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Speakers & Panelists

Paul Anderson

University Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies & Assistant Director, Centre of Islamic Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

Dr Paul Anderson is the Prince Alwaleed Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, the Assistant Director of the University’s Prince Alwaleed Centre of Islamic Studies, and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. Dr Anderson is a social anthropologist interested in the articulation of economic, moral and religious life. His research has a particular focus on Islam, value, moral personhood and the sociality of trade.

He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Syria and China, and is currently part of an ERC-funded research project studying the global trade in low-grade Chinese commodities. He is also working on a monograph of Aleppo as a trading city before the outbreak of the current conflict in Syria. At the University of Cambridge, he teaches courses and supervises research on the anthropology of the Middle East, and the anthropology of Islam.

Cinzia Bianco

Gulf Research Fellow
European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin

Cinzia Bianco is a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in Berlin, where she is working on political, security and economic developments in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf region and relations with Europe. Additionally, she is a senior analyst at Gulf State Analytics. Previously, Bianco was a research fellow for the European Commission's project on EU-GCC relations 'Sharaka' between 2013 and 2014.

She holds an MA degree in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies from King's College London and a PhD in Middle East Politics from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, where she worked on threat perceptions in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) after the 2011 Arab uprisings.

Ma Bin

Researcher and Associate Professor
St Antony´s College, University of Oxford

Dr. Ma Bin is a researcher and an associate professor at St Antony´s College at the University of Oxford. He is an associate professor at the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University in China. He got his PhD from Fudan University and was the visiting scholar at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University (USA) from 2013 to 2014. His studies focus on Sino-Russian relations, Great Power Relations in Central Asia, transition and development issues etc., and especially on Belt and Road Initiative, China Railway Express and Infrastructure Connectivity between China and Europe in recent years.

Dr. Ma has published two books, US Foreign Assistance to Central Asia in the post-Cold War Era (2015), Risks of China’s Investment Along the region of Belt and Road (2016). He is working on his third book with the topic of “The Operating Model of China Railway Express and its Impact on BRI”. He also published many academic articles and reports in Chinese and English in the past several years.

Arne Elias Corneliussen

Founder and Director of Global Geopolitical Analysis

Arne Elias Corneliussen is the founder and director of global geopolitical analysis in NRCI. He formed NRCI in 2010. He received his bachelor of arts in political science from Wittenberg University in Ohio in 1998. He studied at the American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt in 1996. He then returned to the US where he mapped Islamic terrorist movements from Morocco to the Philippines at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C in 1998. He lived in Santiago, Chile in 1999 where he examined South America´s political situation, economic development, drug cartels in Colombia and strategic relations between South America, North America and Europe. During the late 1990s he attended a range of conferences in Washington, D.C., New York City, London and Cairo. He completed a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in New York in 2000. He worked as an officer for the Norwegian Armed Forces during NATO’s operation in Kosovo from 2001 until 2002. Since 2002 he held different roles in the corporate sector in Norway including sales, international business development and recruitment services. Arne Elias Corneliussen is a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Mr. Corneliussen regularly conducts long fact-finding expeditions where he maps political, security and business risks, infrastructure, local conditions and expands NRCI’s global network with local contacts. He travelled on 10 fact-finding expeditions to 42 countries in Africa and he crossed 27 countries on the African continent by bus. His recent field trips include Central Asia, Central Africa and East Africa. In the fall of 2017 he travelled on an expedition by train, bus and shared taxis from Shanghai across China, Central Asia and the Caucasus to Istanbul to map infrastructure developments, logistical clusters and the geopolitical landscape along the One Belt One Road – the New Silk Road developed by China.

Arne Elias Corneliussen also serves as the conference director for Norwegian Risk Forum – NRCI’s annual international conference in Oslo focusing on geopolitical risks and international business opportunities. His strategic and systematic approach to define topics for each Norwegian Risk Forum involves field insights from his fact-finding expeditions; conversations with NRCI’s global advisory board members and leading analysts worldwide; and observing national policymaking and regional growth trends in emerging markets. During his fact-finding expeditions he developed relations with world-leading scholars and analysts whom he also invited to Norwegian Risk Forum usually the following year as speakers. He also developed a wide range of partnerships with organizations, think tanks and other institutions.

Faisal Devji

Professor of Indian History and Director of the Asian Studies Centre
St Antony´s College, University of Oxford

Dr Faisal Devji is Professor of Indian History and Director of the Asian Studies Centre at St Antony´s College at the University of Oxford.

Dr Faisal Devji held faculty positions at the New School in New York, Yale University and the University of Chicago, from where he also received his PhD in Intellectual History. Devji was Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University, and Head of Graduate Studies at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, from where he directed post-graduate courses in the Near East and Central Asia.

He is a Fellow at New York University’s Institute of Public Knowledge and Yves Otramane Chair at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. He authored several books among them, The Impossible India: Gandhi and the Temptation of Violence.

Dr. Devji travelled widely in East Africa and South Asia and he is interested in Indian political thought and followed Indian politics closely for many years, and while he teaches at the University of Oxford, he travels regularly to India.

Sergio Guzmán

Colombia Risk Analysis, Bogotá

Sergio Guzmán is the Director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consultancy. He provides business intelligence, security and political risk analysis for the Andean region. His expertise is in the Colombian conflict, the resolution of international conflicts and international development. He is a columnist for the Bogotá Post and Latin America Reports where he provides analysis to understand the evolution of the political and security context of Colombia and the region. Sergio also contributes articles and analysis in America’s Quarterly and Business Insider.

Before founding Colombia Risk Analysis, Sergio was the analyst for Colombia, Bolivia, and Suriname at Control Risks where he was an international consultant in political and security risks. Prior to that, Sergio worked in the microfinance industry for Accion International, where he was part of a team of global specialists promoting fair lending practices and standards in a project called The Smart Campaign. Sergio also has experience working for the US Congress and regional think tanks, such as the Inter-American Dialogue and the Institute for Policy Studies, both located in Washington DC.

Sergio holds a Master's degree in International Economics and International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor in International Relations and History from the George Washington University. His native language is Spanish, he is fluent in English and is proficient in Portuguese. Sergio has spoken at numerous regional and international conferences on issues of political economy, finance, consumer protection, anti-corruption, and international relations.

Barrie Harrop

Executive Chairman
Thrive Construct, Adelaide

Barrie Harrop, based in Adelaide, South Australia, worked as an entrepreneur since the 1970s mainly in major scale property development. He was a guest lecturer on several occasions at the University of Adelaide in the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Design during thine 1970’s and 1980’s. His early career began at Australia’s prestigious department store David Jones where he was taught the old way of merchandising, meeting customers’ demands by creating merchandising methods and systems used worldwide today. This grounding set the principles for initial involvement in some successful Australian brands such as Wendy’s Supa Sundaes and R M Williams, an iconic Australian boots and saddle maker, into mainstream retail. From here he entered the world of property and property development, with a number of medium density residential projects, with Australia’s largest marina development and recycling of the Central Business District (CBD) in Melbourne and transformed its heritage buildings into shopping malls and the first Food Court concept which was replicated many times nationally in Australia and throughout the World.

Barrie Harrop is a visionary with an understanding of market needs, putting professional teams together, successful marketing strategies, researching markets and finding the right partners for major urban and regional projects. His relationships are built on trust, sound skills in communication, sensitivity of place to create lasting sustainable communities where people feel a ‘sense of place’.

Currently Barrie is about to embark on a large Infrastructure and Urban projects plan across Australia with international partners, whom are the world’s largest engineering group with an initial budget at AUD 150bn (approx. 100bn USD), the single largest investment in Australia’s history.

Over the years Barrie provided high level advice to Federal/State Governments throughout Australia. Barrie travelled widely and established a wide network of contacts throughout Australia, USA, Europe, China and Japan.

Constance Omawumi Kola-awal

Environmental & Social Risk Manager
Africa Finance Corporation, Lagos

Dr Constance Omawumi Kola-Lawal is Environmental & Social Risk Manager at Africa Finance Corporation. She has, for the past 15 years, focused on Safety and Environmental Management, with an emphasis on HSE Auditing, Environmental Business Management, HSE Management Systems, Safety Training and Risk Assessment. After completing a Masters Degree in Environmental Technology at the Imperial College London, she held the position of HOD, Safety & Environment Unit, Phillips Consulting Limited Nigeria, organizing the offering of consulting and training services to clients.

Dr Kola-Lawal set up a consulting firm in 2004, HSE Technologies, which offered Health, Safety and Environment Consulting, Training and Product-based services to over 40 organisations in the Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Telecoms and Services sectors in Nigeria.

Dr Kola-Lawal wrote a regular column on Safety Management for the Financial Standard Newspapers for 2 years, and was a columnist for the NEXT Newspapers Nigeria and Business World Newspapers Nigeria. Constance is the author of several books including “On The Road To Safety”, a collection of articles on safety management, “Safety & Me” a series of children’s books on safety and environment, “Workplace Safety – All You Need to Know”, a safety pocketbook for employees, and “Pride of Nigeria”, a series of children’s books on Nigerian social studies.

Dr Kola-Lawal was recently awarded a PhD degree from the University of Salford, England. She conducted research on the impact of environmental management systems’ on corporate performance. Her research interests include environmental management, EMSs, business sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Abakhon Sultonazarov

Regional Director, Central Asia at Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting, Bishkek

Abakhon Sultonazarov is in charge of overall management, strategic planning, financial reporting, project delivery and human resources across the broad Central Asian region. He came to IWPR with 15 years’ management experience with the UN and other international organisations in Central Asia, Afghanistan and USA.

He has extensive experience of working with international donors such as USAID, EU and others. During his ten years at IWPR in Central Asia, he was able to form a strong organization in the region with a solid reputation. Abakhon is an expert in the field of regional politics in Central Asia.

Michael Willis

HM King Mohammed VI Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies, The Middle East Centre
St Antony´s College, University of Oxford

Dr Michael J. Willis is King Mohammed VI Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies. His research interests focus on the politics, modern history and international relations of the central Maghreb states (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco). Before joining St Antony’s in 2004, he taught politics at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco for seven years. Dr Willis has extensive media experence, including live interviews for major TV and radio networks (BBC, Sky, CNN, RFI, France 24).

He is the author of Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2012) and The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History (Ithaca and New York University Press, 1997) and co-editor of Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2015).

He is the current Director of the MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and was Director of the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s 2011-2014.