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Norm Bilsbury, Ph.D. | Champaign, IL

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Norm Bilsbury, Ph.D.

Consultant, Coach, Facilitator & Speaker

Dedicated to your success

Norm Bilsbury, Ph.D.

As a consultant, facilitator, & trainer he has conducted & facilitated Organizational Change seminars, Leadership & Team-building workshops, & Organizational Cultural change Initiatives for companies like Gill Athletics, Bedloft, RR Donnelley, Sumitumo Electric, the United States Post Office, The Northern Trust, Solo-Cup Company, Kraft, Abbott Labs, Teleflex & Covidien, Johnson & Johnson, & Medtronic.
As a researcher, his doctoral dissertation focused on the use and design of 360 Degree Feedback assessments in 3 Fortune 500 companies: John Deere, State Farm, & Baxter Healthcare. The focus of the study was to understand how best-in-class companies designed and utilized Multi-Rater Assessment programs for leadership development, strategy deployment, and facilitating cultural change.
While working as a sales professional, mentor, and sales trainer on Chicago's North Shore, he was awarded the Cartier watch for the most outstanding performance across all divisions while at Covidien. During his roles in the Chicago and Cleveland markets, he acquired complex negotiations experience where he served as the lead sales person and negotiator on several multi-million dollar contracts. He also has extensive experience in selling disruptive technologies, necessitating paradigm shifts, and in creating new markets in a start-up environment.


As a speaker, he has presented at Global Sales Meetings for several Fortune 500 organizations. He has also spoken to the Case Western Executive MBA program & the University of Illinois MBA program, where he addressed the topic of “Disrupting a Market with a Disruptive Technology: Implications for Strategy”.

He has also spoken to the Professional Master's Program at College of Biomedical Engineering on Leadership and Management topics.

Finally, he has taught at the University level for both the graduate and undergraduate levels on Train-the-Trainer programs, Training in Business & Industry, Instructional Design, Training Evaluation, and Public Speaking. 

Former athlete & gladiator

Finally, Norm is a former Big Ten Varsity Athlete in Cross Country, winning 3 varsity letters as a walk-on. He was also a contestant on the old show “American Gladiators” where he survived Nitro & Thunder and lived to tell the story of his defeat.

meet norm: the early years

Raised in a military family and moving 5 times by age 15, our family settled in Alton, IL a town close to St. Louis. After graduating from Alton Senior High, I completed undergrad at University of Illinois in Liberal Arts & Sciences and emerged with mid-western values and affinity for Central Illinois. This is one reason why my wife and I moved back to Champaign in 2011 to raise our 3 children, who are a handful with each passing year.

As a college student, I had wanted to run in the Big Ten for Illinois on the Varsity Cross Country team. There I made the team a couple of years, and managed to letter several times, but wasn't fast enough to scholarship. I had a handful of good races but was never the star. Out of the necessity to earn money and not being content with getting paid by the hour, I started selling books with the Southwestern Company energized by the possibility of being paid on commission.

This sounds insane now, but at Southwestern I would make approx 12,000 cold calls over the next 3 summers. It was quite an experience and I learned a lot. While I loved the rewards of business development, it was out of this experience that I recognized early that I really wanted to advise, coach, and train leaders on a larger scale. My friends often told me that I had a gift for coaching and that I should consider this.

In my first sales roles, I saw first hand how many organizations often erroneously promoted their best sales people into management without providing them all the tools for success. And that quite often the best sales people did not necessarily make the best leaders.

This is one reason, I ultimately went back to graduate school. First a Master’s Degree in Training & Development, and then a PhD in Organizational Development from University of Illinois. I believed this background would provide me with a solid understanding of various models for designing world class training experiences and facilitating small and wide scale organizational change. I wanted to prepare myself to confidently and credibly advise business leaders toward success. 

Much like the medical doctor who finishes medical school in need of a residency in order to gain practical experience, I then went to work for Andersen Consulting in their Organizational Change and Human Performance group to hone my craft. While the pace was torrid, I learned a tremendous amount and grew professionally. After a year, I found myself desiring a new role not enjoying the 100 percent travel requirements. 


meet norm: the later years

I was then given a chance to work in the medical device industry in various sales, marketing, training, and management roles. I was especially intrigued by this opportunity as it was truly a field where technology improvements immediately yielded higher quality-of-life outcomes. There were many intrinsic rewards I will cherish because of the high quality people I was privileged to work with in this season of life.

In all, I worked in Medical Devices for 12 years, for companies like U.S. Surgical, Johnson & Johnson, & Medtronic. Because of the relationships I was blessed with I was successful in a number of roles and in various companies. Two of the companies were start-ups, one that was bought out by Johnson & Johnson for 800m--Acclarent, and another--Salient, that was bought by Medtronic for 300m.

Individually, I won a half-dozen awards, was given the Cartier watch for best performance across several hundred sales personnel, and possibly could have stayed in the industry for the rest of my career. But over the long term, my heart just wasn’t in it. In retrospect, I probably should have made the transition into private consulting a little sooner, but was hesitant to do so having a young family.  

Simultaneously during my time in the Medical Device Industry, I also worked with several small consulting firms on various side project as a sales trainer & organizational development consultant. I realized that I really enjoyed this type of work more than anything, and wanted to be one of those guys full time. 

Ultimately, my work passions are Consulting, Coaching, Leadership & Sales Force Development & Speaking. In coming to this conclusion, I researched various opportunities and discovered that Sandler has the best mix of sales and leadership development materials in the country -- and that I could be their representative in my hometown – so I signed on.

My goals are several. First I want to develop great leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence, great leadership skills, excellent communication skills, and a strong eye towards strategy, process, and management. Second I want to help the the solo-preneur and the entrepreneurs learn how to negotiate good deals, and become confident in their own deal making style. Third I want to help existing businesses and sales teams expand and accelerate top-line revenue growth and to avoid the negative stereotypes of selling, to be good at what they do, and proud of it.  

A strong economy depends on the cyclical, predictable, and regular exchange of goods and services. And this is the task of innovation, business development, leadership and sales---to facilitate all of the above.