Keynote Speakers

Adrian Gilpin
Chair, Institute of Human Development

Adrian Gilpin is Chairman of the Institute of Human Development, and creator of Pathfinder – a subscription only social learning web platform dedicated to the science behind creating a fearless enterprise culture. He is the author of bestselling book Unstoppable – The Pathway to Living an Inspired Life.

Adrian's primary focus is on harnessing the power of social learning to tap into the most ancient and potent form of communication: storytelling. The stories circulating in an organisation are highly contagious, and they inevitably prophesy the future. Great leaders actively inspire a different type of storytelling, and thereby create a different type of culture. IBM has cascaded Adrian's approach – using Pathfinder – to 15,000 people (and counting) around the globe in their consulting business, an initiative with a tangible impact on the collective mindset, leading to unprecedented financial returns achieved by any learning programme.

Many organisations – including IBM, Zurich, Deutsche Bank, Prudential Property Investment Managers, Barclaycard and the Commercial Bank of Kuwait – have retained Adrian to coach their Managing Directors and facilitate their senior executives. Adrian works regularly within the public sector too, including the MOD, and all three armed forces. He is a mentor to the founders of a number of social enterprises.

Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed is married and a father to two young children (Evie and Teddy), and a trustee of Greenhouse Sports, a charity that empowers young people from disadvantaged communities through sport. He is also a columnist for The Times, the author of two acclaimed books – Bounce and Black Box Thinking – and a former international table tennis champion.

Matthew was a co-founder and is a trustee of Greenhouse, a charity that empowers youngsters through sport. Greenhouse currently supports more than 10,000 young people on 31 full-time school programmes. He is also a member of the FA's High Performance Committee alongside Sir Dave Brailsford and Baroness Campbell, and an ambassador for the PiXL educational foundation.

Peter Cheese

Peter Cheese joined the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development as Chief Executive in July 2012. He spent 30 years working at Accenture, culminating in a 7 year spell as Managing Director leading the firm's Talent and Organisation Performance Consulting Practice. He also held various executive sponsorship positions for Accenture's firm-wide skills and capability development programs, and the firm's global Human Capital and Talent Strategy.

After leaving Accenture in 2009, Peter held a portfolio of consulting and non-executive roles. During this time he was also appointed Chairman of the Institute of Leadership and Management, a post he stepped down from on his appointment to the CIPD.

Peter sits on the Council of City & Guilds, and he is a European Board Director with Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Europe, an organisation focused on the development of entrepreneurial, financial and employability skills in young people through business engagement in schools and universities. He is also an Executive Fellow at the London Business School, associated with the faculties of Strategic Management and Organisational Behaviour. He was voted by HR Magazine as the most influential thinker in HR in the UK for 2013.

Rabea Ataya

Rabea is focused on providing employment opportunities for Middle Eastern youth by aiding in developing both the internet and SME sectors in the region. He is the founder and CEO of, the Middle East's leading job site, which now serves over 27 million professionals and 40,000 employers from its 12 regional offices. He co-founded, the region's first group purchasing site, InfoFort, the Middle East's first and leading records management company, and he serves on the board of several Middle Eastern startups. Rabea also serves on the board of the Queen Rania Foundation which is focused on empowering youth through education in our region.

Rabea is a graduate of Stanford University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Engineering Economic Systems.

Mark DeVolder
Author and speaker

Recognised as one of the world's foremost speakers on change management, Mark has won the "top five speaker award in business management" for four years in a row. He will reveal why 70% of all change initiatives fail to achieve their goal. His clients include NASA, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Siemens, IBM and PwC.

Libby Gill
Author and speaker

Libby is the former head of communications and PR for Sony, Universal and Turner Broadcasting. An international speaker and best-selling author, she has shared her expertise with CNN, BusinessWeek, Time and the Wall Street Journal among others.

Joe Chalouhi
Senior HR director, GE

Joe joined GE in 2010 as a senior HR manager, before progressing to his current role of senior HR director for the MENA region. His career has taken in roles at Schneider Electric, PepsiCo and Areva Transmission & Distribution (now Alstrom Grid).

Al Pittampalli

Al Pittampalli is the author of Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World which was chosen by The Wall Street Journal as a book-of-the month. As a business consultant, he's helped organisations like NASA, Hertz, Boeing, IBM and more transform the way they think about leadership. His first book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting, was the most popular kindle book in the world during the week of its release and has been translated into five different languages. Al is a contributor to Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today.

Ahmad Al Ghamdi
Vice president of HR, Saudi Telecom Company

Ahmad Al Ghamdi is the group human resources vice president in Saudi Telecom reporting directly to the Group CEO. Ahmad has 15 years of experience in human resources working in many companies and industries. He joined STC in April 2014 and currently leads the HR sector responsible for all functions. Prior to that was the general manager of organisation design and HR planning. In his previous role as a senior associate at Mercer Consulting, he was responsible for the development of organisation design, reward scheme, performance management systems and many other HR core products to all industries in the Saudi market.

Yaser Obaid
Chief human capital officer, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Yaser leads the development and execution of the organisation's human capital strategy and initiatives in line with the overall Patients First mission and strategic direction of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Yaser has more than 18 years of experience in human resources management, across airline, oil & gas, and telecommunications industries. Previously, Yaser served as senior vice president of human resources at du Telecommunications, where he helped the organisation achieve its strategic and operational goals by developing and implementing effective human resources management strategies, systems, and processes.

Jonathan Labin
MD MENA, Facebook

Jonathan is an experienced and hands on tech and media leader that is passionate about building high performance teams and growing businesses internationally. He is the head of the Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan at Facebook and leads the regional office in Dubai. As Facebook's first employee in the Middle East & North Africa, he built the MENA team and business from the ground up and is responsible for growing revenues across Facebook's family of brands. In September 2016, Jonathan was named media and marketing business leader of the year by Gulf Business.

Bassam Al-Bokhari
Vice president of industrial relations, Petro Rabigh

Bassam Al-Bokhari has 27 years of diverse experience in Saudi Aramco and its subsidiaries. Since 2012, he has been vice president of industrial relations at Petro Rabigh, responsible for the company's human resources, corporate affairs, community & business support services, materials supply and operational excellence.

Sushant Upadhyay
Partner, Aon Hewitt Middle East

Sushant Upadhyay joined Aon Hewitt Middle East as Partner and Chief Commercial Officer in July 2015. Prior to this, Sushant was Managing Director of Aon Hewitt's Hong Kong and Taiwan business.

Sushant has been with Aon Hewitt for over 12 years and has worked across sectors in consulting and client management roles. Prior to this, he worked with a leading process consulting firm as Sr. Practice Manager for their Six Sigma and Process Improvement practice for IT and ITES sector. His areas of expertise lie in HR Transformation, Talent Management and leadership effectiveness.