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Michael Lawrence
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Michael Lawrence 

Chief Executive, Asia House (Conference Chair) 

Michael Lawrence is the Chief Executive of Asia House, the centre of expertise on trade, investment and public policy. Michael leads the Asia House team as it drives political, economic and commercial engagement between Asia and Europe through its advisory services and programme of briefings with senior political and business figures. Michael was appointed Chief Executive of Asia House in September 2012 after a career as senior editor and executive in international media, including 18 years at Reuters (later Thomson Reuters), the international news and financial information organisation. Michael was Global Editor of Reuters from 2006-2012, leading a team of 3,000 journalists covering news in text, video and pictures from almost 200 bureaux around the world. 

Lubna S. Olayan

Chair, Saudi British Bank 

Lubna S. Olayan is Chair of Saudi British Bank and Chair of the Executive Committee and Deputy Chairman of Olayan Financing Company (OFC), the holding company for The Olayan Group’s trading, real estate, investment, consumer and industrial related operations in the Gulf region. She also chairs the board of Olayan Saudi Holding Company (OSHCO), an OFC affiliate through which consumer and industrial related operations are conducted.


In 2004, Ms Olayan became the first woman to join the board of a Saudi publicly listed company when she was elected to the board of Alawwal Bank, and she went on to serve as its Deputy Chairman. Following the merger in 2019 of Alawwal with SABB, the Saudi affiliate of HSBC,  she  became Chairman of the newly merged entity.  In addition, she has  been a member of the board of Schlumberger since 2011, and in 2016 she joined the board of Ma’aden, a Saudi public company operating in the mining sector. Ms Olayan also sits on several international advisory boards, including those of Akbank, Allianz SE, McKinsey & Co and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is currently a trustee of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Asia Business Council.


In addition to serving as President of the Suliman S. Olayan Foundation, Ms Olayan chairs Alfanar, a UK based charity that is one of the first venture philanthropy organisations in the Arab world. Ms Olayan holds a BSc from Cornell University, and an MBA from Indiana University.

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Lubna Olayan
Lord Green bio
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Lord Stephen Green
Chairman of Asia House, former Chairman of HSBC and UK Trade Minister (2011-2013)

Lord Green was appointed as Chairman of Asia House in January 2017, bringing with him extensive international business and governmental experience. He was Minister of State for Trade and Investment from 2011 to 2013, responsible for all matters relating to trade and investment in both the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to entering government, Lord Green was Group Chairman of HSBC from 2006 until 2010.

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Simon Penney

HM Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Simon Penney was appointed as Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan in May 2018. After an induction period in London, Simon relocated to the region and has been based in UAE since October 2018.

Simon oversees trade promotion and investment using his deep links with industry in the Middle East to raise the profile of the region in the UK, building stronger and deeper trading relationships. Simon leads the UK’s export, FDI, policy and export credit operations in the region. 

Before the appointment, Simon spent many years in the banking sector with extensive experience leading Corporate and Financial Institution Groups and teams across, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Simon has held roles in the Middle East with First Gulf Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland, prior to which he was with ABN AMRO Bank in South Africa and the UK. He has also worked in consulting at PwC and in project finance. 

David Dew
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David Dew

Managing Director, Saudi British Bank 

David Dew was appointed as the Managing Director of SABB (The Saudi British Bank) in May 2010. He has been a member of the SABB Board since December 2009 and is also a member of the Board of HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited and HSBC Bank Middle East.


David has been with the HSBC Group since 1977. Before moving to SABB, he was the Deputy Chief Executive of HSBC Amanah and Chief of Administration, Global Banking and Markets, Middle East HSBC (MENA). Prior to that David served as Chief Operating Officer for HSBC Bank USA and the Chief Auditor for HSBC North America. He has also held various senior positions with HSBC in Singapore, Italy, Oman and UAE.


David gained his first experience in Saudi Arabia when he worked as Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of SABB from 2001-2004. David received his MA in Economics from the University of Cambridge in the UK and is an Associate of The Chartered Institute of Bankers.

Victor Gao
Victor Gao

Victor Gao 

Vice President, Center for China and Globalization 


Victor GAO is the Vice President of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG); Vice Chairman of China Beidou Industrial Promotion Organization, a member of the Beijing Energy Club, a Member of the Global Counsel of Asia Society in New York City, a member of the International Advisory Board of the Energy Intelligence Group in London; an advisor to Saudi Aramco and a member of the Board of Directors of several listed companies in Hong Kong.  


Victor Gao has extensive experience in government, diplomacy, securities regulation, legal, investment banking, PE, corporate management and media.  Victor was Deng Xiaoping’s English interpreter in the 1980s.  Victor served as the China Policy Advisor at the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission in 1999 and 2000.  Victor’s prior investment banking experience included senior positions with Morgan Stanley (Vice President of Morgan Stanley Asia, in the Merger, Acquisition and Restructuring Department), CICC (General Manager of the Investment Banking Department, Head of M&A Practice, and Head of CICC Hong Kong Investment Banking Department) and Daiwa Securities (Co-Chairman of China, Executive Vice President and Managing Director).  Victor’s corporate management experience included senior positions with CNOOC Limited as its Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Company Secretary, Member of the Investment Committee, and Director of CNOOC International and with major Hong Kong companies including PCCW and Henderson Land Group.


Over the years, Victor Gao worked on many major M&A, IPO, CB, Bond Issues and other corporate advisory assignments with a combined value in excess of US$100 billion, including in TMT, oil and gas, automobile, banking, insurance, building materials, consumer goods, aviation, satellite communications and new and renewable energy.

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Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen

CEO of Novo Cinemas


Debbie’s vision and commitment have transformed Novo Cinemas into the regional go-to filmtertainment hub that it is today, featuring unparalleled film technology, diverse content, cinema design and comfort, all of which are served up to customers with gourmet concessions and the highest level of customer care.

It is this level of leadership that has landed her in the top five on Top 50 Women in Global Cinema list by Film Journal International for the past four years as well as most recently voted one of Top 30 Most Influential Women in the Arab World 2019,  Middle East Female CEO of the Year 2018 and 2018  UAE Woman of Substance.

Since taking on the role in 2013, Debbie has turned Novo Cinemas into the household entertainment brand it is today, offering more than just a venue to watch movies, but an immersive state-of-the-art destination for a variety of entertainment options through strategic partnerships and organic growth. The UAE based cinema chain operates across the GCC region including the UAE and Bahrain, with further expansion plans to continue across the region in the coming years including KSA and Oman.

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Jean-François Seznec

Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies


Jean-François Seznec is Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Scholar at the Middle East Institute. He holds a MIA from Columbia University, an MA and Ph.D. from Yale University. He has published numerous books and articles. He has lectured extensively on the industrialization and politics of the Arab-Persian Gulf. He is interviewed and quoted regularly on national and international TV, radio and newspapers.    

Dr. Seznec has 25 years experience in finance of which ten years were spent in the Middle East. In January 2019, Routledge published his latest book, co-written with Samer Mosis, “The Financial Markets of the Arab Gulf: Power, Politics and Money.

Sylvain Cote
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Sylvain Cote

Senior Economist, Saudi Aramco 

Sylvain Cote is currently Senior Economist in Aramco’s economic department responsible for the domestic economy. Until recently, he was Program Director and Senior Research Fellow at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he studied the impact of the energy transition on employment.

Over the past 25 years, he has conducted and directed economic research which was used to provide evidence-based policy advice to governments mainly in North America, in Europe and now in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. His research has focused on a number of areas such as economic growth, entrepreneurship and the labor market. Sylvain previously worked at the Federal Government of Canada in Ottawa, Canada, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, France, and the North American Commission for Labor Cooperation in Washington, D.C., USA. He also taught labor economics at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

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Gianmario Pisanu

Managing Director and Consulting lead, Accenture Middle East

Gianmario leads Accenture Consulting practice in the Middle East and drives the company responsible business agenda in the Region. In addition, he coordinates Accenture partnerships with the Saudi G20 and the World Government Summit in Dubai.


Gianmario brings twenty years' experience in Consulting working at the intersection between business and technology across Europe and the Middle East, with a focus on digital transformation strategy design and implementation. As an Accenture senior leader he has managed international Consulting and Technology portfolios, built new teams and helped clients shape and execute complex change programs.

Prior to joining the Accenture Middle East practice, Gianmario was Accenture Health & Public Service lead for Italy, Greece and Emerging Markets. 

Gianmario has a keen professional and personal interest in digital social innovation, impact investment and the future role of governments.

Jose Maria
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Jose Maria  Ortiz

Managing Partner for EMEA, Palladium


Jose Maria has more than 20 years of experience helping government and private sector organisations in transforming the societies where they operate.


Over the last years he has been working on large scale transformational programmes for private and public sector organisations in Europe, Africa and India. Now, As EMEA managing partner and Impact Investment head for Palladium, Jose Maria is passionate about unlocking the power of capital to deliver long lasting solutions to socio economic challenges. Before joining Palladium, Jose María started his career at PwC.


He holds a degree in business from ESADE Business School and an MBA from ESADE and McGill University.

Gregory Fayet
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Gregory Fayet 

General Manager of EDF Energies, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Gregory Fayet began his career with EDF in its R&D Division in 2007, where he held various positions, such as Research Engineer, Project Manager and Group Manager of EDF Energies. He was appointed General Manager of EDF Energies, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in September 2017. Gregory obtained his master’s degree in Strategy and Management of International Business from ESSEC Business School in 2007 and graduated from the Engineering School of Information and Digital Technologies in 2004.  


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Ghada Al Jarbou

General Manager of Global Liquidity & Cash Management, Saudi British Bank (SABB)


Ghada Al Jarbou is the General Manager of Global Liquidity & Cash Management in the Saudi British Bank (SABB); one of the leading banks in the Kingdom. Ghada is a strong Saudi-talent leader and a youth professional with more than 20 years of diversified banking experience across different banking fields including Information Technology, Human Resources, Retail Banking & Wealth Management and Global Banking & Markets. Throughout her career, she held various executive roles within SABB prior to her current role, including Senior IT Program Manager, Head of Service Delivery, Head of Retail Digital Banking and Retail Banking Chief Operating Officer.

Today, Ghada leads one of the most strategic business streams within the Bank as a top player and drives the business towards sustainable profitability and market positioning through the digital transformation of cash management services and innovative financial solutions for corporates.


Ghada has a strong educational background where she holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Bath, UK, and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.


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Frank Kane

Senior Business Columnist, Arab News


Frank enjoyed a 25 year career in British business journalism, with such world-leading titles as the Financial Times, Independent, Telegraph, Guardian, and Sunday Times. When he stepped down as business editor of The Observer in 2006, he moved to the UAE and has since been involved in media with the government of Dubai, Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, and now Arab News of Saudi Arabia.

He has launched newspapers, websites and radio programs, and is recognised as an authoritative voice in the UAE’s business scene. At Arab News, he writes about Saudi and Gulf business and finance, with an emphasis on the economic changes under way in the Kingdom.

In 2016 he received the Excellence in Journalism Award from Citibank and Columbia University, NYC, only the second time it has been awarded in the Middle East. He is involved in media training, public speaking, broadcasting and consultancy across the region, and has written speeches for numerous business leaders in the UK and UAE.


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