Speaker's Bio

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox (INSEAD MBA‘84D)

Chief Executive Officer


20-first works with progressive companies interested in diversifying their leadership teams and optimising both halves of the talent pool and both halves of the market – the female and male halves. Avivah and a network of international experts work with CEOs, executive committees and managers to build 21st century gender ‘bilingual’ organisations. The firm’s renowned Bilingual Leadership programmes for Executive give managers the understanding they need to unlock the people and market opportunities that gender balance unleashes. The advisory services render a range of services allowing for systemic and sustainable change, including corporate gender diagnostic, strategic gender initiatives design, reviewing attraction and retention policies, reviewing marketing to women approaches, opinion polling and surveys.

Avivah is Publisher of the new, global gender portal www.WOMEN-omics.com and co-author of “Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution,” Wiley & Sons, January 2008 www.WhyWomenMeanBusiness.com which recently won France’s coveted Prix Qualité Performance. She is the Founder and Honorary President of the European Professional Women’s Network (www.EuropeanPWN.net) one of Europe’s largest such networks. She is a certified executive coach and spent several years as a Visiting Coach at INSEAD.  She has spoken on leadership and gender issues across Europe and the world and has had articles, reviews and interviews published in publications such as the International Herald Tribune, the Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times. She began her career as a computer programmer. Canadian, French and Swiss, Avivah has a BA from the University of Toronto, an MBA from INSEAD and completed the Women’s Leadership Program at Harvard. In 2007, ELLE Magazine recognised her as one of the TOP 40 Women Leading Change. More on www.AvivahWittenbergCox.com

Piyush Gupta

Chief Executive Officer

South East Asia Pacific

Citibank N.A.

Piyush Gupta is the recently appointed CEO for Citi in the South East Asia Pacific region. In this role, Mr Gupta is responsible for all of Citi’s businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Guam and the ASEAN countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.

Prior to this appointment, Piyush was the Citi Country Officer (CCO) of Singapore as well as the Head of Citi’s Institutional Clients Group in ASEAN.

Mr. Gupta began his career with Citibank in India in 1982. Over the years, he has held various senior management roles across Citi’s corporate and consumer banking businesses, including Chief of Staff for Asia Pacific Corporate Bank, Head of Strategic Planning for Emerging Markets and Regional Director for Global Transaction Services for Asia Pacific.

From 1998 to 2000, he was CCO and Markets & Banking Head for Indonesia, where he also served as a member of the Indonesian Government’s Debt Restructuring Committee as well as Chairman of the Foreign Banks’ Association. From 2002 to 2007, he was CCO in Malaysia, with business responsibility for the Markets and Banking and the Consumer business.

In addition to his current business responsibilities, Mr. Gupta serves as the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the US-ASEAN Business Council and as a Board member of the Global Indian Foundation and the Singapore American Chamber of Commerce. He is also on the boards of several Citigroup entities, including serving as Chairman of Citibank Singapore Ltd, the consumer business in Singapore.

Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi

Global Vice President for Diversity


Rhodora calls herself a hyphenated person, referring not only to her name but to the connections in her life.

Her life and career are diversity personified. She has lived and worked in Asia, North America and Europe. Her educational background started with a Bachelor degree in Mass Communications, Magna Cum Laude, and a Master in Management Degree, with Distinction, from the Asian Institute of Management. These were complemented by graduate courses in linguistics, communications research, accounting and finance.

Her professional career is also multi-faceted. She has been a teacher, accountant, financial controller, independent consultant, and director of finance and operations for a training firm before she joined Unilever where she has been since 1994.

Her career is marked by several firsts. She became the first Filipina board member of the then 75-year Unilever Philippines when she became HR Director, and the first woman to head the London office of Unilever's East Asia Pacific and China business groups. Thereafter, she continued to work in the Corporate Centre in varied global roles, which included, VP Management Development and as the first Global Vice President for Diversity. In the latter role, she was the first and the most senior Asian woman in Unilever working with the Board and the Executive Committee. For all these, she was externally recognized as one of the top Asian Women of Achievement in the UK in 2005.

Subsequent to her work in diversity, Rhodora became the regional head of the HR Expertise team in Asia Africa Middle East and Turkey, covering Talent, Learning and Organizational Effectiveness. Thereafter she became Unilever’s Vice President Communications, Brand and CSR for the same region, leading teams across 43 countries. Today, Rhodora returns to her favorite role: Global Vice President Diversity, working on the next level strategy with the Group CEO, Group CHRO and the Global Diversity Board. In this current role, she sets a new way of working, by doing a global role from Singapore.

Rhodora’s passion and commitment is in the development of people and communities. She sees herself now as moving from hyphenated to synergized, combining all her past experience, skills and capabilities “to help people and communities find their own voice, and thus create possibilities for themselves and others.” This she does as an international business leader and executive coach.

While her professional career and contributions are worth noting, Rhodora takes the most pride in her family, husband Jojo Fresnedi, two teenage daughters and a son. She says that for her, what counts as her biggest achievement to date is that “my teenage daughters say they like me!”

Christina Pantin
Editor for South East Asia and Pacific
Reuters Asia

Christina's first journalism job was in 1987 with Reuters in its New York office, where she learned to cover corporate news in the “pit", which was the hub of real-time headlines on financial results, mergers and other news of significance to investors. Over the next seven years, she covered the stock market, Wall Street firms and the fund management industry.

A year in Dallas coincided with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, and Christina participated in the on-the-scene coverage as well as the tracking and arrests of the suspects.

In Malaysia, where she was deputy bureau chief in 1995, Christina reconnected with her Kuala Lumpur roots, arriving just in time for a devaluation in the ringgit, imposition of capital controls by the Mahathir government and the beginnings of the ouster of a scandal tainted Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

As the Singapore-based equities Editor in Charge overseeing Asia's company news coverage, Christina's four years in 1998 began with the currency crisis triggered by a fall in the Thai baht that rippled into economies and stock markets throughout the region.

In 2003, Christina took a hiatus from equities specialization to head Reuters Hanoi bureau, where she spent 2-1/2 years tracking Communist government powerbroking, human rights controversies and landmarks in diplomacy including the first U.S. war ship port call since the end of the Vietnam War.

She arrived in Bangalore in late 2004 to head the equities team formed to provide coverage of U.S. company news. The team of 70 reports on more than 4,000 U.S. companies, covers investment research on U.S., European, Canadian and Middle Eastern firms and produces enterprise stories on stock movements, executive interviews and exclusive conference call coverage.

In her current job, Christina oversees 160 journalists and editors in the diverse South East Asia region as well as Australia and New Zealand. She is the main liaison for editorial with the region’s business divisions.

Gary Tiernan

Global Head of Investment Advisory & Fiduciary
Managing Director

Standard Chartered Bank Private Bank

Now based in Singapore, Gary has over 23 years experience in financial markets, both in Investment Banking and Private Banking. He has held a number of management roles over that time.

Previously he was Asia Head of Investments and Sales for Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. Before moving to Asia in 2004, Gary was Head of Product Management and Investment Solutions for Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in Switzerland. He started his career with Morgan Grenfell Securities in London and later managed proprietary trading activities in Nat West Securities and ABN Amro Hoare Govett.

Gary was born in Ireland and has a BA in Economics, Accounting and Financial Management from Sheffield University, UK.

Claudia Zeisberger

Professor of Decision Sciences

Program Director, Center for Decision Making and

Risk Analysis (CDMRA)

Claudia Zeisberger is an INSEAD Professor of Decision Sciences and Program Director of the Center for Decision Making and Risk Analysis (CDMRA), a center of excellence based on INSEAD’s Asia campus. Claudia is concurrently a Director for Singapore based Fund Management & Research Company, Volatility Research & Trading Pte Ltd.

At INSEAD, she teaches in the MBA programme as well as in multiple Executive Education programs for financial institutions and corporate clients both in Singapore & in Fontainebleau. (Private Equity, Hedge Funds & Risk Management)

Throughout her 13 years in Asia, she has worked with clients in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan & Dubai in the areas of Integrated Risk Management, Structured Products, Private Wealth Management & Portfolio Construction.
She continues to advise selected financial institutions, family offices and regulators from Asia & the Middle East, focusing on Market Dynamics, Risk Management and Alternative Investment related issues.

Claudia has lived and worked in more than ten countries and continues to teach throughout Asia.
She brings to her teaching solid insights into the best practices of the global financial markets through her time in Derivatives trading, structuring and institutional sales, working for international financial institutions (Deutsche Bank, Berisford Capital Markets Group (BCMG) and Dresdner Bank) in New York, London, Frankfurt, Tokyo & Singapore.

She is a founding committee member of the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) in Singapore.
Her hobbies include martial arts and she is a passionate Polo Player.


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