Class of 2018
Asia Society is delighted to announce the 2018 Class Members of its Asia 21 Young Leaders Program, an unparalleled network of accomplished young professionals from across the Asia Pacific region, representing the new generation of leaders in government, business, arts, media, and the nonprofit sector.
The new class adds to a dynamic pool of more than 900 influential professionals under the age of 40 (at the time of selection) from 40 nations who are engaged in thought leadership, dialogue, friendship, and meaningful collaborations for positive impact on both local and global levels. Learn more
Founder and Director
Bellas Artes Projects
"Leadership to me means being able to communicate a vision, empowering those on your team, being able to pass along your knowledge, and learning from those that work in your organization."
Jam Acuzar is founder and director of Bellas Artes Projects, a non-profit arts foundation based in the Philippines, where she develops and oversees the foundation’s artist residency program, community projects, and exhibitions in Manila and Bataan. She's worked with prominent local and international artists such as Pawel Althamer, Paul Pfeiffer, Rana Begum and Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, and completed a site-specific installation in Bataan with Swiss artist Not Vital. She also leads Bellas Artes Outpost, a non-collecting, non-commercial exhibition space opened in 2016 that invites the public to engage with art, architecture, and other creative fields through its programming and art library. She also works in business development for her family’s real estate firm, New San Jose Builders, Inc.
Acuzar sits on the board of Manuel L. Quezon University. She was part of the Asia Art Archive's Collector's Circle, and recently joined the advisory group of the Taipei Dangdai Art Fair. Acuzar received her bachelor’s in art history from the American University of Paris and a certificate of art and business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Xyza Cruz Bacani
"Leadership is doing what is right, even when there is no one looking. Leadership encourages us to dream, to maximize our potential, and to prove that all dreams are valid."
Xyza Cruz Bacani is a Filipina photographer based in Hong Kong who uses her work to raise awareness about under-reported stories. Having worked as a second-generation domestic worker in Hong Kong for almost a decade, she is particularly interested in the intersection of labor migration and human rights.
Bacani is a grantee of the WYNG Media Award Commission, the Pulitzer Center, and the Open Society Moving Walls 2017. She is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, and a Fujifilm Ambassador. She was one of the Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Social Justice Fellows for 2015 and has exhibited worldwide. She has won awards in photography and is the recipient of a resolution passed by the Philippines House of Representatives in her honor, HR No. 1969.
"A leader must have management skills, creativity, and knowledge of his work in order to truly encourage. A leader must also be a tutor and teach others what they know to produce [a] … work environment in which the team … can work at their best."
Sopheap Chea is the executive director at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center. His current project is an app about Khmer Rouge history, which is used as a teaching and learning tool in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. From a young age, he has been driven to learn the stories of life in Cambodia before he was born. That interest led him to Bophana, where he began work as an archivist. Since then, he has produced cultural events, run film festivals, installed exhibitions, and used Bophana resources to form links and networks between people in the sector. As his career develops, his projects have been increasingly linked to arts, culture, and media.
Chea received his master of arts in history from Khemarak University in 2012.
Mountain Resiliency Project
"Leadership is the grit, vision, and communication skills to be a positive and effective steward to our community and environment. It is the tool to address inequities and development gaps, and improve livelihoods."
Tsechu Dolma is the founder of Mountain Resiliency Project, a social enterprise dedicated to building climate change-resilient communities through women's empowerment in sustainable agribusiness. She runs indigenous honeybee farms, orchards, and greenhouses in remote Nepali mountain villages. Prior to this, she worked as a natural resource management consultant for UNDP in Latin America and SIDS climate change strategist for the Timor Leste Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment. She grew up in a Tibetan refugee camp in Nepal; fled the civil war, sought political asylum in New York, and ultimately returned to Tibet. She realized that there was work to be done and talent was needed now more than ever in the homeland she left behind. By finding gaps in the existing infrastructure, she makes deep investments in small-scale, practical solutions to development challenges through the Project.
Dolma has been recognized by Forbes 30 under 30 in Social Entrepreneurship, Fulbright Public Policy Fellows, Echoing Green Fellows and Brower Youth Awards winner. She has a bachelor’s in environmental science and an MPA in economic development from Columbia University.
President and CEO
People Analytics Inc.
Canada / Iran
"Leadership is the art and science of shaping human interactions."
Amir Farmanesh is the founder and CEO of People Analytics Inc., and of its subsidiary IranPoll, focusing on demystifying people's behaviors and opinions in complex societies and difficult contexts. People Analytics Inc. is filling a long-standing void in global knowledge of people’s opinions in complex societies like Iran. Research conducted under Farmanesh’s leadership has had a notable impact, being widely utilized and cited by business and the policy community and more than 300 media outlets in over 50 countries. Previously, he has served as a visiting professor at the University of Toronto, an Edmond Safra fellow with Harvard University, an Erasmus Mundus fellow funded by the European Commission, a governance consultant with the World Bank Group, and a Mirzayan Policy fellow with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Farmanesh holds a master’s and an MPA degree from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and a Ph.D. in policy studies from the University of Maryland.
Alsop Louie Partners
"Moral rectitude is an essential component of leadership. Moral leadership includes many elements, with key dimensions being selflessness, genuineness, integrity, and empathy."
Ernestine Fu is an investor at Alsop Louie Partners, an early-stage venture fund focused on cybersecurity, big data, and hard science companies. She led her first investment within two months of joining the firm and was recognized by several media outlets for bringing a fresh face to venture capital as a young Asian American woman. Committed to public service, Ernestine wrote Civic Work Civic Lessons with former Stanford Law School Dean Thomas Ehrlich. The book discusses how and why people of all ages should engage in public service. Fu started the nonprofit Visual Arts and Music for Society.
Fu served on a corporate philanthropy board for State Farm Insurance and sits on the advisory boards of various philanthropic organizations, including the Presidio Institute, Women and Girls Lead Global, and the Asian Pacific Fund. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Stanford University, where she was awarded the David M. Kennedy Prize for the top thesis in engineering and natural sciences.
Head of Government Relations and Policy, North Asia
United States / Singapore
"There is scope for leadership at every moment of one’s life guided by a civic sense of a duty to help those in need."
Ziad Haider is head of government relations, North Asia for Uber, leading strategic engagements with governments in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan. He previously served as a political appointee in the Obama Administration as Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he led a 30-person team in helping U.S. businesses build partnerships and promote entrepreneurship and economic growth across Asia. He previously served as a member of the policy planning staff in the office of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and helped co-develop President Obama's signature economic initiative for Southeast Asia (U.S.-ASEAN Connect); the inaugural U.S.-China Development Dialogue and U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue; and the strategic communications plan to advance the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Prior to government service, he practiced international law in India, Singapore, and Washington, D.C., and worked with human rights NGOs in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan. His writings on Asian affairs have appeared in CNN, CNBC, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy. Proficient in Mandarin and fluent in Urdu, Haider grew up in Pakistan.
Haider received his undergraduate degree from Yale, MPA from Harvard, and JD from Georgetown. He was also a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia.
Asia Pacific Director
"A true leader is someone who can be a strong advocate for people who lack a voice and who never gives up when facing obstacles. Instead, they move forward with courage, passion, and compassion."
Hana Hayashi is Asia Pacific director at McCann Public Health and currently serves as a visiting scientist at the University of Tokyo. Recently, she was appointed as a member of the health task force committee for Fukuoka, the fifth-largest city in Japan, and has been engaged in its public health strategy development. Her mission is to bridge the worlds of research and practice in order to create a healthier society. Maximizing her academic and professional experiences, Hayashi has led a number of behavior change communication programs for international and governmental organizations, national governments, municipalities, and private sector organizations worldwide. She completed advanced yoga teacher training in New York City. Based on her love of cooking, yoga, and nature, she also plans to develop her own project, Down to Earth, which will contribute to creating healthier communities.
Hayashi earned a master’s of education from the Boston University School of Education and a master’s and doctor of science degrees from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as a Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholar.
Jerry (Xiao Peng) He
"As leaders, we don't need to be the most clever; however, we need to be the one who's energized and passionate about achieving a common task. Loving and being passionate about what you do is a must."
Jerry He is the founder of Olivia Premium, which aims to provide 100-percent-New Zealand-made products to children all around the world at reasonable prices. Over the years, 65 percent of their trade has been made through e-Commerce and WeChat channels, involving major players from China. Additionally, He is the chairman of the New Zealand Green Industry Association and a director at Feel Good Corporation. He is also the deputy governor of The Small Business Development Group, which advises the New Zealand government on issues affecting small and medium enterprises and helps government agencies communicate more effectively with them. In his position as the chairman of the New Zealand Green Industry Association, he also receives regular trade updates and speaks with China Inspection and Quarantine officials from Chinese Customs. He is chairman and board member of the Asia Pacific Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Trade Coalition.
He earned a master’s of IT management at the University of Auckland and a master’s of information systems at the Auckland University of Technology. He received a bachelor’s in information systems at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
Akhtar Imam & Associates
"Leadership is fueled by a passionate vision. I have chosen the arena of law to realize mine. But visionary dreams cannot be realized without courage and integrity."
Rashna Imam is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Growing up in Bangladesh, she experienced first-hand the myriad issues that plague developing nations. While pursuing a successful career in law, she learned how the right legal frameworks can have a tremendous impact in ameliorating those issues. She now devotes most of her time and energy to public interest work. Prior to her shift in focus, she gained significant expertise in company and commercial Law as a corporate associate at Baker and McKenzie’s London office, where she had the opportunity to represent global giants like Arcelor Mittal and Schneider Electric. In Bangladesh, she advised clients like Visa Worldwide, Phillip Van Heusen, British American Tobacco, Phillip Morris International, and Ernst & Young. Imam has been ranked as a leading lawyer in Chambers and Partners, Asia-Pacific 2018.
She obtained a First Class LLB (honors) degree from the University of Buckingham in the U.K. and the prestigious bachelor of civil law degree from the University of Oxford.
National Program officer
United Nations Population Fund China Office
"Leadership means compassion for the most marginalized community members. They define how much your work will make a difference and how long your work’s impact will sustain."
Gaoshan Junjian is the youngest national program officer at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) China Office. He is heading UNFPA China's strategic program on adolescent and youth development. His work empowers the 278 million young people in China through health, education, and leadership programming. Previously, Gaoshan was a program manager at China Development Research Foundation, a think tank under the State Council of PRC, and the chairperson of the China Youth Network, the largest youth-led organization in China covering 30 provinces and enhancing young people’s wellbeing through peer education. Gaoshan is The Asia Foundation’s Development Fellow 2016.
Junjian received his master’s degree from the Duke University Global Health Institute and a bachelor’s degree from Renmin University of China in economics.
Partner & Director
Potato Head Family
"A leader teaches values to others, communicates them with passion, gets people excited about them … until the values catch on, latch on, and become a culture, a lifestyle."
Ratna Kartadjoemena is a partner and director at Potato Head Family (PTT), a hospitality and lifestyle company in Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, and Hong Kong. She helped develop PTT’s first hotel, Katamama, in Bali and created systems to scale the growing company and programs to foster PTT culture internally. Currently, she oversees PTT’s Jakarta operations, leads its zero waste to landfill program, and champions responsible waste management to other companies. She helps several educational foundations, including two focusing on underprivileged youth hospitality education and career development. She is also a board member and investor in Du’Anyam, a social enterprise producing and distributing wicker crafts to economically empower and improve the health of women in rural Indonesia. Prior to that, she lived in New York City and helped manage Starwood Hotels & Resorts-owned hotels, and was a hospitality consultant at Ernst & Young. She began her career at the Corporate Executive Board in Washington, D.C.
Kartadjoemena received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a master’s of management in hospitality from Cornell University.
The White Helmets
"[Leadership] should be creative work with a lot of motivational support to team members."
Khaled Khatib is a cinematographer and media officer for the White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense). Originally from Aleppo, Khatib started volunteering with the White Helmets in 2013 when he was still a student. When the heavy bombardment campaign of Aleppo started, he risked his life to provide much of the footage coming out of the city alongside his colleagues at the Aleppo Media Centre. He was one of the cinematographers behind the Oscar-winning film The White Helmets, which documented the group’s search-and-rescue efforts in war-torn Syria. He also worked as a production coordinator on the documentary Last Men in Aleppo, a film that follows the White Helmets as the siege on Aleppo begins, which went on to win the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Deputy Minister of Finance
Government of Mongolia
"Leadership challenges not only professional skills but also personnel skills and perseverance … Most importantly, being a leader requires you to have a strong value and build up a network to share that value."
Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar is Deputy Finance Minister of Mongolia. In that role, she has close engagement with policy-makers and works with them to develop and implement budgetary and financial policies in line with the country’s development policies. She also serves as president of the Mongolian Association of State Alumni and vice president of the Mongolian Social Democracy-Youth Union, the youth organization of the Mongolian People's Party. She previously worked as secretary of the Mongolian People's Party from 2013-2016, after working as director of the business development department of Petrovis LLC. She also served as project manager and commercial principal advisor at Oyu Tolgoi Project. Prior to that, she worked as a consultant on World Bank projects in places such as East Timor and Palestine to improve public financial management.
Khurelbaatar obtained a bachelor’s in economics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and master’s in International and Development Economics from Yale University.
Code for Nepal
"Traditionally, we consider leaders as those who lead from the top …. I have realized that to enable every team member to contribute fully, a leader has to empower and support them in their analysis and decision making."
Ravi Kumar is the founder of Code for Nepal, a non-profit working to increase digital literacy and the use of open data in Nepal. Via the nonprofit, he is opening up Nepal’s data to make it more accessible and understandable and has launched scholarship programs to help youth and women in Nepal become digitally savvy. Currently, he is leading a digital strategy team at the World Bank’s Governance Global Practice that supports 700 staff in 90 countries. He is also helping to build capacity for evidence-based policymaking in Nepal through a World Bank project. In 2009, he co-founded Grassroot Movement in Nepal, a non-profit that has rebuilt 30 schools. He serves on Buena Vista University’s President’s Advisory Council.
Kumar has been named in Forbes 30 Under 30's list of social entrepreneurs in Asia. He holds a master’s from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University.
Head of Public Policy
"In today’s complex world, successful leadership requires experimentation, adaptation, and using creativity to build organizations with a diverse population."
Sanghyun Lee is the head of public policy for Korea at Airbnb. In that role, he leads Airbnb’s work with policymakers in Korea, oversees the company’s efforts to educate the public about the community-wide economic benefits created by home sharing, and directs initiatives to communicate how the platform is helping democratize travel. Prior to joining Airbnb, he managed Google’s public policy for entrepreneurship, content, and cultural affairs in Korea. Before joining Google, Lee worked at State Street Global Advisors in Boston, and the OECD in Paris. He has taught courses on leadership and entrepreneurship at Hanyang University. Lee serves on the board of directors for NetKAL.
Lee graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard University in 2010 and Emory University in 2001.
Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Singapore / Indonesia
"To be a leader is to be simultaneously courageous and vulnerable. Without courage, it is not possible to break away from the status quo and by definition means you are a follower."
Susli Lie is the co-Founder and co-CEO of Dana Cita, a Y Combinator-backed fintech student loan company, which aims to make higher education and vocational training in Indonesia accessible to all. Born and raised in Jakarta, Lie is a first-generation university graduate and wants to make the opportunity for learning available to every aspiring youth. Dana Cita, which means Aspiration Fund in Bahasa, is the first to provide loans to fully fund tertiary degrees and has helped students across 100 tertiary institutions. Since 2005, Lie has built a career in financial services, ranging from consulting, investing, and fintech entrepreneurship. She started her career in management consulting and subsequently held the first Asia-Pacific chief of staff role for Oliver Wyman. Her investment experience is focused on Indonesia and includes impact venture capital as head of investments at YCAB Ventures and private equity at Quvat Capital and LeapFrog Investments. She also advised the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank on higher education financing in emerging markets.
Lie holds a bachelor’s in economics and Chinese from Yale University, an MBA from Wharton, and a master’s in international development from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.
Huy The Luong
"Leadership is not about leading first or climbing to the top, but to initiate, to inspire, to be brave, to be innocent, and to keep doing what we believe and never stop moving forward."
Huy The Luong is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex ("LGBTI") activist in Vietnam at iSEE. He began volunteering in LGBTI advocacy work in 2008. In 2011, he officially joined the LGBTI rights movement and worked on the community's communications and capacity building work, dealing with the press, schools, and health centers. Since 2013, Huy has focused on research, policy advocacy, and community building at the national, regional, and international levels. His efforts have fostered important policy dialogues with the government during campaigns to amend the Law on Marriage and Family to include same-sex union rights and pass a civil code that recognizes transgender individuals. He has also advised Vietnam's participation in UN Human Rights Council mechanisms.
In 2014, Luong was named the most prominent LGBTI person of the year by ICS Center: Information Connecting and Sharing and Mot The Gioi newspaper. In 2016, Huy was on Forbes’ Vietnam's "30 Under 30." He earned his law degree at the Hô Chí Minh City School of Law Truòng Dai Hoc Luat Tp in Hô Chí Minh City. He is working on a master’s of law and sexuality at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"Leadership for me is to serve marginalized people around the world, create a positive impact in their lives, and create opportunities for them to build their leadership to change the society."
Pradip Pariyar is the executive chairperson at SAMATA Foundation, which conducts policy research and advocates for the rights of the Dalits, the most marginalized community in Nepal, in order to end caste-based discrimination. As the elected president of the Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON), he worked closely with government of Nepal to initiate a youth-responsive budget. He was a member of the government task force that developed Youth Vision 2025, a 10-year governmental national youth development policy plan. He has trained thousands of youths in leadership, peacebuilding, and conflict-sensitive journalism across Asia and Africa. He founded the Nepal Youth Forum to focus on policy advocacy, awareness, and youth empowerment. In 2011, Pariyar was selected as a youth fellow by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Pariyar serves as the chairperson of the Nepal Policy Center, a youth-led think tank. In 2015, he received the Youth Leadership Award from the Nepali Government’s Ministry of Youth and Sports for his decade-long contribution to youth leadership development across Nepal. He studied at Tribhuvan University.
Co-Founder and CEO
"Leadership is not the charismatic visionary leading the pack, but the guide who helps the stragglers keep up. In that sense, everyone can be a leader … stepping up, and showing up even when you don't want to, is the key to leadership."
Roshan Paul is co-founder and CEO of Amani Institute, a new model of higher education that helps people build impactful careers. In just five years, Amani has become a $1 million financially sustainable nonprofit with offices in Kenya, Brazil, and India. Prior to Amani, he worked with Ashoka for 10 years. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Behavioral Science. He has lectured at over 40 universities globally, including Harvard, Georgetown, and Johns Hopkins. He gave the commencement speech at the University of San Diego in 2015 and a TEDx talk at TEDxAmsterdamEd and TEDx Bangalore Salon. His writing has been published in Forbes, Stanford Social Innovation Review, MIT’s innovations journal, and more. He has also written two books: Such a Lot of World, a novel, and Your Work Begins at No, a collection of essays on social impact education.
Paul holds a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, a bachelor’s from Davidson College, and a certificate in creative leadership as a founding participant of THNK: The Amsterdam School for Creative Leadership.
Paul V. Rivera
CEO and Co-Founder
"Leadership means accomplishing a collective mission that is bigger than one’s self, and that requires buy-in, sacrifice, and investment from everyone involved. Leadership is getting the group to accomplish that goal even if we all don't get what we want and even if we don't all agree."
Paul Rivera is the co-founder and CEO of Kalibrr, a fast-growing recruitment technology startup that works with region's top 1,000 employers. Kalibrr is based in Manila with operations in Jakarta. Kalibrr is backed by Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Kickstart Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Y Combinator, and Kickstart Ventures and is devoted to solving the problem of recruitment and underemployment in the region. Prior to Kalibrr, he was the co-founder and president of Open Access, a technology-focused BPO in Makati that he co-founded and grew to over 1,000 employees in the five years he was running the business. He is an active investor in startups such as Maria Health and MyKuya. He started his career at Mercantila, an e-commerce startup that was eventually acquired by Google, and used to work at Google prior to coming back to the Philippines.
Rivera holds a bachelor’s in political economy from UC Berkeley.
"Leadership must be driven [by] a genuine desire to ‘do the right thing’ at all times vs. acting a certain way while in public."
Abhay Saboo is the co-founder of IQ Education, Viva Health, and YOU. His passion lies in creating businesses that contribute positively to the lives of mass-market consumers. IQ Education is a new after-school tutoring concept that reimagines the way children learn, and Viva Health's 130 pharmacies and clinics have provided access to technology and quality healthcare to over two million mass-market consumers in Indonesia. Together with his business partner he also established a consumer health venture called YOU with the goal of addressing nutrition gaps caused by the poor diets of emerging market consumers.
Saboo holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.
Founder and CEO
"Leadership means to inspire change, turn ideas into reality, and empower teams to create wide-scale impact."
Ting Shih is the CEO and founder of ClickMedix, an award-winning healthcare technology social enterprise born out of MIT to enable health organizations to serve more patients through its mobile health (mHealth) platform. She spent the last 10 years implementing mHealth programs across 20 countries, serving over 500,000 patients in Asia, Africa, South America, and North America to deliver financially sustainable health programs. The programs enable health workers and nurses to manage low-cost clinics using a mHealth kiosk that integrates with diagnostics devices to provide maternal/childcare, primary care, and chronic disease management services. Her work has been published by Forbes, New York Times, Guardian, the World Health Organization, and various medical journals.
Shih is the Asian American Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year (2018), the winner of the USAID/DAI Innovation into Action Challenge in 2016, Toyota Mother of Invention in 2015, and Cartier Women’s Initiative Laureate 2012 for North America. She holds an MBA and MS in systems engineering from MIT and a BS in computer science and MS in software design from Carnegie Mellon University.
Roopam Sharma, FRSA
Research Scientist and Innovator
"Leadership to me is applying practical, innovative, and sustainable approaches to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on those who belong to the bottom billion of the socio-economic pyramid … and helping people live a better life."
Roopam Sharma, FRSA is an Indian scientist and innovator, creating social impact through disruptive technological inventions to solve perennial problems. He is best known for his work on Manovue, the world's first intelligent personal assistance system for the visually impaired. Manovue combines vision intelligence and the internet of things in the form of an inexpensive wearable device, delivering a technology that replaces Braille and empowering more than 94 percent of visually impaired people.
Sharma is the youngest person ever to be recognized as one of the top innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review (2016) and was awarded the Gifted Citizen Prize in 2016, an international prize that honors the best social entrepreneur with an ability to benefit 10 million people over the next six years. He recently received the National Youth Award, the highest youth honor in the country given by the president of India for his contribution to the field of national development and social service through research and innovation.
He earned a bachelor’s of technology in computer science and engineering at Manav Rachna University.
Deputy Head of International Affairs
"When plans and tactics fail, a leader must have the mental strength to hold the group together … strong leaders often understand what is most important to them, and lead by doing the right thing with the best of their abilities."
Aiko Shimizu is deputy head of international affairs at Daimler — the parent company of Mercedes-Benz — and plays a leading role in shaping the company’s policy agenda on smart mobility, sustainability, and clean technology innovation through forming partnerships with stakeholders such as governments, think tanks, and startups in order to provide market intelligence and offer political risk analysis. In addition to her full-time job, she is a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Salzburg Global Fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar. Previously, she worked on various international issues, including security, sustainability, disaster risk management, and energy at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the UN, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. She has also held fellowships at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Pacific Forum CSIS, the Mansfield Foundation, and the East-West Center in Washington.
Shimizu received her graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and received her bachelor's degree in political science and international studies from the University of Chicago.
"Leadership to me is about being able to influence, inspire and empower others to work towards a common vision. It is about being bold enough to take the first step."
Renard Siew is a senior executive at the Sime Darby Group, where he is involved in driving the conglomerate's corporate sustainability initiatives. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network Group, focusing on sustainable development, and heads Global Shapers Kuala Lumpur, an NGO with a strong presence in Malaysia. He is actively involved in challenging environmental policies within the country and calls for the development of cities which consider the needs of all age groups.
For his work in climate change and sustainability, Siew was named one of Malaysia's Top 10 Most Inspiring Green Warriors. He was also selected and trained by former Vice President Al Gore as a Climate Reality leader. He holds a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of New South Wales, and a postgraduate certificate in sustainable value chains from Cambridge University.
Afghanistan Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry
"For a woman, leadership is taking the charge of her life and the decisions she makes. Leadership for a woman is to be able to enhance her knowledge and skills to defend her right and her fellow women."
Manizha Wafeq is the president of Afghanistan Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She has 16 years of work experience for women's empowerment and gender equality. She established gender units in the Ministries of Commerce and Economy and trained more than 500 government employees in gender concepts in Kabul and in the provinces. She co-authored the Gender and the Legal Framework of Afghanistan training manual, as well as a training manual for start-up businesses. She has also worked as Afghanistan’s in-country facilitator for The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women’s PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program and has trained more than 270 businesswomen from Kabul and the provinces. She is the founder of the Bibi Khadija award, which annually awards successful business owners in Afghanistan.
Wafeq is also the winner of several awards from Enterprising Women Magazine USA, in leadership from the National Business Association of the U.S., and Young Activist Award from the Afghan Women's Network and the Lower House of the Parliament. She holds an MBA from the American University of Afghanistan.
Timothy Graham Watts
Member for Gellibrand
Parliament of Australia
"Courage and imagination is an aphorism that helps you to aim high, but to make sure you are on the right track and to bring people with you, empathy needs to be central to the leadership challenge."
Timothy Watts is one of Australia’s youngest members of parliament. He was elected to the parliament as the member for Gellibrand in Melbourne’s West in 2013. As the member for one of Australia’s most diverse and dynamic electorates, he has made significant contributions to the political debate on Australia’s relationship with the Asia-Pacific, overseas development assistance, asylum seeker policy, and family violence. Before entering parliament, he worked in senior roles in the IT and telecommunications sector for nearly a decade in the government, at Australia’s largest telecommunications company, and international law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques. He remains passionate about the potential of technological change.
Watts holds a bachelor of laws from Bond University, a master’s of public policy from Monash University and master’s of politics and communication from the London School of Economics.
Independent Oral Historian, Researcher, Author & Cultural Facilitator
"I want people around me to be able to freely share their ideas and empower them to execute those ideas without fear of failing. Because this is how they will learn. This is how I learned and is what brought me where I am."
Anam Zakaria is an independent oral historian, researcher, author, and cultural facilitator. She previously led The Citizens Archive of Pakistan's (CAP) Oral History program, conducting hundreds of oral histories with Partition survivors and religious minorities. She frequently writes on issues of conflict and peace in South Asia for various news outlets and peacebuilding platforms. Her first book, The Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians (2015) won the KLF-German Peace Prize 2017. Her second book, Between the Great Divide: A Journey into Pakistan-administered Kashmir (2018), employs oral histories to explore the human impact of Kashmir conflict. She also served as director of Exchange for Change at CAP, connecting thousands of schoolchildren in India, Pakistan, and the U.S. through letters, postcards, and a physical exchange. She continues this line of work as an independent cultural facilitator and is currently connecting children in India and Pakistan through virtual exchanges with the goal of inclusive dialogue, tolerance, and peacebuilding.
Zakaria has a degree in international development from McGill University and a certification in psychotherapy and counseling with a special interest in trauma and healing in conflict zones.
Independent Multimedia Journalist and Activist
"Leadership is empathetic service guided by the belief that all humans are inherently good and deserve a fair chance at a decent and fulfilled life."
Namgay Zam is an independent multimedia journalist, a media and communications trainer, and an activist. She is the producer and host of Bhutan's first and only mental health show: Mind Over Matter Bhutan. She has been a journalist for the last 10 years, beginning her career with the country's first national youth radio station, then moving to the national broadcaster as a producer, news editor, and anchor in English. She is also the only Bhutanese journalist to have covered the World Cup. As an activist, Zam works for social justice, gender equity, and mental well-being. She often works pro bono with several NGOs that align with her activist learnings. Zam also works closely with the Bhutan Network for Empowering Women to push for more women leadership, and with Bhutanese youth to help them find and build drug-free creative spaces in Bhutan. One such project is called "Gokab," which is now the country's biggest street-dance competition.
Zam was a Humphrey Fellow at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She has a bachelor’s degree from the Lady Shriram College for Women, Delhi University.
Venture Avenue Consulting
"Leadership is a circular inward-outward process: Authenticity → Truth → Strategy → Systematic impact → Individual change. People in the community will see and feel such systematic changes."
Cherry Zhu is a principal with Venture Avenue (VA), China’s leading development consulting firm serving the philanthropic sector. At VA, she has served clients such as the British Council ("Southeast Asia Social Enterprise Scoping"), the Asian Development Bank ("Inclusive Business in China"), Fortune 500 multi-national corporations (on corporate social responsibility strategy), and family foundations (strategy, culture, and branding). Additionally, she is the managing director of Yu Fund, China’s pioneering impact investor established as a joint venture with Tsinghua University. She serves as board member for Minghui Empowerment Education Transformation Center, a community-based NGO serving ethnic minority youth in Yunnan. She is also a research collaborator with Fudan/University of Brighton on organizational value and legacy ("WeValue"). Previously, she worked on a number of projects in the energy and healthcare sector at LEK consulting.
Zhu holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the Renmin University of China.