Hal Brierley, Executive in Residence

Pioneer. Entrepreneur. Innovator

Hal began his career in direct marking in 1969, and spent the next four decades establishing the field of customer engagement. This trailblazing journey began shortly after graduating from Harvard Business School; Hal’s college fraternity asked him to draw on his computer savvy and valuable MBA skills to automate its membership records. Not finding a data processing firm that specialized in maintaining this type of record, he started one.

Hal served as president and CEO, and in just 10 years the company he co-founded, Epsilon Data Management, was working with more than 400 nonprofits and their membership databases, delving into questions about why donors give, and how to build and sustain relationships with them.

All that growth required frequent flying. And lots of conversations. Soon Epsilon was maintaining the records of United Airlines’ Red Carpet Club, and Hal became intrigued by the concept of customer loyalty.

“I naturally looked for a data processing firm that specialized in maintaining membership organizations, but we also found that our clients needed advice on how to use the computer to communicate with members, especially for fundraising, and we backed into becoming a direct marketing agency.”
Hal Brierley

A Finger on the Pulse

In 1980, after leaving Epsilon, Hal shared his groundbreaking ideas about customer loyalty with a business school classmate, now SVP of Marketing at American Airlines. That conversation led to him becoming the only outside consultant to work with a talented team of AA employees on the design of American Airlines AAdvantage®, the world’s first frequent-flyer program.

In short order, Hal became Vice President of Sales and Advertising for Pan American World Airways, where he launched WorldPass®, Pan Am’s frequent-traveler program (1982) and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Continental Airlines (1983).

An Unwavering Commitment to Innovation

Hal soon returned to his entrepreneurial roots, continuing his ahead-of-the-curve focus on loyalty, data, and innovative rewards.

1985: Launched Brierley+Partners, supporting loyalty program design efforts for over 200 of the world’s leading consumer brands.

1999: Founded e-Rewards, the world's leading online market research panel. As Chairman and CEO, Hal directed sales growth to over $105 million in 2009, managing multiple rounds of financing and its acquisition of Research Now.

2002: Created The Brierley Group as a consulting and venture development firm. Hal continues to expand its role to include the creation of innovative digital customer programs.

Attention in the Digital Age

Hal is a firm believer that "a well-crafted incentive can profitably change behavior” and lead the customer to buy more. True customer engagement, he says, requires the brand and the customer to have a conversation, even in an age when people are starved for time.

Hal in Action

See recent classroom lectures >