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Is Blockchain a true disruptor in financial services and other industries

​Additional Forum Information 
Registration: 17h45 - 18h00
Forum Start Time: 18h00​​​​​​​​
Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cocktails will be served after the event​​​​​​​​


The recent advent of blockchain technologies, FinTech start-ups and the on​set of crypto currencies is set to disrupt a multitude of industries. When faced with disruptive technologies, the most effective companies thrive by incorporating them into the way they do business. If researched and prototyped correctly, blockchain technology has the potential to transform these companies and become a new paradigm for doing business. The panel will introduce the concept of blockchain technology and unpack some of the latest developments and ideas in this space. ​


Tanya Knowles, Head of Innovation and Projects at Strate (South Africa’s Central Securities Depository)

Tanya joined Strate Pty Ltd in 2001 having previously worked at Investec. She has held various positions in the organisation and is currently Head of Innovation and Projects. She holds a BA, PDM and MBA Degree all from the University ​​of the Witwatersrand. Situated in Illovo, Sandton, Strate is South Africa's authorised Central Securities Depository providing electronic settlement of equities and bonds transactions concluded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It also settles transactions in money market securities and has recently introduced a collateral management service. In her private capacity, Tanya is a members of the Vuleka Schools Board, Strate Charity Shares and Chairman of the Jeppe High School for Girls Association. She is involved in a number of women's leadership initiatives aimed at professional business women.

Farzam Ehsani, Leader of RMB’s Blockchain Initiative

Five years ago, in the midst of the Greek debt crisis, soaring gold prices and the credit downgrade of the US federal government, Farzam set out to learn about our fragile global financial system to understand what can be changed so that it can better serve humanity.   Over the last few years, this journey has taken Farzam through RMB’s Global Markets, Group Treasury, Investment Banking, and Private Equity divisions as part of RMB's Class Of programme. He recently helped establish the Foundery, RMB’s FinTech unit, where he is currently leading RMB’s Blockchain Initiative.  Farzam believes that blockchain technology will be as transformative to our financial system as the internet has been to the world.  Farzam previously worked at the United Nations in Nairobi, the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco, and McKinsey & Company in Johannesburg.  He studied economics at the University of California – Berkeley. 

Other speakers to be confirmed shortly

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  • Jeff Yu-Jen Chen

    ​The emerging of new business models coupled with the rapid evolution of cyber-physical technologies have drastically reshaped the behaviours of both consumers and employees. The future of a business environment is becoming more complex and fierce. Companies of today will be compelled to scrutinize its corporate innovation capability in order to ensure that they can thrive in the current landscape and concurrently harness a greater future competitiveness. However, initiating any successful corporate innovation movement within an organisation or launching a start-up is sometimes easier said than done.


    Over the years, innovation has become a buzz word. Many managers and consultants have advocated that there is a set of organisational practices to enhance corporate innovation output; such as creating social interaction online platforms, purchasing trendy furniture, profiling a company into a 4x4 quadrant of a rigid theoretical model, account for obvious organisational practices and/or adopting approaches that lack holistic thinking. The truth is that there is NO blueprint for corporate innovation. Many organisations also confuse the notion of ideation as strategic corporate innovation. The competitiveness of an organisation does not rely on its ability to create influx of ideas.  Instead, it relies on their proclivity to combine their core-competencies smartly and translate a few ideas into exponential growth. Furthermore, the notion of corporate innovation itself is somehow slightly misleading. Considering that each division within any particular organisation is given specific mandates that typically differ from other divisions, and each division is led by managers with different leadership quality with team members of different attributes, how can there be a standard way of promoting corporate innovation? In addition, the legacy of an organisation and the unique forces affecting the dynamics of industry within which an organisation operates, also impose additional challenges.


    Successful organisation must actively cultivate corporate foresights, discern the potential gratifying concepts from supposition and uphold the innovation proclivity. Leaders of these organisations may further attempt to ascertain visible value return from promoting viable self-disruption and embracing necessary radical changes by getting closer to their customers as well as their customers’ customers. Creating purposeful vertical alignment, horizontal partnership, external ventures, formal organisational practices and informal organisational dynamics are just some of the crucial elements of corporate innovation.


    Key areas of my teaching, research and consulting interests are as follows:


    Jeff's Model.jpg

    Within the context of corporate innovation competitiveness, the key areas of my interest are:


    Individual level 
    Thinking methods, intuitions, design thinking, framing, biases, heuristics, improvisation, innovative behaviours, audacious identity, perception–value association, belief fragmentation, change and the likes.


    Group and inter-groups
    Collective intelligence, collective ideation, group dynamics, member exchange, boundary-crossing, social physics, digital enabled workforce, peer coaching conversation, group improvisation, virtual work environment and relevant topics.


    Organisation and start-up
    Effective leverage of leveraging cyber-physical systems, digital strategy, innovation strategy, disruptive business models, corporate foresight, corporate innovation team, mobilisation through informal organisation, disruptive events, innovation mobsters as well as organisational innovation proclivity, culture, structure and strategic orchestration.


    Organisations, industries and societies
    Co-opetition, socio-dynamics shifts, new business landscape, disruptions.

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