Hosts for 'Think Tank' round tables include
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Laura Aalto is CEO of Helsinki Marketing, a company owned by the City of Helsinki, since September 2017. She has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, branding and corporate sponsorship. She served as a Marketing and Communications Director for World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 and Turku, European Capital of Culture 2011.
Laura has been transforming Helsinki Marketing and its business to new strategic framework. She has been leading the company’s change process from a traditional DMO to implementing broader city marketing and brand building. She has been supporting change processes within teams, building new networks and collaboration models. In addition, attention has been paid to employee skills, developing internal processes and changing operating culture.
Laura holds a MA from Helsinki University.
As Chief Executive, Laura is responsible for the leadership, strategy, performance and accountability of the organisation, working closely with the Board and Executive Team.
Prior to joining London & Partners, Laura was Managing Director of the Government & Public Sector Practice at WPP, the world’s largest marketing and communication services business. In that role she advised governments on destination marketing, behaviour change, digital government and citizen engagement. She led a global network of regional teams in Beirut, Brussels, Delhi, Nairobi, Singapore and Sydney.
Laura is author of ‘me.gov: The Next Generation of Digital Public Services.' She taught communications for behaviour change at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Laura has spent her career at the intersection of public policy and communication. She spent several years as a UK public servant in London and Brussels, and has worked as a journalist in Russia and for an NGO in Germany.
Laura is a Londoner and speaks French and Russian. She is a Governor of an inner-city London primary school. Laura has an undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford and a postgraduate degree from University College London.
Clare’s interest in the complex area of place branding was sparked whilst working on a series of Nation Branding Masterclass events, led by Simon Anholt, one of the first thought-leaders to speak about and promote the concept of place branding. Having listened to Simon address audiences in Accra, Delhi, Dubai, London and Singapore on how policy, governance, and symbolic actions need to combine with branding and marketing to create a competitive identity and drive economic growth, she continued to follow the growth in this sector. As Global Conference Director for The International Herald Tribune, now the New York Times, Clare also saw growth in advertising and storytelling around tourism and investment promotion strategy. Clare launched the first City Nation Place Global conference in London in 2015: CityNationPlace.com has been steadily building followers and in 2017, she launched the first City Nation Place Americas conference, in 2018 City Nation Place Asia Pacific took place in Singapore, and 2019 has seen the first City Nation Place UK, specifically for towns, cities and regions across the UK, and the launch of the first City Nation Place LatAm & Caribbean event. Clare manages the small team at City Nation Place alongside providing event consultancy and management for a number of clients in the publishing and trade association sector, including running the World Media Awards for the World Media Group and event consultancy for the UK Association for Online Publishers.
Deborah joined Campus Philly as its president in 2010, leading the organization that builds Philadelphia’s economy through college student attraction, retention, and inclusion. She has directed the organization through a period of growth that includes doubling the number of participating colleges and universities, launching new programs in internships and arts and culture, and building a robust corporate membership program. Between 2000 and 2017, the number of 25-34 year olds with college degrees grew 115% in Philadelphia and now 54% of graduates stay in the region after they graduate. Deborah co-founded the learning network Young Smart and Local for cities planning and implementing talent retention programs. Prior to joining Campus Philly, Deborah spent 10 years in market research, first for the consultancy, The Melior Group, then as the Director of Research and Strategy for Visit Philadelphia. Deborah holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Steen Jakobsen is vice president at Dubai Tourism overseeing Dubai Business Events & City Operations – the official convention bureau of Dubai. Prior to joining Dubai Tourism in 2013, Steen was director of Copenhagen Convention Bureau.
Steen sits on the Executive Committee of Dubai Association Centre. He served on the Board of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) and on the Board of Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). Steen has also been chair of BestCities Global Alliance. Today he serves on the Board of Directors of BestCities Global Alliance.
Steen holds a Master degree in Commerce and Commercial Law from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Sheffield.
Versatile director and dedicated, with nine years experience as Managing Director in an organization with international expansion and close relationship with all the Basque network of science and technology and building connections with European and worldwide organizations focused on Talent Attraction. With the support of the Department for Economic Development of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and the largest Basque enterprises, technology and research centres and all the Basques universities, bizkaia:talent was established in 2005 as a non-profit organisation with a clear mission: to foster and facilitate the implementation of the necessary conditions for attracting, connecting and retaining in the Basque Country highly qualified people in the areas of knowledge and innovation.
Participant in many international conferences as speaker and author of different articles in international press about territorial talent management and the different services and tools of Bizkaia Talent as one of the best examples worldwide.
Co-founder of the European Talent Mobility Forum, along with the most advanced Europan organizations working Regionaly in Talent Attraction Management.
Promoter and creator of the “Bebasquetalentnetwork”, the largest network of professionals related to the Basque Country, with more than 14.500 people in more than 100 Countries around the world.
Promoter and creator of the Basque Talent Observatory, Be Basque Career Development and Headhunting support centres, worldwide unique big data and machine learning tools to analyse the labour market for highly qualified professionals and help both professionals and companies to develop their career and talent management.
Promoter and creator of the first Dual Career Centre in the Spanish State. "Bebasque Dual Career Centre"
Entrepreneur and cofounder of Suministros Textiles Etxetik SL
10 years of leadership experience as Area Manager in the business insurance sector, with Spain’s #1 insurance company M.A.P.F.R.E SAS.
Sharon Landes-Fischer is acting CEO of Tel Aviv Global, a municipal company, directed toward making the city more accessible to the world and facilitating its quantum leap in the global arena, achieved in cooperation with municipal, national and private partners. The company focuses on three main pillars needed for global economic growth: Tourism, Economic Development and Brand Marketing & Communications. Sharon's position includes formulating the company's global strategy and leading the Tel Aviv brand to new heights. Prior to this position, Sharon held the positions of Deputy CEO and Head of Smart Tourism, and built the city's strategy and support systems for the travel-tech industry. Sharon has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master's Degree in Management and Marketing. A beach volley-ball enthusiast and the City's volley-ball champion, she lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and two children.
Kit Lykketoft is since 2017 the Director of the Copenhagen Convention Bureau. Here she works to attract international association conferences, meetings and events. Kit is also focused on legacy and the added value of congresses and has a Copenhagen Legacy Lab in the bureau. Sustainability is high on Kit´s agenda and a Copenhagen stronghold.
Kit is a strategist and a change-maker who proactively uses research about the future to form the steps being taken in the present. She is a firm believer in trans-disciplinary and cross-sectorial work, and in that sharing of knowledge makes everyone stronger. Kit is member of the BestCities board and Executive Committee and is an active member of the Strategic Alliance of National European CVBs.
Prior to becoming Convention Director Kit has been a visiting scholar at Parsons DESIS Lab in NYC, working with social innovation with the city of NY, following her eight years at MindLab within the Danish Government administration.
MindLab, where Kit was Deputy Director, applied design driven and user focused processes to Danish policy- and reform making. Kit also advised numerous other countries and large international organizations on how to do this.
Kit holds an MA from the University of Copenhagen and an Exe Specialised Master in change from HEC Paris/Said Business School Oxford.
Patricia’s 25 year management career has encompassed international roles in languages, tourism, and telecommunications. She studied in Ireland, trained in Germany and has worked in several Caribbean markets. Patricia completed an MBA in Finance with Alliance Manchester Business School and co-founded a technology start-up based in New Orleans that created a platform to connect explorers with locals for real, authentic experiences. Patricia now leads the Grenada Tourism Authority, the primary tourism marketing agency responsible for promoting the destination nationally and internationally, and for enhancing the tourism product and delivering sustainable growth.
Virginia Messina joined WTTC in February 2013, responsible for driving the implementation of the three-year strategic plan. She served as Executive Director of the Global Travel Association Coalition to align the key Travel & Tourism organisations (ACI, IATA, ICAO, UNWTO and WEF) to ensure the sector speaks with ‘One Voice’.
Prior to joining WTTC, she spent 10 years working for the Mexican Government including the Presidential Office as well as three years as Chief of Cabinet and Head of International Affairs at the Ministry of Tourism. Virginia was instrumental in the creation of the National Agreement of Tourism which aligned the public and private sectors in Mexico around ten key strategic pillars and resulted in Mexico being one of the ten most visited countries globally. In 2012, under Mexico’s G20 Presidency, she led the process for the meeting of the Tourism Ministers of the G20 countries in which tourism was recognised for the first time ever by the G20 Leaders as a key pillar for economic growth.
Virginia was appointed WTTC Vice President of Government Affairs in January 2018 and promoted to Managing Director in 2019.
Stéphane Paquet is the President and CEO of Montréal International. Since January 2020, he has been overseeing the agency tasked with attracting foreign direct investment, international organizations as well as international talent and students to Greater Montréal.
When he joined Montréal International in 2016, Mr. Paquet took on the role of Vice President of Investment Greater Montréal and was supervising the team of professionals who support foreign companies’ projects in the region. In September 2017, his duties expanded with the additional mandate to attract and retain international organizations, leading to the creation of a new position –Vice President, Foreign Investments & International Organizations. Under his leadership, the value of foreign investment has more than doubled, from $1 billion to $2.47 billion.
Before joining Montréal International, Stéphane Paquet was appointed Québec Delegate General in London for two years.
From 1991 to 2001, he worked as a reporter, copy editor and assignment editor for broadcasting company Radio-Canada. He then switched to print, working at first for the daily Le Soleil in Québec City and then La Presse in Montréal. While at La Presse, he was in charge of the newspaper’s Business section for two years and also coordinated the internship program for young journalists.
He was appointed Deputy Editor and Editor in Chief of Les Affaires Group in September 2010. As such, he was in charge of Les Affaires newspaper, A+ personal finance magazine and LesAffaires.comwebsite in addition to actively participating in strategic discussions concerning the entire Group.
A recipient of a fellowship in the Young Leaders Program of the U.S. State Department, Stéphane Paquet has a Graduate Diploma in World Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master’s degree in Communications from Université du Québec à Montréal. Mr. Paquet was also a lecturer at Université de Montréal and the University of Regina.
Mr. Paquet and his husband are fathers of two children.
Keith Tan assumed the appointment of Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board on 29 October 2018.
From 2014 to 2018, he served as the Deputy Secretary (Policy) in the Ministry of Defence, where he strengthened Singapore’s international defence partnerships, led MINDEF’s longer-term strategic planning and guided MINDEF’s strategic communications and public engagement efforts.
From 2013 to 2014, Keith was Senior Director of the Public Service Division’s PS21 Office, and concurrently held the appointment of Institute Director in the Institute of Governance and Policy at Singapore’s Civil Service College. Keith also served in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) as Director of the Economics and Strategy Division (2008 - 2010) and the Foreign Economic Policy Division (2010 - 2013). From 2010 to 2013, he led Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union, and also served in the negotiating team for the TransPacific Partnership.
Bloom Consulting CEO
Since 2003 Mr. Torres has been advising Countries in the field of Nation Branding and City Branding, working directly with heads of state, directors of National Tourism Organizations and Investment Promotion Agencies.
His clients include Countries, Regions and Cities such as Australia, Costa Rica, Israel, Jamaica, Poland, Sweden, Stockholm and many others spread across all five continents.
Mr. Torres collaborates directly with the World Economic Forum in the matters of Nation Branding and is a guest speaker in some of the most prestigious universities in USA and Europe, such as HARVARD, the London Business School, Stockholm School of Economics and many others, being interviewed by The Economist, BBC, Guardian and CNN.
Since 2011 his company performs a global research project called the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking and most recently the Digital Country Index and the Digital City Index
Daniel Valverde Bagnarello has built a career in marketing for over 20 years. He holds both a Master in Digital Marketing and a Master in Management from IE Business School, a seat in the British School of Costa Rica's Advisor Committee, former Secretary of the Latin American Country Brands Counsel and most recently, pursuing a Ph.D in Communication degree at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
Although he started in advertising, Daniel's career path has led him over the years from a copywriter’s desk at a BBDO network agency, to the commercial director's seat in one of the most successful company holdings in the Central American region devoted to global trade. Along the way he has skilled in the management of multinational marketing teams praising that success in his field lays on two major pillars: The first, embracing data as the main source to spark creative initiatives. And the second, committing to talent development as a KPI.
Currently, Daniel is the Country Brand Director behind "essential COSTA RICA", the country brand that showed the greatest annual growth in America according to the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking 2017/2018, won Place Brand of the Year at the City Nation Place Awards 2019 and received the Branding Award at the Place Marketing Forum 2020 in Marseille. He also leads the country brand's Technical Unit that comprises representatives from Procomer (Costa Rica's TPA), CINDE (IPA), ICT (Tourism Bureau), COMEX (International Trade Bureau), Culture & Youth Bureau and Costa Rica's Chancellery (Foreign Affairs Bureau).
Patrick Hamilton Walsh is an award-winning author and keynote speaker. Working to ensure everyone receives an equal chance in life, he has worked extensively in educating corporations and individuals in the benefits of synergies that derive from a diversified team working toward a collective goal.
Patrick is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden, serving as Head of Talent for the City of Stockholm, advising on European pandemic response leadership, global talent mobility and working to provide solutions to global mega trends.
Patrick spends his spare time backpacking, having travelled to 140 countries across the seven continents building relationships with people of all backgrounds, faith and outlook.
Employed by GainingEdge, Lesley took up the post of Managing Director for the BestCities Global Alliance account in January 2020, having worked as Director, Market Development since July 2017. Before joining GainingEdge and BestCities Lesley was Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh where her key focus has been sourcing and bidding for international and national conferences and events for the city. She led the development of the Convention Bureau - the result of which saw Edinburgh record its highest economic impact of £94.3M in 2015-16 attracting 206 future conferences to the city.
Lesley participates fully in the wider tourism arena, is a past Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter and a huge advocate for legacy and the beyond tourism benefits generated by business events.
Previous experience includes business development for international hotel chains and prestigious caterers and 8 years as Director of Sales at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) playing a key role in taking EICC into operational profit in 2003 through the development of key international and national association and corporate business.
Jonathan Woetzel, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company and Director, McKinsey Global Institute, leads McKinsey Global Institute research on China, Asia, and global economic and business trends. Helps cities and regions create sustainable growth and supports the transformation of Chinese companies into global leaders.
As VISIT FLORIDA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Young leads Florida’s official destination marketing organization in partnership with its Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry.
Throughout her career, Dana has served in leadership positions working to cultivate and protect Florida’s exceptional business climate and a world-class quality of life. Dana served in the Florida House from 2010 through 2016, rising to Majority Leader for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. In 2016, she was elected to the Florida Senate, where she represented parts of western Hillsborough County for two years. Dana was appointed to the VISIT FLORIDA position by Governor Ron DeSantis in January of 2019. In addition to her duties as President and CEO, she is a member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Chairman’s Circle.
Dana is a sixth-generation Floridian and was born and raised in Tallahassee. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida State University and, in pursuit of her interest in law and public policy, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1993, and maintained a robust environmental law practice for many years. In her free time, Dana enjoys spending time in natural Florida and tarpon fishing with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Alexandra and Carson.
Based in Wales in the UK, Caroline works closely with the Simpleview Europe team and her counterparts in the U.S. and South America, developing new business partnerships and sales for Northern Europe. She is passionate about her work, enjoys a global perspective and loves networking with industry colleagues from all around the world.
Caroline has been working in the travel and tourism industry for over 10 years, with experience in online/digital travel, travel media, PMS solutions, LGBT travel, marketing and business consultancy. Including working as a Senior Account Manager at Booking.com heading up the Manchester UK office and North of England AM team.
Since joining Simpleview in March 2019 as part of our European expansion, she has been working closely with our current partners and destinations within Northern Europe to further understand their challenges and work closely to support them in improving their digital and online presence.
Tourism industry visionary David Peacock is the Senior Advisor to the Future Tourism Group @ Simpleview, the global leader in software and services for digital destination marketing.
Peacock followed up two decades of international success as a senior executive in television and electronic media by accepting a challenge to spearhead the creation of a ground breaking tourism development incubator (RTO4.ca) in Ontario, Canada in 2011. He joined Simpleview in January 2020. He has track record in growing and strengthening tourism economies, as well as working with Destinations International and DestinationNEXT,
Peacock describes the Future Tourism Group as a vehicle for industry leaders to prioritize issues and participate in creating and beta-testing tools and processes to address them, with much of the work mirroring strategies he successfully developed for creating sustainable destination management networks, developing channels for distributed marketing and storytelling and strengthening stakeholder competencies.
Trevor Tkach is the President and CEO of Traverse City Tourism, the destination organization for the Grand Traverse region of northern Michigan. Prior to assuming his role at Traverse City Tourism in 2016, he served with the National Cherry Festival for a decade, leading the organization for five of those years. He spent many years in the sports industry and holds a master’s degree in business from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Tkach is a leader in representing the region globally and nationally, telling the story of its businesses, unique assets and agricultural heritage. He is also a tireless advocate for his hometown and the hospitality industry with legislators, media and the local community. He showcases his passion for economic, social, and cultural issues as an active member of many nonprofit organizations. Trevor serves on the boards of the Michigan Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Traverse Connect (formerly the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce), and the TC Boom Boom Club (which organizes the Fourth of July fireworks) and is an active member of his local Rotary club.
Trevor and his wife Trisha love living in their hometown with their three children, Lauren, Camden and Carson.