Dr Larry Johnson

President and CEO, EdFutures, USA


Dr. Larry Johnson is an acknowledged expert on the long-term trends and patterns in all things digital, to include social media, mobile technologies, networks and the cloud, and much more. He has devoted the bulk of his formal career to understanding and articulating the arc of digital technology, via research, reports, books, papers, and for more than a decade as an acclaimed and globally in-demand public speaker.

Over his career, he has produced dozens of significant publications, including six books, six book chapters, 14 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 41 major technical reports. In 2008, he was asked to provide Congressional Testimony about his research into the uses of virtual environments. His work led to invitations to give more than 125 keynote addresses at prestigious national and international conferences and forums all over the world.

Johnson’s educational background includes an MBA in Finance, a Ph.D. in Education, and a postdoc at Harvard University. Among many other recognitions, Dr. Johnson has been honored as a Distinguished Graduate by the University of Texas at Austin and in 2015 was named as one of the Top 50 Education Influencers globally.

Prof. Ahmed Bawa

Former Chief Executive Officer,
Universities South Africa, South Africa

Ahmed Bawa is the CEO of Universities South Africa. Until 2016, he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Durban University of Technology. He also served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Durban Centre of the University of Natal (later to be the University of KwaZulu-Natal).

At the City University of New York, he was faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Hunter College and a member of the doctoral faculty at the Graduate Center. He was appointed Associate Provost for Curriculum Development. He holds a PhD in Theoretical Physics from Durham University in the UK.

As the Program Officer for Higher Education in Africa with the Ford Foundation he led the Foundation’s African Higher Education Initiative. In this portfolio he worked in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Palestine.
He serves on a number of advisory boards such as the South African Institute of Distance Education, the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research of South Africa and the Higher Education Support Programme of the Open Society Foundation.

Dr. Robin Mann

CEO, Best Practice Competition, New Zealand


Dr Robin Mann is Head of the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, Massey University, New Zealand, Chairman of the Global Benchmarking Network, Board Member New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation, Co-Founder of Limited – a best practice website resource, Founder of the International Best Practice Competition and Organisation-Wide Innovation Award, and Founder of the TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking Methodology. The TRADE methodology is used to help organisations identify and implement best practices. It most recently became the cornerstone of the Dubai Government Excellence Program’s “Dubai We Learn” initiative with 35 benchmarking projects undertaken since 2015. Robin serves as a Business Excellence/Productivity Advisor to many countries (recently supporting Bangladesh, Pakistan and Mongolia on their capability building programs for raising productivity and serving as a technical coordinator for the Abu Dhabi Government Excellence Award and Mohammed bin Rashid Government Excellence Award). In addition, Robin is currently overseeing a research project involving 30 countries to understand how the design and deployment of business excellence initiatives impact on nation building. Robin has extensive experience in organisational assessments and assessing best practices and so is delighted to serve on the Assessment Committee of the International Award of Excellence in Higher Education.

Prof. Maurits Van Rooijen

Group Rector & Chief Academic Officer, Global University Systems UK and Rector & President University of Europe, Germany

Professor Maurits van Rooijen is Group Rector and Chief Academic Officer of Global University Systems (GUS). In addition to this role, on 1st September 2019, Professor van Rooijen was appointed as Rector of the University of Europe for Applied Sciences. He is also Chairman of IBAT College Dublin and GISMA Germany. He studied and lectured at Utrecht University before joining the Erasmus University Rotterdam. In 1993 he moved to the University of Westminster, London from which he retired as Executive Vice President when he took up the position of Rector Magnificus and CEO of the Dutch ‘corporate leadership’ university, Nyenrode. In 2012 he joined forces with the entrepreneur Aaron Etingen and Global University Systems was created.

Professor van Rooijen has held visiting and honorary appointments at universities globally in his academic field (sustainable urbanisation) and has published widely on international education and university management. He is actively involved in various international organisations. He is the former President of the Compostela Group of Universities (2008-2016) and is the long serving co-chairman of the World Association for Co-operative and work Integrated learning. He holds various international awards including the Constance Meldrum prize for Vision and Leadership (EAIE 2012) and the Emblema Ouro or Golden Insignia of the Universidad Santiago de Compostela (2014).

Fanta Aw, PhD

Executive Director and CEO, Association of
International Educators (NAFSA), USA


Fanta Aw, PhD, has been a dedicated member and leader within NAFSA since 1996 and currently holds the position of Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. From 2013 to 2016, she served as NAFSA's President and Board Chair. Dr. Aw is a recognized and highly respected figure in the fields of international education and higher education administration.

Dr. Aw spent her academic and professional careers at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C., where she pursued multiple degrees at the institution, culminating in a PhD in sociology with a focus on international education, social stratification, and transnational migration. Throughout her extensive tenure at AU, Dr. Aw held numerous leadership positions, most recently serving as Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence. Notably, she received recognition as an award-winning teacher, having fulfilled the role of Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer at AU's School of International Service. In 2023, Dr. Aw's remarkable AU contributions were honored with the Neil Kerwin Alumni Achievement Award. Furthermore, she actively participates as a member of the Global Advisory Board of Times Higher Education and has previously chaired the board of ETS TOEFL.

Originally hailing from Mali, West Africa, Dr. Aw has resided in both East and West Africa, as well as the United States, fostering a broad and diverse cultural perspective. Her passion for global experiences has led her to explore nearly 60 countries. Dr. Aw is a frequent keynote speaker, sharing her expertise on various topics including international educational exchanges, diversity and inclusion in higher education, and U.S. immigration. Her expertise has been acknowledged by major global media outlets, including CNN, Agence France Press, USA Today, Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, National Public Radio, Middle East Broadcast Corporation, and China Daily.

Dr. Susanna Karakhanyan

Director, Higher Education Regulation & Licensing Division, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), United Arab Emirates

Currently, Dr. Karakhanyan is employed by the Abu Dhabi Government as Higher Education Regulation & Licensing Director at the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge in the United Arab Emirates. She is also Immediate Past President of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), which is a global umbrella network of tertiary education quality assurance providers, which brings together more than 350 members worldwide. She consults governments on policymaking, governance as well as external and internal QA systems in a diversity of contexts globally.

Dr. Karakhanyan’s expertise evolves around tertiary education in general and policymaking, governance and quality assurance in particular. Her expertise has been widely sought after by a diversity of systems and cultures. She has worked with around 35 governments, authored, and delivered capacity building events and external reviews of governance structures, legal and policy frameworks, and QA systems worldwide. She has led a variety of projects under the auspices of the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, Open Society Institute, IREX, to name but a few. All the projects address higher education reforms in general and diversity of aspects in legal and policy frameworks, policymaking, governance, quality assurance and core values of higher education, in particular. Her service has been acknowledged in a diversity of contexts and systems globally.

Dr. Karakhanyan holds M.S.Ed in Educational Administration/Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, the USA and PhD in Social Sciences from Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Her research interests focus around higher education governance and administration, reforms, policymaking, policy diffusion and transfer, and external and internal quality assurance. Her research background has helped her tremendously in the establishment of new and evaluation/review of existing tertiary education systems in a diversity of contexts at the global level with aim of promoting relevance, efficiency in operations and transformative power of tertiary education.

Dr. Waldemar Siwinski

President, IREG Observatory on Academic
Ranking and Excellence, Poland


Waldemar Siwinski, president, and co-founder of IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, and the founder of the “Perspektywy” Education Foundation, Poland. Under WS leadership “Perspektywy” for over two decades has been producing professional rankings of universities and high schools in Poland as well as promoting and supporting development of higher education. WS has extensive and rich media background as a writer, journalist, and manager. WS served as president of the Polish Press Agency (PAP) and was on the boards of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) and the European PressPhoto Agency (EPA); he was chairman of the Conference of Polish Media and a member of the International Press Institute. WS in early 1990’ founded the first magazine on computers in Poland called “Bajtek”. WS is the author of several books including a documentary book on the disaster at the nuclear plant “Chernobyl” in Ukraine. He has published several articles on university rankings and higher education. WS is a graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology (Electronics); he also studied at the postgraduate School of Diplomacy in Warsaw.  WS received several prestigious awards and distinctions.