Susan Bales - Board Member

“My most profound learning has come from adventures at sea. Cruising the ocean in small sailboats, breaking ice in the Arctic with the Coast Guard, launching buoys with the Norwegians in 50-foot seas, crossing the steep north wall of the Gulf Stream with the Dutch, and landing on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier in stormy weather are waypoints in my life.”

Susan has spent over 30 years as a future-focused strategist and hands-on innovation practitioner. She co-founded Bales Innovation Group in 2010 to combine critical, orthogonal thinking with experimentation to create profound new business value. She is a transformational leader, blending business, technology and diverse human talent to boldly solve hard problems. Her curiosity and experience translate into game-changing resiliency, collaborative solutions and new processes that impact business and mankind.

Susan was appointed to the Federal Government’s Senior Executive Service (SES). She led high-level policy, security and technology initiatives on a national and international level. She helped establish a billion-dollar enterprise that prototypes “Navy after Next.” She developed the first Global Ocean Wave Climatology used in marine vehicle design and the first live ship-centric port dredging and navigation monitoring system in the US. Susan launched the seamark program VCs@Sea to help commercialize science and technology and to raise resources for start-up enterprises.

Susan currently serves as a business advisor and mentor with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at UNC Wilmington, mentoring entrepreneurs seeking to establish their companies in distinct new markets. She is an active participant in New Entrepreneurs of Wilmington (NEW) and the Defense Alliance of North Carolina (DANC). She is a Board Member for the Foreign Trade Promotion Council of North Carolina.

Susan earned a BS in physics and mathematics at the University of Mary Washington and completed graduate studies in engineering, computer science and business management at various prestigious universities. Susan was born on an island and has spent most of her life by the ocean. She is thrilled driving fast sports cars but finds serenity in the smell of the sea and the sight of endless ocean waves.