January 11, 2018


This Years Speakers 2018:


Renowned Self Mastery Mentor, Mindset Trainer, International Bestselling Author and Award Winning Speaker, Mahima was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. At the young age of 22 she had already worked as a top model, manager of a modeling agency and as a fashion buyer for a prestigious fashion house. She left Africa after her divorce and her life took an unexpected detour to India, where she found herself profoundly moved by a deep personal breakthrough. It was there that after just one session of meditation mindfulness-guided practice that she was able to stop feeling confused and emotionally drained.

After that experience, Mahima become passionate about self realization and self mastery and went on for the next 5 years to study intensively under the powerful guidance of Harilal Poonja a happiness coach and personal growth guru.

Today Mahima has done over 10,000 hours of meditation practice and has helped transform the lives of thousands of people, with her unique creations, “the inner peace formula” and “Own your Superstar Mentorship Program”.

Mahima will be talking about how important it is going to be to upgrade what we learn in schools. As we fast-forward with such speed, human beings will need to find a way to move with more awareness about what makes us human, and what we need to stay powerful and grounded.


Shawn Jensen

Shawn Jensen is the founder & CEO of Profila, a startup that aims to introduce solutions that enable individuals to harness and control their data and privacy online. He is the Switzerland co-chair for the International Association of Privacy Professionals, an organization that drives privacy awareness in enterprise. Shawn’s mission is to ethically and securely enable personal data management: an important point of contention in today’s increasingly digitized world. Shawn will discuss the many dynamics of digitization that already exist in our society, and what needs to change for us to be better prepared for the future; believing a paradigm shift is needed regarding how we own, manage, and control our digital personas.


Martin Benjamin 

Martin Benjamin was raised in the rural American state of Vermont. As a teenager, he visited India, witnessing deprivation on a scale he never imagined. This experience led him to Tanzania as an economic anthropologist, examining the relationships between development agencies and aid recipients deemed ‘the poorest of the poor’. Learning Swahili was paramount for him to be able to interact with his village neighbors, but few resources were available. Unable to create better tools alone, the Kamusi Project was born as an early cooperative effort to learn from a language’s speakers and share that knowledge online. Kamusi is a non-profit NGO that now aims to compile data on a myriad of languages around the world, and deploy and apply this knowledge in creative technology. Martin will discuss the economic and health implications of linguistic exclusion on more than half the world’s population, and how in today’s digital age, ‘language equity’ can open new opportunities to achieve international development goals.


Mark Cieliebak

Mark Cieleback was born in Hagen, Germany; he studied computer science in Dortmund and then moved to Switzerland to complete his PhD at ETH. He has been a professor at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) for the last 5 years. Mark founded SpinningBytes in 2015, a company that develops text analytics solutions for its clients; in other words, they develop algorithms to detect patterns and nuances in text that previously could only be done by humans. With Artificial Intelligence gaining ground in sophistication every day, Mark will discuss the recent advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP): which covers areas such as topic detection, sentiment analysis, and chatbots. He aims to show how recent advances in Artificial Intelligence has dramatically improved the capabilities of NLP systems, and what this may lead to in the future.


Alexander Degenhardt and Noah Liebherr

Alexander Degenhardt and Noah Liebherr, developed Cikumas due to the frustrations they felt in their classroom. Although there are multiple online solutions already available, they do not understand or satisfy the needs of a student. Alexander and Noah seized an opportunity to take their classroom and jump start it into the digital era. They believe that dynamic education is the key to student success in our globalised world, and that the conventional classroom tools do not offer enough to support dynamic learning. Their goal in creating Cikumas is to provide teachers with the tools that modern technology can offer. Alexander and Noah are designing a product encapsulating the essence of modern education. Schools will change a lot over the next decade, and will follow the lead of visionary products on their way into the future.


Speakers of 2017:

Maxwell Stroemer

Maxwell “Max” D. Stroemer will chronicle his experience with disability in an engaging presentation that will ask the audience to contemplate life’s deeper questions, such as “What does it mean to be normal?”
Max is an American citizen who has lived in Switzerland for the past 7 years. He is a 10th Grade Student at Zurich International School.

Max serves as the Incumbent Secretary of the Upper School Student Council and acts as the Co-Captain for the ZIS Debate Team. Being deaf, Max values the power of public speaking. Moreover, Max is a fascinated by History and Politics and will welcome any conversation on current events. Additionally, Max enjoys alpine skiing and rugby during the fall.

He currently resides in Kilchberg, Switzerland with his family.

Andreas Braendle

Andreas Braendle is co-founder and CEO of Battere. The start up company distributes solar power conveniently to smartphone users and has successfully introduced a battery sharing system in 1000 Swiss retail stores. Andreas is fascinated by the potential of waste reduction and shares his learnings as an entrepreneur trying to have an impact on sustainability.

Andrew Cusack 

Andrew Cusack has worked with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for five years, designing and managing refugee camps in emergency situations. His work has brought him to emergencies in Central African Republic, Syria, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and most recently the Island of Lesvos, Greece. When not in the field, Andrew tries to bring his background in architecture and his passion for people centred design together to develop new models for humanitarian intervention and the integration of displaced populations.



Antonia McGrath 

Antonia McGrath spent a year working with street children in Honduras. At the time, this was the country with the highest homicide rate in the world outside of a war zone, largely due to the huge levels of gang activity. Antonia worked with children who had been directly affected by this, and the experience of living and working in a country plagued by such immense poverty and violence led her to reading and thinking deeply about modern methods of humanitarian aid and service. Since returning, she has been working to found an NGO based on what she observed was most needed in the country and what projects required to work most effectively on the ground.


Karl and Marla Langelotz

Karl and Marla Langelotz are Canadians, natives of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Marla works as a pastor at a Mennonite church and Karl is a middle/high school teacher at an independent Christian school, both located in Winnipeg. They try to live out their Anabaptist convictions by seeking ways to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding of “the other” in their workplaces and beyond. This led them to Germany, where they are currently volunteering at the Friedenshaus Project in Ludwigshafen. This project is a church community initiative, designed to bring together native and new Germans (with “flight experience”) through German language programs and other initiatives. Karl and Marla haven’t written any books, nor have they been published in any periodicals of note. Despite these facts, they hope to share their solution to the problem of violence in our world.


Simon and Nora Kersten 

Simon grew up in Northern Germany and moved to Honolulu just after High School to receive a tennis scholarship. While competing across the USA he studied International Business at Hawaii Pacific University. After four years in Hawaii he moved to Denmark to do his master’s degree in International Marketing & Management at Copenhagen Business School. In addition to tennis he put a strong focus on his fitness level, thus becoming a personal and group fitness coach while being a student. His specialty is HIIT (high intense interval training), where he develops his own set of movements coming from different professional sports.

Simon’s wife, Nora, is a yoga instructor, vegan food creator and blogger working for the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. She came to Switzerland as a refugee with the age of two and grew up in Arbon, St. Gallen. She was certified as a yoga instructor in India and is currently teaching several different kinds of yoga styles such as Aerial Yoga, Vinyasa Flows, Power Yoga, Stand Up Paddle Yoga and Antigravity in various studios in Zurich. While being a busy athletic flow and yoga instructor, her healthy power food workshops grow more and more. She is very convinced about the calmness and inner strength as well as the control you gain from doing yoga. Her life’s motto is: Attitude of gratitude.


Dr. Christoph Kaueffer

Christoph Kueffer is Professor for Urban Ecology at the Department of Landscape Architecture of the University of Applied Sciences Eastern Switzerland and senior lecturer (Privatdozent) at ETH Zurich. He studied Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich, and completed his PhD in plant ecology and habilitation in plant and global change ecology at the same university. He has long experience in collaborating with social scientists, scholars from the humanities and artists; amongst others as a fellow at the Collegium Helveticum and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at Bielefeld University, and as a co-chair of Environmental Humanities Switzerland. Dr Kueffer’s research focuses on urban ecology, biodiversity conservation in novel and human-dominated ecosystems, and global change impacts on island and mountain ecosystems.