The BREE/SCHILDE Summit: Speaker Biographies

The Future Leadership Institute’s* first Future Leadership Summit, or BREE/SCHILDE SUMMIT (the names of the two Belgian municipalities hosting this event) took place on November 3 – 5, 2010. The core of the Summit was a group of 50 elected student leaders from top business schools and universities across Europe, who together with business and political leaders, discussed and explored issues which are crucial to Europe’s leaders of tomorrow. Below are the biographies of some of the distinguished business, academic and political leaders who spoke at the event.

(*Between 2007 and 2011 The Institute was temporarily called The Wall Street Journal Future Leadership Institute.)



Mr De Boeck was the CEO of Fortis from October 2008 – June 2009, ensuring the survival of the bank after the financial markets crisis. This involved three rounds of negotiations with the Belgian and Dutch governments and BNP Paribas, and taking the leadership role in six historic and controversial Shareholder Assemblies. Prior to that, from 2007 – 2008 as Vice Chairman of ABN Amro he was responsible for managing the transition following the purchase of ABN Amro by Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Fortis.

Mr De Boeck previously worked in senior roles at Fortis and General Bank. His long and distinguished career in the banking sector has included being Chairman of the Belgian Banking Association, Member of the European Banking Board and Chairman of the European Financial Management and Marketing Association (EFMA). He is a graduate (summa cum laude) in Civil Engineering Electromechanics from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) in Belgium, where he also completed a Masters Degree in Economics two years later, in 1974. Mr de Boeck currently lives in Knokke, Belgium.



Soumitra Dutta is the Roland Berger Chaired Professor of Business and Technology and the founder and academic director of elab@INSEAD, INSEAD’s initiative in building a center of excellence in teaching and research in the digital economy ( Professor Dutta obtained his Ph.D. in computer science and his M.Sc. in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

His current research is on technology strategy and innovation at both corporate and national policy levels. He is the creator of the Networked Readiness Framework which provides the intellectual basis for the last eight editions of the Global Information Technology Reports (published by the World Economic Forum) which have become a standard reference in national technology policy deployment. He also researches the impact of social media on organizations and societies and has written extensively on this topic including his recent book,  “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom” (Wiley, 2009). His other books include “The Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010: ICT for Sustainability” (World Economic Forum 2010) and “Innovating at the Top” (Palgrave, 2009).

Professor Dutta’s research has been showcased in the international media and he has taught in and consulted with international corporations across the world. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum.



After Charles D.A. Ruffolo met his Dutch wife, Herma, the American soldier exchanged his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Nijeveen in the Dutch province of Drenthe. He served and retired after 20 years from the military and is a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy and served as a Battalion Sergeant Major.  He earned his MPA/MBA degree in his free time in the military and fine-tuned his natural talent for linking (networking) common interests.

Ruffolo is an International Speaker, Author, Publisher and Trainer that has spoken in ten countries, presents over 150 times each year and has expanded The NetworKing concept into China, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, USA, Belgium, EU/EC and the Netherlands.  Charles’ Networks extension to all levels within the society, from Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of The United States; Sir Richard Branson (Virgin); Stedman Graham (Partner of Oprah Winfrey); Vice President Al Gore to the young person still being polished to be the next leader of his/her network.  Charles has written a book on Networking – “Network Your Way to Success” and has created a NetworKing card game called the “Ruffle Shuffle“.  Charles and Herma have been married for thirty (30) years.  NetworKing is not WHO you know that counts, but WHO KNOWS YOU!



Julie Meyer is one of the leading champions for entrepreneurship in Europe. With over 20 years investment and advisory experience helping start-up businesses, she is the well known founder and CEO of Ariadne Capital, founder of Entrepreneur Country, co-founder of First Tuesday, dragon on BBC’s Online Dragons Den and weekly columnist in London’s City A.M.

Through these intertwining roles of entrepreneur, advisor, investor and industry commentator, Julie has set her mission to build a growth story for the UK and Europe. This passion and entrepreneurial flair has earned her awards as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, World Economic Forum Global Leader of Tomorrow and a place in the Wall Street Journal’s Top 30 Most Influential Women in Europe.

American by birth and European in spirit, Julie has added a flourishing media career to her business commitments, recently joining BBC’s Online Dragon’s Den. In addition to her weekly column for London’sCity A.M. and regular contributions to Business Week, Computing, FT Digital Business, Spectator Business, Julie is also a regular industry commentator on the BBC and CNBC.

Most recently Julie founded Entrepreneur Country. Managed by Ariadne Capital, Entrepreneur Country is a dedicated community for leading and emerging entrepreneurs, investors, the media and corporate partners who service the start-up industry across the UK and Europe.

From 1998 to 1999, Julie was part of the team at NewMedia Investors, which became early stage investment firm SPARK Ventures in October 1999. During this time she took her first steps in the entrepreneurial arena founding First Tuesday, the largest global network of entrepreneurs, which many credit for igniting the Internet generation in Europe. It was sold for $50million in cash and shares in July 2000.

As a personal project, Julie is also currently setting up an association for teenage girls to help them find their unique contribution to the world and create a virtuous circle of investment in women.



Walter De Brouwer (°1957) is a Belgian internet entrepreneur who was involved in the creation of several companies, two of which became successful IPOs. He has an MA in linguistics from the University of Ghent, a PhD in Semiotics from Tilburg University and is doing a second PhD in Economics which aims to use financial engineering to phase out development aid. Walter is an entrepreneur in residence of the Center for Entrepreneurial Learning (Judge Business School) of the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom).

At present he is the CEO of OLPC Europe, the European branch of Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child located at the campus of Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication in Belgium.

In 1996 Walter was one of the founders of PING (Eunet), the commercial company of the European Unix Users Group which was acquired by Qwest Communications International and of Jobscape which went public as Stepstone on both the London Stock Exchange and the Oslo Bors.

From 1996-2001, Walter was a sponsor of the MIT Media Lab, and sat on the programming board of Nicholas Negroponte’s Digital Life project. Inspired by Negroponte’s work, he set up the ‘Fundamental Research’ laboratory Starlab which competed with Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s Interval Research Corporation and Xerox Parc, specializing in Blue Sky (Deep Future) research on BANG, Bits-Atoms-Neurons-Genes.

In 2003, Walter became a director of the Tau Zero Foundation, formerly known as NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program and the founder of Fork Capital, a banking company in Brussels.

Walter is a founding member of TEDGlobal (Oxford), TEDActive (Palm Springs) and is the curator of TEDxBrussels.



Araz Najarian is a Programme Manager at Executive Learning Partnership and in this role she is responsible for designing, delivering and facilitating projects and workshops enabling the development of next generation leadership in a number of organizations ranging from financial services, transport & logistics, telecommunications, and consumer goods. Araz’s work at ELP in particular focuses on uncovering the ambition and the readiness of the people in organizations to achieve higher performance in a connected and complex world, by becoming more connected and collaborative.

Araz is passionate about realizing change and transformation in the corporate and non-corporate sector. She spent 6 years in the non-corporate sector connected to youth leadership development, global talent supply programs and international development programs. Prior to this she was responsible for delivering a program for the World Bank aimed at training 200 government officials from 65 countries and worked on several policy initiatives with the Government of Canada connected to innovation.

Araz has worked with teams in over 30 countries, primarily in Latin America and in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. She graduated with High Honours from Carleton University, located in Ottawa, Canada, and holds a degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management specialized in International Relations.



Annette Wassenaar is an Associate Partner of Executive Learning Partnership since autumn 2010 and responsible for the syndicated services of the company.

Annette has extensive experience in developing and managing media, event and community activities on an international level. For over 10 years she lived and worked in Russia where she launched her own B2B publishing house, Impress Media, at age 27. Over the years she developed her company into a multi-media business with almost 200 employees and a network of activities and partners all over Russia, in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, China, Germany, France, England and other countries. After Annette and her partners sold the company to Trader Media East (listed on the LSE and part of Hurriyet Media Group) in 2007 she stayed in the position of CEO for a few more years. After Impress Media, Annette worked as an independent media consultant in Russia; among her clients was Wolters Kluwer. Prior to Impress Media, Annette worked as a publisher at Wolga Media Moscow, Russia.

Annette started her career as a consultant, first at SEO (University of Amsterdam) and later at NEI/Ecorys and was involved in projects of privately-owned companies, semi-government organizations and projects of the Dutch Government, European Union, EBRD, World Bank, and others.

Annette has a Master of Arts in Economics (University of Amsterdam) and Master of Arts in Business Economics (University of Groningen) and studied Business Administration in Helsinki, Finland, during a student exchange program.



Berend Jan Hilberts is an associate partner of Executive Learning Partnership (ELP) and practice head of The Connected Company. This new practice helps leaders to understand how leadership styles, structure, cultural values and strategy need to evolve for organizations to reap the benefits of operating in a more complex and connected world.

Berend Jan is an experienced strategist who has helped companies develop strategy and new growth initiatives, both as internal and external boardroom adviser. He believes in leveraging the knowledge and expertise present in the client to ‘in-source’ the strategic conversation. He has experienced – both as a client and as an advisor – how much more engaged and committed leadership teams are when creating the strategy themselves, and how much better the implementation results are because of the shared ownership of the strategy.

Earlier in his career, he had a longstanding “love affair” with his first employer, VNU, in various line management and strategy functions, during which period he spent two stints for a total of 8 years in VNU’s New York office. During this period, he was closely involved in the transition of VNU from a European publisher to a Global Marketing Information player through acquisitions of ACNielsen and other assets, and he worked across both the publishing and the market research businesses. More recently, he was instrumental in building a strategy competence center for TMG (Telegraaf Media Group) and in developing a growth strategy matching the company’s international aspirations at that time.

Berend Jan is married and proud dad of two wonderful boys. He is hooked on playing cricket and running (half) marathons. He holds a Master Degree in Business Economics of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and during his career at VNU was selected for various leadership development programmes which included several executive education programmes at Ashridge Business School, UK.

Berend Jan is an accredited practitioner of Cognitive Edge, and member of the Cognitive Edge Network, a cohesive network of experienced professionals, with interest in rejuvenating management practices to better equip organisations when addressing intractable problems or seizing new opportunities in uncertain and complex situations, leveraging Cognitive Edge techniques to do so.



Jan Willem Kirpestein is an associate partner with Executive Learning Partnership, specialized in executive coaching and leadership development. He works as a trusted advisor and a coach with top-executives and directors of multinational organizations and families.

Because leadership development is more than focusing on competences alone, Jan Willem balances a scientific approach and rational analyses with people’s personal intuitive, valuing and sensing functions. In his approach Jan Willem creates a safe and secure environment, in which executives and teams can better understand the interpersonal barriers that hinder transformation and change and find ways to reframe them in collaborating opportunities.

Jan Willem’s recent projects include drafting and facilitating a top 100 authentic leadership transformation programme with GTI South, helping Scania Benelux and Scania Western-Southern European Region to improve the mutual understanding between international MT members, advising the management team of Nationale Nederlanden Zakelijk, to handle a complicated structure and business challenge by building up mutual trust, transparency and resilience, and advising pension fund ‘Zorg en Welzijn’ and PGGM on an incubator project on the future of pensions.

In 2000, together with Herman Wijffels, Jan Willem founded the Encounter of Worldviews Foundation, a NGO that served for several years as an international laboratory that successfully experimented in new approaches of leadership development for the future. Following the global financial crisis in 2008, Jan Willem initiated a series of catalyst workshops around shaping a sustainable financial future and life with leading people in the financial world such as Antoinette Hunziker former chair of the Swiss Stockmarket and the CEO of Forma Futura. His efforts have resulted in the start up of a foundation of an international tribe of consultants for sustainable change.

Jan Willem studied theology and cultural and political history. He qualified in Jungian psychology and leadership development with Ian Player in South Africa and Robert A. Johnson in San Diego. Prior to these studies, he finished the preparatory class of the Utrecht conservatory. Music is still his great hobby. In 1993 he obtained a PhD from the Free University of Amsterdam.



Jaak Gabriels has been Minister of State for Belgium since 2004 and has been Mayor of Bree since 1977, the town in which he was born. He was a Member of the Belgian Parliament from 1997 to 1995 and has been both Vice-President and President of the Flemish political party Volksunie. He was founding member of the VLD (Flemish Liberals and Democrats) and has been a Member of the Flemish Parliament since 1995. Jaak was Federal Minister of Agriculture and Small Enterprises from 1999 to 2001 and Flemish Minister of Economy, Foreign Policy & Trade and Housing from 2001 to 2003. He is a member of the board of two companies: Gemeentelijke Holding and Tessenderlo Chemicals.

Jaak has a degree in philosophy and history from the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven. Before his political career he was a teacher at high schools in Neerpelt and Overpelt. He is the author of a book Ruimte voor Ambitie groeistrategie voor ondernemend Vlaaderen (Room for Ambition. Growth strategy for Entrepreneurial Flanders) (2003 Van Halewijck).



Mandeep Rai is representing the MBA Oath Project which began at Harvard Business School and London Business School – the two universities she attended during her MBA. There are three strong themes running throughout Mandeep’s career:

Business – Before business school, Mandeep was employed by the Soveriegn Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi to start the first Media Venture Capital Fund, she is involved in numerous entrepreneurial ventures herself, and she began her career at JP Morgan, in Private Banking.

Development – After her MSc in Development Economics at the London School of Economics Mandeep worked for the United Nations (in NY), the European Commission (in Brussels) and Grassroots NGOs (in Uganda – HIV Aids Memory Project, India – Sutra and LA – Creative Visions).

Media – Mandeep has travelled to over 80 different countries reporting and producing for the BBC World Service (Radio), Reuters (TV) and PBS.



Frans Goetghebeur worked as a roman languages teacher in secondary education for many years. He has been associated with the Buddhist institutes in Schoten, Brussels, Huy (Belgium) and Cadzand (The Netherlands) for more than thirty years. He was the president of the Buddhist Union of Belgium (BUB) for 10 years. On 27 September 2008, he was elected president of the European Buddhist Union (EBU) with a mandate of three years.

Frans Goetghebeur is a founder member of various interreligious organisations and an esteemed speaker on topics such as the acculturation of Buddhism in the West, and the status of spiritualism in our society. His goal is to stimulate ecumenical and multi-faith philosophical dialogue within the various schools of Buddhism and also between spiritual traditions, science and ideology.

He has collaborated on numerous publications related to multi-cultural education, pacifism, and Buddhist philosophy and has been the author of six books published in French and Dutch.



Maj. Gen. Mark O. Schissler is the Director, Plans, Programs and Analyses, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. General Schissler was commissioned through Officer Training School and completed undergraduate navigator training in 1981. He served as an instructor, evaluator, chief navigator, executive officer and operations officer. His commands include an airlift squadron, group and wing, as well as two expeditionary air wings.

General Schissler was selected for a National Security Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He has held assignments on the Air Staff and Joint Staff, including duty as the assistant executive officer to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The general is a master navigator with more than 3,500 hours in the C-130, including over 500 hours in combat theater operations











Thomas Friis Konst is a real European with a mixed Scandinavian and Dutch background. After a solid academic education in International Affairs and Law and service in the Royal Guards of H M King Olav 5th, he focused his professional life on European Affairs. He now has 25 years experience, of which nearly 20 have been in Brussels at management level; he was Vice-President of West Sweden for 5 years and Head of the Mission of the Stockholm Region for a period of nearly 10 years, which included Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Warsaw.

Parallel to this he was the EU representative for the Norwegian Environmental Northern Seas (ENS) in Brussels as well as being in charge of the UBC Brussels Antenna – Union of Baltic Cities, Gdansk in Poland. Based on this solid knowledge from local and regional authorities in approximately 40 countries on four continents he has given more than 1,600 thematic European Affairs presentations.

His ongoing PhD research within European Integration concerning regional representations in Brussels is helped by giving lectures at several universities over the years. His commitment has resulted in more than 50 external publications in different languages.

A major part of his knowledge is related to his participation in more than 50 EU projects within the EU Framework programs, like INFO VILLE, CENTURI 21, ENREC, R4R, BIS RTD and POWER.

Thomas is the Vice-President of EREF – European Regional Economic Forum in Brussels and Nova Gorica in Slovenia. He is a board member of, among others, the Anders Gustav Memorial Fund in Solna, Sweden, The M-O Foundation in Wassenaar, The Netherlands and the Maren Bugge-Konst Initiative in Oslo, Norway for socio-cultural charity, and he is also active in geo-political networks in several countries.







Michele Trickey is the President of AIESEC United States, Inc., the United States chapter of the world’s largest youth-run association. Her work supports youth leadership development in the 110 countries and territories of the AIESEC network through AIESEC’s unique combination of international internships, team-based leadership experiences, and a global learning environment. During Michele’s tenure as President, AIESEC United States has grown its partnership with such firms as DHL, Sony Ericsson, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and other recognized industry leaders, making it possible for aspiring young leaders from other countries to experience the business culture of the United States. Michele’s team has also supported the growth of AIESEC’s Salaam exchange program, which develops connections between students in United States and Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Michele received her bachelor’s degree in physics, summa cum laude, from Yale University in May 2010. As a student, she conducted research on the dynamics of rainfall over coastal Chile and Ecuador as part of a broader project in sustainable wetland management. Her experience with large volumes of complicated weather data led to her interest in information management and business intelligence in an increasingly digitized world. Michele speaks English, Spanish, as well as passable Russian and MATLAB. In her free time she reads, creates messes in the kitchen, and tries to keep up her Shotokan karate.



Hugo Pereira, 25, is the current President of AIESEC International. Present in over 110 countries and territories, more than 1700 universities and holding a membership base of 50,000 students and recent graduates, AIESEC is the worldʼs largest youth run organisation.  Hugo currently manages AIESECʼs global operations and strategy at the head office, based out of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. His responsibilities include managing a 20-person international team, development of strategy, coaching and supporting the leaders of the national offices, overseeing operations and further developing the new midterm vision for AIESEC in 2015.

Hugo comes from Portugal and thoroughly enjoys travelling and understanding global business trends; he has had the opportunity to visit over 25 countries. As part of global teams for the past 3 years, Hugo has had the incredible opportunity of working with 17 different nationalities. He is known for his experience in strategic development, organisational management, operations and product development, change management and leadership development.  His ambition in life is to be a successful entrepreneur and innovator based out of Portugal; making  a difference to his country by bringing a mentality of achievement and cooperation very much  needed for the economical and wealth growth and stability of the country. He intends to take up graduate-level studies upon the completion of his time with AIESEC to work towards this goal.



Gunnar Riebs began his working life as a teacher in his native town of Aarschot, Belgium. Later he became a Director of the Center Joseph Cardijn in Antwerp and is currently Honorary Consul to the Slovak Republic, a Judge in Social Affairs at the Labour Court of Appeal and an Honorary Judge in Commercial Affairs at the Commercial Court of Antwerp.

Outside of his other duties, Gunnar is a Delegate of the Institución de Mérito Humanitario (Spain), Vice Delegate of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (Italy) and a Member of the Royal Institute for International Relations. He is a writer, having published several works of poetry and biographies of Pope John XXIII, Prince Charles of Belgium and of the Belgian composer Jan De Middeleer.

Gunnar has received the following honors: Knight Officer in the Order of the Crown (B), Knight Commander in the Order of St. Sylvester (VA), Knight in the Order of Merit (PL), Knight in the Order of “Les Palmes Académiques” (F) and Knight “Pro Merito Melitensi” of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta (SMOM).


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