High-level Advisory Board
The IFI High-level Advisory Board consists of renowned global leaders in innovation management, policy and governance. The board members engage in their personal capacity in our activities.
María Benjumea is the president and founder of Spain Startup, the company that promotes and organizes The South Summit; an initiative aimed to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation and showcase to the world the talent, the technology and the entrepreneurial character of the South. From the very beginning of her professional career, María has been an entrepreneur. Once she got her Geography and History degree in Madrid Complutense university, when she was 25 she started her first project, Taller del Arte, a very innovative space which combined a business based in antiques, art gallery and restoration. In 1981, she founded Círculo de Progreso, years later transformed into Infoempleo, which became the top site as a job active search.
Furthermore, she is the founder partner of IWF España (International Women Forum), and vicepresident of Círculo de Empresarios y de Secot. In 2011 she was awarded with the “Premio Nacional a la Mujer Directiva” in business innovation category; as well as the Premio Clara Campoamor in 2009 by Madrid Town Hall, Business woman of the year in 2007 by ASEME; and one of the top one hundred leader women in Spain in the last editions.
Emma Fernández is a distinguished executive with a solid career in ICT, Security & Defense and Transport & Traffic. She began working in ICT for Alcatel and Telefónica. She joined Indra in 1991, where she was appointed Senior Executive VP in 2007. Throughout her career she actively participated in the transformation of the company from a small-cap to a multinational ensuring that a global perspective was taken up to manage key intangible assets: Strategy, Innovation, Talent Management, Brand and Communication, Public Affairs, Corporate Governance and Corporate Responsibility. From 2003 and 2006 she was also responsible for M&A and led operations that strengthened Indra´s leadership in Spain and its presence in Latam.
She is very active in associations and initiatives that promote Women Leadership in the business field. She is a speaker and columnist on technology, innovation, talent management and women leadership. Being a Telecom Engineer, technology is her passion. She has dedicated her efforts in contributing to the digital transformation; a clear opportunity for business and society.
Dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist, John calls himself an innovation activist. He is chairman of the Institute for Large Scale Innovation, whose i20 group is an association of 30 national ‘Chief Innovation Officers.’ John coined the term “large scale innovation” to refer to innovation as a societal agenda. He has advised numerous nations and regions on innovation strategy and execution, including Finland, Singapore, the City of San Francisco, Abu Dhabi and elements of the US government as well as the European Union innovation policy team.
John is a leader in creating and delivering high end innovation leadership executive programs for both public and private sectors. He was a member of the Harvard Business School faculty from 1982-96, where he created executive and MBA programs on innovation. He wrote Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, a BusinessWeek best-seller, and Innovation Nation, published in October, 2007 about America’s growing innovation challenge.
Currently John serves as director of the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium, founding member of Cisco System’s Innovation Commission, and chairman of the Global Advisory Council on Innovation of the World Economic Forum. He is contributing editor to The Daily Beast’s innovation channel. He is also a director of TwoFour54 a Mubadala company and Phylotech, a company that bridges cleantech and life sciences.
John has long been an angel investor in emerging technology companies and a Tony-nominated producer of film (sex, lies and videotape, Mr. Baseball) and stage (Golden Child, Flower Drum Song). He is a graduate of Yale College (philosophy), Yale Medical School (psychiatry) and Harvard Business School (management). A jazz pianist at heart, he apprenticed to rock legend Frank Zappa in 1969.
Professor Ron Johnston, Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Innovation, is one of Australia’s leading thinkers about the way technology shapes our future. He was educated as a scientist in Australia and the UK, and worked for many years in Europe and the US in the private sector, international organisations and universities. He has published more than 200 books, articles and reports, covering a broad range of issues related to science and technology policy and management.
Professor Johnston’s role in Australia has been recognised by his election to the Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and by his appointment as Deputy Chair of the Australian Science and Technology Engineering Council, Director of the Australian Commission for the Future, Trustee of the Powerhouse Museum, member of the Australian Manufacturing Council, and a member of the NSW Innovation Council. He has recently been appointed a Life Fellow of the Powerhouse Museum.