Claudette McGowan

Country Showcase

Claudette McGowan

Global Executive Officer, TD Bank

Claudette McGowan is a global information technology leader with more than 20 years of success leading digital transformations, optimizing infrastructure and designing new approaches that improve service and cybersecurity experiences. She has worked in the technology industry for several organizations such as Deloitte, Metropolitan Police Services, North York General Hospital, Bank of Montreal and TD Bank.

Claudette completed her studies in Canada and holds a bachelor of arts and a master of business administration along with certificates in artificial intelligence, IT management, project management and smart buildings.

Over the past few years, Toronto Life recognized Claudette as one of the city’s Top 50 Most Influential Torontonians, Digital Finance Institute honoured her as one of the Top 50 Canadian Women in FinTech, IT World Canada named her as Top 20 Canadian Women in Cybersecurity, and the Women’s Executive Network recognized her as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.

In 2022, Claudette received the DMZ Women of the Year Award and NACO named her as a Nation Builder of the Year in Canada.

Claudette is an active member of the Canadian innovation ecosystem. She is the chair of the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), a group of senior business leaders committed to fighting systemic racism within the innovation economy. McGowan recently co-led the launch of Phoenix Fire & The Firehood, a multi-million dollar women-focused angel fund and network for women in technology.

Her commitment to community is evidenced by her multiple board seats for leading organizations such as MaRS Discovery District, SickKids Hospital Foundation, Black North, CILAR, Elevate and First Book Canada.

Tim Blackman

Asa Briggs Lecture

Prof. Tim Blackman

Vice-Chancellor, The Open University, United Kingdom

Professor Tim Blackman joined The Open University as Vice-Chancellor in October 2019.

Tim has held senior positions at several universities, including a prior appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Quality at The Open University, and social sciences Deanships at Teesside University and Oxford Brookes University. Most recently, he served as Vice-Chancellor at Middlesex University.

After graduating from Durham University, he spent time as a community worker in Belfast, before returning to hold positions including the Head of the School of Applied Social Sciences, Director of the Wolfson Research Institute and the Dean of the University’s campus in Stockton-on-Tees.

Tim is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Royal Society of Arts and has held advisory and board appointments throughout his career, including serving as an assessor for Social Policy and Social Work in the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise. He has also co-founded charitable enterprises such as Community Technical Aid and the Oxford Dementia Centre.

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Dr. Rolph Payet

Keynote address for the sub-theme, Building Resilience

Dr. Rolph Payet

Executive Secretary, Secretariet of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Dr. Rolph Payet, former minister for environment and energy, Seychelles, has been the executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions since 6 October 2014. Payet has a doctorate in environmental science, degrees at master level in integrated coastal zone management, business administration (MBA) and applied environmental economics, and an honours degree in biochemistry.

In addition to having been the Seychelles’ chief negotiator for the Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Payet also established important multi-stakeholder platforms, such as the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and co-chaired the International Coral Reef Initiative. He was lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third and Fourth Assessments and was elected as Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) in 2007, in recognition of his contributions to marine research.

He established the first university in Seychelles in 2009 (UniSey), served as its vice-chancellor for several years, and also co-developed UniSey’s first bachelor degree in environment sciences. He also holds an associate professorship at the University of Linnaeus in Sweden.

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Olaf Zawacki-Richter

Keynote address for the sub-theme, Fostering Lifelong Learning

Professor Olaf Zawacki-Richter

Professor of Educational Technology, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, and Director of the Center for Open Education Research (COER), Institute of Education, University of Oldenburg

Olaf Zawacki-Richter is a professor of educational technology at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. He is the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences and Director of the Center for Open Education Research (COER). Olaf has over 25 years of professional experience in the field of open, distance, and digital education. He has also served as a consultant and advisor, including work for the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag, and the German Science and Humanities Council (Wissenschaftsrat).

Dr. Zawacki-Richter has authored over 150 journal articles and edited several books, including “Online Distance Education – Towards a Research Agenda”, “Systematic Reviews in Educational Research”, “Open and Distance Education in Australia, Europe and the Americas: National Perspectives in a Digital Age”(Vol. 1), and “Open and Distance Education in Asia, Africa and the Middle East: National Perspectives in a Digital Age” (Vol. 2) – all published open access. He is an Associate Editor of the “Online Learning Journal” (OLJ) and “Distance Education”, and a member of the editorial board of the “International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning” (IRRODL), “Open Learning” and the “The Journal for Higher Education Development” (Austria).

His publications are available on ResearchGate and GoogleScholar.

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Mohammed Rezwan

Keynote address for the sub-theme, Inspiring Innovations 

Mr. Mohammed Rezwan

Founder and Executive Director, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, Bangladesh

Mohammed Rezwan, the founding executive director of Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, invented a “floating school” to ensure access to year-round and quality education in flood-prone regions. Drawing on his architectural expertise, he designs spaces on boats that successfully accommodate the need for a school, library, and training center. He developed, expanded, and sustained a “floating education system” over 20 years. Rezwan’s vision inspires local and global communities to build resilience through simple and creative approaches as the world contemplates a changing relationship with the water.

The floating school design was exhibited at the “Design with the other 90%” exhibition, organized by Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States. Also, it was showcased at the “Bengal Stream” architectural exhibitions in Switzerland, France, and Germany from 2017 to 2019. Rezwan was featured in Forbes, New York Times, Washington Post, The Independent, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and Asahi Shimbun. Also, he was the protagonist of the award-winning film, Easy Like Water, produced by the Sundance Documentary Institute. Rezwan and his floating school have been included in the school textbooks of primary and secondary classrooms worldwide, including Heinemann Fountas Pinnell Literacy’s ‘A Floating School’ book.

Rezwan is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his ideas and endeavors, including the Curry Stone Design Prize 2017 and the Sri Sathya Sai Awards for Human Excellence 2016. He was identified as an Earth Hero in the ‘Earth Heroes’ book published in the U.K. in 2019. Also, he was recognized as a ‘Climate Rebel’ in the book ‘Climate Rebels,’ published by Penguin Random House. He was elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in 2014.

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha provides a flexible and thoughtful solution to the ongoing challenges exacerbated by climate change. As the world contemplates a changing relationship with the water, Rezwan’s vision inspires local and global communities to build resilience through simple and creative approaches. Today there are 700 floating schools around the world.

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Keynote address for sub-theme, Promoting Equity and Inclusion

Buti Manamela

Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, South Africa (to be confirmed)

Mr. Buti Manamela is the Deputy Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation. His previous portfolio was Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Training, and before that, he served as Deputy Minister in the Presidency: Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, Youth Development and Administration. 

Deputy Minister Manamela has been a Member of Parliament since 2009, serving as Whip of the Labour Portfolio Committee, and as Chief Volunteer for Parliament’s Nelson Mandela Day activities. 

He is a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP). He served as the National Secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa from 2003 until 2014, and has also served in various roles in the ANC Youth League, South African Students Congress (SASCO) and other student organisations. Deputy Minister Manamela also worked as organiser for trade union SACCAWU in 2001. 

Deputy Minister Manamela completed his Matric in Phagameng High School and went on to study towards his N-Certificate in Electronics at Mamelodi College until 2001; and completed his Post-Graduate Diploma (2014) and Master of Management in Public Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand (2017). 

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Carrie Anton

Master of Ceremonies

Carrie Anton

Accessibility Services Coordinator, Athabasca University

Carrie Anton is a passionate advocate for persons with disabilities. She is the coordinator of Accessibility Services at Athabasca University and a gold medal Paralympic athlete. Carrie has worked in assistive technology for over 30 years, is a published researcher, and is a very active volunteer on a variety of boards collaborating to positively impact society. 

She is the current chair of the Accessible Standards Canada Technical Standards Committee for the Built Environment. Carrie is legally blind. She loves to help people embrace all kinds of technology and understand the need for accessibility.  

Carrie brings meaningful content and educational take aways to your summit or corporate event. She is dynamic and engaging and pushes us all toward Excellence.