In March 2019, an exciting line-up of speakers came together to read between the lines and piece together different chapters of the story, uncovering innovative and cross-disciplinary concepts and perspectives.

Here are the inspiring people who took part in the Main Conference.

Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.


Annie Vernon is an Olympic silver medallist and two-time World Champion rower. She represented Great Britain for eight years, racing at six World Championships and two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012). She was part of World Rowing’s Outstanding Female Crew of the Year in 2007. Her first book, Mind Games, is an accessible guide to the psychology of elite sport and will be published by Bloomsbury in March 2019.

Annie Vernon

Competition is everywhere in life. It can be a supreme motivator or a crushing demoraliser.

Tara Shirvani is an infrastructure specialist passionate about leveraging technology and finance to drive impact in the developing world. She manages the green infrastructure portfolio at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Prior she was at the World Bank and UNDP having graduated from Cambridge and Oxford University. Her work has received international recognition including the Aviva Women of the Future Award and Forbes 30 under 30.

Tara Shirvani

Blockchain will cause an energy revolution in our near future. Are we as a planet prepared to power this new currency?

Loubna Bouarfa is a machine learning scientist turned entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of OKRA Technologies, working to save and improve human lives with artificial intelligence analytics for healthcare. She previously spent 10 years in academia, developing real-world AI solutions. Loubna is a member of the EU High-Level Expert Group on AI, and was named a Forbes 2018 Top Woman In Tech. She is a strong advocate for diversity, women, and challenging the status quo.

Loubna Bouarfa

For Artificial Intelligence systems to do good, we must embrace uncertainty, start small, and dare to allow mistakes.

Waithera Sebatindira completed her Bachelor’s in Law and MPhil in Gender Studies at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. She was the first woman of colour to become Women’s Officer on Cambridge University’s Student Union. She has co-authored a book, “A Fly Girl’s Guide to University: Being a woman of colour at Cambridge and other institutions of power and elitism”, published this year with Verve Poetry Press.

Waithera Sebatindira

The University of Cambridge's history cannot be understood without the histories of the women of colour who study and work there.

After witnessing the crushing effect of the Syrian war on children, Hiba left Damascus in 2014 to study at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education. Today, Hiba’s PhD research studies the effects of educational spaces on refugees’ lives and experiences in their new homes. One of her core goals is to make refugee voices heard. In 2018, Hiba received the Said Foundation’s Alumni Award given for work that has “contributed most to the development of the `{`Middle East`}`”.

Hiba Salem

In a time of unprecedented migration and forced displacement, working together despite our borders is the only way forward.

Michael H. Ramage leads the Centre for Natural Material Innovation at Cambridge University, and is Reader in Architecture and Engineering in the Architecture Department, Fellow and Vice Master of Sidney Sussex College, a Member of the Institution of Structural Engineers and a partner in Light Earth Designs. His research is focused on efficient masonry structures, better housing in the developing world, and high-rise buildings in engineered timber and bamboo.

Michael Ramage

Wood is an understimated building material. Good design, engineering, and construction can vastly expand its potential.

George Rosenfeld is a second-year undergraduate at Cambridge and founder of May Week Alternative, a feel-good initiative encouraging Cambridge students to celebrate the end of the academic year by making the world a better place, and changing the way people think about charity. George has also advocated extensively for the Sustainable Development Goals and has been recognised for his work by the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, Prime Minister David Cameron, and the UN Youth Assembly.

George Rosenfeld

By putting charity at the heart of celebration, we can feel good and do good at the same time.

Giles Yeo has 20 years’ experience studying the genetics of obesity & brain control of food intake. He got his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1998 and his currently focuses on the influence of genes on our feeding behaviour & body-weight. Giles is also a broadcaster and author, presenting science documentaries for the BBC’s ‘Horizon’ & ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’. His first book ‘Gene Eating: The Science of Obesity & the Truth About Diets’ was published in December 2018.

Giles Yeo

Humans are like cockroaches: we adapt when we have to, including to changing nutritional demands post agriculture.

Multi-cultural and a modern global citizen, Shirley holds British and Taiwanese dual citizenship, grew up in Thailand, is UK- and US- educated and a Parisienne at heart. Such unique perspective underlines her 13-year marketing executive career with leading cosmetics giants, L'Oréal and Estée Lauder in United Kingdom, France, and the Asia-Pacific region.
She is a passionate advocate for Psychology and Organizational Behaviour playing a critical role in business and orchestrates her career around this conviction: beyond financial reports, how does psychology help to create a business adored by consumers? How does psychology inspire us to lead as Authentic Leaders and achieve Compassionate Profitability?
In addition to her corporate role, Shirley devotes significant personal time as a public speaker and millennials mentor, advocating the importance of Authentic Leadership, Compassionate Profitability in the corporate world and Conscientious Mentoring.

Shirley Liu

Corportate humanity - fit for the future - must be reinventedx with compassion, virtue, warmth, and inspiration.

Guy Doza has worked as a non-partisan speechwriter for the Conservative, Labour, SNP, LibDem and Green Parties. Outside of Parliament he has worked with numerous companies ranging from BP to the BBC. As well as this, he has worked as a speechwriter and special adviser to a range of governments across Europe and Central Asia. His favourite speech was one he wrote for his nine year old brother who successfully stood for a position on his school council.

Guy Doza

Rhetoric is making a comeback. The time has come to gear up and learn how to defend ourselves!

Tom studied at the University of Cambridge, the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) and University of Westminster, qualifying as an architect in 2008. He has worked for a number of design-led practices and is currently an associate at award-winning London-based Níall McLaughlin Architects. He was named Project Architect of the Year at the RIBA East Awards in 2018 for his work on the West Court project for Jesus College Cambridge.

Tom McGlynn

Both architecture and music are compositions. Can we imagine a building's components as sounds, translating it to music?

Dr Arik Kershenbaum is a zoologist at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Girton College. He researches animal communication, particularly in cooperative predators like wolves and dolphins, attempting to uncover what this communication tells us about the fundamental principles driving the evolution of language. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge, and his PhD from the University of Haifa in Israel.

Arik Kershenbaum

Animal communication on Earth shows us fundamental constraints on language that would also apply on any other planet.

Amy is the Director of the Memories in Neuropsychiatric Disorders (MiND) Lab in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and the Ferreras-Willetts Fellow in Neuroscience at Downing College, Cambridge. Her research focuses on how emotional memories form, persist, and can be updated in the brain, and aims to use this knowledge to develop new therapies for mental health disorders such as drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Amy Milton

If we understand how memories persist, we can exploit this to treat mental health disorders.

Tiara Sahar Ataii is the founder and president of SolidariTee, an international student movement which helps to fund legal aid for refugees and demystifies the refugee crisis. She founded SolidariTee in her first year at Cambridge University, having been inspired by her work as an interpreter with legal aid NGOs on the field. Since, she has overseen the expansion of SolidariTee to over 30 committees worldwide, with volunteers in the UK, Paris, Germany, the USA, and Australia.

Tiara Sahar Ataii

The refugee crisis has brought up a whole set of questions. Perhaps legal aid can be the answer we're looking for.