Advisory Council

Robert Price  //  Professor & Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, UC Berkeley, Advisory Council Chair

Robert PriceRobert Price is Professor of Political Science and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley. His research and teaching fields include comparative politics and African affairs, with a special emphasis on South Africa. He is the author of Society and Bureaucracy in Contemporary Ghana (1975), U.S. Foreign Policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa: National Interest and Global Strategy (1979), The Apartheid Regime: Political Power and Racial Domination (co-editor, 1980), and The Apartheid State in Crisis (1991), as well as a variety of journal articles and book chapters dealing with the new African state, U.S. foreign policy towards Africa, and political change in South Africa.
Robert Price

Robert Price

Professor & Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, UC Berkeley

Robert Price is Professor of Political Science and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley. His research and teaching fields include comparative politics and African affairs, with a special emphasis on South Africa. He is the author of Society and Bureaucracy in Contemporary Ghana (1975), U.S. Foreign Policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa: National Interest and Global Strategy (1979), The Apartheid Regime: Political Power and Racial Domination (co-editor, 1980), and The Apartheid State in Crisis (1991), as well as a variety of journal articles and book chapters dealing with the new African state, U.S. foreign policy towards Africa, and political change in South Africa.

Advisory Council Members

Richard Lyons   //   Chief Innovation Officer and Former Dean of the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

Rich Lyons is a Professor of Economics and Finance at the Haas School of Business, where he served as dean from 2008 to 2018 and acting dean from 2004 to 2005. In January 2020, he became the first Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer for the University of California, Berkeley. In his new role, Lyons oversees development of the campus-wide ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship, including patenting and technology licensing.

As dean of the Haas School, Lyons led a sweeping culture initiative that drove the school’s historic strengths more deeply into admissions and other critical processes with a set of four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. He oversaw the development of Connie & Kevin Chou Hall—a new academic building funded entirely by alumni and friends—as well as attracting eight of the 10 largest gifts in school history.

Lyons’ research and teaching are mostly in international finance, though his more recent work explores how business leadership drives innovation and the importance of culture in shaping organizations. From 2006 to 2008, he took a leave from Berkeley to serve as Goldman Sachs’ Chief Learning Officer, focusing on leadership development for managing directors. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1993, he was an assistant professor at Columbia Business School. He received his BS in finance from Berkeley and PhD in economics from MIT.

Ossama Hassanein   //   Chairman, Rising Tide Funds

Ossama HassaneinDr. Ossama Hassanein is an entrepreneur, mentor, and venture capitalist. Over the last 37 years, he has managed $1 billion of international technology funds in diverse leadership roles including Executive Vice-President of Berkeley International in San Francisco, Chairman of Technocom Ventures in Paris, President of Newbridge Networks Holding in Ottawa, and Chairman of the Rising Tide Fund in Silicon Valley. He was chairman or co-founder of seven leading-edge digital communication startups in the US, UK, Switzerland, and France. Combined market value of investments today exceeds $200 billion.

He currently serves on the boards of Bank of the West in San Francisco, Quanergy Systems in Silicon Valley, and the MBR Innovation Fund in Dubai. He is a charter member of the C-100 and former chairman of TechWadi, both Silicon-Valley based associations dedicated to mentoring and financing Canadian and MENA entrepreneurs.

Dr. Hassanein is President Cabinet member of the University of British Columbia, where he also serves on the Board of Advisors of the School of Applied Science and the Personalized Medicine Initiative. He is the Willard Brown Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo School of Business. He lectured at Stanford University, the University of San Diego, University of Santa Clara and U.C. Berkeley.

Ossama Hassanein

Ossama Hassanein

Founder and CEO, Aramex

Dr. Ossama Hassanein is an entrepreneur, mentor, and venture capitalist. Over the last 30 years, he has managed $1 billion of international technology funds in diverse leadership roles including Chairman of Technocom Ventures in Paris, President of Newbridge Networks Holding in Ottawa, and Chairman of the Rising Tide Fund in Silicon Valley. He was chairman or co-founder of seven leading-edge digital communication startups in the US, UK, Switzerland, and France whose combined market value at exit exceeded $2 billion. He currently serves on the board of Bank of the West in San Francisco, was the former chairman of TechWadi, and is a charter member of the C-100, both Silicon-Valley based associations dedicated to mentoring and financing MENA entrepreneurs.

Dr. Hassanein is the Willard Brown Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo School of Business. He lectured at Stanford University, the University of San Diego, University of Santa Clara and U.C. Berkeley.

Josette Sheeran   //   President and CEO, Asia Society

Josette SheeranJosette Sheeran is the seventh president and CEO of Asia Society. In the position, she is responsible for leading and advancing the organization’s work throughout the U.S. and Asia, and across its disciplines of arts and culture, policy and business, and education. Former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum, Josette helped advance global initiatives, and global, regional, and industry agendas such as Grow Africa, and she recently served at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Fisher Fellow in the Future of Diplomacy. In 2011, Forbes named her the World’s 30th Most Powerful Woman; Foreign Policy has listed Josette among its Top 100 Women on Twitter; and her TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times. Prior to her tenure at the World Economic Forum, Josette was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006. As the Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, Josette led new State Department initiatives, which supported economic transformation and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Central Asia with APEC and ASEAN. Josette is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and she has served on its Washington Advisory Board.
Josette Sheeran

Josette Sheeran

President and CEO, Asia Society

Josette Sheeran is the seventh president and CEO of Asia Society. In the position, she is responsible for leading and advancing the organization’s work throughout the U.S. and Asia, and across its disciplines of arts and culture, policy and business, and education. Former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum, Josette helped advance global initiatives, and global, regional, and industry agendas such as Grow Africa, and she recently served at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Fisher Fellow in the Future of Diplomacy. In 2011, Forbes named her the World’s 30th Most Powerful Woman; Foreign Policy has listed Josette among its Top 100 Women on Twitter; and her TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times. Prior to her tenure at the World Economic Forum, Josette was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006. As the Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, Josette led new State Department initiatives, which supported economic transformation and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Central Asia with APEC and ASEAN. Josette is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and she has served on its Washington Advisory Board.

Hashem Pesaran   //   Director, USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking

Hashem PesaranHashem Pesaran is the John Elliot Distinguished Chair in Economics at the University of Southern California, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He also holds Directorships of USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking, and the Centre for Applied Financial Economics at USC. Previously, he was head of the Economic Research Department of the Central Bank of Iran and the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Iran. He has also been a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Applied Econometrics Program at UCLA, and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Vienna. He was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Salford, the University of Goethe, Frankfurt, Maastricht University, and University of Economics in Prague. He is the recipient of the 1992 Royal Economic Society Prize for the best article published in The Economic Journal for the years 1990 and 1991, the joint recipient of the Econometric Reviews Best Paper Award 2002-2004, and the joint recipient of the Best Paper Award 2004-2005 in the International Journal of Forecasting. Dr Pesaran was the founding editor of the Journal of Applied Econometrics (1986-2014), and is a co-developer of Microfit, an econometric software package published by Oxford University Press. He was named one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014” by Thomson Reuters in 2014. He has over 200 publications published in leading scientific journals and edited volumes in the areas of econometrics, empirical finance and macroeconomics and the Iranian economy. He is an expert in the economics of oil and the middle-east and his research has been cited almost 66K times according to Google Scholar. He holds a PhD degree in economics from Cambridge University. He is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Applied Econometrics (IAAE). His latest book publication is Time Series and Panel Data Econometrics, 2015, Oxford University Press.
Hashem Pesaran

Hashem Pesaran

Director, USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking

Hashem Pesaran is the John Elliot Distinguished Chair in Economics at the University of Southern California, Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He also holds Directorships of USC Dornsife Institute for New Economic Thinking, and the Centre for Applied Financial Economics at USC. Previously, he was head of the Economic Research Department of the Central Bank of Iran and the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Iran. He has also been a Professor of Economics and the Director of the Applied Econometrics Program at UCLA, and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Vienna. He was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Salford, the University of Goethe, Frankfurt, Maastricht University, and University of Economics in Prague. He is the recipient of the 1992 Royal Economic Society Prize for the best article published in The Economic Journal for the years 1990 and 1991, the joint recipient of the Econometric Reviews Best Paper Award 2002-2004, and the joint recipient of the Best Paper Award 2004-2005 in the International Journal of Forecasting. Dr Pesaran was the founding editor of the Journal of Applied Econometrics (1986-2014), and is a co-developer of Microfit, an econometric software package published by Oxford University Press. He was named one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014” by Thomson Reuters in 2014. He has over 200 publications published in leading scientific journals and edited volumes in the areas of econometrics, empirical finance and macroeconomics and the Iranian economy. He is an expert in the economics of oil and the middle-east and his research has been cited almost 66K times according to Google Scholar. He holds a PhD degree in economics from Cambridge University. He is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Association for Applied Econometrics (IAAE). His latest book publication is Time Series and Panel Data Econometrics, 2015, Oxford University Press.

Mehdi Zarghamee   //   Former Chancellor, Sharif University of Technology; Founder, Isfahan University of Technology; Senior Principal, Simpson, Gumpertz, and Hager

Mehdi Shaghagi ZarghameeDr. Mehdi Shaghagi Zarghamee is a former chancellor of Aryamehr University of Technology (currently Sharif University of Technology) in Iran, former professor at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, and founder of the Isfahan University of Technology. He currently works as Senior Principal in the Division of Engineering Mechanics and Infrastructure of Simpson, Gumper, and Heger, Inc. He was the principal investigator for the structural modeling of the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Center Towers for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Zarghamee has forty-five years of consulting, academic, and management experience. His experience includes analysis and design of complex structures and mechanical systems, investigation including condition assessment, failure risk analysis of structures and infrastructures and repair, rehabilitation, and asset management of deteriorated infrastructures. His expertise also includes wind and earthquake engineering.

Mehdi Zarghamee

Mehdi Zarghamee

Former Chancellor, Sharif University of Technology; Founder, Isfahan University of Technology; Senior Principal, Simpson, Gumpertz, and Hager

Dr. Mehdi Shaghagi Zarghamee is a former chancellor of Aryamehr University of Technology (currently Sharif University of Technology) in Iran, former professor at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, and founder of the Isfahan University of Technology. He currently works as Senior Principal in the Division of Engineering Mechanics and Infrastructure of Simpson, Gumper, and Heger, Inc. He was the principal investigator for the structural modeling of the 0/11 collapse of the World Trade Center Towers for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Zarghamee has forty-five years of consulting, academic, and management experience. His experience includes analysis and design of complex structures and mechanical systems, investigation including condition assessment, failure risk analysis of structures and infrastructures and repair, rehabilitation, and asset management of deteriorated infrastructures. His expertise also includes wind and earthquake engineering.

Shane Tedjarati   //   President of Global High Growth Regions, Honeywell

Shane TedjaratiShane Tedjarati is responsible for driving Honeywell’s business expansion in High Growth Regions of the world: Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Tedjarati has been instrumental in engineering Honeywell’s success story, starting in China and India, and expanding globally to the High Growth Regions of the world where today Honeywell drives the majority of its growth. Before coming to Honeywell, Tedjarati accumulated more than 20 years of consulting experience in various industries. He was the regional managing director for Deloitte Consulting (Greater China), where he worked with Chinese stated-owned enterprises and multi-national corporations to help them formulate and execute strategies for sustainable growth in China and abroad. Tedjarati is a Henry Crown Fellow of Aspen Institute and also the co-founder of its Middle East Leadership Initiative and China Fellowship Program; special advisor to Chongqing and Wuhan Mayors; and industry Co-chair of the dual master’s degree program by MIT and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He is a frequent guest lecturer on a broad range of topics related to globalization. Tedjarati is an avid aviator. He has lived in China for more than 20 years and speaks six languages.
Shane Tedjarati

Shane Tedjarati

President of Global High Growth Regions, Honeywell

Shane Tedjarati is responsible for driving Honeywell’s business expansion in High Growth Regions of the world: Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Tedjarati has been instrumental in engineering Honeywell’s success story, starting in China and India, and expanding globally to the High Growth Regions of the world where today Honeywell drives the majority of its growth. Before coming to Honeywell, Tedjarati accumulated more than 20 years of consulting experience in various industries. He was the regional managing director for Deloitte Consulting (Greater China), where he worked with Chinese stated-owned enterprises and multi-national corporations to help them formulate and execute strategies for sustainable growth in China and abroad. Tedjarati is a Henry Crown Fellow of Aspen Institute and also the co-founder of its Middle East Leadership Initiative and China Fellowship Program; special advisor to Chongqing and Wuhan Mayors; and industry Co-chair of the dual master’s degree program by MIT and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He is a frequent guest lecturer on a broad range of topics related to globalization. Tedjarati is an avid aviator. He has lived in China for more than 20 years and speaks six languages.

Fadi Ghandour  //  Founder and CEO, Aramex

Fadi GhandourFadi Ghandour is a Jordanian entrepreneur who co-founded Aramex in 1982 and has served as its CEO since. He is a Founding Partner of Maktoob.com, the world’s largest Arab online community, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 2010. Ghandour is also a member of the Board of Abraaj Capital, the largest private equity firm in the Middle East and South Asia, is a Founding Board Member of Endeavor Jordan, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut. Between 2003 and 2006, he was the Middle East and North Africa Area Chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Ghandour is passionate about supporting entrepreneurship in the Arab world and is an active angel investor focusing on start-ups in the Middle East and North African countries.

John Sfakianakis  //  Managing Director JCH & Partners

Dr. John Sfakianakis is a Manager Director with JCH & Partners, an emerging markets specialist firm focusing on private market opportunities across various sectors including financal services, energy and infrastructure in developing economies. He is also an international Fellow at the Saïd Business, University of Oxford and the chief economist and head of research of the Gulf Research Center in Riyadh. He also serves as an Associate Fellow at Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) and at the Royal United Services Institure (RUSI), London.

He was the Middle East Director for Ashmore Group. At Ashmore he served as a member of the Investment Committee and a board member of the firm’s funds in Saudi Arabia, regulated by the Capital Market Authority (CMA). He was the Chief Investment Strategist of MASIC, one of the oldest family offices in Saudi Arabia, where he served as a member of its Investment Committee and helped draft its first charter. Previously he was the Chief Economist of Credit Agricole C.I.B. for the Middle East, Chief Economist and Group General Manager of Banque Saudi Fransi, Group Chief Economist of HSBC/Saudi British Bank and Chief Regional Economist of Samba Financial Group (ex-Citi Saudi Arabia).

He was educated at the LSE, Harvard and the University of London.

Nick Watson  //  Former Senior British Diplomat, Middle East

Nick is a former senior British diplomat who served in a range of Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. More recently, Nick spent nine years as a partner at Hakluyt, a network-based advisory business, including three years in Tokyo working with leading Japanese companies and three years running the firm’s Middle East business. Nick’s current interests are based around the development, structuring and leveraging of professional networks, and include a start-up focused on technology innovation and its protection, and an advisory and coaching business. Nick is a graduate of the University of Oxford and among other non-executive roles sits on the Council of the University of Sussex, its governing body.

Assilah Al Harthy  //  Founder and CEO, Group 6 LLC

Assilah Z. Al Harthy is the Founder and CEO of Group 6 LLC, a Capital Management firm in Oman. Group 6 focuses primarily on Equity placement investment, and has partnered with international companies in the oil & gas and media domains to expand their footprint and market share in Oman and the region. Assilah has had almost 20 years of experience at the senior corporate executive level with a demonstrable track record of achievement. She is a member of the Board of the Oman Oil Marketing Company and the Mjan Electricity Distribution Company. In 2006, she was chosen as one of the 50 most powerful women in the Arab World by Forbes Magazine. In 2008 and 2010, she was designated among the 20 most powerful women in Oman by the Oman economic Review, and in 2012 and 2013 she was voted as one of the most influential 500 Arabs and one of the 100 most powerful Arab women. Assilah was also selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and played a leading role in securing the “Sultan of Oman Professorship of International Relations” at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. She has degrees from the London Business School, INSEAD, and the Harvard Business School.

AnnaLee Saxenian  //  Dean, UC Berkeley’s School of Information

AnnaLee Saxenian is professor and dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Information and has a joint faculty appointment with the Department of City and Regional Planning. Her latest book, The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy (Harvard University Press, 2006) explores how and why immigrant engineers from Silicon Valley are transferring their technology entrepreneurship to emerging regions in their home countries—Taiwan, Israel, China and India in particular—and launching companies far from established centers of skill and technology. The “brain drain,” she argues, has now become “brain circulation” — a powerful economic force for the development of formerly peripheral regions that is sparking profound transformations in the global economy. Saxenian is also author of the widely acclaimed Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (Harvard University Press, 1994). Other publications include Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs (Public Policy Institute of California, 1999), and Local and Global Networks of Immigrant Professionals in Silicon Valley (PPIC, 2002). She holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, a master’s in regional planning from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. in economics from Williams College.

Sharif El Badawi   //   Partner, 500 Startups

Sharif El BadawiSharif is a serial entrepreneur and technology executive, who currently serves as a partner to VCs and startups at Google, In his role, he works with top tier VCs and their most promising startups on a ‘One Google’ approach. Over the last five years, he was the Head of Performance Solutions Activation team where he was responsible for the commercialization of Google’s performance advertising products and solutions which cover Mobile, Search and Display. In his role, he focused on helping the world’s largest advertisers reach their marketing objectives, and worked with Google’s product and engineering teams to provide guidance on the needs of marketers. Prior to this role, Sharif was focused exclusively on mobile and helped clients plan and execute best-in-class mobile strategies. He joined Google as part of the company’s acquisition of AdMob, the world’s largest mobile ad network, where he co-founded their performance sales team and pioneered their mobile syndication product. Before AdMob, Sharif founded or co-founded several start-ups in consumer Internet, social, video and mobile.

Sharif is passionate about helping people and has more than eighteen years of experience in product, marketing, sales and operational functions. He has advised hundreds of companies on their digital go-to-market strategies, and is an active angel investor, advisor and mentor to several start-ups. Sharif currently lives in the Bay Area with his wife and three children. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and Philosophy from UCLA and an MBA from UC Irvine’s Merage School of Business.

Soulaiman Itani   //   Founder and CEO, Atheer

soulaiman-itaniSoulaiman works at Google, and is the board member and advisor for multiple high tech companies. He started Atheer, Inc, and built it into one of the leaders in the AR space. In the process, he developed the award-winning products and the Machine Learning technology that went into making them successful, signed multi-million dollar deals with F500 companies, and built a world class team.

Before that, as a postdoc at UC Berkeley and through his PhD at MIT, Soulaiman worked on Machine Learning for cancer research and treatments, Brain-Machine control for exoskeletons, creating microclimates through controlling the structure of the environment, and control systems for drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Soulaiman Itani

Soulaiman Itani

Founder and CEO, Atheer

Soulaiman works at Google, and is the board member and advisor for multiple high tech companies. He started Atheer, Inc, and built it into one of the leaders in the AR space. In the process, he developed the award-winning products and the Machine Learning technology that went into making them successful, signed multi-million dollar deals with F500 companies, and built a world class team.

Before that, as a postdoc at UC Berkeley and through his PhD at MIT, Soulaiman worked on Machine Learning for cancer research and treatments, Brain-Machine control for exoskeletons, creating microclimates through controlling the structure of the environment, and control systems for drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Allen Collinsworth   //   President, Fara Group

Allen CollinsworthAllen Collinsworth is a Fellow in the EastWest Institute’s Worldwide Security Initiative. He is the President and Founder of Fara Group, Inc., a frontier project management organization employing Turkey’s manufacturing base and human resources to projects in the Middle East and Central Asia. He also hosts Corridor39, a television program on geopolitical trends shaping this region’s economic development. Collinsworth is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, and received his MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MSc from the London School of Economics.
Allen Collinsworth

Allen Collinsworth

President, Fara Group

Allen Collinsworth is a Fellow in the EastWest Institute’s Worldwide Security Initiative. He is the President and Founder of Fara Group, Inc., a frontier project management organization employing Turkey’s manufacturing base and human resources to projects in the Middle East and Central Asia. He also hosts Corridor39, a television program on geopolitical trends shaping this region’s economic development. Collinsworth is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, and received his MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MSc from the London School of Economics.

Sara Ahmadian   //   Co-founder, The Laundry

Sara Ahmadian is an entrepreneur with expertise mentoring start-up founders, raising venture capital, and founding companies: honing and growing her unique vision over a decade-plus career in Silicon Valley. Sara approaches business with an engineer’s mentality, mixes it with real-world insights, and has a knack for encouraging founders to achieve their true potential.

Sara specializes in building new startup ecosystem in emerging markets and is a Venture Advisor throughout the Middle East and Latin America. She is a seasoned speaker on the global conference circuit, and is regularly a government delegate invited to consult on nascent start-up ecosystems in the US and abroad. Beside tech companies, she co-founded The Laundry, an incubator for immersive experiences which supports entrepreneurs and artists.

Sara has been recognized as prominent and influential entrepreneur by US Obama Administration and Google for Entrepreneurs.

Sara holds a B.S. in Math applied in Computer Science, an M.S. in Information System Engineering and a Master of Business Administration.