Central Core Team

John W. Henke Jr.

John W. Henke, Jr., Ph.D.


Dr. Henke is a Professor of Marketing in the School of Business Administration at Oakland University (Rochester, MI). He is also a Research Fellow at The Center for Supply Chain Management, Rutgers Business School (New Brunswick, NJ). Prior to joining the academic community, he held sales and marketing management positions during a 15-year period with several firms, including IBM Corporation, Data Processing Division, and the Automotive Division of General Automation, an international manufacturer of automated industrial processes. He has continued his association with the business world as President of Planning Perspectives, a management consulting firm he founded that specializes in buyer-supplier working relations. In this capacity, he has worked with numerous diverse organizations, including, among others,   Boeing, BP, Chrysler, Cisco Systems, GE Healthcare and General Motors. See “Our Clients” for a complete list.

Under Professor Henke’s direction, Planning Perspectives conducts the Annual North American Automotive OEM-Tier 1 Supplier Working Relations Index® Study, a study of the working relations that exist between each of the six major North American OEMs (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) and their Tier 1 production suppliers. The Study’s annual OEM-Supplier Working Relations Index® (WRI®), which is based on suppliers’ experiences with each OEM in over 1200 buying situations, has become the benchmark measure of OEM-supplier working relations in the automotive industry.

Prof. Henke has given numerous presentations in the United States, Europe, and Japan on supplier relationship management and purchasing-related topics. His papers have been published in a variety of journals, including the Sloan Management Review, Marketing Letters, Industrial Marketing Management, International Business Review, Journal of Operations Management, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Business Strategy, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Business Horizons, Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, Journal of Marketing Education, Systemica, Systems Research, and the Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management. He has received several Best Paper awards, including from the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing for proving that a company’s  price reduction pressure does not impact supplier trust of the company.

When Prof. Henke was faculty advisor to the Oakland University American Marketing Association Student Chapter, the Chapter won the coveted International Student Chapter of the Year Award, besting over 430 student chapters from colleges and universities throughout North America.

His degrees include a B.A. (physics) from Eastern Michigan University, a M.S. (radiological physics) from Cornell University, and a M.B.A. (Advanced Management Program) and Ph.D. (marketing) from Michigan State University. While at Cornell he was the recipient of a Sloan-Kettering Fellowship. He has also received several automotive industry research grants from the MIT International Motor Vehicle Program.

B. Vera Ruseckas

B. Vera Ruseckas

Vice President

Prior to joining PPI, Ms. Ruseckas had over 30 years of experience working in a variety of positions at Ford Motor Company and Visteon Corporation. In her last position as Director of Global Operations for the Visteon Service Parts Business Group she was responsible for a diverse set of activities dealing with OEM service parts and aftermarket parts, including planning and coordinating the service parts requirements for automakers’ new vehicle launches, co-developing a manufacturing past-model service part strategy, and providing order-to-delivery support for Visteon’s service parts and aftermarket business customers. Ms. Ruseckas also served on a number of senior Visteon corporate committees, many of which focused on effectively integrating processes, people, and technology.

At Ford, Ms. Ruseckas held a variety of positions across a broad range of functions. These included strategy and management assignments in Information Technology, Customer and Business Support Centers, Fleet vehicle order forecasting, and vehicle order-to-delivery support. Throughout her career at Ford, Ms. Ruseckas was instrumental in introducing the use of new technologies into business processes.

Ms. Ruseckas has responsibility for all operational aspects of Planning Perspectives, including PPI staffing, hardware and software planning and management, as well as management of all client survey implementations.

Ms. Ruseckas has a B.A. in Mathematics from Wayne State University. She also received an M.B.A. from Wayne State University with induction into Beta Gamma Sigma, the National Business Honor Society, and has completed all course requirements for a M.A. in Liberal Studies at Oakland University.

Huiqun Xu

Huiqun Xu

Research Manager and Senior Statistician

Prior to joining PPI, Ms. Xu accumulated both academic and professional experience across a wide range of the quantitative sciences. As an expert in database management and statistics, she was previously a statistical analyst at the Research Center of William Beaumont Hospital. Along with her work in these applied fields and her in depth knowledge of pure mathematics, she was a lecturer for a variety of math courses at Wayne State University.

Ms. Xu has extensive experience building and manipulating databases, providing analytic support, performing data analyses, project management/coordination, and helping create reports of detailed findings. She also creates and manages online surveys, as well as collects the survey data for analysis to better understand the working relations between companies and their suppliers. Ms. Xu also assists Professor Henke in academic research.

These experiences have given her expertise in statistical and database software such as SPSS, SAS, Excel, AMOS, and SQL. She is also proficient in programming in Visual Basic, HTML, and Perl.

Her educational background includes a B.S. in mathematics in Zhejiang, China, and two M.S. degrees, one in statistics and one in computer science from Wayne State University.

Robert J. Ahrens

Robert J. Ahrens

Senior Consultant

Mr. Ahrens brings a broad and rich background in global market research and marketing from his extensive corporate experience. Through a wide array of research and marketing-related assignments over a 30-year business career, he has developed a deep understanding of market research and its application to marketing issues. He has been involved in market research activities in a variety of marketing positions, including marketing management, marketing strategy, business planning, joint ventures, new product development, sales promotion and training, and market intelligence for both whole goods and aftermarket parts.

Mr. Ahrens has worked on corporate staffs and at the operating levels at Caterpillar, Cummins, Colt Industries, Ford Motor, and Visteon Corporation. Mr. Ahrens’ last responsibilities, before joining PPI included managing custom research for advanced vehicles at Ford’s Market Research Office, and revitalizing the market research function at Visteon.

He received a B.A. in marketing from Michigan State University and has completed M.A. studies at New York University.

Heather Hansma

Heather Hansma

Art Director/Operations Manager

Ms. Hansma came to PPI with a broad background in graphic arts, working previously as an in-house designer in the publishing industry. Over the years she has developed an extensive portfolio as a designer, illustrator, and gallery artist. She plays an integral role at PPI, designing and creating reports and presentations for both print and digital formats. In this capacity, she applies her academic education and creativity to illustrate PPI’s client reports and presentations, as well as Dr. Henke’s public presentations at universities and conferences. She is also responsible for the identity system for PPI and manages PPI’s website.

In her capacity as Operations Manager, Ms. Hansma’s duties include a little bit of everything: the day-to-day logistics of the office, maintaining and organizing files, creating Excel reports and PowerPoint presentations for clients, and anything and everything needed to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently.

She is a graduate of the College for Creative Studies with a B.F.A. in Illustration.