JUNE 1, 2012 - Asian Women as The Way Forward - at The World Economic Forum East Asia Summit

At the Summit's Opening plenary, I posed the question to a panel (all men) of ministers of trade and commerce across Asia, inviting them to share their strategy for investing in and harnessing the potential of women towards long-term economic development. In that question, I cited the Womenomics research report by Goldman Sachs, which detailed how women can boost Japan's economic growth. This body of work was led by Goldman Sachs Partner Kathy Matsui, who is Chief Japan Equity Strategist and Co-Head of Asia Investment Research at Goldman Sachs.

I was therefore really excited to have the chance to meet and talk to Kathy at the Summit. I was also excited to reconnect with my old friend Lin Kobayashi, another  powerful and inspiring Asian woman, a fellow Young Global Leader, and my classmate from the Lester Pearson United World College in British Columbia half a lifetime ago. (And because it's a small world, it turns out that Lin and Kathy are good friends! Our photos on the top right.)

With these two women among the inspiring women leaders at the helm of transformation in Asia, I definitely believe in a brighter future for Asia.  I do believe that a brighter future for the world lies in empowering women and unlocking the full potential of women as participants in the economy, in public policy, and in all aspects of building a global society.

Thus, I found most inspiring the WEF Plenary Session on "Asian Women as the Way Forward" - which featured Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Member of Parliament of Kawhmu Constituent, Myanmar; Helene D. Gayle, CEO and President, CARE USA and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on East Asia; Rokia Afzal Rahman, President, Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (BFWE), Bangladesh;and Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Group, Norway; chaired by CNN Anchor and Correspondent Andrew Stevens.

(Leftmost photo courtesy of the World Economic Forum)

June 1, 2012 - On ASEAN Financing, ASEAN Connectivity, and Values - Discussions at the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit

The discussions at the World Economic Forum's East Asia Summit covered the future of region, the benefits of economic cooperation, the dynamics of geopolitics and investment, how to fight poverty and create long-term economic development, and enabling greater connectivity within ASEAN.

I was most caught up by the sessions that featured Columbia professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, on ASEAN Connectivity, followed by a session on ASEAN Financing. Pictured on top left are Prof. Stiglitz, together with me and with fellow Young Global Leaders Sophal Ear and Nick.

We also enjoyed deep conversation and insightful exchanges during an interactive lunch focused on Values - values in transition and transformation within Asia - what the catalysts are, whether we should preserve them or evolve, how we determine what values to adopt in a changing global environment. Pictured on the top right is Young Global Leader Kevin Lu leading this luncheon session, with Goldman Sachs Partner Kathy Matsui (far right) presenting her table's insights and reflections.

On ASEAN Financing, a segment taped for Bloomberg TV, the question explored was - How can ASEAN economies build a more sound and integrated financial architecture?

Another important topic explored was - How can East Asia's emerging technology and innovations lead to new products, services and business models in the region?

To view some of the exciting sessions at the World Economic Forum's East Asia Summit:

ASEAN: Escape from Poverty - What actions are needed to alleviate poverty in East Asia?

ASEAN Connectivity - Roadmap to 2015

The Promise and Future of Myanmar - What does Myanmar's recent reform mean for the region and the world?  A conversation with U Than Htay, Union Minister for Energy of Myanmar

And an outstanding Closing Plenary - featuring the Co-Chairs of the Summit: Pailin Chuchottaworn, President and Chief Executive Officer, PTT Public Company, Thailand; Helene D. Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer, CARE USA; Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, GDF SUEZ, France; Malvinder M. Singh, Executive Chairman, Fortis Healthcare, Singapore; Chaired by Sushant Palakurthi Rao, Senior Director, Head of Asia, World Economic Forum.

May 31, 2012 – Opening Ceremonies of the World Economic Forum's East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand

Professor Klaus Schwab
, Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum, led the Opening Ceremony of the WEF East Asia Summit.  Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, opened the Summit.  Other Opening Speakers were Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia; Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam; Thongsing Thammavong, Prime Minister of Laos; and H.R.H. Prince Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain.  Their talks focused on progress being made on building the necessary physical infrastructure in ASEAN, and the need to continue to make progress on building the “soft (institutional) infrastructure.” (For the full summary of the Opening Ceremony, go here.

One of the highlights of the WEF East Asia Summit was definitely the inspiring presence of Myanmar leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in what became a historic moment: Coming to Thailand to speak at this Summit is her first international trip outside of Myanmar since her house arrest and since her eventual election as Opposition Party Leader, ahead of her plans to address the UK Parliament on June 18.

Another highlight is meeting amazing people at the Summit.  Pictured above, I am standing next to TV anchor and editor Veenarat Laohapakakul (@veenarat) of Thailand’s NBC Nation TV Group who interviewed me about Womensphere. In the photo above - I also met and had a great conversation on Thai policies and the Thai economy with Director-General Srirat Rastapana, a wonderful woman who runs the Department of Trade Negotiations at the Thai Ministry of Commerce, and with Mr. Sean Boonpracong, who is an International Strategic Advisor to the Thai Prime Minister.

I was truly inspired by the conversation between Prof. Klaus Schwab and Aung San Suu Kyi, in what was her first international trip outside of Myanmar in 24 years, and share that video here:

[The video, and photos of Prof. Schwab, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, are courtesy of the World Economic Forum.]

May 31, 2012 - Attending the World Economic Forum's East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand

I truly looked forward to participating at the World Economic Forum's East Asia Summit in Bangkok, convening industry leaders from the East Asian region, as well as joining my fellow Young Global Leaders and leading social entrepreneurs from the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.  I was eager to hear from the region's leaders on the challenges and opportunities they faced, and thrilled to participate in helping shape the region's future.

I was particularly interested to hear the thoughts of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is one of the few women heads of states in the world, and who is leading a country that remains a constitutional monarchy while being on the crossroads of globalization.

The Kingdom of Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized by a European power, and despite political turmoil, remains a country rich in promise as an engine of growth within East Asia.  The country enjoys the presence of diverse businesses, from microenterprises and tourism, to global retail brands like Starbucks, and global luxury brands like Prada, Gucci, and the like.

One of the questions at WEF East Asia was: “How will Thailand combine its legendary culture with emerging creative industries to build its brand equity?”  I believe in the power of entrepreneurship-led and innovation-led economic development. Thus, I think that the engine for growth in Thailand and in East Asia will come from entrepreneurs who dare to dream about building the great companies of tomorrow, and have the courage and tenacity to pursue their vision.

One of the East Asian region’s most promising (and most accomplished) emerging entrepreneurs is Vorravit Siripark, CEO and Founder of Panpuri, a fast-growing globally focused luxury organic spa products company, founder-built, privately owned, and based in Bangkok. Vor has expanded Panpuri’s presence worldwide, which now retail at places like Barney’s in New York. Panpuri is all over Australia, Asia, Europe, North America, and the UAE. In addition to a beautiful spa in Bangkok, Panpuri has high end spas in Sydney, New Caledonia, Madrid, and the UK. 

Panpuri has a very inspiring mission, and is a shining example of the type of global entrepreneurship that can emerge from Thailand and the East Asian region.  Disclaimer: I have known Vor for half my life since our days at Lester Pearson United World College in British Columbia. But that does not take away from how amazing his company is, and my point that globally-focused entrepreneurs like Vor are the way of the future for Thailand and East Asia. Knowing Vor, I know that he strives hard to keep strong to the authenticity of the spirit and purpose of the brand as he builds a global company.

May 30, 2012 – Young Global Leaders gather at World Economic Forum East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand

A day before the formal proceedings of the World Economic Forum's East Asia Summit, the Young Global Leaders had a chance to connect and see a little bit of Thailand. Led by WEF Asia Community Manager Shun Nagao, the YGLs visited the Thai Grand Palace, followed by lunch and discussion on sustainable development models at the Sasin Business School. (Top right image: YGLs Kevin Lu, Sophal Ear, John MacArthur.)


We have recently had three new extraordinary leaders and innovators join Womensphere's Global Advisory Board, and I would love to welcome them here!

Dr. Monica Beltrametti - is the Chief Services Research Officer at Xerox, and Head of the Xerox Research Centre in Europe, which develops software technologies for Xerox solutions and services, while drawing from European scientific know-how and customer knowledge. Monica has a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Munich (Germany). Monica was a Distinguished Speaker at our inaugural Womensphere Pan-European Summit at Oxford University last year, and we look forward to her joining us at this September's Womensphere Global Summit 2012 on Creating the Future!


Joe Michaels - is one of the brilliant, inspiring, innovative leaders at MSN who I've long admired (since my MSN days 7 years ago) and who I've had the privilege of having as a mentor, supporter, and friend.  Joe is now Senior Director at Microsoft, and is the Head of all of MSN Business Development.  (Joe, Microsoft is truly very lucky to have you at the helm of that!)


Dr. Keith Schwab - runs The Schwab Group at CalTech, which "pursues the development and applications of the most advanced measurement techniques to both probe the fundamental quantum nature of the physical world, and to further nanoscience and nanotechnology. Currently... focused on the exploration of the quantum properties of nanoscale electro-mechanical structures at ultra-low temperatures, and the applications of nanofabrication to atomic and quantum optics experiments." Keith is a great champion of advancing women in science and technology. He's also an amazing photographer, a fellow Young Global Leader, and an overall brilliant and wonderful person.

The Womensphere Global Advisory Board is comprised of an extraordinary circle of thought leaders, innovators, experts, entrepreneurs, and trailblazing pioneers across a spectrum of disciplines and industries, reflecting the richness of our community, and inspiring us with their light, leadership, and wisdom.

May 25, 2012 – Launch of new book "Design Like You Give a Damn" by Cameron Sinclair, CEO, Architects for Humanity (informal event with some Young Global Leaders in Brooklyn)

A number of the Young Global Leaders gathered in support of the launch of YGL and Architects for Humanity CEO Cameron Sinclair’s new book, Design Like You Give a Damn at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn.  (L-R):  Lorna Solis, Erik Charas, Analisa Balares, DJ Spooky (Paul Miller), Cameron Sinclair, Nilda Bullain. (Matthew B, we're missing your photo here, but you came right in time for that mac n' cheese Lorna had been saving for you... :)

And this is Dumbo (Brooklyn) at night... At far right is a beautiful spot that Cameron pointed to us – a 19th century carousel saved and preserved (and encased in a glass structure) by a philanthropist.

May 22, 2012 - Young Global Leaders, Seattle Summit – Day 2 at Microsoft and Starbucks

(L-R): Jeff Sachs, Head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a conversation with YGLs led by John MacArthur, discussing the Millennium Development Goals, solving poverty through new development models, theory vs. practice, and creating inspiring leadership; Steve Sinofsky, President of Windows at Microsoft, explains the company’s global business and strategy; Cliff Burrows, President of Starbucks US and Americas, shares Starbucks’ story, culture, and principles. Cliff’s talk was preceded by a coffee tasting of Starbucks' house blend. Who knew coffee is just like wine, with the effect of terroir something we taste in the coffee...

Happy to be back at my old employer Microsoft! (L-R):  Matthew Bishop , Tan Le, Analisa Balares, Danah Boyd, Mina Guli; The Young Global Leaders group, engaged in a tour of Microsoft’s “Home of the Future.”  (I was most impressed by the changing wall display themes, that was very cool.)

Please note that in deep respect to my esteemed YGL colleagues, I have refrained from posting the very exciting photographs taken during the Microsoft User Experience Research Labs... (where all sorts of research were conducted on the new Microsoft games... ;)

May 21, 2012 - Young Global Leaders, Seattle Summit – Day 1 at the Gates Foundation

Melanie Walker and Boris Nikolic really did an exemplary job of organizing the Summit! (Thank you and congratulations!)

(L-R):  Matthew Bishop and Bill Gates speak about the Gates Foundation, Bill’s favorite books, and thoughts on the future of humanity and global problem-solving;  Melinda Gates speaks about giving her voice to family planning and inspiring billionaires towards philanthropic giving; Charles Simonyi,  creator of Word and Excel, shares his experience in going outer space, and  talks with YGL Eric Anderson about the future of space tourism.

Melanie Walker with the inspiring Young Global Shapers at the launch event of Seattle’s Young Global Shapers Chapter. The Global Shapers are an exciting and highly charged group of next generation young leaders. (Shapers, you all rock and you totally inspire, keep up the great spirit! :)

May 21, 2012 - Young Global Leaders, Seattle Summit - Kickoff Evening with Bill Gates Sr.

Bill Gates Sr. kicks off  the Young Global Leaders Seattle Summit on Monday evening at the Seattle Space Needle.  Kate Roberts in the hot pink skirt, between Tan Le and Lisa Witter...

The sun slowly set upon us while we were at the Space Needle for Monday evening’s dinner reception.

(L-R):  Analisa  Balares, Mina Guli, Alicia Morga, Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Tan Le, Caroline Boudreaux, Ken Howery, Jamie Nack.  What an awesome table and great conversations. The dusk and skyline were stunning...

With much thanks to American Airlines for being our Official Airline Sponsor

I'm excited to announce that American Airlines has become one of Womensphere's most inspiring new strategic partners and sponsors - and our Official Airline Sponsor. And for this, I want to thank two of AA's visionary leaders who made this happen - Jason Oshiokpekhai and Johna Johnson - who believe in the important work we are doing at Womensphere, and who wanted to support our growth and global reach through joining as our Official Airline Sponsor.

To help me build Womensphere globally, American Airlines - through Jason and Johna's leadership - is enabling me to fly freely to participate in all World Economic Forum Summits and Regional Meetings this year, including the May 21-23 Young Global Leaders Seattle Summit, and the upcoming World Economic Forum for East Asia Summit in Bangkok on May 30-June 1.  Thank you so much for your support, our new friends - this means the world to us at Womensphere! :)


On May 11th, Womensphere and OgilvyEarth hosted By Invitation Only - On Hypergrowth Entrepreneurship + Sustainability - a special talk and wine & cheese reception, featuring GILT Groupe Founders Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank, and OgilvyEarth President Kim Slicklein, and the launch of Alexis and Alexandra's new book, By Invitation Only.  It was an exceptional event bringing together the Womensphere community and Ogilvy & Mather network.

Thank you to the amazing OgilvyEarth Team for hosting this event - with special thanks to Kim Slicklein and Melissa Zodicoff!

I encourage everyone to get a copy of the powerfully inspiring book By Invitation Only!

APRIL 11, 2012 - LOVEMARKS | UNDIVIDED - Womensphere's Fourth Year Anniversary Celebration

I wanted to share some of the videos from LOVEMARKS | UNDIVIDED - Womensphere's 4th Year Anniversary Celebration, hosted by Saatchi & Saatchi (The Lovemarks Company) and launching the extraordinary new album Undivided by the amazing artist Morley, on April 11, 2012 in New York City.

My welcome message to the special guests of Womensphere's 4th Year Anniversary Celebration and Launch of Morley's new album Undivided.  Morley kicks off the event by performing "Be the One" from her new album Undivided.


My introductory remarks, sharing a quick story of the founding of Womensphere and reflecting on the meaningful connection between Womensphere, and Saatchi & Saatchi, The Lovemarks Company.


Welcome and Inspirational Remarks by Marnie Kain Cacossa, CMO and Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi.


A conversation between me and Marnie Kain Cacossa, CMO of Saatchi &  Saatchi, The Lovemarks Company, on our partnership and the shared mission between Womensphere and Saatchi & Saatchi to advance women's leadership, build an inspiring global community, and change the world. With music, "Love and Understanding" from the new Undivided album by Morley.


Morley performs "Try" from her new album, Undivided.


I encourage everyone to get Morley's new album Undivided - it is simply one of the most beautiful albums I have ever heard. You can download it from iTunes, or from Morley's website.


Womensphere had an amazing Women's History Month event in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, honoring and celebrating Linda Cureton, CIO of NASA, and Author of new book, The Leadership Muse. Linda is also an honoree of the Womensphere Global Award for Innovation. This is one of the most inspiring leadership books I have read, I highly recommend getting it - Linda's insight and inspiration are priceless.


Womensphere is thrilled to support and partner with UN Women Metro New York, led by the amazing Cheryl Benton, on their special Women's History Month event in  honor of Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and award-winning filmmaker Abby Disney. The event also shared a showing of the award-winning documentary "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" by Abby Disney.


On March 6, 2012 - I was honored by World Economic Forum as one of its 192 Young Global Leaders for 2012. On the same day, on the occasion of its 30th Anniversary, the National Council for Research on Women honored me as one of the NCRW's 30 Outstanding Women Leaders during their Annual Making a Difference for Women Awards Night at Cipriani Wall Street. I am very thankful to both organizations for these honors.

I believe in the World Economic Forum’s holistic approach in mobilizing leaders around solving an amazing range of complex global issues, and I am truly honored to join the community of the Young Global Leaders.  I am eager to take active part in this global community, and to collaborate, contribute to, and inspire initiatives around the important issues of advancing women’s leadership and innovation, investing in women and girls, and innovative models for sustainable development.

I believe in the important groundbreaking work by the NCRW towards empowering women and girls.  As a passionate supporter of the NCRW’s transformational role in society, I feel deeply honored to be among the women leaders selected by the NCRW for having made significant impact in creating opportunities for women, and unleashing the potential of women and girls. I am excited to be a part of the 30th year anniversary of the NCRW, and to continue to support its vision and mission for women's advancement in the world.

More information on our news release here:
World Economic Forum, NCRW honor Analisa Balares, Womensphere CEO and founder, for global leadership 

Learn about the NCRW's "30 Leaders Changing the Way the World Looks at Women" here.