Sadaffe Abid is co-founder of CIRCLE, a leading social enterprise that aims to build and develop the entrepreneurial and leadership capacity of women and youth. CIRCLE's flagship campaign, Elevate, encourages male and female leaders from corporate, social sectors and government to pledge for women's advancement and economic participation. Prior to this, Sadaffe managed Kashf Foundation as COO and CEO, one of Forbes’ Top 50 microfinance institutions - which she helped grow from a pilot in two rooms to serve 300,000 women clients in Pakistan. Sadaffe is a Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD and lecturer on social entrepreneurship at Cedep, INSEAD. Her work at Kashf is profiled in Nicholas Kristof’s book, Half the Sky and Isobel Coleman's book, Paradise Beneath Her Feet.
Hala Ghandour is the Chief Development Officer for Expo 2020 Dubai, responsible for leading in a wide range of aspects in the delivery of the mega-event, which will be the first of its kind in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. In her role, Hala directs the organisation’s strategy, theme development, exhibits, public engagement, legacy planning and commercial programme, all of which play an integral role in Expo 2020 Dubai’s overall theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, and the subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. Hala oversees multiple departments within the organisation, each of which will contribute to the content and narrative, delivery and overall visitor experience of the event, as well as manage the implementation of Expo 2020 Dubai’s target of 25 million visits during the six-month mega-event. Prior to her current position, Hala served as the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Content Development and Deputy Managing Director of the organisation. She played an instrumental role in Dubai being awarded the rights to host the World Expo. During the successful bid, she was a key driver in strategy, content creation, outreach and key bid milestones, all of which contributed to the Bureau International des Exhibitions awarding the World Expo to Dubai in 2013.
Currently, John is the Senior Vice President – Small & Medium Businesses (SMB) for Etisalat in the UAE. Prior to this role John joined Etisalat as SVP Business Marketing (for SMB and large Enterprises) His various telecom stints in different countries include senior management roles with Pacific Bell in California -USA, Air touch Communications in San Francisco, J Phone and Japan Telecom (now Softbank) in Tokyo, Osaka in Japan, Vodafone in Newbury - UK, Airtel in Delhi - India and du in the UAE. Additionally, John has also done short-term stints in Thailand and Brazil. Prior to joining Etisalat, John was the Vice President of Enterprise Marketing (B2B) at du. John brings with him over 25 years of global telecom experience across consumer and enterprise segments in fixed, mobile and ICT sectors across developed and developing economies. His senior level management experience in start-ups, telecom giants and technology companies across the globe gives him a unique and insightful performance on trends, customer behavior, business and culture. John is a published author that has written a book targeted at SMB owners and managers titled ‘Connect the Dots’ - a playbook to help businesses connect to their customers and profits.
Masood Al Awar is Chief Officer – Commercial of Dubai Properties. He is responsible for overseeing the development of compelling breakthrough solutions to clients and delivering against ambitious targets in both new and established market segments. Masood also spearheads Dubai Properties Development’s overarching commercial & customer interface strategy. Prior to joining Dubai Properties, Masood served as Chief Executive Officer of Tasweek Real Estate Marketing and Development in Abu Dhabi. Masood Al Awar brings over 30 years of extensive experience in Banking, Government and Real Estate. Before joining Tasweek in 2009, he occupied executive positions for major industry players Sourouh Real Estate PJSC in Abu Dhabi and Emaar Properties in Dubai. His multidisciplinary exposure to the government and private sector activites has enabled him to introduce innovative real estate investment approaches, managing multi-billion dollar projects. Masood holds an MBA from Glamorgan University in Wales, United Kingdom.
• Mr. Choudhury joined NBAD as Chief Risk Officer in December 2006. He was appointed as Acting Group Chief Executive Officer in August 2016. • Mr. Choudhury is responsible for the day to day management of NBAD and its subsidiary companies until the completion of the bank’s merger with First Gulf Bank (FGB). He reports to the Board of Directors and leads the Executive Committee which is responsible for implementation of the Bank’s strategic plans, ensuring that sustainable growth is achieved. • Mr. Choudhury’s banking career spans nearly 40 years, starting with ANZ Grindlays Bank in India. He continued to develop a comprehensive knowledge of Mideast markets after 17 years at the Arab Banking Corporation in Bahrain. • As Group Chief Risk Officer of NBAD, he oversaw independent risk management of the bank’s activities and future growth plans. • He also serves as a member of the Institute of International Finance’s (IIF) Steering Committee on Regulatory Capital. • Mr. Choudhury holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
Elissa Freiha is the founder of WOMENA, a UAE-based angel investment platform for women investors. WOMENA provides a supportive, professional network and dependable guidance to invest in new companies and facilitates the investment process from sourcing to close. She learned how to be an angel investor by investing with and getting mentored by peers. The experience inspired her to found WOMENA to empower other women to do the same. She has previously worked in marketing, sales, and events in entertainment and media. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the American University of Paris where she was born and raised. She is Emirati-Lebanese-American and speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish fluently. She was recently named by Fobes Middle Easts as one of the Most Inspiring Business Leaders in the UAE, and in Arabian Business’ 100 most powerful Arab women and Arabian Business’ 100 most influential Arabs under 40.
Salvador Anglada is the Chief Business Officer of Etisalat, one of the leading telecommunications companies in the world. He has over twenty years of experience in the Telco and IT Industry, where he held different senior roles. He spent twelve years at Telefonica Group, where he was the Managing Director of ‘Telefonica Empresas’, the Enterprise Division at Telefonica Spain. Prior to that, he was CEO of Telefonica subsidiary in the Czech Republic ‘Telefonica O2’, and Executive Board Director of Telefonica Europe. Mr. Anglada graduated in Industrial Engineering from Escuela Superior de Ingenieros Industriales, Madrid, and holds an Executive MBA from Instituto de Empresa and a PDG from IESE Madrid.
Karim joined Bupa 2009 and currently is the General Manager for Bupa Global Middle East. Prior to this role, Karim held the position of Corporate Affairs and Development Director for Bupa Global, responsible for communications, sustainability, corporate development and governance. Previously, Karim worked for several years as a strategy consultant at Marakon Associates where he advised a number of UK and European multinational clients on strategy, financial and organisational issues and value-based management techniques. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University (USA) and an MBA from INSEAD (France/Singapore).
Robin is a highly qualified and experienced insurance professional, having served the industry in diverse roles for 30 years, the last 10 being in the Middle East. He founded The Consilient Consultancy, an independent consultancy practice based in Dubai, at the end of 2015. Consilient’s mission is to assist developing nations to implement sustainable healthcare funding models, critically focusing on both the supply and demand sides. In mid-2016 he stood down from a full-time role with Dubai Health Authority, where over a period of three years he and his team developed and implemented on behalf of DHA an insurance regulatory framework in support of the 2013 Health Insurance Law of the Government of Dubai.
Sergio Padula was born in Venosa (PZ), Italy, in 1977. A love affair with light started during his time at Politecnico di Milano where Padula was mentored by Piero Castiglioni. Sergio graduated in Industrial design and immediately focussed on his passion for light. Travelling around the World has enabled him to work on scores of varied projects and his professional knowledge is complemented by his charismatic approach to teaching, which has seen him as part of the design syllabus at the University of Rome La Sapienza, the University of Architecture of Florence and the China Central Art Academy Architecture School in Beijing In 2008, Sergio joined iGuzzini in their Middle East office where he is currently working as Technical Director and Lighting Design Expert. He is also the Training Supervisor, leading numerous workshops across the region.
Mr. Shahin has over 15 years of private equity experience across the MENA region. He has worked on transactions worth over $3 billion across the GCC, Egypt, Jordan and South Asia, spanning a wide range of sectors including food and beverage, fertilizers, logistics, distribution, man-power outsourcing, retail, aviation, financial services, media, waste-water treatment and hospitality. Mr. Shahin is currently an Managing Director at Gulf Capital and is fully responsible for sourcing and execution of transaction from beginning to end in addition to the implementation of post-acquisition strategy and ultimate exits of portfolio companies. He currently serves as a board member on 4 portfolio companies controlled by Gulf Capital. Prior to joining Gulf Capital in 2013 Mr. Shahin was a partner at The Abraaj Group where he spent 10 years and was intimately involved in a number of landmark regional transactions. Mr. Shahin holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics from Concordia University. He grew up in Jordan and has spent the last 15 years in the UAE.
Mustafa Ghazi Kheriba is the Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), and Executive Director of the Company's Investment Manager, ADCM Ltd. Mustafa has extensive experience and an inherent understanding of the UK real estate market, as well as pioneering emerging markets such as the GCC and Eastern Europe. Mustafa manages the day-to-day operations, business development and control aspects of ADFG and its subsidiary companies. He also oversees deal origination, fund raising activities and directly manages key investments. He previously held senior posts in financial services and investment companies in the GCC, USA and Canada. Mustafa has been named among the top 50 MENA Fund Managers in 2015 and 2016 by MENA FM Magazine.
Shuggufta Kokar created the idea of setting up an academic institution specifically to meet the regional demand for completing the law school stages of qualifying as a Solicitor (England & Wales). After working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), she established the first ever SRA-accredited law school outside of the UK. The Chancery Lane Institute for Professionals (or “CLIP”) has grown beyond the initial ambition of being a simple GDL or LPC provider and has pioneered a completely new methodology of meeting the outcomes of the GDL and the LPC. Its philosophy of building its courses around modern student requirements by using cutting-edge technology and delivery platforms has helped the institution shave six months off the traditional course duration for GDL and LPC.
With more than two decades of experience behind her, Luma brings a rich, diverse background to her role as Founder and Vision Creator of KOOOT.com - an online shopping and lifestyle destination for modern Middle Eastern women. Prior to establishing her own venture as an entrepreneur, Luma worked for 26 years within the corporate world in dynamic industries. Luma’s career began in 1990, after she graduated from the American University in Cairo with a Major in Mass Communications, Public Relations and Advertising. As the head of the media department in Kuwait Information Centre, based in Cairo, Luma was responsible for assuring adequate coverage of the Gulf War across international media.
CEO and Co-Founder of Hoodi, Samer is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about collaboration and community-building. Prior to founding Hoodi, Samer played a major role in Nearbuy, another successful startup in Dubai. While building Hoodi, Samer was diving into Dubai's startup ecosystem when he also joined Valour Ventures as Entrepreneur in Residence. He built Hoodi to fill the communication gap between neighbours, allowing them to collaborate in a private and secure environment. Hoodi was launched in June 2016 and has already reached 16 neighbourhoods in Dubai, expanding geographically to reach most of the city by mid-2017.
In 2005, Shezan Amiji founded the first urban tabloid newspaper in the Middle East, 7DAYS. Shezan led the business and drove it to profitability within 10 months of launch. In 2007 Shezan sold the business to the Daily Mail and General Trust PLC (publishers of the UK’s Daily Mail). Then in 2012, he co-founded Beam Wallet, a world-class mobile commerce and rewards platform that is transforming the shopping experience for consumers. Beam Wallet recently announced landmark partnerships with retail giant Majid Al Futtaim, and MasterCard. Shezan has an MA (Oxon) from the University of Oxford in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania.
Mohammad Hamad Alhajeri is an investment professional with over 11 years’ diversified experience in investment, IT and management. He is qualified in multiple asset classes such as venture capital, private equity, debt and listed companies. His current interests are venture capital and private equity in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. In addition to being a board member within prominent local and international establishments, Mohammad has also spoken at several landmark SME occasions.
Walid has more than 15 years’ experience in venture capital, strategy, corporate finance and engineering within the digital, telecom, software and new media industries. Prior to joining MEVP in 2010, he was a lead associate at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Before that he worked as a Strategy Manager at the UAE’s Prime Ministry Executive Office focusing on public policy initiatives. During his stay in Dubai, he worked on setting-up entrepreneurship related programs and developing incubation in the Arab World through several Dubai based initiatives such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation.
Fares Ghandour is currently focused on executing Wamda Capital’s seed stage strategy. He worked formerly as the Investment Manager at MENA Venture Investments (MVI) - which is a previous fund with over 70 portfolio companies globally - and as a Community Manager at Wamda Platform. Fares has more than a dozen seed stage transactions executed, including portfolio management and other operational support for key MVI companies. At the Wamda Platform, Fares ran the flagship ‘Mix ‘N Mentor’ event in 13 cities – a powerful platform where entrepreneurs were introduced one-on-one to strategic mentors. He also organized the first MIT Media Lab workshop in the Region at twofour54.
BECO Capital is a Venture Capital firm that provides early-stage growth capital and hands-on operational support to technology companies in the MENA region (with a focus on the GCC). BECO Capital has been associated with some of the most successful technology venture capital transactions in the region. Amir has invested in, and co-founded, a number of local businesses including: Toolman, a property maintenance business; and Purple PR, a boutique PR company, which he successfully exited in 2012. He currently sits on the Board of two portfolio companies. Amir has graduated from the London Business School. He also holds an MSc and a Bachelor degree from the University of Bath.
Malik Ahmad Jalal is the CEO of the Aman Foundation, Pakistan’s largest private foundation dedicated to sustainable impact within the healthcare and education sectors. He is Managing Director at the Abraaj Group, where he leads investments for the Global Healthcare Fund across South Asia and Africa and has spearheaded the creation of the Pakistan Small Midcap Fund. Prior to that, he was an Executive Director with Goldman Sachs, having started his career with Deloitte in London. Ahmad qualified as a Chartered Accountant, has an MPA/International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School and a BSc. in Economics from the London School of Economics. Ahmad is the Founding Director of Pakistan Fast Growth 100, Chairman of the Board of Injaz-Pakistan (part of Junior Achievement Worldwide) and member of The International Institute for Strategic Studies. He was the Opinions Editor of the Harvard Citizen and is passionate about travelling and history.
Thomas Sehesded is an entrepreneur and 3 x World Champion windsurfer specialized in building disruptive B2B technology companies. As founder and CEO of his first startup DtecNet, Thomas created a global market leader in real-time media intelligence. Headquartered in Los Angeles the company grew to 100+ employees with a client list that included the largest media companies in the world (Disney, WarnerBros, FOX, Netflix HBO etc), before it merged with MarkMonitor in 2010. As part of the MarkMonitor management team, Thomas exited the company to ThomsonReuters for $400m and subsequently ran TR’s digital media division for two years before joining his newest start-up GAN Integrity as a Co-Founder and CEO.
Peter Voogd’s entrepreneurial career started at an early age, launching his first business when he was only 15 years old. However, Peter found himself broke, stressed, and discouraged by the age of 22. Less than six months later, after making drastic changes to his mindset, lifestyle, and business strategies, he made his first six-figure income at the age of 23. Only three years later, Peter saw his earnings skyrocket past the 7-figure income level. Peter then started an unprecedented movement: one designed help ambitious entrepreneurs succeed on a level they never thought possible. He’s been labelled as the world’s leading authority for millennials and entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur.com - and is also the author of numerous books and periodicals, including the 27-time international best-selling book “6 Months to 6 Figures”
Nathan Gold, also known as The Demo Coach, hails from the San Francisco area, where he spends his days coaching people around the world on how to prepare for high-stakes presentations through workshops, keynotes, and 1:1 sessions both in person and online. Gold has personally delivered over 15,000 presentations and 12,000+ hours of professional coaching and training. He has worked with all types of companies on designing, scripting and delivering more compelling and memorable presentations. He is an Industry Fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, a guest lecturer and pitch coach at Wharton Entrepreneurship, is featured on Kauffman Founders School and he is a published author.
Steve Katsaros's life has been filled with innovation from a young age. Steve began his career in his late teens with the invention of several commercial products for the ski industry. His first brush with "impact inventing" came in 2002 with Revo Power, a motorized wheel for bicycles. In early 2010, he came up with another bright idea - a simple, portable solar light bulb with the potential to revolutionize life for the 1.4 billion people in the world who live without access to electricity. Five months after his first sketch, Steve launched Nokero and has been on a solar lighting mission ever since selling 1.5 million lights as of 2016.
Aziza is a Social Entrepreneur and Start-up Advisor, and Co-Founder and Board Member - Jusoor. She advises social start-ups in concept creation and development, growth strategy, impact definition and measurement. But she’s most proud of her work on the board of Jusoor - an international NGO providing education and development opportunities for 5,000 youth through partnerships with 52 universities worldwide including Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, and IIT. At Jusoor, Azizia mentors students on attaining scholarships, holds career development workshops and coaches regional start-ups on developing their idea hrough to the critical funding stage. Aziza also founded a small venture called 'Fruitful' offering healthier lighter snacks for moviegoers, which she ultimately sold for double its capital in one year.
Asam is Chief Operating Officer, Exponent Consulting Group, a UAE-based IT consulting and system integration firm that specialises in Business Process Re-engineering and Process Implementation, with specific emphasis on cloud-based and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies. Within Exponent, Asam is responsible for the programme management of a wide variety of Process Re-engineering initiatives. Along with his team of two process analysts, two software developers and a hardware engineer, he is currently overseeing a range of projects catering to the aviation, steel trading and healthcare industries.
Emily brings a fresh perspective to social action in the digital age. She argues that the internet has provided new opportunities to tackle discrimination, by transforming discrimination from a lonely experience into a piece of a larger, public movement. Her project Hollaback! gives women an empowered, real-time response to street harassment that will build public awareness on why street harassment matters, and how it hurts. Emily argues that a crowd-sourced movement is the key to changing policy and minds, and ultimately, creating a world where everyone has the right to feel safe and confident. Prior to running Hollaback! Emily worked in the anti-poverty world as a case manager, and most recently, as a one-woman research and development team. Emily has a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics in “Social Policy and Planning.”
Kaswara Al-Khatib is the founder and CEO of UTURN, an online entertainment network. As an entrepreneur, he’s always challenged the norm and continually asked the question, “Why can’t it be done in Saudi?” For example, when he began his career in the marketing and advertising division of Procter & Gamble in Saudi, he was inspired to start his own boutique agency, “FullStop”, in 2002. In 2011, with a mission to bring creative, edgy, relevant & high-quality content to the Arab Audience, he founded UTURN, an online entertainment network that has grown to become the largest Arabic MPN (Multi-Platform Network), with 50 channels under the network and 30 million followers & subscribers. UTURN now has achieved more than 2.5 billion views with monthly views of 120 million.
In 2010, Barrak Naamani decided to go back to his native Lebanon - looking for a completely fresh career start. He left everything behind and started from zero. He then took his family business - hand-made, bespoke tailoring - and decided to develop it and invest in it. Then, something happened by chance, He made a table out of an antique sewing machine as the centerpiece for the tailor’s shop and everybody loved it. Barrak then found himself sketching & developing more ideas from antique sewing machines. The next step? Participating in exhibitions, with a first show in one of the most prestigious art galleries in Beirut. Barrak graduated in Advertising & Marketing from LAU (Lebanese American University) in 1998.
Adham Maghraby is a graduate of the American University in Cairo. A highly accomplished Senior Executive with more than two decades of corporate experience across the Middle East and Europe, he has held senior positions in companies such as Mobinil, Orascom Telecom, Americana, Telenor and Iraqna. A background that has resulted in his unique and eclectic blend of management, commercial and business development expertise, with advanced skills in strategic marketing, m-commerce, branded communications and innovative product development Adham has received multiple US and European technology patents for proprietary realtime content monetization technology, and is Founder & CEO of itagit technologies.