these days there is plenty of upheaval. In times like this, it’s important to bring long views and collective wisdom to bear on breaking news and speculation. Join seasoned EPIC folks to reflect together on where we’ve been, what’s different (or not) about today’s challenges and opportunities, and what we think comes next for ourselves, our field, our organizations, and our communities.


Elizabeth Anderson-Kempe, PhD, is a Senior User Research Manager at Google. Trained as a cultural historian, Elizabeth has been practicing ethnography in industry for 25 years, first as a consultant, and for the past six years, working on product teams at big tech companies. She happened into “experience research,” starting her career at E-Lab in Chicago. She has stuck around because of her endless curiosity about humans and how we make sense of our world(s) and our place(s) in it. Elizabeth has been involved in the EPIC community since its inception and has served in various capacities. 

Luis Arnal, Design Lead at Accenture Song, has worked at the intersection of business, design and the social sciences for more than 28 years. Luis was founder and CEO of INSITUM, one of the leading global innovation consulting firms worldwide – acquired by Accenture in 2019. Today, Luis leads the design and product innovation function at Accenture In LATAM.

Martha Bird, PhD, is Chief Business Anthropologist – Global Strategy at ADP. Martha is a cultural anthropologist who has studied, researched, worked, and taught ethnographic methods to connect brands, products, and services to people in meaningful ways. Trained in qualitative field research methods, Martha translates user research into business opportunities for guiding product innovation, future product positioning, organizational culture, brand identity, and marketing strategies. A regular speaker at conference and industry events, Martha’s current engagements center on employee experience, multigenerational workforces, and the role of human connection in building successful teams. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Boston University.

Nalini P. Kotamraju, PhD, is Senior Vice President of Research & Insights at Salesforce, where she leads a cross-disciplinary team that drives insights for the Technology & Product Organization. Trained as a sociologist, Nalini has spent the past 25 years investigating people’s professional and personal use of technology.

Tony Salvador currently has a bespoke practice helping people in organizations solve seemingly intractable business problems with a social, psychological, and/or otherwise human foundation. Previously, he spent thirty years in the tech industry, most recently with Intel Corporation, where he helped start their ethnographic practice. You might know him from such papers as “Less Cyber, More Cafe”, “Heroic Innovation” and “Strategy = Systems Transformation”. He lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Heinrich Schwarz , Co-founder,, is an innovation strategist, business anthropologist, and design thinker in Hamburg, Germany. He is passionate about finding unexpected solutions to tricky problems and guiding clients towards products and business strategies for desirable futures. He co-founded Schwarz Innovation in 2012 and in 2019, people-centric consultancies that help organisations turn a deep understanding of people and cultures into novel solutions and meaningful business opportunities and strategies. He holds a Ph.D in science and technology studies from MIT.

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