Guest Speakers

GIFT invites senior mentors and guest speakers to all Global Leaders Programmes to share their views on leadership and the drivers of change in the world with participants.

Whether they come from Business, Government, Media, Academia or Civil Society all of our speakers and mentors have an unrivaled passion and level of accomplishment in their chosen professions.

Here are just a few of the 50+ guest speakers and mentors that have contributed to GIFT programmes.

Profile Image

Hideaki Takahashi

Professor, Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance

Hideaki Takahashi has been teaching Internet Business Design and Global Business Management at Keio University Graduate School since 2006. Prior to his teaching career, he served in multiple executive positions including Deputy President of Fuji Xerox, Chairman of FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Corporate Officer of AT&T and Senior Vice President of NCR Corporation.


On the business front, he currently serves on the board of Fukuoka Financial Group, Inc. in Japan and is an advisor to the CEO of ORIX Corporation – Asia’s largest non-bank financial company by market capitalisation. He also serves on a number of advisory boards of Japanese and Western companies. 


Professor Takahashi serves in multiple non-executive, non-profit capacities including for the National Science Museum of Japan, the Value Creation Forum of the 21st Century and the Nikkei Global Social Responsibility Project. His current passion is centred on supporting and advising young people starting IT ventures and social businesses.


Since 2011, the Professor has participated in ten GIFT programmes providing invaluable insights and guidance to participants and partners.

Profile Image

Saori Dubourg

President, Nutrition & Health, BASF

Saori Dubourg joined BASF in 1996 in strategic marketing in the Dispersions & Pigments division and worked in a variety of functions in the United States, Japan and Singapore. In 2001 she led the European business for acrylic monomers and superabsorbents for which she developed a business model in which sustainability was an integral part to realize new business potentials. In 2007 Mrs. Dubourg became responsible for BASF’s global Diversity & Inclusion project and was later appointed President of BASF Asia Pacific in 2009.

One of her key focus areas was the development of BASF’s sustainability strategy for Asia Pacific, positioning BASF as the leading provider of sustainable solutions. Since 2012, she is a member of the Corporate Sustainability Board of BASF group, which monitors the implementation of the sustainability strategy and cross-divisional initiatives, defines global sustainability goals and issues corporate policy on sustainability topics.

Profile Image

Ronnie Chan

Chairman, Hang Lung Group

Ronnie C. Chan is the Chairman of Hang Lung Group Limited and its subsidiary Hang Lung Properties Limited. Both are publicly listed companies in Hong Kong, dealing in real estate investment, development and management.


Founded in 1960, it has been expanding into mainland China since 1992. Following successes in Shanghai, since 2005 Hang Lung has been investing US$11 billion and building a number of world-class commercial complexes in several major Chinese cities, including Tianjin, Shenyang, Jinan, Wuxi, Dalian, Kunming and Wuhan. Ronnie also co-founded the privately held Morningside group which, in the past two decades, has owned and managed businesses in manufacturing, public transport operations, outdoor advertising, media, healthcare, online game operators, high-tech and biotech investments, developmental capital investments and other venture capital investments around the world.


In addition, Ronnie is actively involved with many non-profits, philanthropic endeavours, and educational organisations. He is Chairman of the Executive Committees of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute and of the Better Hong Kong Foundation. He founded and chairs the China Heritage Fund, is a co-founding director of The Forbidden City Cultural Heritage Conservation Foundation, Beijing, and is an Advisor and former Vice President of the China Development Research Foundation in Beijing.


Internationally, Ronnie is a Co-Chair of the Asia Society and Chairman of its Hong Kong Center, a Director of the Board of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Committee on United States-China Relations, and the Committee of 100. He is the founding Chairman Emeritus of the Asia Business Council, a former Chairman of the Hong Kong-United States Business Council, and a former member of the governing board of the World Economic Forum. He serves or has served on the governing or advisory bodies of several think tanks and universities, including Tsinghua University, University of Southern California, East-West Center, Pacific Council on International Policy, Eisenhower Fellowships, and The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.


Ronnie is a frequent speaker at international conferences and has published numerous articles in International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Newsweek, Fortune, Asian Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review and Japan Times.

Profile Image

David Eldon

Former Chairman, HSBC

David Eldon retired as Chairman of HSBC and as a main board Director of HSBC Holdings in 2005 after 37 years with the HSBC Group in the Middle and Far East. He is a Lead Independent Non-Executive Director of Noble Group, member of the Dubai International Financial Centre Higher Board, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Asiya Investments, and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (FCIB). David was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star by the Government of Hong Kong SAR (2004) and an Honorary Citizen of Seoul in recognition of his work for the city.

Profile Image

David Pilling

Asia Editor, Financial Times

David Pilling is the Asia Editor for the Financial Times, appointed in 2008. He oversees the FT's coverage of the Asia region from Afghanistan to Australia, including China, India, and Japan. In addition to directing the work of correspondents in the region and overseeing the editing and commissioning teams in Hong Kong, Mr Pilling is also an Assistant Editor at the FT.

He writes the editorial leaders from Asia and a weekly column on Asian business, politics and economics. Mr Pilling joined the FT in 1990 and worked on the international and main news desks in London before being posted to Santiago, Chile in 1993. Between 1994 and 1997 he was based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before returning to London to become Acting Editor of the comment and analysis page. Between 1999 and 2002 Pilling was the global pharmaceuticals and biotechnology correspondent, covering topics from mega-pharmaceutical mergers to the scourge of AIDS in Africa and the scientific race to decode the human genome. In 2002, he moved to Japan for a six-year stint as Tokyo Bureau Chief covering the Koizumi years and the beginning of the end of the Liberal Democratic Party. He has won several reporting prizes, most recently for coverage of Japan and China, both individually and as part of FT teams.

Profile Image

Anson Chan

Former Chief Secretary, Hong Kong SAR Government

Anson Chan GBM, GCMG, CBE, JP, is the former Chief Secretary of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Mrs. Chan retired from the government in 2001 after nearly 40 years of service. As Chief Secretary, she headed the 190,000-strong civil service. She was the first woman and the first Chinese to hold the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong. During her career in the public service she was responsible, amongst other things, for development of Hong Kong’s economic infrastructure including the planning and construction of Hong Kong’s new international airport, which opened in July 1998, port expansion and deregulation of the telecommunications market.

Profile Image

Graham Barkus

Head of Organisation Development & Learning, Cathay Pacific

Graham Barkus is Head of Organisation Development & Change at Cathay Pacific Airways in Hong Kong, and also maintains his own practice focused on bridging strategy and execution for organisations undertaking major change initiatives. His approach encompasses consulting and coaching individuals and groups to develop the capabilities, capacity and relational skills needed for innovation, adaptive challenges and delivery of transformational change.

Graham is experienced in organisational change and development, individual and group coaching and facilitation, negotiation and conducting ‘difficult conversations’, and conflict management. He has 25 years of professional practice in organisation development, learning and change leadership in Asia.

Graham holds postgraduate degrees with distinctions in Linguistics (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ) and Clinical Organisational Psychology (INSEAD); he is a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching Professional Association at Harvard University. He is currently completing a Diploma in Strategy & Innovation at Oxford University, as part of his interest in helping organisations deliver the business model innovation required by increasingly complex and ambiguous operating environments.

Profile Image

Ada Wong

Partner, Phillip K H Wong, Kennedy Y H Wong & Co., Founder and Hon. Chief Executive, Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, Co-Founder, Make a Difference (MaD)

Ada Wong has been a staunch advocate of creative education and cultural development. She founded the non-profit Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture over 10 years ago, established and now supervises HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity (the only "art high school" in Hong Kong).

Ada has been heavily engaged in public service and community activities. She was an elected Urban Councillor, District Councillor and Chairperson of Wan Chai District Council. She is currently a member of the Consultation Panel of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, the Art Museum Advisory Panel, and a board member of Hong Kong Shue Yan University and Hong Kong Design Centre. She was also a columnist for Oriental Daily and Ming Pao Daily for over 10 years. She is also a co-host of two current affair programmes at Radio Television Hong Kong.

She received her BA (Hons) from Pomona College, California, USA and M Ed from the University of Hong Kong. She is also an Honorary Fellow of Lingnan University and Hong Kong Institute of Education.

Profile Image

Jean-Pierre Lehmann

Founding Director, Evian Group

Jean-Pierre Lehmann is an emeritus professor of international political economy at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is currently a visiting professor on the Faculty of Business and Economics at Hong Kong University.

Previous academic appointments include Sophia University (Tokyo), Oxford, Stirling University (UK), Tohoku University (Japan) INSEAD (France), School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University (Bologna Campus), London Business School, and the Stockholm School of Economics.

In 1995, Mr. Lehmann founded the Evian Group, an international coalition of corporate, government and opinion leaders united by a common vision of enhancing global prosperity for the benefit of all by fostering an open, inclusive, sustainable and equitable global market economy in a rules-based multilateral framework.

His doctoral thesis was on Japanese history and technology transfer during the period of transformation in the mid/late 19th century. He has spent most of his professional life working in and on East and South Asia. In the course of the last decade, he has also become actively involved in projects in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

He acts in various leading capacities in a number of global public policy institutions, as an adviser to governments and corporations, on the editorial board of various journals and as a frequent commentator in the international media.

He is the author of several books and numerous articles. His latest book, co-edited with his son Fabrice Lehmann, is Peace and Prosperity through World Trade: Achieving the 2019 Vision(Cambridge, 2010). He also writes a monthly column for China Entrepreneurs Magazine.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann earned a B.S. degree at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and his D.Phil. at Oxford University.

Profile Image

Sim Lim

Managing Director / Singapore Country Manager, DBS Bank

Sim is currently an Alternate Member for DBS to the Association of Banks in Singapore; Vice Chairman, ASEAN Business Group, Singapore Business Federation and an Executive Board Member, China-ASEAN Inter-bank Association. He also sits on the Board of Singapore Land Authority in Singapore and Nikko Asset Management Co., Ltd in Japan.

In his 28 years of banking experience, Sim spent his career in Asia, North America and the Middle East. Prior to joining DBS, Sim was the President and CEO of Nikko Citigroup Limited from June 2008 to December 2009. During this time, Sim was also a board member of Nikko Citi Holdings, Inc. He was responsible for all corporate & investment banking, institutional brokerage and fixed income & equity trading for Citigroup in Japan.

From March 2007 to June 2008, he was Citigroup Country Officer, Hong Kong and also Chairman of Citibank Hong Kong. During his tenure, he managed the Citigroup Hong Kong country franchise, including developing the strategy for Hong Kong‘s markets and banking franchise, and providing support to the consumer and wealth management businesses. Between October 2003 and March 2007, Sim was regional head of emerging markets sales and trading for the Asia-Pacific, based in Singapore. During this period, he was also the non- executive Chairman of Citibank Berhad Malaysia.

Sim was a Japanese government Monbusho scholar and graduated from Yokohama National University in Japan in 1983.

Profile Image

Minh Chau Nguyen

Country Director, Viet Nam, East Meets West Foundation

Minh Chau Nguyen became the Country Director for East Meets West in March 2009. Her previous positions at EMW include serving on the EMW board and on staff as EMW's Chief Strategy Officer.

Minh Chau spent 25 years working with the World Bank Group in Washington DC. As an economist at the World Bank, Minh Chau was responsible for policy dialogues, project evaluations, and loan negotiations for projects in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She also served as the head of the Gender and Development Division at the World Bank. In this position, she led the World Bank delegation to the Women's World Conference in Beijing in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Minh Chau joined the International Finance Corporation, a private sector arm of the World Bank, to help direct IFC's operations in riskier markets.

Prior to the World Bank, Minh Chau was a lecturer in economics at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. She is a co-founder of the ISIS Management Group, which promotes women entrepreneurs' access to venture financing. She has also worked with Small Enterprise Assistance Funds to help increase equity financing for small and medium enterprises in emerging markets.

Minh Chau received her B.S. from Macalester College, an M.S. in economics from the University of Washington, and Advanced Management Training at Harvard Business School.

Profile Image

Zoher Abdoolcarim

Asia Editor, TIME International

Based in Hong Kong, Zoher Abdoolcarim was appointed as Asia Editor, TIME International, in June 2008 overseeing TIME’s award-winning Asia edition. Prior to this role, he was a senior editor at TIME Asia, a position he held since 2002 where he helped shape all aspects of TIME’s coverage of Asia. His cover stories include a June 2007 article on the 10th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China, as well as a November 2011 lead essay comparing China and India.

Prior to joining TIME Asia, Zoher was Managing Editor of Asiaweek and an editor at Singapore-owned Asian Business. Over the course of his career, Zoher has been a foreign correspondent based in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, with reporting assignments in the Philippines, India, Brunei and Hong Kong. He has been involved in watershed Asia stories including the Ninoy Aquino assassination, the ousters of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and former Indonesian President Suharto, the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing, Hong Kong’s handover to China, the Asian financial crisis and the impact of the September 11 attacks on the region. Over the years, Zoher has interviewed many of Asia’s leaders.

An ethnic Indian born and raised in Hong Kong, Zoher is a fluent Cantonese speaker and a British national. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Profile Image

Angie Lau

Anchor, Bloomberg Television

Angie Lau is an anchor for Bloomberg Television. She has interviewed many business leaders and influencers. Prior to joining Bloomberg, she was the consumer reporter and anchor for the ABC affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio, where she received the Excellence in Journalism Award for Investigative Reporting.