Speakers

Satomi Sugiyama

Associate professor, Franklin University Switzerland

Satomi Sugiyama (Ph.D. Rutgers University) is associate professor of Communication and Media Studies at Franklin University Switzerland. Her research and teaching interests include communication technology (particularly mobile technology) and interpersonal relationships, culture, and fashion theory. Underneath of these interests is a keen desire for understanding humans. She has been an active researcher and collaborator in her field and has given numerous conference presentations and talks. Her work has appeared in edited books and academic journals including New Media and Society, First Monday, and International Journal of Social Robotics.

Sascha Lötscher

Graphic Designer and Managing Director, Gottschalk+Ash Int'l

Sascha Lötscher is a graphic designer and managing director of Gottschalk+Ash Int’l. He represents the firm’s second generation and is mainly working in the fields of branding and way finding. Over the past five decades, Gottschalk+Ash Int’l has played a leading role in taking Swiss Design out to the wider world. Its key characteristics: honesty, sustainability, masterful craftsmanship, deep and dimensional visual literacy. Sascha works with the conviction that strategic communication is first perceived by the eye, that successful solutions are surprisingly simple, that they are always compelling mentally and visually, and that they are rendered at a human scale.

Patrick Rota

CEO, Swissponic

Patrick Rota is an Electrical Engineer and the founder and CEO of Swissponic, an innovative start-up based in Ticino active in Urban Farming that investigates solutions for more sustainable global food production.

He has worked in several notable establishments over the last 20 years, serving as a electronic engineer, project manager and technical managing director. In 2010 he co-founded his first entrepreneurial venture in the field of home automation. Meanwhile, his never ending curiosity, coupled with many years of personal and professional experiences abroad, brought him to explore the challenges of current food system and possible solutions. He founded his second start-up in 2015.

Over the years, he has been able to make his dream of merging hobby and work in one activity come true.

Noor Odeh

Independent Financial Consultant

Noor Odeh was born in Hamm, Germany and was raised in Amman, Jordan. As a Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) from NACVA, she holds a BA and MA in Economics from Concordia University in Montreal, specializing in Financial Economics and completing her thesis on pricing mortgage backed securities. In 2007, she joined the finance team at a semi-government research company called Interuniversity Research and Analysis On Organisations (CIRANO) in Montreal. Her area of research was analysing the financial crisis.

In 2013, to further enhance her passion of promoting ethical finance, she completed her Islamic finance courses with CIMA and obtained a diploma in Islamic Finance.

In 2013, she joined IDA Ireland and was appointed as the head of Islamic finance, where she assisted in developing the government’s Islamic Finance strategy, and began developing her own vision of establishing an ethical finance institution.

Noor is happily married to Dr. Taleb Barghouthi. They currently reside in Dublin.

Nicoletta Casanova

Founder, FEMTOprint SA

From Technical Director at a Laboratory for Material Testing to young founder of SMARTEC SA (a company active in the field of fiber optic technologies for structural health monitoring) in Lugano, to manager of an international technical company in Paris, Nicoletta Casanova, with her civil engineering degree and her passion for innovation, is a serial entrepreneur always trying to make things differently. After her first successful experience, she decided in 2013 to start putting her energy, enthusiasm and professionalism in the birth and growth of FEMTOprint SA, a Swiss high-tech company in the 3D printing of precise micro-devices out of glass. Her main goals: open new technological horizons in industrial manufacturing and boost innovation in microsystems by providing a means for rapid prototyping. If not at work, you may find her in the air.

Paolo Riva

Founder, Detection Dogs Ticino

Paolo Riva, born in Bellinzona in 1963, has been a journalist with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation in Lugano for twenty-two years and a radio host for Rete Tre. Beyond his reporting, Paolo has been passionate about training dogs his entire life, and has explored the many faces of this world through different roles. As a handler, instructor, judge, and instructor’s instructor, he has been active in many areas of the dog-training community, from dog sport to rescue and general family obedience. Presently, he is the founding member and president of Detection Dogs Ticino, an association devoted to the training of detection dogs for utility purposes. Although he trains many dogs, he is the proud owner of only one loyal companion, a German Hunting Terrier named Hulk.

Federico Soldati

Mentalist

Federico Soldati is a professional artist and television presenter based in Switzerland. He has been astonishing international audiences for over ten years with intriguing and innovative mentalism shows, which he has presented both on television as well as in numerous live events.

Born in Lugano, Switzerland in 1988, he showed great interest in the art of performance even as a child. He was particularly fascinated with juggling, an art which he taught himself and performed within his family and friends circle. Discovered at a party by Matteo Pelli, a Swiss TV presenter, Federico made his first television appearance at the age of nineteen.

His progression as a performer led to him being named host in 2013 of the National Swiss TV (RSI) programme ‘Il Rompiscatole’, broadcast every evening from Monday to Friday on the principal Swiss-Italian network.
In addition to his thriving career as a performer, Federico is pursuing his studies in Law at Lucerne University.

Karin Hehenberger

CEO Lyfebulb

Dr. Karin Hehenberger is an experienced life sciences executive. She founded Lyfebulb in January 2014, with a mission to improve the quality of life for people living with chronic disease. Karin holds M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and conducted her post-doctoral work as a JDRF fellow at the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School. She has held leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson, Eyetech pharmaceuticals and Coronado biosciences, as well as on the investment side of healthcare at both private and public multi-billion dollar funds. She is a Senior Advisor, Biotechnology and Medical Innovation, for the Department of Endocrinology and Surgery at the Karolinska Institute, and sits on the board of the Rolf Luft Diabetes Research Foundation and was previously a board member of the Lighthouse Guild foundation. She is a Swedish citizen, but based in New York City.

Joe DiStefano

Director, Spartan Training

Joe DiStefano is a lifestyle and fitness expert who solves chronic health problems with simple lifestyle adjustments. Over the past five years, he has lectured on coaching, training, nutrition, lifestyle, and obstacle race preparation all over the world, to experts and professionals from over 30 countries. He is currently the Director of Sport at Spartan Race, the world’s leading obstacle racing company. Joe is also the founder of RUNGA, an eight-day retreat in Costa Rica designed to help busy people unplug and unwind.
Joe’s philosophy of health revolves around simple lifestyle changes that anyone can make at any time. His simple method, which he first used to recover from a traumatic brain injury, revolves around the optimization of breathing, movement, and sleep patterns. He has used it to help several thousand clients, and his work has been featured in several print and online publications such as Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Outside, and SELF.
Joe currently lives in Boston, MA.

Pio Wennubst

Assistant Director General, Head of the Global Cooperation Department

Ambassador Pio Wennubst, an agro-economist specialising in systemic approaches by training, has long experience in development diplomacy based on extensive fieldwork in areas such as rural development, microfinance and public health. After a period as managing director of a Swiss chemical company, he moved to the public sector as an academic researcher. He joined the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in 1995, initially posted to Bolivia and subsequently to Madagascar where he was tasked with reorganising SDC activities. After a period as an economist at the SDC’s head office in Bern, in 2004 Pio Wennubst was appointed SDC country director in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He later joined the Swiss permanent mission to the UN in New York as head of the economic and social development team. He currently manages the Global Cooperation Department as assistant director general of the SDC.

Diego Gilardoni

International Advisor

Diego Gilardoni is an intercultural management consultant with over 20 years of experience spanning from media to business consulting in three continents. He is a keynote speaker and specialist of China, where he has lived and worked for a few years. As a cross-cultural business strategist, Diego brings a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective to his consulting that reflects the diverse knowledge acquired in his previous role as a journalist and analyst in Europe and the United States, and the insights of conducting business in China. He is regularly invited by private corporations and business organizations as a corporate speaker to provide executive briefings and keynote speeches. He is an Associate Partner of ITIM International, a global consulting network specialized in intercultural management.