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Theme  |  Agenda  |  Plenaries  |  Pre-Con Workshops  |  Special Events  |  Awards

2017 Plenaries

ILA conferences have a reputation for depth, breadth, and excellence. Each conference offers plenary speakers with diverse roots, unique perspectives, and innovative approaches to leadership. Leadership Scholars share recent research and developments in the field while Business Leaders delve into their challenges and triumphs, lighting a path to best practices, and Public Leaders & Change-Agents explore the impacts effective leadership has on individuals and communities in their own backyard and around the world. Plenary speakers at ILA's annual global conference share their passion for leadership with a global community.


Herman Van Rompuy Herman Van Rompuy
Prime Minister of Belgium (2008-2009), President of the European Council (2009-2014)


Keynote Address
George A. Papandreou George Papandreou
Former Prime Minister of Greece (2009-2011)


Distinguished Leadership Award Recipient
David Petraeus David Petraeus
Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (2011-2012)


Keynote Address
View Bio View Bio View Bio
Margaret Heffernan Margaret Heffernan
Acclaimed author of Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril


Keynote Address
Stella Nkomo Stella Nkomo
Professor, Department of Human Resource Management, University of Pretoria; President, Africa Academy of Management

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Robert Lord Robert Lord
Professor of Leadership, Business School, Durham University


Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
View Bio  View Bio View Bio
Jeroen van der Veer Jeroen van der Veer
Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc (2004-2009)



Keynote Address
*Special Notice: The former Prime Minister of Belgium, Herman Van Rompuy, asks participants attending his keynote on Friday morning to honor and adhere to the Chatham House Rule. For those not familiar with this rule, it means that remarks may not be attributed to the speaker/s - the speech and comments made by others will be "off the record." Whereas participants can use the information presented, neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker/s can be revealed.
View Bio


Herman Van Rompuy
October 13 | 9:00 - 10:15
Keynote Address


Herman Van Rompuy's impressive career in politics includes his roles as the first full-time President of the European Council (2009-2014) and the Prime Minister of Belgium (2008-2009). He is currently the President of the European Policy Center, an independent think tank dedicated to "fostering European integration through analysis and debate" and "engaging partners, stakeholders, and citizens in EU policy-making and in the debate about the future of Europe." Some of their areas of focus include migration and diversity, and sustainable prosperity.

Prior to his ascension to Belgian Prime Minister, Van Rompuy was well-known for his ability to broker peaceful solutions to intractable disagreements that involved compromise from all parties involved. This skill, combined with his political expertise, and his background in philosophy and economics, served him well as President of the European Council where he led through integration issues ranging from cultural to financial.

A complex renaissance thinker, he is a published and award-winning poet known for his haikus — an art form perfect for today's busy complex world in its ability to inspire meditative thought arising from its seeming simplicity. A contemplative speaker, a recent talk given at TEDxLeuven asks, "Can the European Union Achieve Utopia?"

Van Rompuy has received numerous awards, honors, and honorary degrees. In 2012, he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union with José Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz.

Herman Van Rompuy / EU leader and poet / keynoting Brussels

*Special Notice: The former Prime Minister of Belgium, Herman Van Rompuy, asks participants attending his keynote on Friday morning to honor and adhere to the Chatham House Rule. For those not familiar with this rule, it means that remarks may not be attributed to the speaker/s - the speech and comments made by others will be "off the record." Whereas participants can use the information presented, neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker/s can be revealed.

George Papandreou
October 13 | 9:00 - 10:15
Distinguished Leadership Award Recipient


George Papandreou A longtime public servant and the Prime Minister of Greece from 2009 to 2011, George Papandreou understands leading in turbulent times. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, in 1999 Papandreou spearheaded the Greek-Turkish rapprochement and was a staunch supporter of Turkey's candidacy in the EU. His election as prime minister after the devastation of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 came with a mandate to increase transparency and reduce corruption in Greece's government while humanizing globalization and its economic effects on Greek citizens. Challenged by time and global financial markets, he made the difficult decision to implement austerity programs and cuts to appease the Eurozone. For his work in 2010 of "making the best of Greece's worst year," Foreign Policy Magazine named him a Top 100 Global Thinker. His experiences on the front lines of the Eurozone crisis provide an important lens for understanding Europe today and the continuing struggle, globally, to build inclusive, humane economies. Currently, as President of the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of progressive political parties, Papandreou continues to work on globalizing democratic institutions to meet the global economic challenges and challenges of the imagination that impede a fairer, more just world.

Stella Nkomo
October 13 | 9:00 - 10:15
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient


Stella Nkomo is a Professor in the Department of Human Resource Management at the University of Pretoria and the President of the Africa Academy of Management (AFAM). Through her work in AFAM, Nkomo has, quite literally, put African leadership and management practices on the map. Recognizing that Africa's growing economies and emerging markets were hotbeds of innovative leadership practices in dynamic, turbulent environments, Nkomo knew the time was ripe for a community of African management scholars to emerge and support research into, documentation of, and dissemination of these practices. A thriving community, since 2010 AFAM has established a leadership journal published by Taylor & Francis and organized conferences across the continent.

Nkomo is a noted scholar and consultant in the areas of leadership and change, diversified workforces, and women and leadership. She is the author of several books and numerous refereed articles including the acclaimed Our Separate Ways: Black and White Women and the Struggle for Professional Identity and Courageous Conversations: A Collection of Interviews and Reflections on Responsible Leadership by South African Captains of Industry. In 2016 Nkomo was named a Continental Lifetime Achiever from CEO Global's Africa's Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards for her career contributions to leadership, higher education in South Africa, and her work developing young African academics.


David Petraeus
October 14 | 9:00 - 10:15
Keynote Address


David PetraeusModerator & Commentator: Robert van de Roer, Independent, International Diplomatic Expert

General (Retired) David H. Petraeus is one of the most prominent U.S. military figures of the post-9/11 era. During his 37-year career in the United States Army, Petraeus was widely recognized for his leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan. After his retirement from the military he served as Director of the CIA (2011-2012), during which time the Agency played the central role in a number of important achievements in the global war on terror.

Petraeus has been awarded numerous medals for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, and his leadership has been widely recognized. He was named one of America's 25 Best Leaders by U.S. News and World Report, was a runner-up for Time magazine's Person of the Year, and was one of Foreign Policy magazine's top 100 public intellectuals.

In addition to graduating with distinction from the United States Military Academy – West Point, Petraeus earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is a frequent TV commentator on global security and economic issues appearing and, in recent years, his pieces have been published in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy.

Petraeus is now a Partner with the global investment firm KKR and Chair of the KKR Global Institute. He is a Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California and a Senior Fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center.

Robert Lord
October 14 | 9:00 - 10:15
Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient


Robert Lord

Robert Lord is Professor of Leadership at Durham Business School and Director of Durham's International Center for Leadership and Followership, Durham University. With a background in psychology, it is not surprising that Lord's career has taken place at the intersections of leadership, cognitive science, neuro-cognitive science. His exploration of implicit leadership theories delved into how people experience and judge leaders and leadership processes and has been the basis of many research studies as has his work on leadership categorization and leadership prototypes, which was utilized in the GLOBE project.

At the forefront of recent trends, some of his research over the past ten years has emphasized that leadership perceptions have strong emotional components that reflect embodied cognition. Lord has also deployed quantum physics to consider the ways people travel through time, inventing new identities and creating new realities, and how identity and leadership perception engage information processing, motivation, and emotion.

He is the winner of numerous prestigious honors including: Leadership Quarterly's Best Paper of the Year award; The Distinguished Scholar Award for Career Contributions to the Study of Leadership; and SIOP's Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award; among others. The author of three books and over 140 refereed chapters and journal articles, Lord has prolifically explored the nooks and crannies of leadership.


Margaret Heffernan
October 15 | 12:15 - 13:30
Keynote Address


Margaret Heffernan Margaret Heffernan produced programs for the BBC for 13 years. She then moved to the United States where she spearheaded multimedia productions for Intuit, The Learning Company, and Standard&Poors. She was Chief Executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and then iCast Corporation, was named one of the "Top 25" by Streaming Media magazine and one of the "Top 100 Media Executives" by The Hollywood Reporter.

The author of five books, Heffernan's third book, Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril was named one of the most important business books of the decade by the Financial Times. In 2015, she was awarded the Transmission Prize for A Bigger Prize: Why Competition Isn't Everything and How We Do Better, described as "meticulously researched…engagingly written…universally relevant and hard to fault." Her TED talks have been seen by over seven million people and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes. She is Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute's Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath and continues to write for the Financial Times, the New York Observer and the Huffington Post. Learn more at: www.mheffernan.com.


Jeroen van der Veer
October 15 | 12:15 - 13:30
Keynote Address


Jeroen van der Veer Jeroen van der Veer was named Chief Executive of what is now Royal Dutch Shell plc in 2004 amid a corporate fraud scandal. He quickly applied his signature style of steady pragmatic leadership to right the ship, simplifying the organization's corporate structure, putting governance procedures into place to safeguard against future indiscretions, and introducing innovations in Shell's internal and external communications. Known for his listening skills and for being people-oriented, he describes his leadership style as getting people on a "path from A to B" and setting up milestones and accountability along the way. Born in 1947, he joined Shell in 1971 and spent most of his adult life a company man, developing his leadership style as he worked his way up Shell's corporate ladder.

Van der Veer retired in 2009 and, as an experienced energy sector leader, he has spent a portion of his post-retirement time working on issues related to energy demand, energy infrastructure, and clean energy with a focus on integrated solutions that make sense from a business, government, and research perspective. Toward that end, he has served as Chair of the World Economic Forum's New Energy Architecture, Platform Bèta Techniek, and the Rotterdam Climate Initiative. He is also on the executive committee of the European Institute of Technology and is Chair of ING and Royal Philips Electronics.

In 2009, van der Veer was honored by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as a Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau.