#LaidlawConference23: Introducing Our Speakers

Insight, Inspiration, and Innovation: Get to Know Our Line-up!
#LaidlawConference23: Introducing Our Speakers

The 2023 Laidlaw Conference is finally here and it's time to unveil the incredible roster of speakers and facilitators set to ignite our sessions this weekend. Each person brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, passion, and engaging conversation shaping the very heart of our event. Get to know them below!

🌟 Laidlaw Scholar Conference Speakers🌟

Irvine Laidlaw

Session: 'In Conversation: Lord Laidlaw and Provost Linda Doyle'

Lord Laidlaw is a committed philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, and accomplished sportsman. A graduate of Leeds University and Columbia Business School, Lord Laidlaw founded the Institute for International Research Ltd (IIR) which became the world’s largest conference and training company. He sold it in 2005 for $1.4bn to Informa Plc. He has since gone on to build a large property company and invest extensively in sustainable energy, including the Veja Mate Offshore Wind Farm where he was the majority owner. His most recent project is building a renewable power resource in Rwanda.

Lord Laidlaw was one of the very earliest business leaders to see diversity in his management team as an important strength. His leadership team had a majority of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Lord Laidlaw believes passionately that performance should be rewarded and was a pioneer in sharing profits with his employees. A committed internationalist, he considers it vital for the next generation of leaders to have and understand global connections. His generous philanthropy, funding academies and scholarships, centres on two core beliefs; firstly that inspirational education can break the cycle of poverty, and secondly the need for a new generation of diverse, passionate and adaptive leaders with a world view. The Women in Business movement that Lord Laidlaw funds, both helps to build a more diverse future leadership and pays tribute to the many women who helped make IIR so successful.

Susanna Kempe

Session: Global Welcome

A graduate of Cambridge University, Susanna’s professional experience includes over 15 years in senior leadership roles in international B2B and learning businesses. Susanna began her career at the Institute for International Research (IIR) where she first worked with Lord Laidlaw, rising to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). When IIR, which was the world’s largest organiser of commercial conferences, was acquired by Informa plc in 2005 Susanna was appointed CMO of the enlarged group and also led the public company’s investor relations programmes. She subsequently joined Emap Ltd as Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and CEO of Emap Networks, that group’s conferences business. Later she became CEO of the fashion industry forecaster WGSN and was latterly Group Content and Marketing Partner of the leading strategy consultancy Brunswick Group. A German-American raised and educated in the UK and a committed internationalist, Susanna has been involved in globally trading businesses throughout her career, directing activity in the Americas, across continental Europe, and the Asia Pacific.

Susanna has been extensively involved with education and professional development over many years. She was Head of Group Training and led the commercial acquisition and integration of a portfolio of corporate training businesses whilst at IIR; and created learning academies at both Informa and Emap. She believes experiencing and appreciating different cultures promotes better global understanding, creativity and leadership. She is passionate about the power of education to transform lives; and believes that we need to develop a new generation of diverse leaders who are curious, bold and devoted to decency, truthfulness, and innovation. Susanna is committed to diversity not only as a societal imperative but as a critical component of commercial success. As an advisor to the trustees of the Foundation, Susanna first learnt about its purpose and programmes before becoming its Chief Executive responsible for the Laidlaw Schools Trust, the Laidlaw Scholars and its other education programmes. Susanna read English and Philosophy at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. She has five half blues in swimming and water polo; and played netball and rowed for Newnham.

Clover Hogan

Session: Global Keynote | 'From Eco-Anxiety to Action: Mobilising the Next Generation of Climate Leaders'

Clover Hogan is a 24-year-old climate activist and the founding Executive Director of  Force of Nature - the youth non-profit turning climate anxiety into action. She has worked alongside the world’s leading authorities on sustainability, consulted within the boardrooms of Fortune 50 companies, and counselled heads of state.

At 16, Clover was lobbying decision-makers at COP21 in Paris when she realised that the threat greater even than climate change was the feeling of powerlessness in the face of it. She made it her mission to mobilise mindsets. After graduating from the Green School in Indonesia, Clover worked at headline-grabbing startup Impossible Foods and consulted multinationals at sustainability consultancy Volans. 

At 19, she founded Force of Nature. The now 12-person team has led global research on climate anxiety, and delivered programmes to young people in 50+ countries to help them take action. They work with businesses, policy-makers and educators to place young people at the heart of decisions affecting their future.

Clover has taken the stage with global change-makers such as Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva, and interviewed the 14th Dalai Lama. Her TED talk, 'What to do when climate change feels unstoppable', has been viewed 2 million times. At 22 she was recognised on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and has been featured in outlets including The Guardian, the BBC, the New York Times, the FT, and Vogue.

Clover is also the host of the Force of Nature podcast. Season 2, We need to talk about eco-anxiety, explores the intersection of youth mental health and the climate crisis: from food, to fashion, and the role of media in driving climate doomism.

Linda Doyle

Session: Welcome at Trinity College Dublin & 'In Conversation: Lord Laidlaw and Provost Linda Doyle'

Linda Doyle serves as the President and 45th Provost of Trinity College Dublin, having assumed office on August 1, 2021. As the Chief Officer, she's accountable for the university's performance. Prior to this role, Linda was Trinity’s Dean & Vice President of Research and the inaugural Director of CONNECT, the SFI research centre. Her expertise spans wireless communications, spectrum management, and an impressive blend of Engineering and The Arts. Over her distinguished career, she's secured over €70 million in research funding, published extensively, and delivered over 100 keynotes globally.

Beyond academia, Linda's leadership extends to various boards like Science Gallery International (SGI) and the Festival of Curiosity. Passionately merging arts with engineering, she founded the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG) to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. A staunch advocate for women in STEM, she champions initiatives such as Girls in Tech and HerStory. With an educational foundation from University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin, and recognitions like being an Honorary Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, Linda's impact is felt both in Ireland and internationally.

Elham Marzi

Session: Toronto Welcome & Keynote (at UoT)

Professor Elham Marzi is a Teaching Stream faculty member. She teaches in areas inclusive of Organizational Behaviour, Human Resource Management, Strategy, and Negotiations in the Engineering Business Minor and Certificate Program. She has a passion for teaching and getting students engaged through active and technology enhanced learning. She is highly interested in developing innovative teaching techniques and strategies that can contribute to the students learning and experiences in the classroom. 

Professor Marzi has established and is actively leading two projects focusing on growing opportunities for students to get hands on business experience while at completing their engineering degrees.  The first project is the International Virtual Engineering Student Teams project (InVEST) which initiates, facilitates, and supports collaborations between students and faculty working on research projects at various Universities via virtual teams. The second project, Engineering Business Futures program prioritizes opening doors and introducing engineering students to opportunities and Career paths in the field of Business through career panels, case competitions, site visits, and networking events. 
Professor Marzi has received awards and recognition for her commitment to education, including two Best Instructor Awards from XCulture (2016; 2017), and Recognition from Rotman Commerce for Teaching Excellence (2015; 2016). Owed to her diverse disciplinary background Professor Marzi is a member of several associations which span various disciplines and fields in Business, Education, and Engineering. She is currently an active member of Canadian Industrial Relations Association, Canadian Engineering Education Association, Canadian Psychological Associate, the Academy of Management, and various divisions in IEEE.

Niall Santamaria

Session: 'Entrepreneurship Panel with Laidlaw Scholars Ventures' (at UoT)

For the last decade, Niall has been advising startup CEOs on growth strategies, fundraising, and supporting them as they scale. Before this, he spent five years in strategy development, consulting with OC&C Strategy Consultants and in-house for the B2B media group EMAP (now Ascential). A CFA Charterholder with an MBA from London Business School under his belt, Niall's expertise is now channeled as the Chief Investment Officer for Laidlaw Scholars Ventures.

Laidlaw Scholars Ventures (LSV) is a for-profit business investing in start-ups founded and run by Laidlaw Scholars. Backed by a $50m fund, LSV accelerates Good Businesses by financing growth, providing support services, delivering extensive training and development, and bringing a network of expert advisors and mentors. All profits from LSV will be returned to the Laidlaw Foundation to invest in its educational programmes designed to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality and develop a new generation of ethical leaders.

Sally Newton

Session: 'Paying it Forward: Become a Laidlaw Schools Trust Mentor' (at TCD)

Sally is the CEO and Director of Education, Laidlaw Schools Trust. She began her teaching career in 2001 in County Durham, having been identified as a future leader through the DfE Fast Track Programme. She became Acting Headteacher within her first four years. During this time, she led national research and policy development aimed at improving educational outcomes for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller children. Her innovative approaches to engaging with this community were celebrated across the sector.

In 2008, Sally joined Durham Local Authority’s School Improvement Team as an Education Development Partner. She worked across a diverse range of schools across the North East, providing rapid school improvement support and challenge for leadership teams, with noteworthy impact.

In her role as Headteacher, Sally led Sedgefield Hardwick Primary School from a position of Inadequate to Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ in all areas. Utilising the expertise of her Board, Sally established a trading company to offer Extended Provision for children to explore hidden talents and interests. She continued to provide Consultancy and Training Services for both local authorities and Multi-Academy Trusts.

Sedgefield Hardwick Primary School joined the Laidlaw Schools Trust in 2022, and Sally took up a central role working across the Academies to build further upon their successes. She has a particular passion for edtech and inclusion, driving the ambitious implementation of creative solutions.

Lorraine Leeson

Session: 'Leading Challenging Conversations in Diverse Communities' (at TCD)

Professor Lorraine Leeson's research work is multidisciplinary in nature, influenced by her background in Deaf Studies, Gender Studies and Linguistics. She has published widely on aspects of the linguistics and applied linguistics of signed languages with a specific interest in Irish Sign Language and in the area of sign language interpreting.

Her doctoral work was the first to examine aspects of the morphosyntax of Irish Sign Language, and subsequent to this, she has published and lectured widely on aspects of the grammar of Irish Sign Language, and in the area of signed language/spoken language interpreting. Lorraine was a member of the first cohort of professionally trained Irish Sign Language/English interpreters in Ireland, and she continues to interpret occasionally.

She has engaged in pan-European research work with academic institutions, Deaf communities and interpreting organisations for over two decades.

Efosa Obano

Session: Closing Address (at UoT)

Efosa Obano started and manages the Black Founders Network (BFN), which supports Black entrepreneurs across Canada with capital, community, and capacity building. He also started and leads the African Impact Initiative (AII), which enables early African innovators to create solutions to challenges in their communities. He has expertise in using technology to create social impact, invest with impact, and build early-stage ventures. For this work, he has been recognized by the United Nations and the Ontario Minister's Award of Excellence.

Prior to these, he led a team that guided start-ups on their digital transformation journeys with Dell Technologies Canada. He also led community outreach for Dell Canada's Social Impact Team & Dell Canada’s Black Networking Alliance. He received Dell's Corporate Social Responsibility Award for this work. He is an alumnus of the University of Toronto, where he specialized in Strategic Management.

Frank Chen

Session: 'Entrepreneurship Panel with Laidlaw Scholars Ventures' (at UoT)

Frank Chen serves as the Head of Finance & Operations at Captain.ai, a pioneering firm developing in-house restaurant delivery systems. Under his leadership, the company secured a $2.1 million USD investment and expanded its operations to North America. Concurrently, he co-founded Sumer Inc., a disruptive 15-minute grocery delivery service in Canada, generating 200k in revenue and amassing over 3,000 users.

Outside his entrepreneurial pursuits, Frank champions community engagement. As a founding member of Aceocial, he's facilitated connections for the Toronto tech ecosystem, hosting events that have united over 5k founders, investors, and operators. Additionally, his podcast, 'Ideas Can't Wait', offers insights into the dynamic journeys of startup founders. A University of Toronto alumnus, Frank graduated with High Distinction in Business Administration.

Dr Corey Crossan

Session: Oxford Ethical Leadership Programme Sessions (at UoT)

Dr Corey Crossan is a Research and Teaching Fellow at the Oxford Character Project where she develops and facilitates character development programs for students, industry, and university partners. Her research examines how character can be developed and its impact on performance and well-being. Her undergraduate work in Exercise Science inspired her unique application of exercise and habit development towards her research that shed light on what it takes to implement a daily practice of character development. Corey’s love for elite performance developed as she competed in top-level athletics for most of her life, highlighted by competing as a NCAA Division 1 athlete. Corey translated her understanding of elite performance into a passion for helping individuals and organizations develop sustained excellence. She is also the co-founder of Virtuosity Character, a mobile software application created to support the daily, deliberate practice of character-based leadership development.

The session with the Oxford Character Project will encourage the Laidlaw Scholars and conference attendees to reimagine leadership through the lens of character. As Laidlaw Scholars, they hold immense potential to bring change in the world, and this session will help them to understand how to realise their potential by exercising good judgment and leading with character. This will also mark the beginning of the Oxford Ethical Leadership Programme and set scholars up for success in their leadership journey. 

Anjali Sarker

Session: Oxford Ethical Leadership Programme Sessions (at TCD)

Anjali Sarker is the Programme Director of the Global Leadership Challenge at the University of Oxford, where she leads a wide range of programmes for students and professionals at the Oxford Character Project. Previously, she was an international development practitioner and an expert on leadership, innovation, and human development. She worked at BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in the world, to bring digital financial services to one million women in Bangladesh. She is a Dalai Lama Fellow, a Senior Atlantic Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE), a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, and a New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute. She holds an MBA from Said Business School, University of Oxford and an MSc in Inequalities and Social Sciences from LSE.

The session with the Oxford Character Project will encourage the Laidlaw Scholars and conference attendees to reimagine leadership through the lens of character. As Laidlaw Scholars, they hold immense potential to bring change in the world, and this session will help them to understand how to realise their potential by exercising good judgment and leading with character. This will also mark the beginning of the Oxford Ethical Leadership Programme and set scholars up for success in their leadership journey. 

Brandon Yu

Session: 'Entrepreneurship Panel with Laidlaw Scholars Ventures' (at UoT)

With a multidimensional background blending biotech, entrepreneurship, and corporate innovation, Brandon Yu has carved a reputation for himself as an innovation dynamo. A University of Toronto alumnus, he has been involved in pivotal research on B-cell immunology, focusing on the potential of synthetically derived antibodies. Brandon's entrepreneurial flair is evident from his co-founding of Nucleate Dojo, the world's largest undergraduate biotech hub.

As Managing Director of Dojo, he orchestrated its growth and operational strategy, leading to the successful launch of several transformative projects. His professional journey further took him to KPMG, where he was part of the Digital Health group, working on a myriad of initiatives from healthcare supply chain optimization to developing national GTM strategies. Currently, as a Product Manager at Onova, he is at the forefront of AI innovation, building PokerGPT, an AI-powered poker coach. Parallelly, he serves as an Innovation Consultant, where he aids Fortune 500 companies in accelerating their innovation drives. An epitome of dedication, Brandon's work has not only been about groundbreaking research and corporate innovation but also about nurturing the next generation of tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

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