Speakers

 Dace Melbārde is a Minister for Culture of the Republic of Latvia since 31 October 2013. Previous experience includes working as the Country Manager of the British Council Latvia (2009–2011), Director of the National State Centre for Arts Education and Intangible Heritage (2011–2013), and the Chief Organizer of the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration in 2013. Prior to this, Ms. Melbārde served as the Secretary General of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO and spent five years working on various nationally important projects such as the integration of components of culture into the Latvian National Development Plan and the National Programme of the Lisbon Strategy. Under her leadership the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration tradition was applied for inclusion in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. She is an adamant supporter of creative industries. Ms. Melbārde holds a MA degree in Theory of Culture (Latvian Academy of Culture, 1996) and MS in Public Administration (University of Latvia, 2001).
 Egils Levits has been a judge at the European Court of Justice since 2004. He was born in Riga and has graduated in law and in political science from the University of Hamburg. Egils began his career as a research assistant at the Faculty of Law, University of Kiel, then as a research assistant at the Institute of German and East-European Studies, Göttingen. He later became an Adviser to the Latvian Parliament on questions of international law, constitutional law and legislative reform. He has been the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to Germany and Switzerland (1992-93), Austria, Switzerland and Hungary (1994-95); Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Justice, acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, Member of the Parliament (1993-94); Conciliator at the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration within the OSCE (from 1997); member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (from 2001) and Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (1995 - 2004). Egils has had numerous publications in the spheres of constitutional and administrative law, law reform and European Community law.

Atis Sjanīts is an Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia with more than twenty years of work experience in Latvia's diplomatic corps. Before assuming his current post, Mr. Sjanītis has served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Latvia to Lithuania, Canada, Ukraine, and most recently - Turkey. He has also served as the Foreign Policy advisor to the Prime Minister of Latvia, and fulfilled duties of a non-resident Ambassador of Latvia to the Vatican, Moldova, Iran, and Iraq.
Valda Liepiņa was born and grew up in Australia where, among other positions, she worked at SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) Radio as Head of the Latvian language programme and set up the Marketing Division of SBS Radio in Melbourne. She moved to Latvia at the end of 1999, where she initially taught English and then worked in various EU pre-accession projects. In 2006, Valda Liepiņa took up the post of Head of the Latvian Translation unit in the European Commission and for the last four years she has been Head of the English Translation unit. In Australia Valda was an active member of the Latvian community and is also active in the community in Luxembourg, where she relishes the opportunity to share the experiences of the “older exile” communities with the new.

Valda Liepiņa LinkedIn

Mārtiņš Lācis is a Member of the Board at AS Latvijas Finieris and Head of Marketing, Logistics and Purchasing. Mārtiņš holds a degree from Latvian University of Agriculture, specializing as Mechanical Wood Processing Engineer. In 2015, Latvijas Finieris Group reached a turnover of 196.5 million EUR, produced 240 thousand cubic metres of plywood, earned a profit of 12.8 million EUR and invested in development 42.3 million EUR. The Group employs 2500 people. Focusing on its core business – development, manufacture and sales of birch plywood and providing related services, – Latvijas Finieris Group is also active in forest management, logging and production of synthetic resin and phenol films. The global presence of Latvijas Finieris is assured with business partners in more than 60 countries to which over 95% of  plywood is exported. 

Jānis Ošlejs is an award-winning founder and CEO of Primekss Group, one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of industrial concrete flooring in Europe, with branches in seven European countries. Apart from being a dynamic entrepreneur, Janis is well recognised and respected in Latvia as an expert in Latvian economic matters. Janis is a graduate of the University of Latvia, with a post-graduate MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics, Riga.

Jānis Ošlejs LinkedIn
 Pēteris Stupāns was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. In Australia Pēteris held sales and marketing management positions in the life science divisions of Roche, Olympus and Kodak. After moving to Latvia in 1999, Pēteris has been CEO of the pharmaceutical company Grindeks as well as two divisions of Kesko Corporation, before founding Nordplay, a designer and high volume manufacturer of children’s play systems in 2012. Nordplay now employs 45 employees and 98% of its products are exported to European markets. Pēteris hold degrees in Life Sciences and Business Administration.

Peteris Stupans LinkedIn
Līga Upeslāce - Kukaine works in Sales and Marketing at Groglass - one of the world's leading developers and manufacturers of anti-reflective and other high performance glass coatings, which are used in more than 45 countries for many different applications such as high-end electronic displays, picture framing, museum showcases, luxury architecture and other applications. Until 2015, Līga lived in Toronto, Ontario, and worked as a Project Manager at the pharmaceutical company Odan Pharmaceuticals in Quebec, Canada. Ms. Upeslāce-Kukaine holds a Master of Science in Human Health and Nutritional Science from the University of Guelph (Canada) and currently is in the process of obtaining an Executive MBA Degree at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.

Līga Upeslāce - Kukaine Linkedin




 Since 2007, Arnis Kākulis has served as the Director of the Baltic Region for AECOM, and as such is the co-leader of three AECOM offices in Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. His focus is to direct complex project engagements with various business sector clients specifically in strategic planning and design management. He is also currently the AECOM Transportation business line leader in the Baltics and the AECOM Global Account Manager for Microsoft real estate projects. Previously, in his 8-year tenure with OWP/P, a Chicago-based 300 person multi-disciplinary architecture, engineering and consulting services firm, Arnis was a Principal and the Director of the Consulting Practice, specialized in the business development and management of corporate, health-care and education projects. Arnis earned both his Master of Architecture and Master in Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Arnis has served as a Member of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia since 2013, and in 2015 was elected to serve as its President and Chairman of the Board.

Arnis Kākulis Linkedin
Matiss Kukainis is a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois, United States, and a licensed attorney (zvērināts advokāts) in the Republic of Latvia. He is originally from Michigan, but has been living and working in Latvia for the past 10 years, and is a founding partner of the full-service Latvian business law firm SPIGULIS & KUKAINIS ( www.ska.lv ) located in Old Town Riga, where he specializes in real estate and inheritance law. Matiss is a member of the student fraternity Talavija, a graduate of the Detroit Latvian School and the Garezers Latvian Summer School (GVV).

Matiss Kukanis LinkedIn
Peter McKenna is co-founder and managing director of Venturenauts Pty Ltd and Vice President of the Australia-ASEAN Business Council. Venturenauts is an Australian company specialising in international business development across the ASEAN (Southeast Asia) and Australia region. It helps businesses enter and grow in local and regional markets, and governments, universities and international development organisations improve business environments across ASEAN and Australia to support international trade and investment by business. Widely recognised as an international business development expert across ASEAN and Australia, Peter regularly participates in ASEAN and Australian expert panels on economic, industry and business development, and is regularly invited to speak at expert forums such as the Asia Pacific City Summit and Mayors’ Forum, the ASEAN Economic Integration Forum and the ASEAN University Network Conference on doing business in ASEAN and Australia. Peter is also working to bridge young entrepreneur and innovator ecosystems between Australia and ASEAN and help grow the next generation of business leaders. Peter is a chartered accountant with over 30 years experience including senior positions in business and government with successful careers in commercial management, professional consulting, policy reform and academia in ASEAN and Australia.

 Valdis Tomanis and his parents emigrated to Australia in 1949, having been born in a refugee camp in Regensburg, Germany. Valdis graduated as a dentist in 1969 and has spent the last 47 years in private practice. Valdis has enjoyed many other activities outside of his profession, many of which are associated with the Latvian community, but he also has an interest in various business ventures. For 10 years he owned a cattle station in the Australian outback, 860 kilometres from his home. It occupied 1.8 million acres (6,400 sq km - about 1/10 the size of Latvia!). In 1993, he began trading with Latvia. Valdis was part of a group which founded the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Australia Inc in 1994 and has been its president for the last 7 years. He has lectured extensively on many occasions with other members of this Chamber in Latvia (fifteen times in Riga and also in six other towns in Latvia). Valdis is currently the Australian representative for the Latvian Chamber of Commerce with its head office in Riga. He has been the Honorary Consul of Latvia in South Australia since 2015.
 


Lāsma Līdaka is a Counselor of Economic and Commercial Affairs of Latvia in Singapore and Manager of the Representative office of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, the government office responsible for export, investment and promotion of tourism of Latvia. Before being posted to Singapore, she worked in Latvia assisting foreign companies to expand their businesses abroad. In the past she has led the activities at the Koknese Foundation, including setting up initiative Garden of Destiny (Likteņdārzs), and worked at the Vitols Fund, the largest education development foundation in Latvia, which provides scholarships to talented, but needy students. Ms. Līdaka holds an MBA degree from the Riga Business School at Riga Technical University in Latvia, as well as an Executive Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, NY, US. 

Lāsma Līdaka LinkedIn
 Dāvids Dārziņš is an Australian Lawyer, based in Melbourne, Australia, with more than 25 years experience.  He has worked on a wide range of commercial, property, taxation and trusts matters.  He has experience in film, television and media financing, securities and production work.  His clients are public and private corporations, private individuals and families, community organisations and charities, based in Victoria, other Australian States and overseas.  Davids Darzins holds Bachelor degrees in Economics and Law from the Adelaide University in South Australia and a Master of Law degree from the University of Melbourne.  He is accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria as a Specialist in Property Law, and he convenes the continuing legal education programme for Property Law Accredited Specialists in Victoria.  Davids is a board member of the World Federation of Free Latvians Inc.  He was the National President of the Latvian Federation of Australia and New Zealand for 3 years from 2006 to 2009, and is now Chairman of the Cultural Foundation of the Federation and also continues on the Federation’s Advisory Committee.  He is a founding member, and currently President, of the Australian Baltic Chamber of Commerce.  Davids is married to Liga, and they have three children.
Vanda Dauksta is a communications professional and a public speaker with 20+ years of experience in import/export, sales and business development. She is a lecturer at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSER), where she teaches Presentation Skills and serves as an Academic Advisor.  Having repatriated to Latvia 10 year ago, Vanda has been training organizations in communication including TEDxRiga, Nordea, DNB, an&angel, Junior Achievement and others. She is an award-winning public speaker and evaluator, and enjoys enabling others to communicate their ideas more effectively. Vanda spearheaded the first Junior–WLEIF for young professionals in 2015. She is on the advisory board of the world Latvian youth organization "2x2" and will be directing the annual 2x2 seminar in July, 2017 near Cesis, Latvia.
Ilona Misa is the Executive General Manager of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at Ixom. She brings to the role more than fifteen years of experience building high performing, well-functioning organisations and teams that enable business growth, an improved culture and increased capability and a focus on safety. Ilona is also responsible for corporate affairs at Ixom, which includes community, government and media relations. Prior to the role at Ixom, Ilona held various senior executive positions across a range of industries including as General Manager Human Resources at Orica, Divisional Human Resources Director at George Weston Foods – which produces the iconic Tip Top range of breads, and senior HR roles at Linfox and Fairfax Media. She has had extensive international experience having led HR teams based in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Ilona holds a Bachelor of Business (Human Resources Management) and a Graduate Diploma of Engineering Management. Ilona Misa LinkedIn

As the founder and CEO of Ventures International Group, Olavs J. Ritenis has three decades of international business experience, with considerable Asia-specific experience, and extensive connections across the Asia Pacific region. He is an accomplished entrepreneur who has been based in Singapore for 25 years, as the CEO of his own software and consulting services businesses, as well as providing “Asia Gateway” services for businesses seeking to launch in Asia. Olavs is well-versed in establishing distribution channels for client companies and has a passion for working with growth stage companies, providing them with business development assistance in Asia, strategic advisory services, and assistance with growth capital. He also has considerable experience and a successful track record in Capital Raising and Investment Funding, which is now his company’s main area of focus and specialisation.

Olavs Ritenis LinkedIn
  Born and raised in Adelaide, Australia, Inga Līdums started her career at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, before moving into design management. Inga worked with one of Australia’s leading graphic designers, Barrie Tucker, managing major projects for clients throughout Australia and overseas (Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea), particularly in the food and wine industries. In 1996, Inga relocated to Sydney to become Project Director at Isis Design and Lunn Dyer, before becoming General Manager of respected national firm Perks Design Partners. In 2004 she returned to Adelaide and established identify.brand.package.publish, working with clients in the arts, education, publishing, corporate, and local and state government sectors. Inga is also a Director of Lobethal Road  - a family-owned winery that has established a reputation for super-premium wines from the Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

Pēteris Daliņš is a senior business and IT management professional, having worked in management consulting, small business and large enterprise. Peter currently leads the IT and Shared Services functions at Asahi Beverages, the Australia and New Zealand operations of the global beverage manufacturer Asahi. In this role Peter delivers critical services out of India and the Philippines using outsourcers, and works extensively with Asahi Japan. Prior to Asahi Beverages, Peter has worked in The Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and New Zealand in IT consulting roles at Accenture, a Silicon Valley start-up, and his own IT consulting business.

 Iveta Samulis is a trade policy advisor with over 20 years experience specialising in agri-food. She has worked in both the Federal and Victorian state governments and most recently with Dairy Australia in a strategic trade policy role. Iveta has global experience having undertaken advocacy work on multilateral and regional agreements (including the World Trade Organisation, World Intellectual Property Organisation and Trans Pacific Partnership), and technical barriers to trade, on behalf of the dairy industry. She has also been the Australian industry representative for organisations such as the International Dairy Federation and others. Iveta holds both a Masters in Public Policy and Management, and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne.

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