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Celebrating our friends in Shanghai places


UNSW’s global alumni community gathered at The Langham Shanghai Xintiandi on June 15 for a one-day Summit to embrace world-wide collaboration.

More than 300 alumni attended the 2019 Shanghai Alumni Summit: Our Global Future, a dynamic one-day conference revealing how experts in the UNSW community are embracing international collaboration to tackle burgeoning global issues.

As well as those based in our host city of Shanghai, delegates joined us from across the globe including Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, the UK, the US and Australia to grow their networks and insights.

“In the 70th anniversary year for both UNSW and the People’s Republic of China, UNSW was delighted to bring this Summit to Shanghai,” says Jane Miller, UNSW’s Senior Director, Alumni & Engagement.

“It’s fantastic to have had this opportunity to engage with our alumni based in China and around the world, and hear from some of the University’s inspiring thought leaders as they have led us in conversation about the importance of a global future.”

With a program tailored around the future of education, employment, economies, cities and environment, alumni heard from a number of global thought leaders on how they are spearheading new approaches to our global future.

The addition of roundtable activities and Q&A sessions saw attendees converse with UNSW Deans, Pro Vice-Chancellors and leading academics to explore some of the world's grandest challenges.

The next generation of global leadership

The day began with an opening address from Katrina Harrigan, Shanghai’s Acting Consul General for Australia followed by a warm welcome from UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Jacobs. This was followed by a presentation from global power couple Melissa Ran and Adam Brimo, sharing their insights around what it means to be next generation of global leaders, and the importance of international experiences for personal and professional growth.

As two people who launched successful startups, helped disrupt industries, and became global influencers all before the age of 30, UNSW alumni couple Melissa Ran (BCom LLB '10, MCom '12) and Adam Brimo (BA BE '11) are a force to be reckoned with.

With Melissa growing up in Chengdu and Adam hailing from the US, both credited their success to a global mindset, with strong experience across in international markets and cultures, and as leading facilitators of cross-country collaboration.

Dr Vincent Lo (HonDBus ’13), founder and Chairman of the Shui On Group and crucial supporter of the Shanghai Summit, engaged delegates with his keynote address around the challenges of an ever-evolving international landscape.

A highly respected business leader with much experience with transnational operations, Dr Lo unpacked how a truly global future must factor in the growing prevalence of new technologies, the complexities of trade agreements, and the inevitable downturns in our financial markets.

The future of cities and the environment

Professor Helen Lochhead, Dean of UNSW Built Environment, led a panel discussion on the grand challenges associated with rapid urbanisation, as the UN predicts that 60% of the world’s population will be city dwellers by 2020.

Panellists with expertise in architecture, development, policy and artificial intelligence discussed the challenges around people, technology and planet if cities are to undergo wise and well-considered expansion.

After lunch, UNSW Science Dean Professor Emma Johnston AO led a panel discussion about the future of energy, water and climate, and what action is needed on a global scale to ‘keep the lights on’.

With expert panellists from across engineering, science, climate and engineering, the session provoked much discussion about the environment and the risks of not taking immediate action to protect our world.

Future of work and entrepreneurship

Ending the day on a high note was a session led by Jennifer Zanich, Head of Ecosystems and Partnerships for UNSW Entrepreneurship, who explored how UNSW is supporting alumni in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Joining Jennifer were four UNSW alumni entrepreneurs who shared their startup journey as part of a panel led Tash Jamieson, Manager of the UNSW Global Founders Program – the international arm of the University’s flagship entrepreneurship program. The panel considered challenges for the future of work, and how a shift towards commercialising our own ideas and inventiveness is fuelling the emergence of global startup ecosystems.

The Summit concluded with a closing address from Shelley Su, UNSW graduate (BCom '12, MRM '14) and Pricing Director, American Express. As the formal proceedings wrapped up, alumni enjoyed a cocktail reception to unwind from the day, network with fellow alumni and reconnect with their peers.