Tech-focused Wharton and Harvard MBAs Attend Misk Conference 2017

ArabNet Team, Nov 07 2017

A diverse group of students from top-ranked US universities will travel to Riyadh next week for the second annual  Misk conference.  The 23-person group will represent Harvard University and The Wharton School, who are sending their first ever delegation to the country. 

Leading the trip is Tala Al Jabri, Tala Al Jabri, who is a Jeddah native who attends both universities and works in impact investing. “My desire to forge stronger ties between Saudi Arabia and the Wharton community has been brewing in my mind for a very long time. I am excited that my goal is finally being realized and to have the opportunity to represent the country to my peers.”

The  Misk conference, now in its second year, is the flagship platform of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  By bringing together top leaders from industry with high-achieving students, the conference aims to address some of the world’s toughest challenges through better use of technology.  World-renowned speakers such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates, a Co-Founder of LinkedIn, a Senior VP at Amazon and the Queen of Jordan will address some 3,000 delegates.  Al Jabri says: “We are very excited to be collaborating with the  Misk Foundation, a pioneer in bridging communities of youth from around the world and in promoting their empowerment.”

Furthermore, the technology-focused conference comes at a pivotal time in the Kingdom’s history as it commits to being a global leader in the sector.  Just last week, Saudi Arabia announced the creation of a $500 billion city where "robots will exceed the number of human beings" and became the first country in the world to grant citizenship to a robot. Al Jabri says: “What's truly amazing is the delegation will experience a Saudi Arabia that is in the midst of transformation and on its way to realizing its 2030 goals.” 

The elite student delegation, who are 50% female, hail from a wide range of backgrounds and geographies. 16 nationalities from across the globe are represented including the US, India, China, Bulgaria, Nigeria and Honduras.  Furthermore, the delegates bring a vast range of professional experiences to the conference, from industries such as finance, education, healthcare, energy and the military.  

One such delegate is British physician Dr. Alastair Blake who plans to work in consulting after graduation.  “The  Misk conference will be a fantastic opportunity to dive deeply into the ways technology can help society improve citizen’s access to high quality, affordable healthcare. Healthcare costs are rising across the globe and the answer to bending the cost curve must lie in fully embracing technology.”

Former investment banker and financier Amy Duffour says: "I am extremely excited about the opportunity to attend the  Misk Global Forum given its pioneering efforts to convene young innovators from around the globe to not only learn from each other, but also the fantastic set of speakers. As someone who is passionate about using clean tech investing to spur sustainable and scalable growth, the MISK Global Forum's verticals (Living, Working, Learning and Contributing) allow us to think thoughtfully and critically about the role we want to play in addressing the world's pressing development challenges."

Fellow classmate Philip Johnston, a Venture Capitalist focused on emerging economies said: "I applied to attend the MGF in order to collaborate with leaders in the impact investing and entrepreneurial finance space. I am particularly looking forward to the panel called 'Fast, Fun and Funky: Collaborating for Innovation' which features Werner Vogels the CTO of Amazon. Also, having worked in the impact investing space means that I am particularly excited to hear from Bill Gates who has been an inspiration to me."

Australian delegate Penny Metchev whose professional background is in fashion retail and consulting says: “The Misk Conference mission to "discover, develop and empower Saudi youth to become active participants in the knowledge economy" is a sentiment that resonates deeply with me. I would like to be part of this cultural and intellectual exchange of ideas, and share my perspectives with the participants. Having grown up in Australia, been educated in the US, and worked in the US, UK, Germany and West Africa I feel I can bring a global perspective to the conversations.  I would be honored to learn from the conference attendees.”

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