Smart Cities: Artificial Intelligence
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Photo of Tomi Adetayo
Tomi Adetayo
Portrait photographer

Tomi Adetayo is a portrait photographer who loves anything creative. Her project “A Thousand Faces” is a collective insight into the lives of people from different backgrounds, ages and race. Through it, she wishes to share the diversity of culture to the whole world.

Photo of Amal al Agroobi
Amal al Agroobi
Director | Producer

Amal Al-Agroobi began acting for theater at the age of 5 in all her school plays until she graduated. Before she went into filmmaking, she completed a BSc in Biomedical Sciences and an MSc in Neurosciences in London. Her love and passion for film led her to scurry out of university courses to get onto film sets when she had the chance. She graduated in 2009.
In 2012, she finally left the field of science to pursue her love for film and produced her first short Half Emirati (2012), which premiered at the Dubai Film Festival. Amal is half Emirati as well and wanted to speak about the social implications of being mixed race in the United Arab Emirates which was a taboo subject. The following year she completed a feature length documentary about autism, The Brain That Sings (2013) also exploring the sensitive natural of children with disabilities in the Arab world.
Amal’s films are a voice for social change in the Arab world. Her films have altered perceptions and created awareness by changing legislative laws in the United Arab Emirates in regards to the subjects she tackles after her films are released.

Photo of Khalid al Ameri
Khalid al Ameri
Social Columnist, The Gulf Today Newspaper | Motivational Speaker | Youth Coach

Khalid Al Ameri is a recent MBA Graduate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Previously in asset management and investments at an Abu Dhabi based sovereign wealth fund, he is also co-founder of a food and beverage company, and writer on regional issues such as education, entrepreneurship, and employment for The National UAE. Passionate about youth development and doing what he can to bring passion and purpose to the lives of others, Khalid Al Ameri shares his journey & reveals his secret to success.

Photo of Omar al Busaidy
Omar al Busaidy
Unit Head Abu Dhabi Experience Development, ADTCA

Omar Al Busaidy is the Senior Tourism and Corporate Planning Analyst at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. During his term, he was selected as one of the 16 Emiratis who represented the UAE to attend the Venice Biennale under the UAE Pavilion and Sheikha Salama Foundation.


Aside from this, Omar is also one of the Global Shapers at the World Economic Forum and he’s also a member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and is part of their Arts and Culture Committee. He is also an author who published his self-help book entitled “Just Read It”.

Photo of Sultan Saeed al Darmaki
Sultan Saeed al Darmaki
Businessman | Writer | Satirist

Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki is an accomplished filmmaker, businessman, and media visionary based out of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, although his work spans the globe.
Sultan graduated with a Higher Diploma in Business Administration in 2005 from Abu Dhabi Men’s College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management in 2008. In the past he has worked in a number of public sector companies in his hometown in the Oil & Gas, Banking, Wealth Management and Alternative Energy industries and having gained experience in Leadership, Finance, Employee Relations, Marketing and Risk Management. In 2012, he has retired from the public sector and went on to manage his family’s group of companies which is known as “Al Darmaki Group”.
At end of 2012, He started getting into film-making upon discovering Kickstarter and helping a number of independent movies get produced as well as forging alliances and making relations with film-makers around the world.
In August 2013, he created Dark Dunes Productions, a global film production consortium which specializes in the types of movies he loves. Dark Dunes Productions currently has a slate of films in production, starting with the creature feature themed “Kids Versus Monsters”, which shoots in the second quarter of 2014.

Photo of Latifa al Hamed
Latifa al Hamed
Enterepreneur | Founder Inspired Artists

Crayon in hand, Latifa Al Hamed started her creative exploration early in life. Now a confident 20-year-old, this young Emirati has made a fun side business out of painting and selling Tom’s shoes. In fact her artsy shoes have caught the whimsy of young girls in her community and she’s already amassed a beeline of back orders.
Latifa says she is the most creative amongst her siblings. “Art has always been a constant in my life ever since I was a little girl – I always had a box of crayons around and I always tried to make sure I coloured within the lines.” She said it was this love for art that motivated her to set up a business called ‘Inspired Artists’.
So what inspires a this young artist to become an entrepreneur? Latifa says her grandfather was definitely her biggest inspiration. The businesses her grandfather set up span a wide range of industries. “His success story is what encouraged me to dream. My grandfather started small working at a bank. Look at where he is now, he’s a successful, well- known and highly respected business man.”

Photo of AbdulMuttalib al Hashimi
AbdulMuttalib al Hashimi
Managing Director | Founder TBH Consultancy

Dick Cheatham once said “He who defines duty for himself is his own master”. The purpose of everything I do boils down to the following: Become a global ambassador of people in my country, help build home-grown successful businesses and empower people to become self-made success stories in the UAE.
In my current journey I am the Founder of TBH Consultancy, a People and Business Advisory firm based in Dubai. I am also the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Next Level Management Consultancy. My areas of focus are: EMPOWERING people and businesses to become successful in the UAE either via a mentoring, training and advisory approach, EMPOWER employers to drive their Emiratization strategy successfully, help people and businesses achieve cultural integration in the UAE. Finally I remain for the last 7 years a Headhunter of senior and highly talented Emirati nationals who I’ve been fortunate to befriend and help in finding fulfilling careers.

Photo of Manar al Hinai
Manar al Hinai
Writer | Entrepreneur | Branding and Marketing Consultant

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer, entrepreneur, and branding and marketing consultant based in Abu Dhabi.
She has also been the recipient of several honors, which include being named Abu Dhabi Arab Woman of the Year in 2011 and her presence in the list of 100 inspirational individuals in the UAE in 2012 and 2014.
Manar is an avid writer, speaker, and commentator on entrepreneurship. Her business columns are published weekly in The National, a leading English newspaper in the country, in several publications, with over 300 published articles. She had been invited to give motivational speeches, discuss her business and work, share her insight about the latest in the business industry, and often is present on panels alongside influential figures.
She is the founder of Anjez, an initiative aimed to inspire entrepreneurs in the UAE to start their businesses through organizing different netowrking, workshops, and talk events throughout the year.
Manar has been featured in numerous international and local publications such as: Entrepreneur, Marie Claire, Cosmpolitan, Gulf News, The National, Ahlan!, L’Officiel, Al Ittihad, Al Khaleej, Zawya, Arabian Business, Abu Dhabi Week, Time Out Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Tempo, Al Bayan, and many more.

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Majid al Mail
Senior Manager Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee

Majid Al Mail is the Senior Manager at the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC), heading the INNOVATOR Program. Majid’s belief in supporting the development of science, technology and innovation in Abu Dhabi has been translated into practice though his set up and management of the INNOVATOR Program, with the aim of supporting high growth technology related startups.

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Ahmad al Mheiri
Executive director of business development and property management twofour54

Ahmad Al Mheiri is the executive director of business development and property management at twofour54. He supported the development of a number of local free zones prior to joining twofour54. He kicked off his career as the telecommunication engineer at Dubai Airports where he managed the Air Traffic Control Communication system. In 2006, Ahmad managed 50% of JAFZA client base while acting as the head of the Middle East region.

Photo of Bader al Mohammadi
Bader al Mohammadi
Owner Esquires Coffee Houses Franchise for UAE, Qatar and Oman

Bader Al Mohammadi owns the entire chain of Esquires Coffee House within the UAE, Qatar, and Oman. Today, Esquires Coffee House has more than 80 stores both operational and in development within the GCC.

Photo of Fayez al Nusari
Fayez al Nusari
Founder | CEO Mandilicious

Fayez who is an expert in Arabian traditional cuisine managed to transform his expertise into a successful food business over the years. Mandilicious is the first-ever quick service restaurant (QSR) in the world to serve traditional, authentic mandi in a food court setting. Mandilicious offers its customers Arabian cuisine prepared to the highest international standards of quality. From a single outlet in Dubai’s Times Square Centre, Mandilicious now has eight branches across the UAE.

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Mohammed al Otaiba
Editor-in-Chief The National

Mohammed Al Otaiba has a background in diplomacy and media, including 10 years representing the UAE at the UN in New York, Beijing and London.
Prior to his position at The National, he served as Head of Image Nation Abu Dhabi. After being appointed head of the organisation in October 2011 he helped develop Abu Dhabi’s film industry.
Mohammed Al Otaiba holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the American University in Cairo, and a master’s degree in administrative studies from Boston University, with a concentration in multinational commerce.

Photo of Sumayyah al Suwaidi
Sumayyah al Suwaidi
Founder Abu Dhabi Fashion Days & Level V

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi is an awarded Emirati artist and curator based in Abu Dhabi.  She has exhibited her work in galleries in London, USA, China, France, Germany and Morocco. She is also an entrepreneur as a multi-brand boutique owner and a fashion designer, with multiple awards and nominations.

Photo of Abdullatif Alsayegh
Abdullatif Alsayegh
CEO | Founder Alsayegh Media

A modest yet ambitious dream-chasing entrepreneur who continuously aims to contribute to the stability and progress of the Arab world. Through tireless work and limitless dedication, endless possibilities are unlocked for the youth, who carry the hopes of a brave new era.
Founder/CEO at Alsayegh Media: Alsayegh Media is the UAE’s first fully integrated communications and marketing agency. It innovates visionary solutions for a diverse clientele, by consistently staying in sync with the market evolution and global developments.
Founded and headed Arab Media Group, a semi-government agency encompassing 9 radio stations, 3 daily newspapers, 3 TV stations, Outdoor Advertising, Events, Direct Marketing, Printing Press, Distribution and more under its gamut.

Photo of Bahareh Amidi
Bahareh Amidi

Having grown up in the USA, Bahareh has travelled across the world and currently lives in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi, UAE). Her Eastern roots, Western upbringing and years spent living in the Middle East have given her unique perspective on the challenges and triumphs of life, death, and relationships, and a universal appeal to her writing.
She studied Philosophy in Menlo College, California; majored in Counseling Psychology from College of Notre Dame – Belmont, California; and, holds a Doctorate in Educational Psychology from Catholic University – Washington DC. Her area of study was “The Self-Image and Acculturation of Iranian-American Adolescents growing up in the US”.
Bahareh has firsthand experience and a deep engagement with the human condition at various stages of life starting from her volunteering work with the elderly at Sharon Heights Convalescent Hospital – Menlo Park, California through her teenage years; her counseling and training in suicide prevention at the Crisis Center – Burlingame, California; working with children at the Stanford Children’s Health Center, California; researching drug and alcohol rehabilitation at Sequoia Hospital – Redwood City, California; teaching human development at Catholic University – Washington DC; and, counseling victims of gender abuse at the Women’s Safe House in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Photo of Ahmed Baghoum
Ahmed Baghoum
Director of City Zone Masdar City

Ahmed Baghoum is the Director of City Zone at Masdar City, responsible for directing, leading, planning and evaluating the operations of Masdar City. He leads the special economic zone functions within Masdar City including registration, licensing & permitting. Before joining Masdar City, Mr. Baghoum was Executive Director – Customer Operations for the Dubai Technology & Media Free Zone Authority, which includes Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Knowledge Village. Mr. Baghoum holds an MBA from Texas Tech University.

Photo of Jody Ballard
Jody Ballard
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Certified Wellness Coach | Motivational Speaker Strategic Wellness Systems

Jody writes with the deep knowledge and experience gained from being a licensed clinical therapist for over thirty years. Raised with the forthright values and ethics of a Montana cowboy, Jody now lives in the Middle East after living in eight different Countries. She and her husband raised three intelligent, kind, and thoughtful global nomads.

Photo of Loulou Khazen Baz
Loulou Khazen Baz
Founder Nabbesh.com

Khazen Baz founded Nabbesh.com, the first online freelance marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2012. She was the winner of The Entrepreneur, a “Shark Tank like” TV show in 2013 and was the recipient of an AED 1M prize. Today, Nabbesh.com is a leading and trusted brand helping global firms and leading local SMEs hire, manage and pay top freelance talent.
Khazen Baz is a seasoned business executive with over a decade of experience in marketing, project management and financial services. Khazen Baz is also a contributor to a number of regional and global publications and a speaker on freelance, employment trends and entrepreneurship at local and regional conferences.
Khazen Baz’s passion lies in collaborating with, learning from and advising fellow entrepreneurs and business professionals to help knowledge transfer and grow the local ecosystem. In addition to that Khazen Baz is a vocal supporter of women’s rights and economic advancement particularly in the Middle East & North Africa region.

Photo of Mohamed Amine Belarbi
Mohamed Amine Belarbi
Serial Entrepreneur | Blogger | Public Speaker

Mohamed Amine Belarbi started his first NGO, the Arab Institute for Youth Policy Making) at the age of 17. It now has 6 branches in the MENA region. He also runs the Al Amine Foundation for social and entrepreneurial support, and Studinov Marketing Strategies.

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Wayne Borg
CEO | Managing Director Fox Studios Australia

Wayne is an accomplished and successful international executive with 20+ years experience in leadership roles in the media/entertainment, digital & events industries in the private and Govt sectors. He has lived & worked in Australia, Europe, Asia & Middle East; developing strong cultural & commercial expertise across mature & emerging markets.
He has led key divisions of major iconic international media businesses & brands & driven broad brush strategic & policy initiatives for government. His experience includes M&A activity, development of sector clusters & establishment of special economic zones and investment/start up incubation.
Wayne has also served as a non exec board director of media start-ups; event, digital, media education/training & entertainment companies. Reflecting his extensive experience in the innovation sector and knowledge economy. He has thorough exposure & deep knowledge of digital, emerging technologies,convergence, multi-screen environments and the impact on industry & consumers and an understanding of the commercial and strategic drivers across these sectors.
Wayne is Managing Director of Fox Studios Australia.He is currently on the Board of Ausfilm Australia; a Screen Producers Australia Councillor & member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
He was previously President Int. & CCO at twofour54 (Abu Dhabi Media Zone Authority) having transitioned from his initial role of 5 years as Deputy CEO & COO after successfully developing & mentoring a local Emirati leadership team.
The ADMZ Authority is a strategic initiative of the Government of Abu Dhabi. His unique breadth of responsibilities at the ADMZ included: AD Film Commission, AD Film Festival, AD Media Summit.
Previously, Wayne was Executive VP at Universal Pictures Int, based in London. Earlier in his career, he held senior commercial and marketing leadership roles with leading international brands including Time Warner,The Walt Disney Company, PepsiCo & Unilever.

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Yong Chen
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics University of Pennsylvania

Prof. Yong Chen is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD in Biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins University in 2010. His current research focuses on statistical methods for electronic health record data, longitudinal/recurrent events data, and inference using big data.

Photo of Giuseppe Conti
Giuseppe Conti
Negotiation Expert | Lecturer

Giuseppe Conti is a recognized expert in the field of Negotiation and regular lecturer at top-ranked European Business Schools, including Cambridge, ESADE, HEC Geneva, HEC Paris, IMD, INSEAD, Oxford, RSM, and SDA Bocconi. Managers from over 70 different countries have attended his highly interactive and pragmatic workshops.

Photo of Iain Cooper
Iain Cooper
Creative Partner | Founder Lighthouse

Iain manages Lighthouse FZ LLC, a Dubai-based full service boutique advertising and branding agency. More than ten years on, Lighthouse continues to service a host of clients here and abroad.

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Hassan Dawood
Vice Chairman | Group Deputy CEO Alsayegh Media

A remarkable career journey has seen Dr. Hassan impart his energy and entrepreneurial expertise to diverse fields including medicine, management, media and marketing. Online for well over a decade and one of the very first Emirati bloggers, he created his own innovative Internet start-up while at medical school – even before the creation of Facebook and Twitter.
Following graduation, Dr. Hassan practiced as a medical doctor in the United Kingdom. However, wanting to pursue his twin passions of medicine and marketing, he secured a role in strategic healthcare management, where he researched the impact of the mobile and social media revolution on the healthcare industry. Seeking an even greater challenge, he would co-establish a revolutionary new media agency that in just two years transformed the integrated communications landscape in the UAE – Alsayegh Media. He currently serves as Vice Chairman and Group Deputy CEO of Alsayegh Media.
Outside of media and marketing, Dr. Hassan regularly invests his time as a motivational speaker and judge at entrepreneurship events and is devoted to helping young Emirati entrepreneurs become a dominant force on the world stage.

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Mirjana De Laey
Executive Producer TwoFour54 Media Zone

An experienced film producer from Serbia, Mirjana has perfected balancing between exact and abstract; budgets to art forms. She will share her experiences on a range of productions including corporate films, documentaries and artist shorts. Mirjana enjoys constant challenge of content producing, however, her passion is more on the other side of production continuum ; new media and forms of expression. She explores the possibilities of new technologies that are opening different artistic horizons such as mediated, augmented and other realities.

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Keith Durham
Trainer Assessor | Adult Instructor

Since 2001, Keith has been a trainer assessor and adult instructor. In addition to working in various technical training providers, Keith has delivered training and volunteered his time to diverse organizations, such as small community groups and large organizations such as Thames Valley Police, the largest police force in the UK. His real passion however, has always been with projects that encourage and engage individuals to strive towards inner self discovery and individual understanding.

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Frieda Ekotto
Professor of Afro-American and African Studies and Comparative Literature University of Michigan

Dr. Frieda Ekotto has been a Professor of Afro-American and African Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan since 1994. She holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Ford Foundation seed grant for research and collaborative work with institutions of higher learning in Africa. She is the author of six books and numerous articles in professional journals.

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Dany el Eid
Founder Pixelbug

Dany El Eid was one of 16 candidates on Stars of Science Season 3 with his innovation, ARIES, an augmented reality head-mounted display. Dany established his own digital technology company called pixelbug in Dubai. Dany has continued pioneering in the augmented reality field to provide innovative digital technology solutions to brands and multinational companies. The company has been running for over two years and has generated over seven figures in revenues already. pixelbug is composed of a total team of six highly talented individuals who cater to global clients.

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Randa el Zein
Empowerment Coach | Founder Be You International Educational Consultancy

After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in Lebanon, a Master’s degree in Italy and spending a long career in Interior Design both in UAE and in Canada, Randa has chosen to shift directions completely 5 years ago and to start a new path. A path dedicated for serving others. She has transformed many lives and it is her aim and life mission to integrate her programs into the schools as she believes this would help the students with everything they need other than academics. She is a certified life coach, facilitator, speaker, author and a member of the International Coach Federation holding several designations.

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Fareed Esmaeil
Founding Partner | Principal Architect X Architects

Farid Esmaeil studied architecture at the American University of Sharjah School of Design 1997 – 2003. He cofounded X–Architects in 2003 in Dubai, over the past 13 years, the office has developed an international reputation with significant diverse portfolio of projects ranging work, from masterplans, civic and cultural buildings, offices and residential buildings to private houses. X-architects believes in design as a process. The Studio research into creating a built environment that is adaptive and contextual. Our sensible, yet critical design approach recognizes the inherent complexity in modern day building and harnesses this complexity to produce projects that are culturally robust, place sensitive and environmentally friendly.
His work has been recognized internationally through various awards. He was awarded the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction 2008, the Arc Middle-East award for Architecture 2009 and 2010, the Cityscape Award for Sustainable master plan. Farid has lectured and in various universities and institutions worldwide and he is a regular guest critic. He was a speaker at TEDx in Abu Dhabi, Harvard University, University of Toronto and Doha Architecture Forum. He exhibited and contributed to Venice Biennale 2008, 2014 and 2016, Louisiana museum of modern Art and Archiprix.
Currently he is working on several projects including the Darb Al Mashaer Master Plan (Mecca), the UAE Embassy (Qatar), the conservation and extension of the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa House (AlAin) and The Lusail Housing (Doha).

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Iva Fattorini
CEO Cleveland Clinic

Fattorini is an MD, M.Sc. and is the Chair of Global Arts & Medicine Institute. She is also the Executive Board Office at Cleveland Clinic. She received her M.D. at the University of Zagreb Medical School in Zagreb, Croatia. She completed the International Training Program at the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Fattorini specialized in the use of lasers in Cosmetic Dermatology and served as Director of the Laser Center at the University Hospital in Zagreb. Since coming to Cleveland Clinic in 2004 and until her appointment as Chair, Arts & Medicine Institute, Dr. Fattorini has served as Executive Director of Arts & Medicine Institute and Director of International eHealth. At Cleveland Clinic, she is actively involved in initiatives related to international patients, wellness programs, and arts & cultural activities. She’s also the founder of “Artocene”, a global social impact company.

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Gavin Fenn-Smith
Founding Partner The River Group

Gavin Fenn-Smith is a Founding Partner at The River Group. He has twenty years experience as an advisor to CEOs and senior executives, and as an expert in leadership and organizational development. He has consulted to organizations across the US, and has worked in many countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Before forming The River Group, Gavin was a Senior Partner at Equinox Organizational Consulting. He was a co-founder of Kemp and Watson, a nonprofit consulting firm that is now part of The River Group. He is a member of the Board of Saroga, the nonprofit leadership forum, which creates leadership development solutions for nonprofit executives.

Earlier, Gavin was a founding member of the London office of Mercer Delta Consulting (now part of Oliver Wyman), and the Boston office of Smythe Dorward Lambert, a change management firm. Gavin holds an MBA from Warwick Business School and a BA (Hons) Political Science from the University of East Anglia. He lives in Massachusetts, USA.

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Mohammad Ahmed Fikree
Founder | Graphic Designer | 2D Flash Animator | Music Composer | Voice Actor MohdFikree Animation

Mohammad Ahmed Fikree is an award-winning Emirati animation director and the founder of MohdFikree Studio.
He completed his studies at SAE Institute Dubai and is currently working as a graphic designer and video editor at one of UAE’s telecommunication companies called du for commercials and internal use. He had also directed the end credit sequences for UAE’s popular television animated series, Freej (season 5), created by Mohammad Saeed Harib.
In August 2015, Mohammad’s first Hollywood experience was as an intern in Vancouver for Star Trek Beyond, directed by Justin Lin.

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John Fox
Poetry Therapist

John Fox, Certified Poetry Therapist, is a poet and author of Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity through Poem-Making and Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making. His essays and poems are featured in the following book titles:
• The Healer, Dancing With the Healing Spirit
• The Spirit of Writing
• The Soul of Creativity
• Teaching With Fire
• The Healing Environment
• Supportive Cancer Care
• Writing the Sacred: A Psalm Inspired Path
• The Whole Person and the Human Face of Healthcare (forthcoming)
• Writing Away Your Demons (forthcoming)
John also produced, in 1989, When Jewels Sing, a tape of his poems, read by him.

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John Garnett
Vice President of International Business Development Pinnacle

​​Before becoming Pinnacle’s Vice President of International Business Development, John spent 20 years as a professional army officer serving with a number of international armies and organizations. Afterwards he joined Bridgestone/Firestone (NZ) Ltd for four years, where he held a number of senior management and executive positions. In 2000, John joined a Kansas City based company as director of business development and marketing. During the next six years he was utilized in a number of both domestic and international roles, including the acquisition and running of a UK based division. In 2006, John joined another company as VP of sales and marketing and revamped its channel and distribution strategies. Originally from New Zealand, John attended the Australia Royal Military College, Duntroon (West Point equivalent) where he graduated with a BA. ​

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Rohit Ghai
Director | CEO KPI Abu Dhabi

Rohit Ghai is the Director & CEO of KPI Abu Dhabi, located in the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and Director of the Business Consulting Division at KPI Dubai. He has over fifteen years of experience in business consultancy, fund structures and company formations in multiple jurisdictions worldwide, including onshore in the United Arab Emirates, free zones and reputed offshore centers like the Cayman Islands and Mauritius.

Photo of Xitong Guo
Xitong Guo
Full Professor in Information Systems School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology

Prof. Xitong Guo is a Full Professor in Information Systems at School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology. He received his PhD in Information Systems at the City University of Hong Kong and PhD in Management Science and Engineering at the University of Science and Technology of China. His current research focuses on e-Health, social computing and IT enabled innovation.

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Andreas Hägglund
Co-Founder Swedish ICT Consultancy 11K & Agile Middle East

Andreas Hägglund is co-founder of Swedish ICT Consultancy 11K and Agile Middle East; he is also the General Manager of Parmatur Middle East where he helps companies unleash creativity and innovation as well as achieve business agility through arena based organizations. He is a much appreciated speaker on topics like Lean, Agile, Innovation and Management.

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Ron Herman
CEO Mubadala GE Capital

Prior to joining Mubadala GE Capital in 2008, Ron spent 24 years in a variety of business roles across multiple GE businesses. His last position at GE was the global CEO of GE Equity from 2003 to 2008 responsible for a $6 billion investment portfolio. Ron holds a M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Economics and Computer Science from the University of Notre Dame and the London School of Economics. He serves on the Boards of The Future Center for Special Needs and AmCham Abu Dhabi.

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Anna Heystek
Entrepreneur | Business woman BOTH Holdings Ltd.

Anna Heystek is a seasoned entrepreneur and business women who relocated to the UAE in 2005 and has established 4 startup ventures since then. These businesses all focus on outsourcing essential support services to help save time, money and resources that impact and contribute to the competitive success of other companies. With vast and in-depth local UAE knowledge, international experience and passion for providing a complete customer centric approach, Anna and her teams create a consistent professional outsourcing experience for all their clients. Anna is a founding partner and shareholder of BOTH and serves as a Director on the board of BOTH, managing both offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

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Constance Van Horne
Assistant Professor of Strategy | Coordinator of Internships Zayed University

Dr. Constance Van Horne is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Coordinator of Internships and Alumni in the College of Business at Zayed University. She was the project lead of the most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report from the United Arab Emirates and was a co-author on the first book published on Emirati entrepreneurship.
She has published peer reviewed articles, chapters and conference presentations with her students and alumni on Emirati entrepreneurship, Emirati leadership, innovation processes in the UAE and Emiratisation. Her research has been cited in many publications in the UAE and internationally.
Dr. Connie is a passionate teacher and makes it a point to incorporate heritage and Abu Dhabi Plan 2030 into every course she teaches, whether it be Strategy, Capstone Research or Innovation. This has led her to fieldtrips in all seven Emirates and visits to the mountains of Fujairah to discover the strategy of the Emirati craft honey industry, to learning about camel farming, Arabian horse farming, organic produce farming and many more.

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David Howarth
Assistant Dean College of Arts & Creative Enterprises, Abu Dhabi

David is the Assistant Dean in the College of Arts & Creative Enterprises, Abu Dhabi and professor in Graphic Design. David gained his MA in communication Design from University of Salford, UK. With over 25 years’ experience both working in industry for large Award Winning Design Agencies within the UK and 10 years working as Managing Director within his own company. A passionate creative designer as well, his goal has always been to bring his experience within the design industry full circle and to pass on his experience to others. David has a keen interest in all design related issues with a passion for Land art and natural/urban decay. He also recognizes the importance of merging and collaborating within all art disciplines as vital ingredients that form the perfect balance for an excellent research based degree in Visual Arts, Graphic and Interior Design.

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Victor Huang
Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship | Adjunct Professor of Management Zayed University & Khalifa University (KUSTAR)

Victor Zengyu Huang is an Assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Zayed University, an Adjunct professor of management at Khalifa University (KUSTAR). He serves on the UAE team of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Consortium, which publishes the bi-annual UAE national report on entrepreneurial activities. Dr. Huang’s research explores entrepreneurial opportunity and growth, His current research interests include: macroeconomic determinants of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial ecosystem, diaspora/multiculturalism, and female entrepreneurship. Dr. Huang’s academic writing has appeared in leading scholarly outlets including the Academy of Management Learning & Education, the Journal of Management, Journal of Business Venturing, etc. He has been quoted in the Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. His latest co-authored book: Entrepreneurship – an Emirati Perspective, is available in both Arabic and English. Dr. Huang is a member of the Academy of Management (AOM), and Vice-President (Academic Affairs) of the Academy of International Business (AIB) MENA Chapter. Prior to working in academia, he was an advisory consultant at Ernst & Young where he engaged in numerous corporate venturing projects with client companies such as: Apple, Microsoft, Henko, CRH, EMC corporation, etc.

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Yendy Nasr Khayat
Founder | Managing Director The Franchizery

Yendy is the Founder and Managing Director of ‘The Franchizery’, a franchise consulting firm focused on attracting selected franchise concepts in designated sectors through value adding strategies and helping them expand their concepts into new territories. The firm works closely with investment groups and family offices to help them acquire successful concepts and diversify their portfolio of franchises.

Photo of Fouad Kraishan
Fouad Kraishan
Managing Director FKAC

Fouad Kraishan is the Managing Director of FKAC, an Audit and Consulting firm in Abu Dhabi, with a CPA, with over 20 years of experience. As business & tax consultant, he advises on business set up & structure, strategic partnerships, business development, tax planning and corporate governance for family owned businesses. He is also former CFO for a United Nations Program in Jordan, and former CFO for an Accrediting Organization in Washington, DC.

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Jules Lewis
Founder Mountain High

Jules Lewis is a sought after motivational speaker based in Abu Dhabi specializing in Leadership, Adventure and Wellness. She has over 20 years of experience working in Asia, Europe and the Middle East training top executives from Fortune 500 companies including HSBC, AXA Insurance, BNY Mellon, and many more. In addition, Jules has led over 50 expeditions in 20+ countries around the globe including “Polar Expeditions” to the Arctic and Antarctica. Jules holds a BSc Degree in Sports Science and is a certified NLP Master Practitioner and Coach through the American Board of Practitioners.

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Stephen M.R. Covey
Advisor | Speaker

Stephen M. R. Covey is a sought-after advisor and keynote speaker on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance and has presented at leading conferences in 40 countries, receiving high marks for his style, substance, and the relevance of his insights on trust. He is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which, under his stewardship, became the largest leadership-development company in the world. He led the strategy that propelled his father`s book, Stephen Covey`s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to be one of the two most influential business books of the 20th century, according to Chief Executive magazine. 

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Hana Makki

I work as a senior producer in the documentary department at Image Nation. We create documentary films with a strategic mandate, to enhance awareness of social causes, and to promote the MENA region and regional topics on a global stage.

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Ahmad Matar
Sales Consultant Team Leader The Business Development Department of the RAK Free Zone branch in Abu Dhabi

Ahmad Matar is the Sales Consultant Team Leader in the Business Development Department of the RAK Free Zone branch in Abu Dhabi, responsible mainly for Sales & Marketing Activities. Ahmad provides guidance, support and consultation for Investors to choose the most suitable and cost effective way to start their business in RAK Free Trade Zone and to choose between wide ranges of different options designed particularly for SMEs to explore the market in UAE.

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Stephen Mckenna
Senior Associate (Corporate) Clyde & Co LLP

Stephen is a corporate lawyer who has been working in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region since 2009. Stephen’s practice primarily focuses on M&A, joint ventures, business/asset purchases, FDI, commercial contracts and corporate structuring.
Stephen advises a wide range of clients including SMEs, public and private companies as well as government and government related entities, both regionally and internationally. He has significant experience of advising clients particularly in the manufacturing, aviation, oil & gas, defence and technology/IT sectors.
Stephen is part of Clyde & Co’s core education team and has specific experience of advising educational institutions and providers on corporate/commercial matters.
Prior to joining Clyde & Co, Stephen worked as in-house counsel in the UAE for a multinational construction company headquartered in Europe which enables him to understand the business needs of his clients and to provide practical solutions to real commercial issues within a regional context.
Stephen is admitted as a solicitor in the Republic of Ireland and England & Wales. He is also highly proficient in German.

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G.F Joey Musmar
Managing Partner Miller Musmar

G.F. Joey Musmar is the Managing Partner at Miller Musmar a CPA firm in Reston VA; he is an expert in International taxes for businesses and individuals, with interest in business structure and tax planning. He is a CPA, a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), and an Accredited Business Valuator (ABV). He also holds the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) designation and is Series 7 securities licensed.

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Michelle Nickelson
Co-Founder | Managing Director Women in Film and Television | MENA CineFinance

After having completed an outside consultant project for Mubadala regarding an entertainment project, I am also available as a consultant. If your company is looking at investing in entertainment destinations, acquiring content, sports teams or athletes, or media libraries, please contact me privately. I can help with the concept, and put a qualified team of experts together in the chosen industry that you are interested in.

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Vasilii Oxenciuc
Head of Sales Knoq Middle East

Vasilii Oxenciuc is Head of Sales at Knoq technology. KNOQ is a free iOS and Android compatible application to deliver push notification from iBeacons in real-time location and trigger smartphone’s functions to enhance user experience.

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Setarah Rafiee
Vice President of Customer Development and Communications Mubadala GE Capital

Setarah Rafiee is VP of Customer Development and Communications for Mubadala GE Capital. Setarah led the development and launch of the MGEC Advantage Program which provides key tools and coaching to local customers and prospects. Since program inception, the program has delivered over 160 hours of training impacting over 380 people. Setarah started her career with Mubadala GE Capital in 2011 leading their CRM & Analytics, including the company’s adoption of salesforce.com. Prior to joining the company, she worked as a Marketing Analyst with GE Capital Real Estate launching the company’s Global Sustainability Program. Prior to her sustainability role, she held a variety of Finance roles in GE Capital based in the US. Setarah holds a BS in Business Administration, specialization in Finance from The Ohio State University.

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Vida Rizq
Principal Founder Aflamnah

Senior marketing professional with 20+ years’ experience in setting and executing effective corporate/ consumer marketing and communications strategies that positively affect reputation and the bottom line. Extensive experience in building/managing PR/Corporate Communications/Marketing functions within different organizational structures and remaining abreast of new developments. Thorough understanding of regional and international media landscape coupled with excellent media relations skills. Passionate about all things digital and social. Enjoy branding, project leadership, and people management. Proven track record in complex project management with thorough and well organized execution capabilities. Team motivator who delivers results through developing and implementing cross-functional team workflow efficiency. Self-starter who enjoys challenges and working under pressure.

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Fiona Robertson
Senior Lawyer

Senior lawyer with particular expertise in the legal side of media, creative, sports and entertainment industries and the general commercialisation of IP.
Extensive experience for clients across numerous industries — broadcasters, producers, animators, musicians, web designers, franchises, brand agencies, sponsors, sports administration, film funds, advertising agencies, event organisers, financiers, studios, record companies and publishing companies, galleries, booking agencies, managers, TVC creators, publishers, writers, designers and artists of all kinds.
Worked across all aspects of corporate and commercial work, with particular focus on the internal transactions that manage the exploitation of IP globally and create efficient internal corporate administration.

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Dorian Rogers
Founder | Award Winning Poet | Cultural Events Organizer Rooftop Rhythms

This cultural events planner, award-winning poet, certified Language Arts teacher, and Hip-Hop artist is truly a Renaissance man. In 2011, Dorian moved to Abu Dhabi to pursue teaching and host poetry open mic nights. In a little over three years, he has become a successful event planner who has been featured on both BBC and CNN for his live music nights, poetry open mics and parties that average in the hundreds in attendance.
As a poet, Dorian “Paul D” Rogers’ unique imagery, word play, concepts, and storytelling abilities have solidified him as one of America’s top performance poets. He is both a 2007 National Poetry Slam champion with team Slam Charlotte and the 2005 individual champion of the Southern Fried Poetry Slam. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in a small South Georgia town named Albany, Georgia, Dorian is continuing to make a name for himself around the world. He has performed and lectured at over forty colleges and universities. Dorian has also performed in Ethiopia, Berlin, Ghana, and South Africa. Known as the “jack of all events”, the entertainment world is on the edge of its seat to see what this rising star will do next.

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Mary Romeo
Learning Leader GE Capital Americas (Access GE)

Mary is currently Learning Leader for GE Capital Americas (Access GE) sharing key GE revenue and business strategies, industry and operating expertise with key strategic clients. In her 16 years with GE, Mary has worked in several GE Capital roles. She designed and taught curriculum for the Risk Management Leadership Program. During the Risk assignment, Mary became one of GE Capital’s first Certified Master Black Belts. After risk management, she designed curriculum and taught six sigma and various organizational development classes for GECA CLOE (Center for Learning and Organizational Excellence). From CLOE, she was recruited as one of the founding members of Commercial Finance Access GE where she has solved challenges and brought GE expertise to thousands of GE customers worldwide.

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Esraa Bani Rothman
Founder | CEO Mom’s Guide Abu Dhabi

Esraa earned her MPH in 2007 with a concentration in Epidemiology and Research. Esraa’s Moms Guide is the go-to source of inspiration for hundreds of moms & businesses in Abu Dhabi.

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Elina Rozycki
Yoga Instructor

Elina is a 38-year old Swiss born Finn and her career background started with a Bachelors degree in Hotel Management in Switzerland. Elina’s hobbies include dance, yoga and meditation, painting, travelling, and reading. Elina was first introduced to yoga in the US and pursued her training there as well as in India and around Europe. Her main goal when teaching is for the students to be able to share the joy of moving gently with the breath. Some of the things she feels passionate about are pregnancy and birth and has therefore trained as a pre-natal yoga teacher as well as a birth companion or “Doula.” Elina is a believer in natural healing methods for ailments and, as is passionate about helping out with various non profit charity work.

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Karam Abu Saab
Co-Founder | Area Developer Proximo Events Management & TapSnap UAE

Karam Abu Saab is the co-founder of Proximo Events Management and is also the area developer in TapSnapUAE. Tap Snap is a platform that can make your event fun and highly interactive. It is a great social media marketing solution for events of all kind.

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Jane Samson
Managing Partner True Evolution LLC

Jane Samson MSc, CPCC, Executive and Team Certified Coach is one of a few professional coaches based in Abu Dhabi who holds advanced certification and experience in coaching. As a published author, senior leader and as a successful entrepreneur, Jane has rich experience in working with people and organisations to develop executives and team abilities. The development of potential in people has always been Jane’s passion.
The fundamental basis from which Jane works is that of ‘Strength’.
Every executive needs an objective sounding board, it is ‘lonely at the top’. Jane is an excellent listener providing a non judgmental opportunity for executives to access pragmatic solutions that deliver value creation directly to the executive and to their organisation.
Jane creates a safe courageous space which enables executives to counteract the natural propensity to avoid difficult truths about themselves. Confidential executive coaching enables executives to access new ways of thinking, feeling, behaving, and relating to others to build organisational effectiveness. Whilst in parallel developing their strategic thinking skills, and business results delivery.
Typically the reactionary world of day to day business, business gets in the way of professional development. When working with Jane executives are reminded of their focus. This practice shifts executives to a reality that initiates creative and strategic action for the future of their business, as apposed to being simply reactionary.
Jane is passionate about people and organisational success. Her success is built on her ability to attain the baseline measure, clarify the goals and objectives, and enable clients to attain and maintain the sustainable high performance they seek.

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Beno Saradzic
Photographer | Emmy Nominated Time Lapse Cinematographer | Visual Artist

The Slovenian born creative is currently based in Dubai, UAE is a trained 3D Computer Animation and Architecture Visualization specialist and a veteran digital artist. Beno won numerous accolades and awards such as the rank of ‘Autodesk Master’ and a ‘Special Merit of Excellence’ award by Kinetix / Autodesk in 2005. He has recently been nominated for an Emmy for his achievements in cinematography. He is also a Silver Dolphin Award winner of the prestigious Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.

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Nadia Sehweil
Co-Founder | Pilates Instructor Bodytree Studio

Nadia’s life was influenced by the mind/body connection at a very critical time in her life. Since then she has become committed to guiding others on their spiritual journey to wellness through Pilates. Her belief in structural fitness as a building block to health has led her to discover other forms of holistic exercise eventually leading her to train under STOTT PILATES ® and become an instructor.

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Sharifa Sehweil
Co-Founder | Yoga and Pilates Instructor Bodytree Studio

Sharifa has been a student of wellness for over twelve years. Her journey began with yoga. After reaping the benefits as a student, she was inspired to teach, becoming a certified Hatha Yoga instructor and managing a yoga studio in Montreal. She is a STOTT PILATES ® trained instructor, and currently is a teacher of both Yoga and Pilates in the United Arab Emirates.

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Kathy Ning Shen
Associate Professor in Information Systems University of Wollongong in Dubai

Dr. Kathy Ning Shen is an Associate Professor in Information Systems at University of Wollongong in Dubai. She is specialized in digital marketing, consumer behavior and quantitative analysis. She got her Doctoral degree in Information Systems from City University of Hong Kong. She has published more than 70 refereed journal and conference articles.

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Willem Steenkamp
Legal Consultant Al Tamimi and Company

Willem is a Senior Associate in the Commercial Advisory group and has over 8 years of transactional and advisory experience and works on a broad range of contentious and non-contentious corporate and commercial matters. He has worked with a wide range of listed and unlisted clients, both local and international, and his practice area encompasses cross border joint ventures, commercial agreements, distribution agreements, franchise agreements, sports law, corporate governance, regulatory compliance and opinion work.

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Wasif Syed
Founder | CEO Ivy League Advisor

Dr. Wasif Syed is the Founder and CEO of Ivy League Advisor, an American educational and leadership strategy consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Dr. Syed is an avid proponent of youth empowerment, leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Huffington Post named Dr. Syed as one of “5 People Inspiring Peace Globally” for his education and leadership work. He has developed the proprietary Innovative Leadership Program and has mentored numerous students, young professionals and executives globally to unlock their potential through innovative platforms. A much sought after speaker, he has spoken at the United Nations, and at schools, universities, conferences, organizations and foundations worldwide. In addition to working with students and professionals, schools, nonprofits and universities, he also collaborates extensively with the Fortune 500 and governments. He completed his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Cornell University.

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Mark C. Thompson
CEO | Co-Founder Virgin Unite Mentors

Mark C. Thompson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Virgin Unite Mentors, Sir Richard Branson’s network for executive coaching and entrepreneurial innovation. A venture capitalist, he is one of America’s top investors, described by Forbes Magazine as having ‘the Midas Touch’. He has worked with some of the world’s most iconic business figures, including Charles Schwab, Steve Jobs, Marshall Goldsmith, and Sir Richard Branson. Today, Mr. Thompson spends most of his time serving as a mentor, providing real-time solutions to today’s leadership challenges. “Success Built to Last”, is Mark’s recent bestselling book, written with Jerry Porras and Stewart Emery. The authors interviewed 200 remarkable human beings, including Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. They shared how they learned from failures, harvested victories, and found the courage to be true to their passions.

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Theresa Weber
Senior Management Professional | Entrepreneur

Senior management professional with 25+ years of international development, business, marketing and project management experience in the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, Africa and the US. Diverse background working in private sector (trade, investment, public relations) non-profit sector (schools, organizations) and government. International donor experience includes the US Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of Defense, US Department of State, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Entrepreneur who has co-founded two companies: a management consultancy and publishing firm.