Ian Thomas

Ian Thomas

The Power of the Pride (African Inspiration)

When a cat that weighs 220 kgs and can run the 100 metres in 5 seconds, sees you, growls at you, and then charges you, it gets your attention. You suddenly realise that you are dealing with a focussed, skilful and terrifyingly powerful predator; if several lions are present you may be threatened by multiple charges.

Ian has studied lions at close quarters for more than thirty years. He has a unique understanding of how lions raise such potent individuals and then combine them into incredibly powerful teams or prides – a skill that people and particularly business people would like to have.

Ian’s presentations illustrate how lions do it, and how you can do it. They combine stunning photographs, clear explanations, hair-raising stories, growls, roars, humour, and sound business take home value.

Ludwick Marishane

Ludwick Marishane

The Waterless Bath (An African Tale)

South African student Ludwick Marishane invented a water-less bathing lotion and was named the 2011 Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award — all because he didn’t feel like taking baths.

Ludwick Marishane invented DryBath® and founded Headboy Industries Inc. In 2011, he was rated as the best student entrepreneur in the world (Global Champion of the Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards 2011). That same year, Google named him as one of the 12 brightest young minds in the world. TIME Magazine named him as one of the “Top 30 under 30 people that are changing the world” in 2013.

Hear his story about how ingenuity and persistence can help the 2.5 billion people worldwide who lack proper access to water and sanitation.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton

Doing it Differently

Deborah Sexton joined the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) in March 2005 as President and CEO. In conjunction with this role, she also serves as President of the PCMA Education Foundation.

A 30-year veteran of the meetings and convention industry, Sexton previously served as President of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (CCTB). She joined the CCTB in 1994 as Vice President of Sales and Services, and under her leadership, the Bureau’s sales team broke all former sales production figures and the services department successfully expanded the benefits available to customers. In February of 2000, she was promoted to Executive Vice President, where she oversaw the Bureau’s membership, sales, and services departments, and then became president in February 2002.

Sexton serves the Convention Industry Council (CIC) as Immediate-Past Chair of the Board. She also is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the International Association for Expositions and Events, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). She formerly served on the Foundation Board of Trustees of PCMA, ASAE and DMAI, and was an officer of the Board of Directors of MPI. In addition to the MPI Board term, Sexton served a second term on the MPI Board Executive Committee. Sexton is an ASAE Fellow.

Listeners will all benefit from her commitment to industry education.

Helen Nicolson

Helen Nicholson


Helen Nicholson is a business networking specialist. She has a BCom degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa, where she studied to be an accountant.

After working in the financial industry in South Africa, Helen lived in the Middle East for five years, developing and the selling her own successful business in Dubai and then returning to South Africa. She gained international corporate experience in the IT industry while co-ordinating the Middle East marketing operation for Novell.

On her return to South Africa, she consulted and lectured at Wits Business School where she still guest lectures on the MBA programme and on various in-company programmes. She also lectures at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

Helen has a bi-monthly regular column in the South African newspaper The Star the power of networking. She is the Director of The Networking Company, specialising in teaching people to grow their networks and grown their businesses and she recently published a business bestseller entitled “Networking – How to get Your Black Belt in Business Success”.

She is a passionate South African who thrives on the meaningful work she does in leadership development. Her clients include FNB, Standard Bank, Citadel, Investec, Ernst & Young, RMB and Old Mutual.

Helen is a mentor at Shanduka Black Umbrellas for aspiring African entrepreneurs and she is a founding member of the Professional Speakers Association of South Africa.

Hazel Jackson

Hazel Jackson

Scaling up your business

Hazel has built an impressive reputation and successful multi-million dollar business, Biz Group, during the past 23 years based in Dubai. Nearly two decades ago, and with just US$700 in her pocket, Hazel founded Biz Group, which she has developed from a small training company into an organisation of 55 professionals servicing the Middle East’s corporate training, team building and business strategy needs. Passionate about impacting performance, Biz Group’s success is a testament to Hazel’s entrepreneurial spirit.

A strong believer in the multiplying effect of exceptional leadership, Hazel conducts strategic workshops for executives, is a regular commentator on business leadership issues and a keynote speaker at HR conferences throughout the region and internationally.

Renowned for her high-energy business savvy, Hazel is the Past President of the UAE Chapter of the global Entrepreneur’s Organisation (EO), and the business was rated #1 for Human Capital in Dubai’s SME Top 100 in 2015 for the second year in succession. The company has also been ranked as the #1 SME Great Place To Work in UAE every year since 2013. Biz Group promises to change the way people think and work every day by training people, building teams and transforming organisations.

As an accredited ‘Gazelles’ business leadership coach, Hazel works closely with renowned business author and international speaker (coined ‘The Growth Guy’), Verne Harnish, author of famed Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.

In 2010, she read the book Multipliers, how the best leaders make everyone smarter, engaged with the author Liz Wiseman and bought the license rights for the Middle East and subsequently emerging markets, China, India and Africa. A Multipliers keynote speaker and certified workshop leader, Hazel focuses on how Multipliers enables Business Leaders to maximize the intelligence in their workforce, ultimately let go and hold others accountable.

A dynamic and commercially minded CEO and consultant, she has worked with diverse cultures and across all industries, from banking to manufacturing, FMCG to retail, professional services to Automotive, Oil & Gas to Hospitality, in family businesses, multi-nationals and government entities.

Hazel’s exceptional entrepreneurial skills, her incredible leadership and passion for impacting performance have transcended throughout Biz Group, its people, culture and results making it the successful organisation it is today.

Dirk Elzinga

Dirk Elzinga

New Frontiers – Development on the African Continent

Dirk Elzinga (1949) is Managing Director of Convention Industry Consultants (Pty) Ltd in Cape Town. This specialized consultancy assists governments and private organisations with feasibility studies and pre-opening marketing and management support for new convention centre initiatives and repositioning projects of existing venues and other organisations in the field of business tourism.

Elzinga was born in the Netherlands and lives since 2001 in South Africa. He studied tourism and business administration in Breda. Until 2010 he was MD of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). He served as a board member of the Netherlands Convention Bureau, the Amsterdam Convention Bureau and ICCA, FEDHASA and EXSA. He is member of the SANCB marketing subcommittee.