Shirley Adrain is Managing Director at Back to Work Hong Kong, a training, coaching and consultancy group that helps individuals return to work after a career break and supports businesses with their returnship, maternity/paternity, career management and coaching programs.
Shirley has over 20 years experience in Investment Banking, having held senior leadership positions in the UK, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. During her banking career, she engaged in and received coaching training, which helped her develop leaders within her organizations.
In 2012, she made a career change and became a fully accredited Executive Coach. In addition, she has been a NLP business practitioner since 2002 and regularly uses this training to get the best from her clients. (Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of how the human mind works and how excellence is achieved.)
Shirley took over as Managing Director of Back to Work Hong Kong in 2017. This is in addition to her role as CEO of Career Catalyst Group Ltd, which provides coaching and training for executives in international banks and law firms. Additionally, she has designed and implemented international leadership development programs, a Global Career Framework and works with young leaders and entrepreneurs across Asia.
Shirley holds an MA (Psychology) from the University of Glasgow and an MSc (Business IT Systems) from the University of Strathclyde.
Kimberly Arth is the Co-Founder of PIVOT, a recruitment firm that connects professional women with dynamic companies across a variety of disciplines within finance and marketing. With a focus on project, contract and short-term opportunities, PIVOT's goal is to provide clients with high caliber talent by placing high-achieving women into roles that offer balance and flexibility.
Kimberly has over a decade of experience working in finance in New York serving as Vice President for Lazard Frères private fund advisory group, Vice President of Credit Suisse Commercial Mortgage Origination Group and Vice President of Oasis Real Estate Partners and as an Associate for Goldman Sachs Real Estate Investment Banking.
Relocating to Hong Kong with her family and experiencing the challenges associated with a global move plus the desire for balance in her current phase of life, served as the impetus to co-found PIVOT with her partner Lauren Lin.
Kimberly graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics.
Melissa Au is Founder & Managing Director of Munchkins, an entrepreneurial start up which provides fun food based enrichment activities to preschool children, primary caregivers and families.
Melissa spent a decade as a Change Management, Learning & Development Professional then chose to become an entrepreneur. She harnessed her passion for food and family and turned it into one-of-a-kind business.
Munchkins now provides experiential opportunities for communities to come together and share foodie experiences that nurture confidence. Her current food-a-licious adventures include hands-on market-to-table field trips and Reggio Emilia inspired learning through scrumptious play activities where kids are encouraged to experiment with texture, taste, smell and colour.
Melissa comes from a British family, with roots in China, Malaysia and Italy. She has over 15 years of cooking experience and has spent the past 5 years educating children through farm-to-table activities. Melissa is also working and supporting Hong Kong’s community gardeners, school kitchens and supports local farmers with her business venture.
Karena Belin is co-founder and CEO for WHub, a new online platform connecting Hong Kong startups with talent. Karena also serves as Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer for her newest venture AngelHub—Hong Kong’s first (approval in principle) SFC licensed startup investment platform for professional investors and global startups raising growth capital.
Karena co-founded WHub out of passion for entrepreneurs and a desire to foster the growth of the startup ecosystem. WHub showcases startups and helps them bring their business to the next level by making meaningful connections to talent, investors and other startups.
Since 2013, she has been a leader in the startup scene, acting as speaker, mentor and judge at events and organizations such as WebSummit, RISE Conference, Techstars programs, TechSauce, Google EYE, Chicago Booth GNVC, Tech Open Air Berlin (TOA), Asia Pacific Week, Seedstars, global YPO YNG+ and more.
She holds a double diploma in business and administration from the University of Mannheim and the MBA business school ESSEC in Paris. Originally from Germany, Karena spent 15 years with Procter & Gamble working in various roles throughout Finance, Sales, Strategy and Management across Europe, North East Asia and Greater China.
She is a member of the Global FinTech Core Group at the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Vice President and Ex-Com member of The Indus Entrepreneurs Network (TiE) HK, member of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK), President of the board of the parent organisation (PFO) at Hong Kong International School, as well as driving diversity and inclusion as a member of WOW at the AWA.
(Linkedin: karenabelin; Twitter: @BelinKarena).
Cathy Blanc is the Founder of CWB Consulting which provides individual coaching for Job Seekers by working with them on their resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and HR interview simulations. She also supports Entrepreneurs and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the HR function.
Cathy has a 15-year-international experience in HR and has been working with people from all industries (bank, IT, luxe, hospitality, F&B, education, toys, automobile, aeronautic, shipping…). She nourishes a genuine passion for people. She always seeks and finds how to help her Clients to develop and realize their full potential by coaching, identifying new opportunities, supporting professional reconversion or reconnection with the job market.
Cathy has a Master Degree in French Labor Law & Human Resources from UVSQ University in France. She’s been living and working in Hong Kong for a decade. She has learnt the DOs and DONTs of the local job market and is happy to share her HR tips.
Abigail Croft is Managing Director of Bridge Partnership, a global consultancy, and early pioneer of purpose led business strategies and leadership development programs. Abigail began her career in London working in executive recruitment. As the business expanded, she opened and managed new offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, becoming a Regional Director.
With over a decade of executive recruitment expertise, Abigail gained invaluable insight into human resources and leadership challenges, sales and account management expertise and how to build successful local, regional and global teams.
At Bridge, Abigail specializes in designing and delivering programs that support shifts in mindsets as well as capabilities. She is passionate about working with senior leaders invested in creating organizational change and developing talent within their businesses through diagnostic, co-creative design work and individual and group interventions.
Moreover, she enjoys working with women in leadership roles and supporting them to find their authentic leadership style and voice. Abigail has led numerous global initiatives including the creation of a global mentoring scheme.
She has served as a mentor to The Women’s Foundation for the past two years and BRIDGE has been curriculum contributor to this prestigious program in Hong Kong for the past five years.
Cassandre Daigre is the Co-Founder of WILD - DIGITAL BUSINESS MAKERS. She is passionate about growing businesses, currently working with both corporate and startups in Hong Kong, Europe and the USA, for local and international targets. Since 2014, her digital marketing agency WILD offers digital business making solutions to third parties in APAC and the USA. They’ve already set the bar high and achieved growth, visibility and ROI improvements for their clients.
WILD boasts extensive digital knowledge with an international team. They articulate eCRM, Analytics & KPI setting, Search Engine Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Social Media Editorial marketing, Pay per Click, Market place setting and Optimization, Growth hacking, and content creation (design and web development), into an efficient business strategy.
Alicia Espinal is a Luxury Travel Advisor at Charlotte Travel, a boutique, family-run travel agency that has been serving Hong Kong since 2001.
Alicia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies from Quinnipiac University in 2012. While pursuing her degree, she had the fortunate opportunity to spend a semester in Florence, Italy, where her love for travel became a passion.
That desire brought Alicia to Hong Kong in 2016 with her former employer, Morgan Stanley. After a year and a half of tremendous growth and introspection, Alicia decided to prioritize her happiness and pivot into the travel industry - a risk she is glad she took!
Alicia was a member of the Quinnipiac Pre-Law Society and participated in The American International University in London’s Community & Cultural Engagement program, Florence, Italy.
Sonalie Figueiras is Founder & Edtior-in-Chief of Green Queen, Hong Kong's largest English eco wellness media platform advocating for social & environmental change using original, inspiring Asia-centric content.
Sonalie is also founder and CEO of Ekowarehouse, the global sourcing platform for certified organic products, with a mission to make organic farming accessible & affordable to the entire world.
With over a decade of experience in publishing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), digital marketing, organic trade and health journalism, she is an eco wellness industry veteran. She is a professional speaker, interviewer and moderator and appears on stages across Asia and beyond sharing her “wellpreneur” expertise and eye for market trends.
Her most recent project is a podcast series about the Zero Waste Movement in Hong Kong with the goal of raising awareness about plastic pollution. When she is not working, Sonalie is usually dreaming up new plant based recipes in the kitchen for her family.
Sonalie has been featured in Forbes, CNN, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Market Insider, The Huffington Post, SCMP, China Daily, HK Economic Times, TVB Pearl & Food Navigator USA.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with BA/double major in Comparative Literature and Anthropology.
Priyanka Gothi is the Founder of Retired Not Out, an employment platform that re-imagines the potential of a rapidly ageing world.
Since launching in June 2017, Retired Not Out has built a community of over 1000 seasoned professionals across all levels and successfully placed over 45 members with Corporations /Small to Medium Enterprises /Startups.
Priyanka is a “Socialpreneur,” Speaker, Age Inclusion Specialist and experienced Digital Marketing professional. She has over a decade of experience building large scale branded communities working for Nestle in India and Switzerland.
Priyanka has an MBA from S.P. Jain Institute of Management Research and a BJMC (Journalism and Mass Communications) from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. She also is a mentor for ethnic minority women with Hong Kong Unison.
Retired Not Out is a winner of the 2017 Pitch Night Award from the Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge.
Agathe Heidelberg is a Partner at Marc & Chantal, a Hong Kong based multidisciplinary agency specialising in branding and design. Agathe has spent the last 13 years with Marc & Chantal, holding roles from Brand Manager to Director and has most recently become Partner.
Along with Founding Partner and Creative Director Marc Cansier, she leads a team of multicultural thinkers, writers and designers to turn strong brand narratives into transformational and captivating experiences for clients all around Asia. Providing holistic solutions for a variety of industries and brands, the team at Marc & Chantal combines strategy with creativity to construct unique brand expressions, ranging from visual identity to naming and environmental design.
Originally from Paris, Agathe holds an MBA from the University of Deusto (Spain) and a master degree from NEOMA Business School (France).
Mallika Kapur is an international news journalist. She is currently a Senior Editor at Bloomberg Live, APAC. In her 20 year career that spans three countries, she has been a producer, anchor and correspondent for CNN in London, Mumbai and Hong Kong.
She has reported extensively on key economic, political, social and gender issues and covered some of Asia’s biggest breaking news stories for the network. She is the co-author of Changemakers: Twenty Women Transforming Bollywood Behind The Scenes (Penguin, 2018).
Mallika was born in Calcutta, India. She attended Brown University and hold a Masters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
She resides in Hong Kong with her husband and two children.
Lale Kesebi is Founder and CEO of human-at.work. She is a sought-after strategist, innovator, and transformation coach to CEOs and their teams. Her work focuses on how to make transformation stick for companies through high performance cultures.
Lale began her career in Canada as a litigation lawyer and has lived in Asia for 20 years. Prior to her current venture, she worked in both profit and not-for profit sectors in leadership roles culminating in nearly 15 years at Li & Fung, the last 8 of which she was a member of the executive team leading transformation, building out innovation and designing the social impact of the company through purpose across teams in 40 countries.
She is a sought after speaker on leadership, innovation, and strategy that influences transformation. In 2017, Lale was invited to deliver the commencement address at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill's Kenan Flagler Business School. In 2018 she gave a TED talk on "Why it's Time to Bring Yourself to Work." Lale is a Trustee of the Asian University for Women, a Board Member of The Women's Foundation in Hong Kong and Advisor to several global start-ups disrupting incumbents. She is a graduate from Dalhousie University in Canada and lives in Hong Kong with her husband and three children.
Tingi Ko is an Enterprise Sales Manager for LinkedIn, the largest professional networking and social media platform in the world.
Tingi helps organizations understand how the world of talent acquisition and recruiting is evolving and how to stay at the forefront of an increasingly competitive and digitalized economy. Her goal is to transform HR & in-house talent acquisition teams from a traditional and reactive model to a more social and proactive approach.
“I am passionate about developing women into strong leaders and engaging in initiatives that support equal opportunities for all women. My purpose is to inspire others to be great – whatever their great may be.”
Tingi holds a BCom from McGill University in Marketing with a Minor in International Business.
Kirti Lad is the Executive Director of Meraki Executive Search & Consulting Limited created by the leadership team of Harvey Nash APAC. She joined Harvey Nash London in 1998 and moved to HK in 2012 as part of the leadership team driving growth into the region. Her expertise is in leadership hiring both Non-Executive and Executive appointments across the Asia Pacific region. Kirti is a Physics & Chemistry graduate from University College London and has worked in Executive Search for over 20 years.
Additionally, Kirti is the pioneer behind the Women's Directorship Program, a joint-venture with The University of Hong Kong. She also leads the Meraki Network, an Executive Women's network in the region, is a regular speaker and contributor to conferences and media relating to gender diversity in Asia and is an active member of the Women in Business Committee at the British Chamber in Hong Kong.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Kirti was named as one of the Global Top 50 Diversity Professionals in Industry by the Economist Magazine. In 2013, Kirti was featured in the South China Morning Post's annual Women Of Our Time magazine as one of Hong Kong's 25 most inspirational and influential women who have contributed to the city's success over the past year. She is married and has two young children, Roy and Ava.
Cecilia Lui is Founder & Director of ILIA Connect, a coaching, training and cross-cultural insights consultancy, supporting organizations and professionals with the skills for success.
A Hong Kong native with a Canadian upbringing, Cecilia brings 35 years of cross-sector experience from Canada and APAC across several careers in corporate administration, communications, business development, and learning & development.
Cecilia’s multidisciplinary background positively positions her to consult and to provide L&D solutions with organizations, addressing cross-cultural management and workplace issues, soft skills and talent development. Cecilia is often sorted after for her experience in women’s network and mentoring program initiatives. She also supports professionals on career and personal development, helping them to stay ahead of what comes next.
In 2003, Cecilia co-founded a mentoring program for the Hong Kong Association for Business and Professional Women network. The initiative won two international awards for empowerment work during her 5-year leadership as program chair. She currently mentors for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Young Founders School.
Cecilia holds an MA in Communications from the California State University, is a Certified Practitioner of Lumina Learning (UK) and has accreditations for Coaching, NLP, Career & Business Planning training. She has published with SCMP and others on business features, job coach column, parenting, and other topics.
Anne O’Riordan is Senior Managing Director for Accenture - a global Fortune 500 consultancy company focused on helping companies transform their business and operating models in multiple industries and geographies. Anne has focused her 28 year career serving companies in the Life Sciences, Med Tech Retail, Auto, Travel and Hospitality industries throughout US, Europe and Asia.
A majority of Anne’s career has focused on Life Sciences and Healthcare companies around the world. She has served as the Global Lead for Accenture’s Life Sciences practice – a business of 16,000 people focused on serving G2000 Pharma, Med Tech and Biotech companies. Since 2006 Anne has been a member of Accenture’s Global Leadership Council and a member of the management board of the Products Operating Group of Accenture.
Anne sits on a number of boards including a global pharmaceutical company based in San Francisco, Curam - a Science Foundation Ireland Centre - , focused on designing the next generation of 'smart' medical devices and the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
Over the past 20 years, she has published numerous articles on the Life Sciences industry. In 2016 she co-authored a book entitled ‘Healthcare Disrupted: Next Generation Business Models and Strategies (Wiley Feb 2016)”. In October of 2018, she was named to the global top 50 Healthcare Influencers list www.healthinfluencer50.com.
Based in Hong Kong, she is a member of The Women's Foundation and the 30% Club and is married with two teenage boys.
Josephine Paris is a certified Professional Business & Executive Coach and owner of COACH ME, a Business Coaching Agency in Hong Kong. Her international career spans over 11 years in Marketing and Communications in the retail industry in the USA and the UK, including 7 years being an entrepreneur in Business Coaching & Marketing in Asia.
Josephine guides her clients with care, engagement and great professionalism. She devotes her time between Executive Coaching and Business & Marketing Consulting to support small to medium enterprises (SME’s) and Corporations expanding in Asia. Her main clients are in the retail and luxury industries including INDITEX Zara, Hermes, Richemont, Peninsula HK , Mandarin Oriental HK, ING, Natixi and BNP Paribas.
Josephine is a professionally trained Business & Executive Coach (ICF & WABC) and holds a Masters degree in Marketing & Advertising from ESG Paris Business School. She is a member of the AWA WISE event team and has serves as the Co-chair of the AWA's Women on the Way Up (WOW) committee.
Chantal Rechaussatt is Founding Partner, Creative Director of Marc & Chantal, a Hong Kong based multidisciplinary agency specializing in branding and design.
Originally from Paris, Chantal moved to Hong Kong in 1992. Since then, she has co-founded Marc & Chantal, playing a key role in building the design team and positioning the studio as one of the most creative in Asia. She is also a full member of the Hong Kong Designers’ Association.
Chantal’s affair with art and design began when she studied fine arts and graphic design at the Ecole Suprieure d’Art Graphique in Paris, graduating in 1991. She has been leading the creative team in Hong Kong for 25 years. Although she moved to London in 2017, she is still involved in the creative direction of current projects.
Chantal’s thoughtful and original designs can be found in a wide range of projects. Recently, she played a key role in leading the team for the work on Tai Kwun, the former Central Police Station – from brand strategy, to visual identity, exhibition design and wayfinding (directional signage.)
Gabriela Simmons is Co-Founder of TimTimTom Books, a tech start-up offering dual language customized books for kids, founded by two moms who share a passion for languages and reading.
Gaby and her friend noticed that children enjoy reading more and absorb more detail and words when reading (or listening to) stories that have a close link to them. Combining the concept of languages and inspiring kids to have more fun while reading is why TimTimTom.com was created.
TimTimTom books are now published in 10 languages with hundreds of personalization choices. Online customization enables the child to become the true hero with their name incorporated into the story in the languages he/she speaks or is learning in school. Unlike other bilingual books, TimTimTom stories have been adapted by native speakers in all 10 languages to ensure the integrity of the storyline.
TimTimTom Books has been featured in El Mundo, one of Spain’s leading newspapers, as one of the top 10 most original presents for kids.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, a majority of Gaby’s career was focused in Advertising working for BBDO in Duesseldorf, AMV/BBDO in London, BBDO/Tiempo in Barcelona/Madrid and Avenue Advertising in Frankfurt.
Gaby holds a degree in Hotel Management from Cornell University and MBA from INSEAD.
Marie Swarbreck is CEO of FLEXImums, a recruitment and D&I consultancy, focused on empowering women and Hong Kong corporations to strive for gender equity and work-life balance.
Before devoting her time to FLEXImums, Marie started her career as an International Correspondent with the South China Morning Post, International Herald Tribune & The Asahi Shimbun, meeting business leaders across Asia, Middle East, Europe and Canada. She studied in Belgium, France and USA specialising in Communications, Events and International Business Management.
Her extensive traveling brought her back to HK in 2010. Driven by building relationships and connecting people, Marie started building her network as the Communications & Business Development Manager at a leading trade fair organiser with shows in Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
After her daughter Arabelle was born in Hong Kong during 2014, she found herself in need of flexible yet challenging work and little to no options to choose from. This was the beginning of a new adventure, the birth of FLEXImums.
Marie, together with her husband Sebastian and their two children, Arabelle and Jude, moved from Hong Kong island to South Lantau 4 years ago to combine the best of what Hong Kong has to give.
Leonie Valentine is Managing Director, Sales & Operations of Google Hong Kong, having originally joined Google in 2014 as APAC Director of Customer Experience. She has over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing and operations.
Prior to joining Google, Leonie was Executive Vice President, Customer Service & Operations at CSL Limited. Earlier, she held the position of Chief of Staff for Telstra International Group, and was a member of the Executive Leadership Team charged with managing Telstra Corp’s business growth and assets outside of Australia and New Zealand.
Leonie holds an Executive Certificate in Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (Swinburne), a Master’s Degree in Communication Management from the University of Technology Sydney, and a Bachelor of Science from Melbourne University. Since moving to Hong Kong seven years ago, her studies have focused on learning the basics of Cantonese and Mandarin.
Leonie is a board member for Pro-Pac Packaging Limited (ASX: PPG), IAB HK, and Save The Children HK, a Governor for the American Chamber of Commerce HK, as well as an advisor to CUHK's EMBA Program. She actively supports The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong, and is a member of the Women on Boards Advisory Panel (30% Club) and the Girls Go Tech Advisory Committee. Previously she was a board member for HandsOn Hong Kong from 2014-16.
Michele Windsor is a Consultant for PeRK Advisory- an Asia based and focused consulting company that provides coaching, strategy and investment process design aimed at improving all aspects of investment outcome.
Michele has extensive financial services experience on both the “buy and sell” side in Australia and Asia. She initially worked for both Macquarie and Barclays in Australia trading currencies, commodities, interest rates and derivatives.
After taking a 10 year career break to raise two children and relocate with her family to Hong Kong, Michele returned to the industry and was selected for Goldman Sachs first “return to work” program in Asia. She was subsequently offered a full time role with Goldman Sachs Asset Management where she lead Asia Pacific consultant relation institutional sales.
She is also passionate about diversity and inclusion and leveraged the Goldman Sachs platform to lead initiatives and influence change.
Michele served as Co-Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific Women’s Network Council, was the keynote speaker at Hong Kong Exchange's launch of "Back to Work" 2015 program and has served on the Ladies Recreation Club Finance Board, Hong Kong International School Advisory Board and Tai Tam Jr. Football Parent Advisory Board.
Victoria Wisniewski Otero is Founder and CEO of the Resolve Foundation, a new non-profit that provides fellowships to emerging leaders from marginalized and underrepresented communities in Hong Kong. The fellowships triangulate human rights education, campaigning skills and leadership development. They take place on an annual basis and explore social justice topics each year. 2018's fellowship explored racial equality and 2019's fellowship will focus on ending gender-based violence. Victoria’s goal in creating the foundation is to make Hong Kong a more inclusive multicultural society by empowering local community members to become social change makers.
Victoria obtained a Masters in International Studies from The Graduate Institute Geneva (IHEID) and an undergraduate magna cum laude from the University of Maryland College Park. She then spent over a decade in the human rights and nonprofit sector, previously serving as the Advocacy and Campaigns Manager at Justice Centre Hong Kong. She worked with and for some of the most misunderstood groups in the city - refugees and forced migrants. Victoria also worked as a Researcher at the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and UN HABITAT.
Victoria was selected in 2018 for Tatler Magazine’s prestigious Generation T List, among 50 entrepreneurs, innovators and creatives showing potential to become leaders of tomorrow. She was also one of four finalists shortlisted for the American Express Nonprofit Leadership Academy Global Summit Leadership Award. She has spoken at numerous local, region and international human rights conferences and has been featured in CNN, BBC, Thomson Reuters, AFP, RTHK, The Guardian, SCMP and more. She is also the Speaker Communications Manager of TEDxWanChai.