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Meet some of last year’s most influential speakers.
Physicist and String Theorist
Professor Greene is world-renowned for his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of superstring theory, including the co-discovery of mirror symmetry and the discovery of spatial topology change. He is the director of Columbia's Center for Theoretical Physics.
Professor Greene is known to the public through his New York Times best selling books and numerous media appearances from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to Charlie Rose. The Washington Post called him "the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today." Professor Greene has hosted two NOVA mini-series based on his books, receiving the George Foster Peabody award for "The Elegant Universe with Brian Greene." Greene has had cameo roles in a number of Hollywood films including Frequency, Maze and The Last Mimzy and in 2008, with producer Tracy Day, co-founded the World Science Festival. He is the director of Columbia's Center for Theoretical Physics.
Chief Executive Officer, 1715 Labs
Sophie Hackford is a futurist, synthesising explosive and interconnected technology and science breakthroughs from around the world. From satellite swarms to AI demonstrating intuition, we are becoming entangled with machines and will be surprised by the consequences. As part of her research, Hackford advises executive teams and boards of large companies on understanding new technologies defining the new economy.
Hackford is also founding CEO of a data and AI company, 1715 Labs, which she is currently working on out of the Astrophysics department at Oxford University. This follows a career building businesses for WIRED magazine, for Singularity University at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, and prior to California, the interdisciplinary Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, where Hackford raised more than US$120m of research investment.
Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency
Michael Hayden is a retired four-star general who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency when the course of world events was changing at a rapid rate. As head of the country’s premier intelligence agencies, he was on the front lines of global change, the war on terrorism, and the growing cyber challenge. He understands the dangers, risks, and potential rewards of the political, economic, and security situations facing us. General Hayden dissects hot spots around the world, analyzing the tumultuous global environment, the impact of the recent US election, and what it all means for Americans and America’s interests. He speaks on the delicate balance between liberty and security in intelligence work, as well the potential benefits and dangers associated with the cyber domain. As the former head of two multibillion dollar enterprises, he can also address the challenges of managing complex organizations in times of stress and risk, and the need to develop effective internal and external communications.
In addition to leading CIA and NSA, General Hayden was the country’s first principal deputy director of national intelligence and the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the country. In all of these jobs, he worked to put a human face on American intelligence, explaining to the American people the role of espionage in protecting both American security and American liberty. Hayden also served as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center, and served in senior staff positions at the Pentagon, at US European Command at the National Security Council, and the US embassy in Bulgaria. He was also the deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command and US forces in South Korea.
Hayden is the author of the 2018 best-selling book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies. He has been a frequent expert and commentator on major news outlets and in top publications, valued for his expertise on intelligence matters like cybersecurity, government surveillance, geopolitics, and more. He was featured in the HBO documentary Manhunt, which looked at espionage through the eyes of the insiders who led the secret war against Osama bin Laden, and in Showtime’s The Spymasters, a detailed look at the directors of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Hayden is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group and a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government. He is on the board of directors of Motorola Solutions and serves on a variety of other boards and consultancies. In 2013, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) awarded Hayden the 29th annual William Oliver Baker Award. General Hayden is also the first recipient of the Helms Award presented by the CIA Officers’ Memorial Foundation. In 2014 he was the inaugural Humanitas visiting professor in intelligence studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. His 2016 memoir, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, was a New York Times bestseller and was selected as one of the 100 most notable books of 2016.
Chief Executive Officer, Snips
Dr. Rand Hindi (@randhindi) is an entrepreneur and data scientist. He is the founder and CEO of Snips, the first AI voice platform for connected devices that offers "privacy by design." Hindi started coding at the age of 10, founded a social network at 14 and a web agency at 15 before getting into machine learning at 18, and then earned a PhD in bioinformatics at 21. He has been elected as a TR35 by the MIT Technology Review, named a "30 under 30" by Forbes, and is a member of the French Digital Council where he leads the AI and Jobs taskforce in the government's AI strategy. He holds a BSc in computer science and a PhD in bioinformatics from University College London, as well as graduate degrees from Singularity University in Silicon Valley and THNK in Amsterdam.
Producer and Author
Nely Galán is a self-made media mogul. Dubbed the Tropical Tycoon by the New York Times Magazine, she was the first Latina president of entertainment for a US television network (Telemundo). She is an Emmy Award–winning producer of more than 700 episodes of television in Spanish and English, which she produced through her multimedia company Galan Entertainment. Galán is the founder of the Adelante Movement, which seeks to empower multicultural women economically and entrepreneurially. She is the author of The NY Times bestselling book Self Made, Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way (2016 Random House) about the revolution in women's entrepreneurship led by multicultural women in the US and emerging women around the world. Her book has been published in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. Her next book, Don't Buy Shoes Buy Buildings, comes out in 2019.
President, Eurasia Group
Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He is also the president and founder of GZERO Media, a Eurasia Group company dedicated to helping a broad, global audience make sense of today’s leaderless world. Ian is a prolific thought leader and author, regularly expressing his views on political issues in public speeches, television appearances, and top publications, including Time magazine, where he is the foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large. Once dubbed the “rising guru” in the field of political risk by The Economist, he teaches classes on the discipline as a professor at New York University. His latest book, “Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism,” is a New York Times bestseller.
In 1998, Ian established Eurasia Group with just $25,000. Today, the company has offices in New York, Washington, San Francisco, London, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Tokyo, as well as a network of experts and resources in 90 countries. As the firm’s president and most active public voice, Ian advises leading executives, money managers, diplomats, and heads of state.
Ian is credited with bringing the craft of political risk to financial markets—he created Wall Street’s first global political risk index (GPRI)—and for establishing political risk as an academic discipline. His definition of emerging markets—“those countries where politics matters at least as much as economics for market outcomes”—has become an industry standard. “G-Zero,” his term for a global power vacuum in which no country is willing and able to set the international agenda, is widely accepted by policymakers and thought leaders.
In 2007, Ian was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, where he is the founding chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk. He is the Harold J. Newman Distinguished Fellow in Geopolitics at the Asia Society Policy Institute and serves on the President’s Council of the Near East Foundation, the Leadership Council for Concordia, and the Board of Trustees of Intelligence Squared. Ian, who earned a doctorate in political science from Stanford University in 1994 and was the youngest-ever national fellow at the Hoover Institution, has published ten books including the national bestsellers “Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World”, “The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?”, and “Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World.”
Former Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service
Sir John Scarlett served as Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) from 2004 to 2009. Sir John joined the SIS in 1971 and over the next 20 years served in Nairobi, Paris and twice in Moscow as well as several assignments in London covering Africa, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. His second time in Moscow (1991-1994) coincided with the end of the USSR and the early years of the Russian Federation. In early September 2001, he retired from SIS on appointment as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in the Cabinet Office.
On the 1st of August 2004, Sir John rejoined SIS as its Chief. As Head of the Service, he was responsible for the management of resources, the conduct of operations, and advice to the Government during a period of significant global uncertainty and risk from international terrorism. Sir John retired on 31 October 2009 after 38 years in Government Service.
Sir John was born in 1948 in London and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where, in 1970, he was awarded First Class Honours in Modern History. Since leaving SIS, he has become a Senior Advisor at Morgan Stanley. Sir John is Chairman of the Strategy Advisory Council at Statoil ASA. He holds Advisor roles at Swiss Re and Dataminr. He is Chairman of SC Strategy Ltd. He is a Director of Times Newspaper Holdings, Vice Chairman at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Co-Chair of the Global Advisory Council at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC. He is Chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust. Other Trusteeships include the Royal Medical Foundation of Epsom College and Friends of the French Institute in the United Kingdom.
Sir John was appointed a member of the State Honours Committee by the Cabinet Office in 2017.
Sir John was appointed OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in 1987, CMG (Commander of St Michael and St George) in 2001, KCMG in 2007 and Officier of the Legion D’Honneur in 2011.
President and Chief Operating Officer, Golden State Warriors
One of the most respected business executives in the NBA and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018, Rick Welts has more than 40 years of experience in the league and has spent the last seven seasons as president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors. In this role, reporting to owner and CEO Joe Lacob and owner Peter Guber, Welts oversees all business-related operations for the Warriors, including the development of the Chase Center, a privately financed sports and entertainment center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood that broke ground in January 2017. He owns the rare distinction of being part of championship teams in the NBA (4), WNBA (2), and NBA G League (1).
Under Welts’ direction, the organization has established several franchise benchmarks from a business standpoint in recent years, as the Warriors brand continues to grow in stature following four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and three NBA championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018. The organization has won numerous awards across all facets of the business in recent years, including the Warriors being named “Sports Team of the Year” across all sports in both 2014 and 2016 by the Sports Business Journal/Daily. The Warriors are the first professional team to win this coveted award twice. Welts’ impressive résumé includes myriad different capacities spanning virtually every level of an NBA operation. Prior to joining the Warriors in October 2011, he spent nine years as president of the Phoenix Suns.
Welts’ responsibilities in Phoenix included the supervision of all business operations for the Suns, while also overseeing the team’s interest in the management of the US Airways Center and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Prior to joining the Suns, Welts enjoyed a successful 17-year (1982–1999) stint at the NBA league office in New York, where he ascended through the ranks to eventually become the league’s third-in-command as the executive vice president, chief marketing officer, and president of NBA Properties. In addition to his overall contributions to the revitalization of the league's image and popularity, his notable accomplishments at the NBA include the creation of NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984 and the marketing program for USA Basketball for the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.” Along with Val Ackerman, Welts was named “Marketer of the Year” by Brandweek in 1998 for his role in launching the WNBA. During his time at the NBA office, he supervised a wide-range of departments, including corporate sponsorship and media sales, consumer products, international business activities, media relations, community relations, team services, special events, and creative services. Welts also played a prominent role in the organization of preseason games in international cities and the eventual opening of international NBA offices in Australia, Asia, Europe, Mexico, and Canada. A native of Seattle, Washington, Welts began his NBA career in 1969 at the age of 16, as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics. He spent 10 years with his hometown team serving a number of roles including as the team’s director of public relations during back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals (1978 and 1979) and the SuperSonics’ lone NBA Championship in 1979. In 2006, he was the recipient of the annual Splaver/McHugh “Tribute to Excellence Award,” which is given annually by the NBA Public Relations Directors’ Association to a current or former member of the NBA PR family who has demonstrated an outstanding level of performance and service during their NBA career.
After leaving the SuperSonics, the University of Washington graduate spent the following three years (1980–1982) at Bob Walsh & Associates, a sports marketing firm in the Seattle area. His non-NBA résumé also includes serving as president of Fox Sports Enterprises (1999–2000). In May of 2011, in a front-page story in the New York Times, Welts became the highest-ranking executive in men’s professional team sports to publicly acknowledge that he is gay. He was presented with a United States Tennis Association 2011 ICON Award at the US Open in New York City, an award that recognizes and celebrates those who have had a positive impact on diversity and inclusion in the sports industry and society. Also in 2011, he was honored with GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) Respect Award, which honors those who have made a difference in the areas of diversity and inclusion. In September 2014, he was honored by GLAAD, the nation’s LGBT media advocacy organization, with the Davidson/Valentini Award, which is presented to an LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community. He also served as the celebrity Grand Marshall of San Francisco’s Pride Parade in 2015. In 2016 he was honored by the Anti-Defamation League with its “Torch of Liberty Award.” A member of Delta Chi fraternity while attending the University of Washington, in 2015 he was named “Delta Chi of the Year” by the national organization. Welts currently serves as a board member of the Bay Area Council and the Warriors Community Foundation. He is a member the NBA’s Team Advisory Committee and Global Inclusion Council.