Preliminary Program

Hong Kong Skyline

Details and lists of speakers for each topic will be added to this program in the coming days. In the meantime, a growing list of our accomplished speakers is available on our main page.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Optional Tours: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Only the Jason Wordie tour should be pre-booked through the symposium’s registration form. RSVPs for the other tours will be collected closer to the time. Please click here to view the tours!

Hong Kong Bankers Club

6:30–7:30 p.m.
Opening Reception

7:30 p.m.
Cocktails and Dinner

  • Keynote Address by Sheila (Lirio) Marcelo ’93, founder and CEO,

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hong Kong Cricket Club

8:00–8:30 a.m.
Continental Breakfast

8:30–8:55 a.m.

9:00–9:20 a.m.
Opening remarks by Maria S. (Corina) Gochoco-Bautista ’78, professor of economics at the University of Philippines and senior economic advisor at the Asian Development Bank

9:20–10:40 a.m.

Women Business Entrepreneurs: Risk vs. Reward

During the past recession, many women chose to start their own businesses instead of looking for a job. Although women have made great strides in the business world, there is no doubt that today’s female entrepreneurs are still up against some major obstacles. Our panel of speakers will share their personal experiences, including successes and failures, in starting and managing their businesses.

The panelists will explore the following topics:

  • Gender differences between successful female and male entrepreneurs. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman entrepreneur?
  • What major hurdles do women face in business? How can they overcome them?
  • Are women culturally more afraid of failure and therefore less likely to take the inherent risks in starting a business?
  • Women face greater obstacles than men when it comes to accessing funding. Only 7% of female backed teams get venture funding. What can women entrepreneurs do to have better access to capital?
  • How can we help young, motivated women understand the importance of building networks and utilizing connections to survive obstacles and become successful business owners?

Moderated by: Su-Mei Thompson, CEO, The Women’s Foundation, Hong Kong


  • Iris Chen ’11, founder, managing director, BMT Art, China
  • Erica Ma, community advisor, CoCoon Incubator, Hong Kong
  • Fiona Marin, CEO and creative director of KOTUR, Hong Kong,
  • Cat Purvis, founder and partner, Exicon Ltd., Hong Kong

10:40–10:50 a.m.

10:50–12:00 p.m.

Social Entrepreneurs: Balancing Passion, Vision, and Leadership

Following in Mary Lyons words “Go forward, attempt great things, accomplish great things”, at some point many of us have thought about how we can make a difference in the world. Our social entrepreneur panel is comprised of women who have either started their own NGOs or work for formidable organizations that in many ways embody Mount Holyoke’s mission to support and enable their constituents to lead lives of thoughtful, effective and purposeful engagement in their communities.

The panelists will explore these topics:

  • How to balance passion with the realities of running an NGO effectively? What are the success factors when a social entrepreneur reaches out to stakeholders (funders, donors, beneficiaries, volunteers) to promote and articulate the organization’s mission?
  • Identify the ways to shorten the learning curve for new social entrepreneurs in overcoming the challenges (i.e. government regulations, fundraising, etc.) when setting up and running NGOs in developing countries.
  • How to determine and set appropriate goals including the size of an organization, the quantitative and qualitative benefits provided and establishing rubrics for measuring success.
  • Are there too many small NGOs operating and competing for funding in similar spaces?
  • How can technology help social entrepreneurs find appropriate business models and partnerships to help them become successful?

Moderated by: Samantha Kriegel, vice president of development and communications, Teach for China


  • Maimuna Ahmad ’09, founder and CEO, Teach for Bangladesh
  • Jennifer Meehan, chair of Grameen Foundation India
  • Vijaya Pastala, ’89 founder and CEO, Under the Mango Tree, India
  • Su-Mei Thompason, CEO, The Women’s Foundation, Hong Kong

12:00–1:15 p.m.

  • Keynote Address by Barbara Cassani ’82, founder, Go Fly; founding chairman, London 2012 Olympic Bid

1:15–2:00 p.m.

2:00–3:15 p.m.

Education Achievement & Entrepreneurial Success: Do They Go Hand-in-Hand?

British billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson and Hong Kong business magnate, Li Ka-shing never went to college, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are all college dropouts, yet all of them manage to create enormously successful global companies. Can we effectively teach entrepreneurship in classrooms? How can we incorporate entrepreneurial education in a lifelong learning process, starting as early as elementary school and progressing through all levels of education?

The panelists will explore the following topics:

  • Are people born with an entrepreneurial spirit or can it be acquired? Are there certain personality traits that we can encourage and enhance in those who aspire to be entrepreneurs?
  • What are the basic skills needed for entrepreneurial success and can teaching them be incorporated into a curriculum?
  • How can we teach teachers to identify and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in students?
  • What would be the recommended career paths for those who possess the entrepreneurial spirit? Are real world mentoring, industry partnerships or incubator programs the answer?

Moderated by: Eva Paus, professor of Economics and Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, Mount Holyoke College


  • Fahima Aziz ’79, vice chancellor of the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh
  • Pascale Fung, professor, Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; founding director of InterACT@HKUST, Hong Kong
  • Frances Wong, chairman of the Board of Governors, Independent Schools Foundation, Hong Kong.
  • Wendy Xa ’93 , founder of Presidio Knolls School, USA

3:15–3:30 p.m.

3:30–5:00 p.m.

Work/Life Balance: Can women have it all?

Cliché as it may be we all have had to manage priorities in our lives whether it is deciding to cancel a vacation to visit a client, stay home with a sick child at the expense of missing a deadline, or put a career on hold to take care of sick, elderly parents.

Our panelists, having graduated between 1978 and 2008, and guided by Lisa Belkin, who has closely observed the struggles that women have had coping with all the stresses in their lives, will discuss their experiences balancing career with personal life.

The panelists will explore the following topics:

  • Is it possible to be an executive and also lead a balanced life? Do we need to redefine our goals?
  • How can we make work/life balance not just a “women’s” problem?
  • Are flexible working arrangements (i.e. part time, job sharing, telecommuting, compressed work hours) viable alternatives to full time work in the Asian context?
  • What are the strategies and factors to consider when deciding to leave a career (“off-ramping”) and rejoining (“on-ramping”) the work force?
  • How to say “no” to your boss when personal or family issues are a priority?

Moderated by: Lisa Belkin, senior national correspondent, Yahoo News


  • Robin (Northup) Conn ’78, career development manager of Asia-Pacific, People Operations (HR), Bloomberg L.P., Singapore
  • Vanessa Fong ’08, university guidance counselor, Victoria Shanghai Academy, Hong Kong
  • Leslie Fu ’97, part-time lecturer at Baptist University and co-organizer of the Mount Holyoke Asian Alumnae Symposium, Hong Kong
  • Sheila Marcelo ’93, founder and CEO,, USA
  • Lynn Pasquerella ‘80, president, Mount Holyoke College, USA

5:00 p.m.
Conclusion and buses back to Pacific Place

China Club

7:00—10:00 p.m.
Gala Evening Cocktails and Dinner

  • Lynn Pasquerella ’80, president of Mount Holyoke College
  • Mary Graham Davis ’65, chair of Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees

Sunday, November 9, 2014

10:30 a.m.
Dim Sum Brunch at Metropole Restaurant

1:00 p.m.
Optional tour to Shau Kei Wan led by local historian and writer, Jason Wordie. Must be pre-booked through the symposium’s registration form. Please click here to view the tour.

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