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Inspirational speakers

These speakers have been especially selected for either their ability to inspire or their inspiring accomplishments. They all have the same values which emphasise and should inspire you to reach the unreached and touch the untouched.


Ian Rydin

Ian Rydin, a Swedish national, serve as general manager of the luxury Radisson Blu Nairobi hotel, which opened in November 2015. Mr Rydin is also Carlson Rezidor’s district director in charge of East Africa region. Mr. Rydin, a career hotelier, is tasked with growing Radisson Blu’s market share in Nairobi’s increasingly competitive hospitality market where new global hotel chains are setting up.

Mr. Rydin has a solid background in the hospitality industry with over 20 years experience. He began his career with various F&B positions in Sweden, Malaysia and Cyprus. In 1993 he took on the position of F&B Manager at Stoten Ski Resort in Salen, Sweden before becoming Assistant Manager at The Montcalm Hotel in London in 1998. He joined Rezidor Hotel Group in August 2000 as Operations Manager responsible for hotel conversions, pre-openings and takeover’s before being promoted to Director of Future Openings in 2003. A role which saw him actively involved in the opening of over a 150 hotels across 30 countries.

Rydin holds a BSc of Hotel and Restaurant Management from Oxford Brookes University and a Strategic General Management certificate from Cranfield University, School of Management both of which are in the UK. He has also gained diplomas from Cornell School of Hotel Administration, IMHI Essec Business School and Gothenburg International Hospitality College. .



Dr. Edith M. Szivas

Dr. Szivas is an expert in tourism strategic planning and tourism human capital development. Her expertise bridges industry and academia. She has been working on advisory projects for the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), EU, USAID and AFED (Arab Forum for Environment and Development) in the area of strategic tourism development, tourism policy and planning, national level tourism education and human resources development and luxury hotel management and branding in Africa, Asia, then Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. She is a firm believer in the need to balance profitability with the interest of the environment, society and culture, development and environmental conservation through the development and use of appropriate tools and policies that are in line with the principles of ‘Green Tourism’.

Dr. Szivas holds a Bachelor Degree in International Trade – Import/Export, an MSc in Tourism Planning and Development and a PhD in Tourism from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom.  She holds a Professorship from Modul University Dubai.

Judy Kepher- Gona

Judy is a sustainable tourism advocate, planner, advisor, assessor and trainer with over 17 years experience working with tourism sector, communities, conservation. Holder of MA in Rural Sociology & Community Development, Judy has dedicated her professional life in reviewing, researching and creating opportunities that link tourism, community development, and conservation.

In Kenya, she was the founding CEO of Ecotourism Kenya, the premier ecotourism society on Africa. While at Ecotourism she led and coordinated the development of criteria and standards for sustainable tourism certification, resulting in Kenya’s eco-rating scheme for hotels and lodges. In 2013, she founded Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda (STTA) an advisory organisation that uses education, research, advocacy, and training to accelerate uptake of sustainable tourism, and support public and private sector agencies to engage and respond. Globally Judy has served severally as a judge of World Travel and Tourism Council Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, and onsite-evaluator for Nat Geo Unique Lodges of the World and Nat Geo World Legacy Awards. In addition she has been a board member of Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), advisory board member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and recently board member of Fair Trade Tourism South Africa (FTT).