2018 Global Forum on Girls' Education® II - Speakers

Sylvia Acevedo

POSITION: Chief Exeuctive Officer | Girl Scouts of the USA


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Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), brings to the organization a background in entrepreneurship; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and innovation, as well as a lifelong commitment to girls' success in their own lives and the world. She was a member of the GSUSA Board of Directors from 2009 to 2016 and served as its secretary.

Dedicated to girls' leadership long before she was named to GSUSA's board, Sylvia has seen firsthand the power of Girl Scouts. As a girl growing up in New Mexico, after her family suffered a major tragedy, Sylvia was forced to move and leave behind her school, her neighborhood, and her friends. It was this move that brought her to Girl Scouts, which would change her life forever. Her troop provided her with tools and experiences not widely available to girls of her background at that time. In Sylvia’s words, “This life-changing experience showed me what leadership looked like and enabled me to pursue it as a goal.”

Over the years Sylvia has spoken across the country about the importance of helping girls discover their strengths, passions, and talents. She also served on the founding board of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas—one of the largest all-girls public school in the nation.

In addition, Sylvia served as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, chairing its Early Learning Subcommittee. She coauthored the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Family Engagement curriculum to help narrow academic achievement gaps in America, and she is writing an aspirational memoir that promotes STEM for middle school students, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2018.

A talented technology executive who has held positions with some of the world’s most respected companies, previously Sylvia was the founder, president, and CEO of CommuniCard LLC, a firm known for its innovative approaches to working with changing community demographics. Prior to that, she served in executive and business development roles at REBA Technologies, Dell Computer Corporation, Autodesk Inc., Tandem Ungermann-Bass, Apple Computer, and IBM—and she began her career as a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Sylvia has been widely recognized for her accomplishments, with honors that include the Austin Con Mi Madre Education Award (2016), Girl Scouts of Central Texas Woman of Distinction (2013), a place in U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top 100 American women in STEM (2012), the Ohtli Award from the federal government of Mexico, a national civil rights award (2011), the Austin Community Foundation’s STAR Award (2010), NMSU College of Engineering Distinguished Alumna (2010), the Austin American-Statesman’s Austin Hero Award (2009), the Austin Business Chamber of Commerce’s Star of Texas Award, Education (2007), and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Businesswoman of the Year (2004).

Sylvia was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University—an MS in industrial engineering—and she holds a bachelor of science degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.

Sponsored by the Young Women's Preparatory Network

Gail Kelly

POSITION: Former Chief Executive Officer | The Wespac Group and Author


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Gail’s banking career spans 35 years, split equally between South Africa and Australia. While in South Africa, Gail held a number of senior executive positions in the Nedbank Group.

Gail served as the Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of two banks in Australia – St.George Bank from 2002 to 2007 and Westpac from 2008 to 2015. In 2008, these two banks came together under Gail’s leadership in what was the largest in-market merger in Australian financial services. At the time of her retirement in February 2015, The Westpac Group was the country’s 2nd largest bank and the 12th largest bank in the world, in terms of market capitalization.

Gail is currently engaged in various roles globally as well as in Australia, including as a:

• Member of the Group of Thirty
• The Global Board of Advisors at the US Council on Foreign Relations
• Member of the McKinsey Advisory Council
• Member of the PLuS Alliance Advisory Board
• Member of the Optus Advisory Committee
• Senior Global Advisor to UBS
• Director of Woolworths Holdings in South Africa
• Director of Australian Philanthropic Services
• Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales
• Ambassador for Women’s Empowerment for CARE Australia

Her previous roles have included Vice President of the International Monetary Conference, Chairman of the Australian Bankers’ Association, and Member of the Australian Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council. In addition, she has served as a Director of the Business Council of Australia, Country Road Group, and David Jones.

Gail is also the author of Live Lead Learn: My stories of life and leadership, which was published in July 2017 in Australia and New Zealand by Penguin Random House, and in November 2017 in South Africa by Pan Macmillan.

Gail holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Higher Diploma of Education from the University of Cape Town and a Masters of Business Administration (with Distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has also completed the INSEAD Advanced Management Programme in Fontainebleau.

Gail has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business by the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and Charles Sturt University. She has also been conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Science in Economics by the University of Sydney.

Sponsored by the Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia

Conor Neill

POSITION: President | Vistage, and Teacher | IESE Business School (Spain)


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Conor Neill is President of Vistage Spain and a Professor of Leadership at IESE Business School, one of the world’s leading MBA schools. He has taught over 30,000 senior leaders the skills of powerful persuasive communication over the last 15 years.

Vistage is the world’s leading organization for CEOs. The mission of Vistage is to improve the effectiveness and enhance the lives of CEOs and key executives. The 4 core values of Vistage are Trust, Caring, Challenge and Growth.

Conor has delivered keynote addresses to many global conferences over the last 10 years. Conor was the Closing Keynote on Leadership for the 2014 Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Global Leadership Conference, the main Keynote speaker at the Leadership Concert in Bucharest, and regularly keynotes HR Director Summit Europe and other major business events such as the Mobile World Congress, IBM global leadership meeting, and ADP global partner congress.

Conor has been teaching Leadership Communication programs for over 15 years. He is Lecturer at IESE Business School in Barcelona and runs the IESE Leadership Communications courses for MBA and Executive MBAs and many senior director programs. He is a regular guest Lecturer at UCD Smurfit Business School in Dublin and at IEEM in Montevideo, Uruguay. He has worked with organizations such as Accenture, Applus, Barcelona Activa, The UK Labour Party, Microsoft, Novartis, IBM, ISDIN, Partido Popular, Puig and Santander Bank delivering seminars on Leadership through Communication.

Conor is a serial entrepreneur. He has founded 4 companies, raising capital, hiring teams and reaching over €10M in sales. He spent 6 years creating a revolution in private jet travel with his company Taxijet and has invested in 2 start-ups. He is Past-European Area Director for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the world’s leading community of entrepreneurs. He is the proud father of two wonderful daughters, Alexandra and Sofia.

Conor has a degree in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence and an MBA from IESE Business School. Conor was a manager in the Change Management division of Accenture for 8 years. He has worked with corporate leaders in Europe, USA, and Australia helping drive systematic change in their organizations. His hobbies include kicking footballs (the round ones), running long distances, tennis, mountain biking up steep forest slopes, blogging at, travel to historic places, and breaking out of his personal comfort zone at least once a month.

Conor is from Dublin, Ireland. He has lived in Barcelona, Spain since 2002.

Sponsored by the European Association of Single-Sex Education

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