Meet Our Scholars

Li Zhang

Co-Founder, Programme Director for China Enterprise Programme

Li's life ambition is to create educational institutions that integrate academic excellence with creativity and leadership. She has long recognised the value in educating students from every corner of the globe to understand the complex business environment in China and its political landscape. Having been immersed in Chinese politics since a young age and navigated through these complexities herself, coupled with her in-depth understanding of the political and economic landscape in China. Student can expect interactive case studies, fun-filled and controversial material interwoven with constant class debates. Li is a graduate scholar at the University of Oxford where she read for a M.Sc. in Contemporary Chinese Studies and specialised in Chinese politics and international relations. She is currently carrying out her PhD research in South Africa on Sino-African relations and Special Economic Zones. Li has a First Class Honours Bachelor's degree from the University of York, UK in Finance and received an award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales for academic excellence. She has professional work experience in M&A investment banking, top tier accounting firms, and private wealth management in Shanghai. She has travelled across more than 30 countries and has lived and worked in South America, Asia, Europe, Australasia and Africa.

Alec Walker

President, Programme Director of Global Innovation Launchpad

Alec Walker is the Founder and Director of Inly LLC, a global innovation consultancy operating behind the scenes to help companies apply creativity to achieve productive outcomes. He holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he focused on entrepreneurship and innovation management as well as design thinking at Stanford’s d.school. He has helped a myriad of companies in the United States and China including Y Combinator Startup Tech Company Spinpunch, global EPC giant AECOM, leading private brokerage firm CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Group, and Swarovski Crystal. Alec has also taught and developed curricula for a variety of notable higher education institutions, including Tsinghua, Tongji, Shanghai University, Shanghai Tech, East China Normal University, National Taiwan University, National Tsinghua University in Taiwan, National Chiao Tung University, Dongguan University of Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and EM-LYON and UTSEUS in France. He served as an organizer for Scientific Collaborations Across Borders under former White House Chief Science Advisor Dr Neal Lane and White House Chief of Staff James Baker III, and he served as an engineer and new venture project manager at Royal Dutch Shell for four years. He earned his BS in chemical engineering and a BA in Asian studies at Rice University, during which time he contributed to research teams on topics including liquid salt development at University of California Berkeley, urban migration studies in outer Mongolia, quantum computing research at Keio University in Japan, electron orbital measurement at National University of Singapore, and heat and mass transfer studies at Cornell University.

Daphne Halkias

Advisor and Content Provider to the Global Innovation Launchpad

Dr. Daphne Halkias teaches Case Study Development and Application in the doctoral programs at ISM. Halkias is a Fellow at the Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School and CEO of Executive Coaching Consultants, an international consulting firm specializing in leadership mentoring, coaching family firms and developing academic research projects in the areas of cross-cultural management, and entrepreneurship.

She is a distinguished academic who has chaired and developed academic programs in the U.S. and Europe and a researcher with books and paper publications spanning 25 years in organizational behavior, corporate governance, entrepreneurship, cross-cultural management, family business, negotiation skills, psychology, migration issues and education. She has been an invited keynote speaker in numerous business and social science forums, including the World Entrepreneurship Summit and the Wendel Center for Family Enterprise at INSEAD, France. She is a Research Affiliate at the Institute for Social Sciences at Cornell University; Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Youth and Family Enterprise (CYFE) at the University of Bergamo in Italy; Research Associate at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS), University of California, San Diego; Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, UK and Editor of International Journal of Teaching and Case Study & International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dr. Halkias is a Member of several professional associations but her strongest inspirations come from membership in 'Business Fights Poverty' and KIVA and the cause of fighting poverty through leadership mentoring for sustainable entrepreneurship chronicled in her book Entrepreneurship and Sustainability: Business Solutions for Poverty Alleviation from around the World co-authored with Paul Thurman, Columbia University.

Paul Thurman

Advisor and Content Provider to the Global Innovation Launchpad

Professor Thurman, a Columbia MBA valedictorian, service award winner, and multiple teaching award recipient, has extensive experience helping a variety of governments and corporations realize value from innovative leadership, operations, and technology strategies. Thurman teaches strategic management and data analysis at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and has led the department's Non-Degree Executive Education Programs and its its Professional Development Program. Previously, he was a Healthcare Research Fellow, Professor, and MBA Director at the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, and has held professorships in China, India, Brazil, Greece, Saudi Arabia, England, and Iceland. His recent peer-reviewed research has focused on scientific collaboration and its effect on research quality, and on cancer drug patents, FDA approvals, and market pricing.

He is the author of MBA Fundamentals Statistics, (Kaplan, 2008), Pocket Guide to Data Analysis (Kaplan, 2009), and co-author (with Thomas P. Ference) of MBA Fundamentals Strategy (Kaplan, 2009) as well as lead editor and chapter author of Female Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Father-Daughter Succession in Family Businesses, and Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. Thurman served on the boards of the Greenburgh (NY) Nature Center, the Scarsdale (NY) Teen Center, and currently sits on advisory boards of a number of entrepreneurial ventures. He received his BS in Mathematics from Stanford University, studied statistics and operations research at New York University, received his MBA (with highest honors) from Columbia, and completed doctoral (DrPH) coursework in health policy and management at the State University of New York. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Business Administration degree (DBA) from Ecole des Ponts, in Paris, France.

Robert Chang

Advisor and Content Provider to the Global Innovation Launchpad

Professor Chang is a medical innovator on faculty at Stanford University. He is a trained biodesign educator and startup mentor. As a full-time glaucoma and cataract expert surgeon, Dr. Chang is an early adopter of new medical technologies and currently focuses research on machine learning, portable imaging, wearables, and telemedicine. He is co-inventor of the first universal smartphone adapter to take pictures of the front and back of the eye, licensed to Digisight Technologies as the PAXOS scope. He also co-created the first Stanford-China Biodesign Bootcamp held at the Stanford Center at Peking University in Beijing, runs the annual DreamCatchers MedTech Hackathon in Hong Kong, and leads healthcare innovation in Brazil.

Dr. Chang received his MD from a combined BA/MD program at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the prestigious Washington University in St. Louis, followed by a research and clinical glaucoma fellowship at the renowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. He has published 40 peer-reviewed papers, delivered more than 100 invited national and international lectures, been awarded many grants, holds multiple patents, and advises medtech, pharma, and digital health companies on a regular basis.