As a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and ambassador for Nikon, Ami Vitale has travelled to more than 94 countries, witnessing civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit.
Ami Vitale has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit — all in keeping with her philosophy of “living the story.” Recently, she has turned her lens to documenting compelling wildlife stories. Her career has brought her face-to-face with violence and conflict, but also with surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit.
Her work is exhibited around the world in museums, galleries and as part of numerous private collections. She has garnered prestigious awards including multiple prizes from World Press Photos, the International Photographer of the Year prize, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographer's Association, among others. She is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers with a mission to create powerful stories illustrating the specific issues facing women in developing countries. She is also a member of the Executive Advisory Committee of the Alexia Foundation's Photojournalism Advisory Board.
Now based in Montana, Ami continues to create films and stories on the planet's most pressing issues and frequently gives lectures and workshops throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Talk: Beyond the headlines: Stories that deserve to be told
There is more to life than the headlines. Yes, we must talk about the challenges the world faces – but if we only focus on the things that divide us, we’re on a fast race to the bottom. When we truly understand each other’s stories, we are transformed. If you look beyond the headlines and “live the story”, what will you actually find?
AMY ROBINSON STERLING
Amy Sterling is the Executive Director of EyeWire, a game to map the brain played by a quarter of a million people worldwide. She is a leading catalyst of neuroscience visualisation, from interactive web to virtual reality.
Amy Robinson Sterling is an expert in crowd sourcing. She is the Executive Director of EyeWire, a game that crowdsources neuroscience, challenging hundreds of thousands of players around the world to solve 3D puzzles, which actually map out neurons. This allows neuroscientists to chart synaptic connections and model circuitry. Sterling has advised The White House OSTP and US Congress on crowdsourcing and open innovation, and helped create the world’s first neuroscience virtual reality experience. Fast Company credits Amy with “making neuroscience into a playground for the hot tech du jour.” Amy has written for Vice, the BBC, Nature, and Forbes.
Amy is a long time TEDster and founded the TEDx Music Project, a collection of the best live music from TEDx events around the world. She was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2015. Amy writes the Neurotech series for Scientific American in partnership with MIT, and has spoken at events in numerous countries ranging from TED to The White House to the Game Developer’s Conference. Under her leadership, EyeWire has won awards, including: first place Vizzie, BioArt Competition from FAESB, and the Catalyzer Prize of the Word Life Sciences Forum. EyeWire’s design was featured at TED, in Times Square, at the San Francisco Exploratorium and in Boston’s Koch Image Gallery. Amy was featured in NBC’s Nerd Alert and by Science/AAAS Careers.
TALK: DESIGN FOR SCIENCE
Design touches nearly every aspect of our lives, even when we don't realise it. From apps to architecture to the products we buy, tremendous effort goes in behind the scenes to craft experiences and interfaces that delight and surprise. It's resulting in a more beautiful, user-friendly world. But for all the progress applying design thinking to different fields, one is left behind: science.
Researchers around the world make exciting, impactful new discoveries every day, yet you won't find a designer in most labs. Initiatives like Eyewire, a game to map the brain, are changing that. Pairing designers with neuroscience challenges results in more than just clever collaboration tools; it provides the opportunity to showcase neuroscientific discoveries like never before, immersing the curious in the wonderful, exotic world of the brain.
Brandon is a global nomad and filmmaker whose short films have been featured by National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institute, BBC, TIME, and Vimeo Staff Picks.
In 2016, Brandon captured the imagination of the public and media with his 7-minute film “Hong Kong Strong”, displaying the city’s unique charms in the days leading up to the Lunar New Year. Brandon has also created powerful videos for commercial clients including MTV, BMW, Nike, Cathay Pacific, and Etihad Airways. The son of a Cantonese scientist and an American novelist, Brandon grew up in midwestern USA, and studied film at UNCSA in North Carolina. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in reality TV for eight years. In 2013, Brandon gave up his permanent address and started traveling the world, choosing to live wherever he felt most inspired -- to this date he has travelled to over 40 countries.
Aerial Performer, The House of Dancing Water
Charlotte is a French aerialist who joined the world-renowned production by Franco Dragone - The House of Dancing Water in Macau, in 2014, where she performs as a "house troupe flyer" or an acrobat. Trained in classical ballet, Charlotte has worked extensively throughout Europe and on tour, whilst also studying aerial at circus school. She began performing silks very early on in her career in France, and went on to teach and choreograph for other professional artists, before moving to Asia to join The House of Dancing Water.
Aerial Performer, The House of Dancing Water
Christopher McGreevy, hailing from the UK, started acrobatics at an early age. Progressing in his teens to the national squad level, he has represented Great Britain at numerous World and European events throughout his competitive career. In 2012, Chris joined The House of Dancing Water based out of Macau and discovered a deep love for performing on stage.
PRISON FITNESS ENTREPRENEUR
Coss Marte is an ex convict from New York turned fitness entrepreneur after turning his own work-out routine into a “prison-style” fitness camp. Coss has been covered by the international press as a success case study of life after prison.
In 2009, Coss Marte was sent to jail as the ringleader of a multi-million dollar cocaine operation. He was also grossly overweight and warned by his physician that his current lifestyle, if left unchecked, would likely kill him.
Faced with this grim prognosis, Coss started to get in shape using the tools he had -- his prison cell and his own body weight. Within six months he lost 70 pounds and replicated his successful formula of body weight exercises with 20 other inmates. Then he launched ConBody a prison style bootcamp that has gained over $7,000+ clients and hires formerly incarcerated individuals to teach fitness classes. Since the launch of his company, Coss has been featured in over 100 major media outlets such as NBC, CNN, The New York Times, and Men’s Fitness. He has also won major pitch competitions such as Pitch for Good by TOM’s shoes and the YPO shark tank competition, which in combine raised $200,000.
Talk:Making a living out of prison
As a formerly incarcerated individual who felt the pain points of trying to find viable employment after imprisonment, out of desperation Coss created his own solution by founding the ConBody prison-style workout programme. His mission expanded to include helping other ex-cons find employment by offering them positions as trainers and staff members at ConBody.
FOOD SECURITY RESEARCHER
Daisy Tam is a Hong Kong-based academic researcher specialising in ethical food practices and urban food systems. She is driven to search for a more ethical, equitable, and sustainable food system at a city level.
Daisy is an Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University where she teaches and does research on ethical food practices and urban food systems. Her critical engagement with food began in London where she did her PhD in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths. For five years, she worked in Borough Market as part of her field research, where she learnt from fellow traders about the production, distribution, consumption and disposal of food. Since her return to Hong Kong, Daisy has taken the question to the level of the city and is driven to search for a more ethical, equitable, and sustainable model of food system.
Daisy’s current project on food waste looks at the potential of collective (crowd) food rescue practices. She has lectured in Berlin, London, and Amsterdam, and done countless workshops in Hong Kong with schools, the elderly and community centres. Daisy believes that academic research should benefit society and strives to bring her work to a wider audience.
Talk: How “secure” is food? The Case of Hong Kong
Our food system is not secure, and waste and hunger are persistent in a modern city like Hong Kong. How can we reduce food waste and rescue surpluses in an equitable and sustainable way?
WRITER, TRAVELLER, ENTREPRENEUR
Diana David, Independent Non-Executive Director at DaVinci Labs Hong Kong, Member of the Advisory Board at NEST Hong Kong, and a Regional Director at Financial Times, is a writer and traveller with a passion for helping people reach their highest potential.
With an entrepreneurial DNA, Diana David has broad experience across start-ups, venture capital and strategy consulting. Diana spent a decade as part of FT’s Senior Management team reporting to the board, doubled revenue and profits for the content business, then moved into the role of strategist and intrapreneur. She architected and currently leads the Financial Times Executive Education initiatives in Asia-Pacific, and focuses on angel investing at Sarana Capital. Prior to the FT, Diana managed venture investments in new media, telecom and retail across Asia, launched and sold her own Chinese luxury brand and worked as a management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers across three continents. She began her career as an assistant to Dr. Henry Kissinger at Kissinger Associates in New York.
Diana is currently is an INED at DaVinci Labs, on the advisory board of NEST.vc and on the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong.
She is the best-selling author of Hong Kong ABCs, and her next book, Running Free, is about the choice to leave it all to become one with the nomads of Mongolia.
Talk: The difference between running and running free
Many of us are running ever faster to keep up. But true success is not achieved by attempting greater speed on the treadmill of life. By (re)learning how to run free and finding your own definition of joy, connection, creativity and freedom, you will find the meaning of true success.
CONDUCTOR AND CULTURAL ENTREPRENEUR
Singapore-born, Indian conductor George Mathew is the Founder and Artistic Director of Music for Life International and has emerged as one of the leading forces in the classical music world, using symphonic music and cross-sector collaboration to focus on global humanitarian issues and crises.
An award-winning conductor, George Mathew has travelled to the United States, India, Jordan, Singapore, Panama, Morocco, the Netherlands and South Africa in recent seasons as an ambassador for transformative action through music.
George has spoken on music and social impact around the world. In February 2016, he and Music for Life International were honoured with the 2016 Robert and JoAnn Bendetson Award for Public Diplomacy by the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University for their services to global public diplomacy through music. George and Music for Life International will return to Carnegie Hall on February 13th, 2017 with Mahler for Vision, their seventh global humanitarian concert dedicated to the ending of cataract blindness. These humanitarian concerts, presented at Carnegie Hall, have brought together scores of musicians from over 100 of the world’s most distinguished ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, MET Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic.
Talk: Music – The Impact Beyond the Sound
Music has traditionally been defined as a beautiful collection of sounds. Below the surface of the sound lie multiple layers of incredibly rich ideas and social interactions.
What impact can music have on human behaviour, ways of communicating, and especially, on the world's most pressing problems?
Henri Arslanian, a member of the Milken Institute's Young Leaders Circle, teaches graduate courses on Entrepreneurship in Finance and the first FinTech course in Asia as Adjunct Associate Professor at Hong Kong University.
Henri Arslanian started his career as a financial markets and funds lawyer in Canada and Hong Kong, after which he spent many years with UBS Investment Bank in Hong Kong. In recent years, he has been teaching graduate courses on Entrepreneurship in Finance at Hong Kong University as an Adjunct Associate Professor, and currently leads the first FinTech course in Asia. His latest book on Entrepreneurship in Finance will be published in late 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan.
A member of the Milken Institute’s Young Leaders Circle, Henri is a regular keynote speaker globally on the topic of FinTech and hedge funds and currently sits on a number of finance, academic, civil society and FinTech related boards and advisory boards. Henri is fluent in English, French, Armenian, Spanish and conversational in Mandarin Chinese and has been awarded many academic and industry awards over the years, including the Governor General of Canada Gold Medal for Academic Excellence.
Talk: How FinTech will transform the next generation of bankers
While FinTech is revolutionizing the banking industry and giving millions of people access to financial services for the first time, business schools and universities are not preparing future bankers for these changes. How can designers, programmers and creative thinkers help?
CITIZEN SCIENTIST AND FOUNDER OF OCTO23 TECHNOLOGIES
Jordan McRae, CEO and Founder of OCTO23 Technologies, develops systems to solve major challenges in ocean conservation and climate change mitigation.
Jordan began his career with Lockheed Martin Space Systems as an algorithms engineer on a distributed space robotics platform. Shortly after, he created OCTO23 Technologies, an invention firm based in San Francisco and Hong Kong focusing on clean energy and ocean conservation technologies. Since 2008, OCTO23 has developed multiple spin-off technologies and companies such as a modular non-turbine wind energy generator and the B-Squares modular electronic platform, which was one of Kickstarter's top 10 funded projects in 2012. Currently Jordan is developing OCTOtalk, a technology for underwater wireless communication and Citizen Science platform for crowdsourced ocean monitoring.
Jordan received his B.S. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his M.S. at Stanford University, both in the field of Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering with a focus on Robotics.
Talk: The Crucial Role of Citizen Scientists in Ocean Conservation
With the social platforms and technologies of the 21st century, more and more individuals are able to participate in scientific research and activities. In ocean conservation, these “Citizen Scientists”, including divers and snorkelers, can help to monitor the health of our oceans.
HIGH TECH INNOVATOR AND ENTREPRENEUR
PROFESSOR MICHAEL SUNG
Professor Michael Sung, Managing Director for CarbonBlue Innovations and an active early-stage investor, started and advised a number of successful ventures in the advanced materials and semiconductor industries.
Professor Michael Sung is a high-tech innovator and entrepreneur in the advanced materials and semiconductor industries, and actively consults for the HK and Shenzhen governments on tech transfer and commercialisation. He is the Managing Director for CarbonBlue Innovations, a tech transfer and investment platform to connect internationally-sourced innovation to China, particularly in the areas of smart hardware, industry 4.0, semiconductors, green energy, and new material technologies. He is also a board member of the HK Chapter of the International IP Commercialization Council, and an active early-stage investor as a partner / advisor in a number of VC and accelerator funds.
Professor Sung has adjunct / visiting scholar faculty positions at both the engineering and business schools at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he teaches and drives initiatives related to hi-tech entrepreneurship and innovation. He has received various awards for technology entrepreneurship including Jiangsu Province’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talent People Program and MIT Enterprise Forum’s Most Visionary Technology Award. One of his projects on large-scale graphene manufacturing was recently selected for Google’s Solve for X Prize, the first project ever selected from China / HK.
TALK: DIAMONDS ARE HUMANITY'S BEST FRIEND
The epochs of human civilization can be defined by the materials we have mastered, starting from the stone, bronze and iron ages at the beginning to the silicon age of recent days. Now, we are on the cusp of a new era of materials science innovation – the diamond age. From graphene electric vehicle batteries to waste water treatment to next-generation integrated circuits, diamond technologies are here to disrupt society in the coming decades.
Dr. Mike North, host of Discovery shows “Prototype This!," "In The Making,” & “ Innovative Design” and “Outrageous Acts of Science,” is an undaunted, anything-but-mild engineer, fusing science with media, Dr. North to open doors to awe-inspiring experiences and radical paradigm shifts.
A master of the “nano” world, Mike earned a Ph.D. and Masters in Materials Science and Engineering, as well as graduating summa cum laude in Mechanical Engineering, from U.C. Santa Barbara. Dr. North now applies his scientific knowledge to a variety of endeavours, from his teaching days of innovation at UC Berkeley, to creating a more equitable planet as founder of ReAllocate.org, going on outlandish climate awareness adventures at savetheice.org, harnessing excess mobile processing to solve cancer challenges as advisor to Compute for Cancer, building robots and IoT devices for clients such as Intel and The Department of Defense at his consulting firm North Design Labs, or creating compelling media for clients ranging from Tesla to USAID to Discovery Communications.
During his graduate work, Mike designed and fabricated the world’s first adhesive that can be turned on and off electronically. Mike’s scientific interests delve into specialties such as biomimetics, micro/nanofabrication, nanoscale microscopy and micro/nanomechanical characterisation. His investigations in these areas have been published in leading scientific journals, including Advanced Materials and Nature.
Mike frequently speaks on the status and future of science and technology, and is a stand out motivational speaker. He is involved in several start-ups, educational programs, ongoing research, and is an advisor to multiple companies.
WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT ADVOCATE
MARIE CLAIRE LIM MOORE
After fifteen years of work in consumer banking and payment products, Marie Claire Lim Moore now dedicates her career to the advancement of women in Hong Kong as Director of Development at The Women's Foundation.
Marie Claire Lim Moore is Director of Development at The Women’s Foundation, a dynamic philanthropic institution dedicated to the advancement of women in Hong Kong.
Before joining The Women's Foundation, Claire gathered fifteen years of experience as a global executive in managing consumer banking and payment products across the US, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Most recently, she was Asia Pacific Regional Director of Global Client Banking responsible for the retail bank's global services across 12 countries. Claire started her career at American Express in New York City, and joined Citi in 2001 to grow the Citi Cards American Airlines portfolio and lead the shift from traditional to digital marketing. In 2005 she was selected for the Global Consumer Management Associate programme before taking on various senior level positions throughout the Global Retail Bank.
Claire is author of Amazon best sellers Don’t Forget the Soap (And Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother) and Don't Forget the Parsley (And More from My Positively Filipino Family). She is regularly ranked among women leaders and her experiences have been documented by CNN, The New York Times, USA Today, People Asia and Asian Journal. Claire is a proud recipient of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award™ (Global FWN100™) that recognises Filipina women who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace.
Talk: Why Asia Needs More Tiger Women
While most regions of the world continue to face challenges in increasing women’s representation at all levels in the workplace, Asia is projected to have the lowest representation of women in management positions in 2025. In a region with so many highly educated women, how can we have so many Tiger mothers and so few Tiger women?
A CAPELLA GROUP
Formed by students from The University of Hong Kong (HKU), Mosaic is the first collegiate A Cappella group in Hong Kong to organise large-scale concerts. Since its founding in 2006, Mosaic has pursued its mission to promote and share the joy of A Cappella as one of the most active choirs in Hong Kong, staging numerous performances both inside and outside the city. Since the inception of the Hong Kong and Macau College A Cappella Competition in 2012, Mosaic has been an active participant of the annual event for collegiate groups in the region, winning the competition three times in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Mosaic also holds its own annual concert and donates the net proceeds to various charities as a humble contribution to the Hong Kong community.
From its humble beginnings in the little bar 'Joyce is Not Here' on Peel Street eleven years ago, Peel Streets Poetry has evolved into a group of international poets from all walks of life going strong with weekly open mic nights every Wednesday. Four long-time members will be performing at TEDxWanChai – Crossroads.
ARCHITECT, HERITAGE CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
Roger Wu has overseen the preservation, restoration and conversion of numerous iconic buildings in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Currently involved in the revitalisation of the Haw Par Mansion in Tai Hang, he is an advocate for the management of change as a way to evolve, not just conserve, our environment.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, Roger has worked as an architect for a number of practices in both markets on large-scale master planning, commercial and mixed-use developments. With extensive experience leading complex restoration projects in the UK, China and Hong Kong, Roger has put his knowledge, experience and interest in the regeneration of historical buildings, including Peter Jones, Kings Cross Station and the Royal Military Academy in London, and more recently in Hong Kong the early stages of the conversion of the Jessville Mansion into a contemporary clubhouse and the revitalisation of the Central Police Station Complex into a world-class Arts and Culture facility.
Roger is currently the Chief Executive of the Haw Par Music Foundation Limited, working on the revitalisation of the Haw Par Mansion in Tai Hang, Hong Kong, into a music academy. He is also actively involved with both the Royal Institute of British Architect Hong Kong Chapter, where he is the Honorary Secretary of the Steering Committee as well as the Chair of the Communications Sub-committee, and the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, where he is a member of the Heritage & Conservation, Archive and Education Development & Accreditation Committees. Roger has taught at the School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong, as an Adjunct Associate Professor, and was the co-curate for the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (Hong Kong).
Talk: Embracing the Past to Drive Change
Advocating the idea that "conversion is about the management of change" as a forward looking take on conserving Hong Kong's heritage is much more than just keeping the odd building up here and there. While we must respect and learn from the past, we also need to embrace the inevitable changes by celebrating, enhancing and evolving the distinct 'spirit' of the different districts of Hong Kong.
STRING QUARTET WITH OPERATIC SINGERS
Founded in 2014, Scelus Quartet features players from Mainland China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong, coming together to create a unique, unified sound – a reflection on the diversity of the Chinese People. Written for string quartet and two Cantonese opera singers, ‘To Seed’ was rewritten out of passages and motifs from the famous Cantonese opera ‘The legend of Purple Hairpin’. Through it, Scelus Quartet challenges the baseline of the arts while tracing back to the root of tradition. The idea is not to bind the east and west artistically, nor to seek alternatives on music composition, but rather to provoke reflection about the true nature of ‘culture’ and ‘art’ – in other words, “to seed a seed of reflection”.
Scelus Quartet: Nina Wong Sin I, Martin Kuo Tzu Ming, Du Juan, & Calvin Wong Tai Shing
Cantonese opera singers: Ng Wing Lam & Kong Chun Kit