Our Speakers

Erem Kassim-Lakha (Chair)

Senior Managing Director, Global Head of Value Creation, Equities, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

Erem Kassim-Lakha is a seasoned transformation leader who has spent the past 20 years in senior operating roles, driving transformative growth. Most recently, was the Global Business Director for the Impressionist & Modern Art division at Christie’s as well as Global Head of Client Strategy reporting to the CEO. She was also an early member of the value creation team at Montagu Private Equity when the fund was making a shift to active investing, and served as MD for one of their UK-based portfolio businesses in the premium consumer space.

She is a Trustee of TeenTech, a charity focused on providing tech skills and confidence to youth. She has also served as Non-Executive Director on boards of start-up companies in the healthy eating, hospitality and social impact sectors. She is also on the Advisory Board for a sports, arts and cultural talent organization targeting youth.

Erem holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Brown University, Rhode Island. Prior to McKinsey, Erem held roles at Christie’s Manson, Montagu Private Equity in London, Spirit Group in London (TPG/Blackstone owned), Bain & Company in Toronto, and in M&A at Credit Suisse in New York.

John Abel

Technical Director, Office of the CTO, Google

John is focused on transformational sustainability solutions and uses emerging technologies to enable the acceleration of reducing carbon emissions. John works in the Sustainability group within Office of the CTO

John works within a diverse team drawn from multiple backgrounds and skill sets to ensure synergies of various perspectives working together comes to the fore. John also supports a number of STEM projects that are aimed at enhancing participation overall but particularly from a wider range of backgrounds. John is also very proud of being an ambassador for British Dyslexia Association

John began his technology career nearly 32 years ago, working on early AI and even distributed ledger technologies that were deployed to great impact in private and public sector environments. His expertise across many roles within Oracle and now Google in sustainability and data technologies have led to him being a renowned industry speaker, author and commentator on technical and business innovation issues.

Melis Kahya Akar

Managing Director, EMEA Head of Consumer, General Atlantic

Melis Kahya Akar is a Managing Director at General Atlantic and leads the firm’s Consumer investments across EMEA, in addition to focusing on investments in Turkey. Before joining General Atlantic in New York in 2015, Melis was a Vice President at TSG Consumer Partners where she focused on investments in the Retail and Consumer sectors. Previously, she was an Analyst in the Investment Banking division at J.P. Morgan where she concentrated on the consumer and retail sectors.

Hala Haenisch-Zeine

Managing Director, Portfolio Operations, Blackstone

Hala Zeine is a Managing Director in Portfolio Operations, where she is involved with Blackstone’s technology portfolio companies on accelerating growth and innovation as well as advising the firm’s investment teams in identifying and evaluating opportunities in the technology sector, with a particular focus on the European market.

Before joining Blackstone, Ms. Zeine served as Chief Product Officer for Celonis, a Germany-based global software firm. Prior to Celonis, Ms. Zeine spent almost two decades at SAP, working in corporate executive roles ranging from business development to leading their Digital Supply Chain product business.

Ms. Zeine holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) from Bentley University.

Bjorn Ruwald

Managing Director, Co-Head KKR Capstone Europe, KKR

Bjorn Ruwald (London) joined KKR Capstone in 2010. He currently serves as Co-Head of KKR Capstone in Europe and is a member of KKR’s European Private Equity Portfolio Management Committee. Mr. Ruwald focuses on the Nordic region and the Health Care and TMT sector teams. Mr. Ruwald has been involved with Ambea, LGC, Trainline, and Sedgwick, and leads the European CIO, Innovation and Digital communities of interest. Between 2014 and 2015, Mr. Ruwald was based in KKR Capstone’s New York office. Prior to joining KKR Capstone, Mr. Ruwald was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Company’s Copenhagen office, where he focused on the advanced industrials, energy, and biotechnology sectors on a wide range of functional topics, including strategy, organization and R&D/product development. Previously, he was an entrepreneur. Mr. Ruwald holds an M.Sc. in finance and accounting from Copenhagen Business School and a B.Sc. in international business from Copenhagen Business School, part of which he took at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University.

Moti Shahani (Moderator)

Managing Director, Blue Ridge Partners

Moti serves as a Managing Director of Blue Ridge Partners, based in London and serving PE firms and their portfolio companies across Europe. Moti has more than 25 years’ experience of driving value-creating growth. Before joining Blue Ridge Partners, he was with McKinsey & Company, founded one of the UK’s earliest digital marketing consultancies, served as a strategy Vice President with American Express dealing with all non-US markets and consulted independently on growth to a large number of UK and global clients. He holds an MA in Economics from King’s College, Cambridge and an MBA with Distinction from INSEAD.

Nick Day

Operating Partner, Investcorp

Nick Day joined Investcorp as an Operating Partner in 2022. Previously, Nick was CEO of Small World Money Transfer, a private equity backed omni-channel payment services provider – a business that he founded in 2006 and scaled from concept to a global operation in 32 countries, leading to an exit in 2019. Nick started his career in strategy consulting, with LEK in London and Sydney, and following that held roles with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank, on the retail side of the business.

Nick has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Oxford University, and a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD.

Alex Marshall

Senior Partner, CIL Management Consultants

Alex is CIL’s Senior Partner, focusing on the firm’s approach to clients and markets. He also leads the Financial Services and Business Services practices. He has over 20 years’ experience in consulting.

Alex has advised clients in a wide range financial services industries, including lending, insurance, wealth management and payments. Within business services, Alex’s experience spans professional services, human capital, BPO, property services, logistics and document management.

Before joining CIL Alex was a consultant with specialist financial services strategy consultancy First Consulting, where he conducted strategy engagements in both the UK and Europe.

Alex has an MA in Languages from the University of Cambridge and is a keen musician.

Streisan Bevan

Specialist Director, Customer Insight and Sales Effectiveness, Mayfair Equity Partners

Streisan joined Mayfair in 2022 and works in partnership with portfolio companies to identify and unlock value through improved customer insight and sales effectiveness. She supports management teams to deliver customer first thinking and to enhance their commercial capabilities.

Romain Bégramian (Moderator)

Partner, Roland Berger

Romain Bégramian heads the Sales Excellence expert team within our Restructuring, Performance and Transformation group. He is passionate about Sales and Marketing. With a hybrid profile, he envoys both a strong consulting and senior corporate management record, both in Europe and the US.

As a consultant, he worked for high profile consultancies, including one he co-founded. He helped numerous BtoB companies strongly increase their Sales and Marketing performance, generating tangible impacts (revenues and/or margins increase by 5% to 20% on top of existing trends). He led consultant teams both in the design / typical consulting phase as well as during implementation. He worked in numerous activity sectors: professional equipment, digital, media, infrastructure, tech, sports marketing, industrials, engineering services, and others.

In the corporate world, he spent several years in senior positions in the tech / Saas sectors, where he delivered very strong improvements of new billings.

Romain’s experience is that Revenue Growth does not stem from strategic or high-flying concepts but in building a strong Sales Machine (incl. Marketing). For this to happen, the most critical activities of the Sales and Marketing functions need to perform extremely well and consistently with each company’s sales cycle: key account management, activity management, sales playbooks and processes, CRM, marketing automation, sales ops, lead generation, team management, KPIs and dashboards, budgeting and target setting, prospecting, customer success, recruiting, onboarding, performance management, sales culture, Sales / Marketing SLA, indirect sales excellence, tender management, …

Riccardo Basile

Operating Partner, Permira

Riccardo is a member of the Portfolio Group. He has worked on a number of transactions including Allegro, Axiom, Catawiki, Magento, Synamedia and Tricor.

Prior to joining Permira, Riccardo was a Director at AlixPartners in London for five years, where he delivered a number of operational turnaround programmes mostly in retail, consumer goods, transport & logistics and industrial products. Before that, he worked for PwC in London for five years where he focused on delivering supply chain transformation programmes. Riccardo had previously held line management roles in industry.

Akshay Srimal

EMEA Head Strategic Resource Group, TA Associates

Akshay leads the Strategic Resource Group’s activities across EMEA. In his role, he focuses on identifying and driving value creation opportunities for TA’s portfolio companies.

Kees Wesdorp

Managing Director, Hellman & Friedman

Kees joined H&F in 2023 and is focused on partnering with management teams to drive value through commercial excellence and operational effectiveness at H&F’s portfolio companies in Europe. He is currently active in the Firm’s investment in zooplus. Prior to joining the Firm in 2023, Kees spent 6 years in business leadership positions in Philips and was part of the Philips executive committee leading the Precision Diagnosis division as of 2020. Before Philips, he worked in the Europe portfolio team at Bain Capital and was involved in several technical and financial services investments, and prior to Bain Capital was part of the NXP semiconductors carve out, working with various PE owners to drive value. Kees started his career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Amsterdam. Kees is fluent in English and Dutch.

Ben Rumble

Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer, Actum Group

Ben is a commercial leader with more than 18 years experience in the M&A and private equity market intelligence and data industry. He started his career in sell side M&A advisory before transitioning to head up the sales function at Mergermarket/Acuris. He successfully led Mergermarket’s high performing sales teams under BC Partners’ ownership from acquisition through to the exit to ION for £1.35bn in May 2019. Ben’s responsibilities span all revenue-related functions including sales, marketing and customer success whilst driving and executing long term commercial strategy. Ben is the Chief Revenue office and Co-Founder of Actum Group.