Who we are

The Young Global Leaders ® Community is an accelerator for a dynamic community of exceptional people with the vision, courage, and influence to drive positive change in the world.

Our growing membership of more than 1,400 members and alumni of 120 nationalities includes civic and business innovators, entrepreneurs, technology pioneers, educators, activists, artists, journalists, and more.

Aligned with the World Economic Forum’s mission, we seek to drive public-private co-operation in the global public interest. We are united by the belief that today’s pressing problems present an opportunity to build a better future across sectors and boundaries.

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Meet our members

Wafa Al Obaidat

Chief Executive Officer, Obai and Hill, Bahrain

Wafa Alobaidat is the CEO of Obai and Hill, an award-winning communications agency with over 12 years of experience handling more than 5000+ projects for businesses globally with a team of 40+ employees. Wafa is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, and public speaker represented by The Middle East leading speaker’s bureau, MENA Speakers. Her expertise lies at the nexus of growth and scaling up, with underlying themes of empowering women and youth, entrepreneurship in the Middle East, and starting and scaling companies. She was named one of the top 50 most influential women leaders in business by Business in the Gulf. She is a graduate of the University of the Arts London.

Jean-Jacques Barbéris

Member of the Executive Committee; Co-Head, Institutional Clients Coverage, Amundi Asset Management, France

Jean-Jacques Barbéris is a former economic adviser to the president of the French Republic. He is currently responsible for the global development of the institutional business at Amundi, a European leader in asset management. He is also chairman of En Temps Réel, a think tank dedicated to social sciences and the future development of the European Union.

Akiko Naka

CEO, Wantedly Inc, Japan

Akiko Naka is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wantedly, a social networking service for professionals. Following its official launch in February 2012, Wantedly grew to 2.5 million monthly active users and 30,000 corporations. Wantedly has become the leading professional social networking service in Japan. Naka was the youngest female founder to take a company public in Japan.

Uche Pedro

Founder, BellaNaija, Nigeria

Uche Pedro is a Nigerian entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of BellaNaija, a media tech brand known for entertainment and lifestyle content. Under her leadership, BellaNaijas social footprint has grown through its collective brands - BellaNaija.com, BellaNaija Weddings and BellaNaija Style - to be the largest on the African continent with more than 200 million impressions each month. In March 2019, Uche was honoured with the Forbes Woman Africa New Media Award for her innovative impact on media in Africa.
Uche is passionate about progress of youth in Nigeria and across Africa. Uche holds a Bachelors degree – Honours Business Administration (HBA) from the Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada where she graduated with distinction.

Smriti Kirubanandan

Director and Head, Strategic Marketing, Healthcare, Tata Consultancy Services, USA

Smriti has a strong background in robotics and public health and currently serves as a Director, Healthcare at TATA Consultancy Services, where she focuses on driving significant transformations within the healthcare ecosystem, concentrating on customer experience, Intelligent automation, digital analytics, and insights, and is determined to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. She is also the Head of Strategic Marketing for Healthcare and Lifesciences, North America, where she drives brand development, thought leadership, and market research. Smriti serves on the Board of the World Food Bank and as a Vice Chair for the American College of Healthcare Executives, Southern California.

An empathetic and innovative strategic policy advisor has helped organizations globally to build the capacity to empower people to engage in wellness programs and is responsible for educating small farmers in Africa to lift them out of poverty to improve food & nutrition insecurity, impacting 2 million people per year. In 2022, Smriti was appointed to serve the Los Angeles County food equity round table as a Nutrition & Policy Advisor to design and strategize programs to address food insecurity by educating and improving access and affordability to nutritious food. Smriti is also the founder of HLTH Forward Podcast- a space that hosts healthcare leaders, policymakers, and artists such as Bryan Adams,Dr. Joneigh Khaldun of CVS Health, and many others to discuss the challenges in the system and what we could do collectively to move healthcare forward.

Smriti has shared her thought leadership by speaking at The Adama Carolla show, SXSW, HLTH, and other national forums. She is a health news contributor at Medcity News and is featured on Washington Post, ABC News, Huffington Post, Times of India, The Hindu, VegNews, Medium, and Yahoo News.

Smriti holds her Bachelor of Science in Robotics, Master in Engineering Management from the University of Southern California, and Masters in Public Health from the University of California,Los Angeles, Certified Raw Vegan Chef and Nutritionist, and is currently in Fellowship with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Tolu Oni

Clinical Professor of Global Public Health and Sustainable Urban Development, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Tolu Oni is a Public Health Physician Scientist and Urban Epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, where she is a Professor of Global Public Health and Sustainable Urban Development. She is also Extraordinary Professor and Chair at Innovation Africa, University of Pretoria and an Honorary Associate Professor at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town.

She is Founder & Principal of UrbanBetter | Oni et al (https://urbanbetter.science/), an Africa-led global practice and movement to accelerate solutions that improve health in Africa’s cities by increasing the supply of health from place; and by creating a platform to increase youth-led demand for healthy places. UrbanBetter works in partnership with city governments, civil society and industry actors to design planetary health into urban infrastructure and development projects and policies in Africa and globally to harness urban development for population health and climate resilience.

Born in Lagos, she completed her medical training (and a BSc in International Health) at University College London, postgraduate medical training in the UK (Member of the Royal College of Physicians) and Australia, a Masters degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) at the University of Cape Town, and a research doctorate in Clinical Epidemiology at Imperial College London. She completed Public Health Medical Specialty training in South Africa and is a Fellow of the College of Public Health Medicine of South Africa.

She has published her work in high-impact journals, and has given presentations at international academic (urban health, planetary health, HIV, TB) and non-academic meetings including the United Nations High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development, New York; and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, Davos. She serves on several advisory boards including Future Earth and the African Academy of Science Open Research Platform; and is an editorial board member of Lancet Planetary Health, PLOS Global Public Health, Cities and Health, and the Journal of Urban Health.

Profiled in the Lancet journal in 2016, Science magazine in 2018, and the British Medical Journal in 2019, she is a Fellow of the International Science Council, the African Academy of Sciences, a 2015 Next Einstein Forum Fellow, and a 2019 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

Varun Sivaram

Group Senior Vice-President, Strategy, Innovation, Portfolio, Partnerships and M&A, Ørsted, USA

Dr. Varun Sivaram is Senior Vice President and member of the Group Executive Team at Ørsted, a leading renewable energy company with the world’s largest offshore wind energy portfolio, where he leads strategy, innovation, portfolio and capital allocation, and partnerships and M&A. He previously served in the U.S. Biden-Harris administration as the managing director for clean energy and innovation for Secretary John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, where he spearheaded flagship U.S. initiatives such as the First Movers Coalition. He has also served as Chief Technology Officer of ReNew Power (NASDAQ:RNW), a multibillion-dollar renewable-energy firm that is India's largest; on the faculty of Columbia University and Georgetown University; as director of the energy program at the Council on Foreign Relations; and as senior energy advisor to the Los Angeles Mayor and New York Governor. TIME Magazine named him to its TIME 100 Next list of the next hundred most influential people in the world, and MIT Technology Review named him one of the top 35 innovators under 35. His books include "Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet," "Energizing America: A Roadmap to Launch a National Energy Innovation Mission," and "Digital Decarbonization: Promoting Digital Innovations to Advance Clean Energy Systems." His TED Talk on India's clean energy transition has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. A Rhodes and Truman Scholar, he holds a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from Oxford University and undergraduate degrees from Stanford University.

Zhizhong Li

Co-Founder and Secretary General, Shiyu Children Foundation, People's Republic of China

Dr. Zhizhong Li is a co-founder and Secretary General of the Shiyu Children Foundation (SCF). An NGO set up in 2018, SCF is dedicated to promoting awareness, patient education, and drug discovery for pediatric cancers in China. It is the first one focusing on solving children's cancer healthcare issues. Dr. Li has an impressive academic background with a BS in life science from Tsinghua University and a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Duke University before joining Novartis as a research investigator in the department of Oncology Drug Discovery. He published over 20 peer-reviewed research articles, including a cover story on the prestigious Cancer Cell. His work is one of the highest cited papers in the cancer stem cell field and has been cited globally over 7700 times - ranking top 2%. He deeply cares about how science can impact everyone's life. He has demonstrated a strong dedication to sharing knowledge with the broader public by promoting science, especially cancer knowledge in China. He is a best-selling author with six books on cancer biology and oncology drug discovery. His books have won many prestigious awards in China, including Best 30 Books in China and Best Pop Science Book in China. His blog has over 1,000,000 followers, including cancer patients/families and healthcare professionals. Even several China Academy of Science members regularly read his article, and they are amazed by Zhizhongs ability to translate complex biomedical issues to lay language.

Shinjini Kundu

Physician-Scientist, Johns Hopkins Hospital, USA

Shinjini Kundu, MD, Ph.D., is a physician and medical researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is well-known for her work in diagnosing diseases from medical images at a pre-emergent stage where the images do not show human-identifiable abnormalities. By making previously imperceptible patterns recognizable using artificial intelligence, Shinjini's work has been truly transformational. Before her clinical appointment in radiology at Johns Hopkins, she received a PhD in artificial intelligence from Carnegie-Mellon concurrently with an MD from the University of Pittsburgh. Earlier, she obtained her BS and MS in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She is a prolific researcher with publications in top journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Medicine. Her work has had a regional, national, and international impact. She has given TEDx talks and has been a featured speaker at the World Business Dialogue in Germany. She has also been named to the Forbes 30 under 30 and MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 lists. Shinjini contributed to the emerging digital health policies of the American Medical Association, digital privacy policies at the Observer Research Foundation, and the AI for good forum at the United Nations. Her work stands to accelerate new precision medical diagnostic technologies capable of detecting diseases earlier, with greater accuracy and suggestions for tailored treatments.