15 - 16 September 2017

Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

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Speakers And Moderators

Teo Chee Hean

Deputy Prime Minister and
Coordinating Minister for National Security
Republic of Singapore

Mr Teo Chee Hean was appointed Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister on 1 April 2009. He also serves, since 21 May 2011, as Coordinating Minister for National Security. He is also Minister in charge of the Civil Service, oversees the Prime Minister’s Office Strategy Group, including the National Population and Talent Division and the National Climate Change Secretariat, and is Chairman of the National Research Foundation.

In the first phase of his career, he served in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) where he held various command and staff appointments in the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Joint Staff. In 1991, he was appointed Chief of Navy, and was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.

In December 1992, he left the SAF to seek elected public office and was elected as a Member of Parliament in a by-election in the Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC). He was re-elected to Parliament five times in the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

He has served as the Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Defence, Minister for Education, and Minister for the Environment. He has also served as Minister of State in the ministries of Finance, Communications and Defence.

He was awarded the President’s Scholarship and the SAF Scholarship in 1973. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science with first class honours in Electrical Engineering and Management Science from the University of Manchester in 1976. He subsequently attained a Master of Science degree with distinction in Computing Science in 1977 at the Imperial College in London, and a Master in Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University in 1986, where he was named a Littauer Fellow.

Mr Teo was born on 27 December 1954.

He is married to Chew Poh Yim. They have a son and a daughter.


Ho Kwon Ping

Conference Chairman
Executive Chairman
Banyan Tree Holdings

Mr Ho Kwon Ping is Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings. He is also Executive Chairman of Thai Wah Public Company, the founding and current Chairman of the board of trustees of Singapore Management University and also a board director of Diageo, the spirits company listed in the United Kingdom.

Educated in Tunghai University, Taiwan; Stanford University, California; and the University of Singapore, he worked as a broadcast and financial journalist and was the Economics Editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong before joining the Thai Wah family business in 1981. He founded Laguna Phuket in 1987 and Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts in 1994.

In 2015, his book “The Ocean in a Drop: Singapore in the next Fifty Years” was published as a compilation of public lectures he gave as the Inaugural Fellow of the SR Nathan Lecture Series, named after the sixth President of Singapore.


Nik Gowing

International Broadcaster

Mr Nik Gowing was a main news presenter for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) international 24-hour news channel BBC World News from 1996-2014. He presented “The Hub with Nik Gowing”, “BBC World Debates”, “Dateline London”, plus location coverage of major global stories.

For 18 years he worked at Independent Television News where he was Bureau Chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1996). He has been a member of the councils of Chatham House (1998-2004), the Royal United Services Institute (2005-present), and the Overseas Development Institute (2007-2014); the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, including Vice Chair (1996-2005); and the advisory council at Wilton Park (1998-2012). In 1994, he was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Barone Centre in the J F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Mr Gowing has extensive reporting experience over three decades in diplomacy, defence and international security. His peer-reviewed study at Oxford University is “Skyful of Lies and Black Swans”. It predicts and identifies the new vulnerability, fragility and brittleness of institutional power in the new all-pervasive public information space.

In 2016, Mr Gowing produced a new interim report for the Churchill 2015 21st Century Statesmanship Global Leaders Programme called “Thinking the Unthinkable: A New Imperative for Leadership in the Digital Age”. The report is a rolling, ongoing, dynamic investigation into why leaders have appeared more unable or unwilling than ever to anticipate the biggest issues of recent time.

Mr Gowing was appointed a Visiting Professor at Kings College, London in the School of Social Science and Public Policy in 2014. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geo-economics.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Exeter University in 2012, and in 2015, he was awarded a Doctor of Laws honorary degree by Bristol University.


Joseph Tsai

Executive Vice Chairman
Alibaba Group

Mr Joseph C Tsai joined Alibaba in 1999 as a member of the Alibaba founding team and has served as Executive Vice Chairman since May 2013. He has been a non-executive director of Alibaba Health since September 2015. Mr Tsai previously served as Chief Financial Officer and has been a member of the board of directors since the formation of Alibaba.

From 1995 to 1999, Mr Tsai worked in Hong Kong with Investor, the main investment vehicle of Sweden’s Wallenberg family, where he was responsible for Asian private equity investments. Prior to that, he was Vice President and General Counsel of Rosecliff, a management buyout firm based in New York. From 1990 to 1993, Mr Tsai was an associate attorney in the tax group of Sullivan & Cromwell, a New York-based international law firm. Mr Tsai serves on the boards of directors of several of Alibaba’s investee companies.

Mr Tsai is qualified to practise law in the State of New York. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and East Asian studies from Yale College and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.


Vijay Vaitheeswaran

US Business Editor
The Economist

Mr Vijay Vaitheeswaran is the new United States (US) Business Editor of The Economist. He is also an award-winning book author and an accomplished public speaker. Observing that “he does not shirk taking on tough topics,” The Financial Times has declared him to be “a writer to whom it is worth paying attention.”

He opened his magazine’s first Shanghai bureau in 2012, and served as its China Business Editor until mid-2017. His editorial responsibilities ranged from business and finance to technology and innovation. He was the author of the first lengthy special report produced by The Economist in a decade on business in China (“Back to Business”) as well as its first ever on the Pearl River Delta (“Jewel in the Crown”). 

He led the editorial team that launched the Global Business Review, the first bilingual product offered by The Economist in its 174-year history. This digital publication offers curated content from the magazine in both Chinese and English. Apple highlighted the product as one of the best news apps in its ecosystem soon after its launch in 2015.

Mr Vaitheeswaran joined the editorial staff of The Economist in 1992 as its London-based Latin America correspondent, and opened its first regional bureau in Mexico City in 1994. From 1998 to 2006, he covered the politics, economics, business and technology of energy and the environment. From 2007 to 2011, his portfolio encompassed innovation, global health, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. He has produced numerous cover stories and won awards for his reporting.

His latest book is “Need, Speed and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked Problems”. Kirkus Reviews declares it to be “a perfect primer for the post-industrial age” and Amazon named it a Selection of the Month. His second book, “ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future,” co-authored with Iain Carson, was named a Book of the Year by The Financial Times. His first book, “Power to the People,” was reviewed by Scientific American as “by far the most helpful, entertaining, up-to-date and accessible treatment of the energy-economy-environment problematique available.” 

Mr Vaitheeswaran is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is an adviser on sustainability and innovation to the World Economic Forum. He has also taught at New York University’s Leonard N Stern School of Business. His commentaries have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and The New York Times. He has addressed groups ranging from the US National Governors’ Association and the United Nations General Assembly to TED, Aspen Ideas and Clinton Global Initiative conferences. He also serves as chairman of a provocative series of Innovation Summits organised by The Economist, held annually in Chicago, Hong Kong and Berlin.

Mr Vaitheeswaran is an engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was named a Harry S Truman Presidential Scholar by the US Congress. During his studies at the University of London, he served as a Hansard Scholar in the British Parliament.


Prof Yan Xuetong

Institute of Modern International Studies
Tsinghua University

Prof Yan Xuetong is the Dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations, Tsinghua University; Secretary General of the World Peace Forum; and the Editor-in-Chief of The Chinese Journal of International Politics. He is Vice Chairman of China Association of International Relations Studies and China Association of American Studies, and a member of Consultation Committee of Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.

Prof Yan received his Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from University of California, Berkeley in 1992; Master of Arts in International Relations from the Institute of International Relations in 1986; and Bachelor of Arts in English from Heilongjiang University in 1982.

Prof Yan has been selected to be on the list of the Most Cited Chinese Researchers by Elsevier for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016. He has published more than a hundred papers and articles on international relations. His recent books include “Inertia of History: China and the World in Next 10 Years” (2013), “The Analysis of International Relations” (Second Edition, 2013), “Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power” (2011), etc.


Clay Chandler

Executive Editor
Time Inc International

Mr Clay Chandler is Executive Editor for the international division of Time Inc, where he oversees editorial operations outside North America and develops content and programming for business conferences including the Fortune Global Forum, Brainstorm Tech and Brainstorm Design. With two decades of experience researching, editing and reporting in Asia, Mr Chandler has deep knowledge of the region’s “Big Three” economies: China, Japan and India. He is a regular contributor to Fortune and other Time Inc titles, and publishes the weekly China-focused edition of the “Fortune CEO Daily” newsletter. Mr Chandler’s roles as Co-Chairman of the Fortune Global Forum and Co-Chairman of Brainstorm Tech International, both to be held in 2017 in Guangzhou, China, take him regularly to the Chinese mainland and afford him a frontline perspective of Chinese innovation and entrepreneurialism.

In 2017, Mr Chandler was appointed Chairman of Brainstorm Design, a new conference exploring the growing importance of design in the business strategies of Fortune Global 500 firms. Brainstorm Design, held annually in March in Singapore, combines the editorial and marketing firepower of three of Time Inc’s most influential titles—Fortune, TIME and Wallpaper—and connects the world’s top designers with leaders of its most powerful companies.

From 2008 through 2013, Mr Chandler was Asia Editor for McKinsey & Company, the global consultancy, where he worked with senior partners around the world to develop and share the firm’s knowledge, insight and ideas. While at McKinsey, he led a variety of high-profile projects for the firm, including McKinsey’s “Reimagining” essay series, which he conceived, developed, and edited. He is co-editor of “Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower” (2013), “Reimagining Japan: The Quest for a Future That Works” (2011) and “Korea 2020: Global Perspectives for the Next Decade” (2010).

Prior to joining McKinsey, Mr Chandler was an award-winning journalist, serving as Asia Editor of Fortune (2001-08); Washington, DC-based chief economic correspondent (1992-99), and Hong Kong-based Asian economic correspondent (1999-2001) for the Washington Post; and Tokyo correspondent for The Wall Street Journal (1989-92).

Mr Chandler speaks Japanese and Mandarin. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and, before embarking on his journalism career, was a doctoral candidate in political science in the government department of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is a former fellow of Harvard’s John King Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies, a member of the Hong Kong Forum, and serves as a director of the Harvard Club of Hong Kong.


Charlene Barshefsky

Senior International Partner, WilmerHale
Former United States Trade Representative

Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky is WilmerHale's Senior International Partner and chairs the firm's International Trade, Investment and Market Access Practice Group. She joined WilmerHale after serving as the United States Trade Representative (USTR) - the chief trade negotiator and principal trade policymaker for the United States (US) - from 1997 to 2001, and as Acting and Deputy USTR from 1993 to 1996. As the USTR and a member of the President's Cabinet, she was responsible for the negotiation of hundreds of complex market access, regulatory and investment agreements with virtually every major country in the world. She is best known internationally as the architect and chief negotiator of China's historic World Trade Organisation agreement, as well as global agreements in financial services, telecommunications, intellectual property rights, high-technology products and cyberspace. She is recognised as a central figure for international business and international economic and trade issues. Her extensive legal career has encompassed international litigation, commercial and government negotiations, investment and regulatory advice, and dispute resolution, and she has written and lectured extensively in the US and abroad.

Ambassador Barshefsky has been honoured by both Harvard and Yale law schools; her negotiations are the subject of several Harvard Business School case studies and numerous profiles, and she is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and professional honours. She is ranked as one of the most influential lawyers in the US.

Ambassador Barshefsky serves on the boards of the American Express Company, Estée Lauder Companies, and Intel Corporation. She is also a Trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in the US.


Hon Peter Costello AC

Chairman of the Board
Future Fund, Australia

Hon Peter Costello AC was Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia from March 1996 to December 2007. He delivered 12 Federal Budgets including 10 surpluses. During this period, Australia's sovereign rating was upgraded twice to its current AAA level.

From 2008 to 2014, Mr Costello was a member, then Chairman of the Independent Advisory Board of the World Bank, advising on transparency and anti-corruption measures. He has served as a governor of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. For over a decade, he was a member of the Committee of the International Monetary Fund. He has been Chairman of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Ministerial Council, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Finance Ministers, and the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.

From 2009, Mr Costello has been a member, then Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Australian Future Fund. He is a director of Nine Entertainment Holdings. Mr Costello is Chairman of ECG Financial, a boutique financial adviser in Australia.


Richard W Fisher

Senior Adviser

Mr Richard Fisher is Senior Adviser to Barclays and a director of AT&T and PepsiCo. Mr Fisher served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the United States (US) Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from April 2005 through March 2015. Mr Fisher served as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve’s principal monetary policymaking group. From 2010 to 2012, he was Chairman of the Conference of Federal Reserve Bank Presidents, the oversight committee for the operations of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks.

Mr Fisher began his career in 1975 at the private bank of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. In 1987, he created Fisher Capital Management and a separate hedge funds management firm, Fisher Ewing Partners. He served as Deputy US Trade Representative with the rank of Ambassador from 1997 to 2001. From 2001 to 2005, he was Vice Chairman of Kissinger McLarty Associates, a strategic advisory firm chaired by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Mr Fisher is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary fellow of the Hertford College at Oxford University and serves on Harvard University’s Board of Overseers where he chairs the Social Sciences Committee and is a member of the University’s Inspections (Audit and Risk Management) Committee. In 2006, Mr Fisher received the Service to Democracy Award and the Dwight D Eisenhower Medal for Public Service from the American Assembly. In 2009, he was inducted into the Dallas Business Hall of Fame. In 2014, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. In February 2015, he received the Order of the Aztec Eagle award, the highest honour given by the Mexican government to foreigners. He received the Neil Mallon Award, one of Dallas’ highest honours, in October 2015.

Mr Fisher was educated at the US Naval Academy, Harvard, Oxford and Stanford Business School. He is the father of four children, Anders, Alison, Miles and Texana (deceased), and very proud that all four of them did their undergraduate work with distinction at Harvard.


Dr Evan S Medeiros

Managing Director, Asia
Eurasia Group

Dr Evan S Medeiros leads Eurasia Group’s coverage of the Asia-Pacific, a region that offers unprecedented opportunities for global businesses. His team helps clients understand and navigate developed and emerging markets by assessing risk and formulating strategies and tactics to take advantage of these opportunities.

In June 2015, Dr Medeiros stepped down from the position of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the White House’s National Security Council (NSC). In that role, Dr Medeiros served as President Barack Obama’s top adviser on the Asia-Pacific and was responsible for coordinating United States' (US) policy toward the region across the areas of diplomacy, defence policy, economic policy, and intelligence affairs. Dr Medeiros served on the NSC staff for nearly six years and was actively involved in US-China relations, including by developing the initial proposal for the Sunnylands Summit, planning Obama’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014, and managing numerous other high-level US-China interactions.

Dr Medeiros previously worked as a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He also served as policy adviser to the special envoy for China and the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue at the US Treasury Department. Dr Medeiros holds a doctorate in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Kamal Nath

Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha)
Former Union Minister for Commerce and Industry
Government of India

Mr Kamal Nath is India’s most senior serving Member of Parliament (MP), having been elected to the Parliament for a record nine terms since 1980.

He is currently the General Secretary of the Indian National Congress and a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce. He is also a member of the Consultative Committees for the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Being the most senior MP, he served as Speaker Protem.

He has held several significant assignments in the Government since 1991.

He held the dual portfolios of Minister of Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs from 2012 till May 2014.

As the Minister of Road Transport and Highways from May 2009 to January 2011, he set a new benchmark by developing 12 kilometres of national highways per day.

As the Minister of Commerce and Industry from 2004 to 2009, he enunciated India’s first comprehensive Foreign Trade Policy in 2004, laying out a coherent roadmap focusing on exports and employment.

During his tenure as Minister of State, Textiles (Independent Charge) from 1995 to 1996, the country touched new heights in the production and export of cotton and the launch of the New Textiles Policy led to an all-time high export of garments and fabrics.

During his tenure as Minister of State, Environment and Forests (Independent Charge) from 1991 to 1995, Mr Nath made a remarkable contribution to the enunciation and development of the National Policy on Ecological Conservation and the Abatement of Pollution.

Mr Nath has also represented India at the United Nations General Assembly in 1982 and 1983. He also attended the International Parliamentary Union Conferences held in Nicaragua (1987), Guatemala (1988) and Cyprus (1990).

In 2006, Jabalpur University conferred on him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his remarkable contribution to public life.

Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia

Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia

Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations

Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, an eminent Indian economist, is Chairperson of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), a leading think tank based in New Delhi and engaged in policy-oriented research.

Dr Ahluwalia’s research has focused on policy-oriented challenges facing the Indian economy in the areas of urbanisation, sustainable public service delivery, macroeconomic issues, and industrial growth and productivity. At ICRIER, she led the Research and Capacity Building Programme on the Challenges of Urbanisation in India from March 2013 to March 2015. She was Chairperson of the High Powered Expert Committee on Urban Infrastructure and Services, the Government of India, from 2008 to 2011.

Dr Ahluwalia has written a number of books, the latest being “Transforming Our Cities: Postcards of Change” (HarperCollins, 2014), and a co-edited volume titled “Urbanisation in India: Challenges, Opportunities and the Way Forward” (Sage India, 2014). She is also the co-editor, with Prof Ian Malcolm David Little, of “India’s Economic Reforms and Development: Essays for Manmohan Singh” (OUP, 2013), which is an updated version of the original volume published in 1998.

Dr Ahluwalia is on the board of trustees of a number of national and international research institutions. She was a board member of the International Water Management Institute from 2010 to 2016. She was Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC, from 2003 to 2006. She routinely participates in and contributes to international conferences both in India and abroad, the latest being at the Emerging Markets Forum at the Bank of France in Paris in April 2016.

Dr Ahluwalia received her Bachelor of Arts with honours from Presidency College, Calcutta University, a Master of Arts from the Delhi School of Economics, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Economics. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 2009 for her services in the field of education and literature.


Ken Kobayashi

Chairman of the Board
Mitsubishi Corporation

Mr Ken Kobayashi is Chairman of the Board of Mitsubishi Corporation, a global integrated business enterprise that develops and operates businesses across virtually every industry including industrial finance, energy, metals, machinery, chemicals, foods and the environment. Current business interests are diverse, ranging from the development of natural resources to investment in retail businesses, infrastructure, financial products and manufacturing of industrial goods. With over 200 offices and subsidiaries in approximately 90 countries worldwide and a network of nearly 1,200 group companies, Mitsubishi Corporation employs a multinational workforce of over 77,000 people.

Mr Kobayashi began his career with Mitsubishi Corporation in 1971 in the Ship Department. His first overseas assignment was at the London Branch Office in 1980. Mr Kobayashi returned to Tokyo in 1985 and continued to hold management roles in the Ship Department for 15 years.

From April 2001 to June 2004, Mr Kobayashi was General Manager and later Senior Vice President of the Singapore Branch Office. He was also with the Colombo Branch Office in Sri Lanka from March 2002 to August 2003. Returning to Tokyo in June 2004, Mr Kobayashi held several management roles at the Plant Project Division and the Ship, Aerospace and Transportation Systems Division.

He has been a member of Mitsubishi Corporation’s Board of Directors since June 2007 and was appointed Executive Vice President and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Industrial Finance, Logistics and Development Group in June 2008. Mr Kobayashi was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Corporation in June 2010.

Mr Kobayashi was born on 14 February 1949.


Desmond Choo

Director, Youth Development Unit
Director, Industry Transformation and Productivity
National Trades Union Congress
Mayor of North East District
Member of Parliament

Mr Desmond Choo is Director of the Youth Development Unit at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), advocating young workers’ issues for Singapore’s largest youth movement, Young NTUC. He is concurrently Director of the Industrial Relations Department, driving industry transformation and productivity. He is also the Executive Secretary of the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore.

Mr Choo is an elected Member of Parliament for Tampines Group Representative Constituency and the Adviser to Tampines Changkat Grassroots Organisations. He is also the Mayor of North East District.

Prior to NTUC, he had served in various roles in the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Ministry of Manpower and the private sector. His last position before taking up his NTUC appointment was Senior Vice President, Investments, of Kestrel Capital. He was instrumental in leading the acquisition of La Liga’s Valencia Club de Fútbol (CF) and development of the non-profit foundation of Valencia CF. He was on the board, advising the development of Hotel Football in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Mr Choo studied at Ai Tong School, Catholic High School and National Junior College. He was awarded the SPF Overseas Merit Scholarship in 1997 to read economics at the University of Chicago.


Liam Maxwell

National Technology Adviser
HM Government
United Kingdom

Mr Liam Maxwell is the National Technology Adviser for HM Government of the United Kingdom (UK).

Mr Maxwell’s role is to create the conditions to make the UK the best place for business to invest in technology and to ensure the civil service can make the best use of emerging technologies to deliver effective digital government.

From 2012 to 2016, Mr Maxwell was Chief Technology Officer for HM Government. His teams at the Government Digital Service established the Common Technology Services function, which delivered a range of projects from the Crown Hosting Service to the Public Services Network, the Digital Marketplace and the spend control and delivery assurance function. The changes to technology that his team introduced across the government helped to save £3.5 billion in the last four years of the 2010 parliament.

Mr Maxwell is Visiting Professor in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He has a background as an Information Technology Director in the Financial Times Stock Exchange and Fortune 500 business service companies. From 2007 to 2011, Mr Maxwell was elected twice as a councillor and Cabinet Member for Policy at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

Mr Maxwell has a strong interest in education and is a founder of Holyport College, a free school.


Antoine Blondeau

Co-Founder and Co-Chairman
Sentient Technologies

Mr Antoine Blondeau is Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Sentient Technologies, one of the world’s leading companies in Artificial Intelligence (AI). A seasoned entrepreneur and investor, Mr Blondeau has 25 years of experience in the technology industry, having held senior leadership positions at Good Technology, Salesforce and Sybase.

Mr Blondeau’s career highlights include leading as Chief Executive Officer at Dejima, the company that powered the United States’ (US) Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency's foundational ‘Cognitive Agent that Learns and Organises’ project that later evolved into Apple’s Siri. Mr Blondeau was also Chief Operating Officer of Zi Corporation, now part of Nuance Communications, whose predictive text input software was embedded in hundreds of millions of devices.

Mr Blondeau is an investor in 20 technology ventures, as well as board member of, and adviser to, technology companies in the US and Greater China. He is an advisory board member of the Digital Communication Fund of Pictet et Cie, and a member of the AI-focused Beyond think tank sponsored by Audi. He is the author or co-author of five patents.

Mr Blondeau holds a Master of Business Administration from the Paris Graduate School of Management and has studied at Chuo University in Tokyo.


Prof Chan Heng Chee

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Singapore

Prof Chan Heng Chee is Ambassador-at-Large with the Singapore Foreign Ministry. She chairs the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She is Chairman of the National Arts Council, a member of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, a member of the Constitutional Commission 2016, a member of the Presidential Elections Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Social Science Research Council.

Prof Chan is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National University of Singapore and a member of the Yale-NUS Governing Board. She serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Chinese Cultural Centre. She is a member of the Advisory Council of Temasek Foundation Connects.

Prof Chan serves as a trustee of the Asia Society, New York, and a member of the International Advisory Panel, AXA Group, GIE AXA, Paris (France).

Previously, she was Singapore’s Ambassador to the United States and Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations with concurrent accreditation as High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico.

Prof Chan received a number of awards including The Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1999; The Meritorious Service Medal in 2005; The Distinguished Service Order in 2011; honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters in 1994 from the University of Newcastle, Australia, and the University of Buckingham (United Kingdom) in 1998; and the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 2015 from the University of Warwick (United Kingdom).

When Prof Chan left Washington at the end of her appointment, she received the Inaugural Asia Society Outstanding Diplomatic Achievement Award; the Inaugural Foreign Policy Outstanding Diplomatic Achievement Award 2012; and the United States Navy Distinguished Public Service Award.


Paul Polman

Chief Executive Officer

Mr Paul Polman has been Chief Executive Officer of Unilever since January 2009. Under his leadership, Unilever has an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Mr Polman is Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and a member of the B Team, and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocacy Group. He also serves on the board of the UN Global Compact.

Mr Polman has been closely involved in global discussions on the SDGs and action to tackle climate change. In 2016, Mr Polman was asked by the UN Secretary-General to be a member of the SDG Advocacy Group, tasked with promoting action on the 2030 Agenda. Prior to this, he served on the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, presenting recommendations on the SDGs on behalf of the private sector. Mr Polman is also a member of the newly formed Business and Sustainable Development Commission, and served on the International Council of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate under former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon.


Dr Jacob A Frenkel

JPMorgan Chase International

Dr Jacob A Frenkel is Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, Chairman of the board of trustees of the Group of Thirty (G30) and Chairman of the board of governors of Tel Aviv University. Previously he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the G30 (2000-2011), as Vice Chairman of American International Group (2004-2009) and Chairman of Merrill Lynch International (2000-2004). He was Governor of the Bank of Israel (1991-2000) and is credited with reducing inflation and achieving price stability, liberalising Israel’s financial markets, removing foreign exchange controls, and integrating the Israeli economy into the global financial system.

Previously he was the Economic Counsellor and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund (1987-1991); Editor of the Journal of Political Economy, and the David Rockefeller Professor of International Economics at the University of Chicago (1973-1987).

Dr Frenkel is a Laureate of the 2002 Israel Prize in Economics, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of numerous prizes, honours and awards from various universities and governments. He is a member of the board of trustees of the New York Economic Club, a member of the board of directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research, of the Japan Society, and of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is a member of the boards of the Aspen Institute Italia and The Council for the United States and Italy, a member of the Temasek International Panel, of the Group of Twenty Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance, and a member of the International Advisory Council of China Development Bank. He is also a member of the board of directors of Boston Properties and Loews Corporation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Economics from the University of Chicago.


Dasho Tshering Tobgay

Prime Minister

Royal Government of Bhutan

Dasho Tshering Tobgay is the Prime Minister of Bhutan since 27 July 2013. He is the leader and one of the founders of the People’s Democratic Party. From March 2008 to April 2013, he remained the Leader of the Opposition Party in the National Assembly of Bhutan. He also served as President of the People’s Democratic Party during the same period. Before joining politics, he served in the erstwhile Ministry of Labour and Employment. Prior to that, he set up the National Technical Training Authority in 1999 and remained its Director till 30 June 2003. He started his career in the Technical and Vocational Education Section within the Department of Education.

Dasho Tobgay is the first recipient of the reinstituted Lungmar Scarf (a lifelong scarf). He was conferred the Lungmar by His Majesty the King of Bhutan during the 107th National Day celebration on 17 December 2014. This was awarded in recognition of his contributions to the democratic process during his tenure as the opposition leader from 2008 to 2012, and with the expectation that he would serve equally well as the Prime Minister. 

Dasho Tobgay received a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Mechanical) from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dasho Tobgay is married to Tashi Doma and has two children. He enjoys volunteering, reading, trekking, bicycling, jogging, archery, music and drama. He is a prolific blogger, and is active on Facebook and Twitter.


Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Minister of Finance

Republic of Indonesia

Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati is an Indonesian economist, who is currently serving as the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, a position she has held since July 2016. She returned to this position after serving as the World Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, where she was responsible for the Bank’s operations around the world. At the Bank, Dr Sri Mulyani often represented the World Bank Group at the Group of Twenty. She also chaired the International Development Association − the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries.

Dr Sri Mulyani is also currently chairing the Development Committee − a ministerial-level forum of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for intergovernmental consensus-building on development issues. The Committee’s mandate is to advise the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the Fund on critical development issues and on the financial resources required to promote economic development in developing countries.

Before Dr Sri Mulyani joined the World Bank in 2010, she served as the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia from 2005 to 2010, in addition to being the Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs from 2008 to 2009. She was also the Minister of National Development Planning (2004-2005) prior to her position as the Minister of Finance.

Her previous professional experience includes the Executive Director position at the IMF for Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, and Vietnam from 2002 to 2004. In academic life, Dr Sri Mulyani has been a faculty member at the University of Indonesia since 1986 and was a visiting professor at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at the Georgia State University in the United States (US) (2001-2002).

Dr Sri Mulyani earned a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science in Economics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in the US and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Indonesia.

Farahnaz Ali Ghodsinia

Children of Mindanao
The Philippines

Ms Farahnaz Ali Ghodsinia, 24, founded Children of Mindanao, a social-civic venture that provides educational assistance to both Muslim and Christian groups in southern Philippines. With Children of Mindanao, she wants children of Muslim and Catholic communities to learn together. In addition, Children of Mindanao provides educational assistance and materials to the region.

Ms Ghodsinia is one of the Young Leaders at the European Development Days 2017 which aims to bring the development community together to inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. She was among 16 young leaders chosen worldwide, and the only representative from Southeast Asia. Ms Ghodsinia was elected President of the 10th National Young Parliament of the Philippines, the largest parliamentary gathering of young leaders in the country. The National Youth Parliament is a platform for young leaders to craft and lobby policy recommendations that address youth issues.

In 2014, she also became a Young Fellow of the World Islamic Economic Forum’s Young Leaders Network, a global youth network established for Muslim leaders and changemakers to collaborate for the common good. In 2016, she was among 30 Learners worldwide for the 2015-2016 World Innovation Summit for Education Learners’ Voice Programme, a network aimed to bring together perspectives of young people to the challenge of rethinking education. In early 2017, she was featured in Lifestyle Asia’s “30 Young Gamechangers” with other young Filipino leaders and innovators.

Aditi Prasad

Aditi Prasad

Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder

In 2009, Ms Aditi Prasad, 31, co-founded Robotix Learning Solutions, a company with a mission to inspire the next generation of innovators and creators, with her sister. Under the aegis of Robotix, they laid the groundwork for the Indian Girls Code initiative, a free, hands-on coding and robotics education programme for underprivileged girls. The Indian Girls Code initiative works to inspire and educate young girls to learn to code and develop real-world programmes for real-world applications.

In 2013, Robotix, in collaboration with Meritus Learning Solutions, created the Indian Robotix League, an annual robotics training and competition for those from eight to 22 years of age to inspire tomorrow’s innovators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In 2016, Robotix launched its complete “Make in India” robotic educational product called Phiro. It is currently working with schools all over India to include robotics as part of the school curriculum to inspire kids to be innovators and creators by using hands-on practical methods of teaching.

Ms Prasad, as the Chief Operating Officer of Robotix, leads the operations of the robotics education programmes, events, social initiatives, product strategy and vision. Previously, Ms Prasad was Project Associate at the China Studies Centre at Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India. She was part of the executive education team at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at the National University of Singapore. She has a Master in Public Policy from the LKYSPP and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Indian Law Society’s Law College in Pune, India.

Lotfullah Najafizada

Lotfullah Najafizada


Mr Lotfullah Najafizada, 29, is an award-winning journalist and director of TOLOnews, Afghanistan’s top 24/7 news and current affairs television channel.

At TOLOnews, Mr Najafizada oversees the largest news operation in Afghanistan with a newsroom of over 100 journalists and media professionals in Kabul and bureaus around the country, producing about 18 hours of television content per day. He occasionally conducts television interviews with many global leaders, including former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg.

In 2012, Mr Najafizada was selected by the Asia Society to be part of Asia’s 21 Young Leaders Initiative. TOLOnews’s staff, having been critical of the insurgent groups that wreck carnage across Afghanistan, put their lives on the line to explain what is happening in the war-ridden country. Independent Afghan television news station, TOLOnews, picked up the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Kate Webb Prize, on 12 January 2016, for its fearless reporting in one of the world’s most dangerous countries. The prize, named after the crusading AFP reporter who died in 2007, was given to the privately-run station, which saw seven of its employees killed in a Taliban attack in January 2016. On World Press Freedom Day 2016, Reporters Without Borders awarded him with the prestigious “Press Freedom Hero” title, for his fight for free press in Afghanistan. In 2016, TIME magazine profiled him as a Next Generation Global Leader. In 2017, Forbes selected him as one of the 30 under 30 Asia Influencers in Media.

Among his previous employments in the last eight years, Mr Najafizada has worked for the NATO mission in Afghanistan where he provided strategic communications services. As a World Press Institute fellow, he conducted research on the US mid-term elections in 2010.

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