The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a community of innovators from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Search current members and alumni by year awarded, sector or region.
Yara Asad is a Senior Private Sector Development Consultant with the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Private Sector for Refugees Project (PS4R). Yara has four years of experience working with the WBG, primarily on Private Sector Development - B2B and Matchmaking, focusing on vulnerable groups of refugees, migrants and women. Prior to that Yara served as the Project Manager and Research Lead at Building Markets-focusing on building the supply chain for Small and Medium size businesses (SMEs) in crisis affected countries. Between 2015-2017, Yara worked as a Lead Middle East and North Africa Researcher and Policy Analyst at Wolfensohn and Company under a project on the MENA 2050. Previously, she was the Director General for the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Palestine from January 2011- December 2014, a venture through which she focused on promoting regional and international trade relations. Parallel to that, Yara was the Chief Executive Officer of the Jerusalem Arbitration Centre. An initiative that aims to create a mechanism for Palestinian and Israeli businesses to resolve commercial disputes via arbitration.
Yara holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is an Edward Mason Fellow of Public Policy. Her first publication at Ivey School was in January 2011, and focused on international marketing.
Tewodros Ashenafi is Founder and Chairman of SouthWest Holdings Ltd., a leading Ethiopian holding company, and Chairman of Ambo Mineral Water, one of the leading beverage brands in Ethiopia and part of Coca Cola Beverages Africa. Mr. Ashenafi is the local partner and did the largest privatization and private transaction in Ethiopian history, the $1.4 billion enterprise value privatization of (NTE), were he joined as board director, and JTI. He is also the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SouthWest Energy (HK), an African indigenous oil and gas exploration company, which is the top 10 acreage holder in East Africa. Ashenafi started his career at Merrill Lynch & Co. He serves on the Board of the EastWest Institute, a leading security think. He is also on the International Advisory Board of Atlantic Council, a non-partisan institution devoted to promoting transatlantic cooperation and international security, he is on the Advisory Board of Cepheus Growth Capital Partners a leading Ethiopian-focused private equity firm. Mr. Ashenafi is on the Advisory Board of the Columbia University Africa Centre. Mr. Ashenafi is a member of Young President's Organisation (YPO) Intercontinental Chapter. Ashenafi holds a degree in Economics from Columbia University and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School. He was nominated as a Young Global Leader (YGL) Davos 2009.
Iwao Aso is President of the Aso Corporation and Group Chairman of the Aso Group, with interests in the fields of infrastructure, environmental solutions, healthcare, education and lifestyle services. He is also a Director of Dwango Co. Aso started his career in the family business as auditor at Aso Cement. He also served in the Aso Group as a director, executive director, senior managing director and vice-president. Prior, Aso worked as a trainee in Hongkong Land, Colliers Jardine in Hong Kong and the financial instruments development division in Shinsei Bank. Aso completed his undergraduate studies at Keio University with a BA in Economics. He also majored in international relations at the University of Cambridge.
Martin Aspillaga is Managing Director and Founder of Salkantay Partners. He is a PE and VC professional investor. Prior, he worked at Enfoca Investments, Bain & Company, McKinsey & Company and as a Peruvian bank regulator. He is a teacher, mentor and instructor and has published poetry, short stories and articles. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Universidad del Pacifico.
Dr. Solomon Assefa is a Vice President at IBM Research. He leads the global effort focused on developing core technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation, healthcare and life sciences, computing and nanotechnology. Under his leadership, hundreds of researchers from IBM’s global labs are pioneering disruptive and commercially viable technologies for sustainable hybrid cloud, material discovery for carbon capture, carbon footprint reduction, climate risk and impact modelling, and discovery of therapeutics and biomarkers. In 2021, Dr. Assefa incubated and lead a company-wide task force that provided strategic input on IBM’s internal sustainability strategy, and how IBM can become a leading technology provider to enable clients in advancing their sustainability goals. This taskforce informed IBM’s broader strategy that led to a new technology offering called Environmental Intelligence Suite (EIS).
Furthermore, Dr. Assefa is responsible for IBM’s Africa labs, located in Kenya and South Africa. He is responsible for fostering local innovation ecosystems by forming new models for partnership with government, industry, academia, non-profits, and start-ups. Under his leadership, the labs have developed scalable technology solutions for emerging markets in areas of financial services, telcos, healthcare, supply chain, energy and utilities, agriculture, and public sector. The Africa labs have also been instrumental in the development of technology in climate and sustainability, thereby not only contributing towards solving Africa’s grand challenges but also serving as a model on a global scale.
Early in his career, Dr Assefa was based in IBM’s iconic Yorktown Heights (NY) Research Lab, where he worked on IBM’s nanophotonics and MRAM technologies with responsibilities spanning scientific research, product development, and technology transfer. In addition, he has also co-authored over 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, has over 70 patents granted, and has appeared as a guest speaker at numerous high-profile forums and conferences worldwide, including Davos. His work has been featured in Nature magazine, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Forbes, Technology Review, EE Times, and IEEE Spectrum, among many others.
Dr. Assefa is a recipient of several technical awards including the Technical Accomplishment Award, Corporate Recognition Award, and Invention Achievement Awards from IBM. He was named one of the World’s Top Young Innovators under 35 and received the TR35 awarded by MIT’s Technology Review (2011). He was honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2013. He is an Honorary Professor at University of Witwatersrand (Wits), a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council. Dr. Assefa is also a member of IBM CEO’s Acceleration Team (AT), where members of the AT are key senior executives who drive IBM’s innovation and growth strategy.
Rima Assi is a Senior Partner with the Middle East Office of McKinsey & Company and Managing Partner of McKinsey’s Abu Dhabi office. Rima advises leading governments in the Middle East on public finance to drive large-scale social and economic transformation, and is a major champion for women’s empowerment across the region. Rima is a key speaker on the power of gender parity at several fora including the Global Women’s Forum Dubai and GITEX Tech conference. She has authored several articles on the power of gender parity in Newsweek Middle East and more recently on more powerful approaches to ensuring value in public finances.
Bernardo is a vibrant young entrepreneur with a strong sense of purpose in a local industry dominated by large traditional real estate developers. In a country of more than 6 million senior citizens, Bernardo has undertaken the task of designing and building projects that can provide high-quality residences, care and wellness programs for the elderly and has shown signs of always being on the cusp of innovation for social integration in urbanism.
Chris is an award-winning repeat-entrepreneur and an Engineer. He is the founder and CEO at UCOT Inc.: the world's first center for the unintended consequences of Technologies. Chris coined and popularized the term "UCOT" (unintended consequences of technology) in the tech sector and the concept of "UCOT" evangelism. Before that, he founded Hourglass ventures a fund that supports visionary entrepreneurs from the African continent who come from an underprivileged background- and need Friends and Family round financing to get their ideas off the ground. Before that, he founded Health Access Corps, a non-profit that works to establish sustainable health care systems on the African continent. Chris has been invited to speak at some of the world’s most prestigious platforms such as TED, Clinton Global Initiative, and United Nations. He has won many international awards for his work, most recently 2016 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; TEDFellow; Forbes Magazine 30Under30, Ashoka fellow and Echoing Green fellow. Chris' work has been featured in many major media publications both locally and Internationally such as BBC, Forbes, and NPR. Chris holds a Bachelor’s of Science, and Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
Cherrie Atilano has 21 years of experience in sustainable food systems and inclusive agribusiness as an advocate of women and youth in agriculture, agri-technology, malnutrition eradication and the responsible production and consumption for the future of food. She is a multi-awarded entrepreneur and ambassador on agricultural issues.
Lera Auerbach's work transcends the 20th-century focus on specialization. A renaissance artist for modern times, she allows her artistic impulse to guide the genre of expression; whatever the medium - art, literature, or music - all of her work is interconnected as part of a cohesive and comprehensive artistic worldview.
Auerbach's large scale works have been produced in major theaters on every continent, including the Hamburg State Opera, Vienna's Theater an der Wien, New York's Lincoln Center, the National Ballet of Canada, the National Ballet of China, the Royal Danish Theater, the Nuremberg State Theater, the Finnish National Theater, Moscow's Stanislavsky Theater, the Nederlands Dans Theater, and the San Francisco Ballet.
Auerbach has been drawing and painting all her life as part of her creative process. In 2009, after a devastating fire destroyed her studio in New York, she began sculpting prolifically. Her paintings and photographs have been included in several exhibitions and, in 2013, she had her first solo photography show in Norway. Her creations are in private collections, have sold at auctions, been reproduced in magazines, and used on the covers of CDs and books. She has published three books of poetry in Russian, and her first book in English, "Excess of Being", was published in 2015.
Auerbach was born in Chelyabinsk at the gateway of Siberia. She received parallel graduate and post-graduate degrees from the Juilliard School and the Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media. Her awards include the Hindemith Prize, two Golden Masks, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, the German Radio Prize, and the ECHO Classic Award.
Jennifer (Jen) Auerbach-Rodriguez
Jennifer Auerbach-Rodriguez is Managing Director, Head of Acquisition, Strategic Growth and Retention at Bank of America. Making managing director at 34 at one of the largest financial services firms in the world, she is a passionate advocate for advancing women and people of colour in traditionally male-dominated industries. Auerbach-Rodriguez has served on numerous councils and networks throughout her tenure, including as the Executive Sponsor for the Women's Exchange, the Merrill Lynch Diversity and Inclusion Council and the Hispanic Latino Advisory Council. She is the recipient of a number of honours, including the 2016 Women’s Bond Club Rising Star Award, and 2016 Global Diversity & Inclusion Award by Bank of America. She was also recognized by the Paradigm for Parity coalition as one of 19 trailblazing women for breaking down barriers to help achieve true equality and full representation in corporate offices, and by Crain’s New York Business as one of 2020’s Rising Stars in Banking & Finance. Auerbach-Rodriguez holds a BA from Dartmouth College in Philosophy and an MBA from the Columbia Business School.
Ida Auken is the former Minister for the Environment in Denmark (2011-2014). She is a Member of the Danish Parliament (2007-) for The Social Democratic Party. Ida Auken held the position of President of the European Environment Council and was Head of the EU Delegation at the Rio+20 conference, where the UN Sustainable Development Goals were agreed. Ida Auken was nominated a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and has also been elected as one of the 40 most promising young leaders in Europe. With her 15 years of experience in the Danish Parliament, Ida Auken has been key in fostering the green transition in Denmark. She was one of the architects of the Danish Climate Law that has one of the world’s most ambitious climate change targets and recently she introduced the paradigm shift in the approach to offshore wind by establishing energy islands. Ida Auken is the author of several books and in May 2022 “Believe it – climate, hope and vigour” was published.