Our Board

Chair: Sir Malcolm Williamson

Sir Malcolm worked for Barclays Bank PLC from 1957 to 1985. He was then appointed a member of the Post Office Board and Managing Director of Girobank plc. In 1989, he joined Standard Chartered PLC and became Group Chief Executive. In 1998, he moved to San Francisco, USA, as President and CEO of Visa International until 2004.

Sir Malcolm’s current non-executive roles are Chairman of Friends Life Group Limited, NewDay Group Ltd, the Cass Business School Strategy and Development Board and the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation.

He was previously Chairman of Signet Jewelers Ltd, National Australia Group Europe Ltd / Clydesdale Bank PLC and a Non-Executive Director of National Australia Bank Ltd. He has also previously served as Chairman of CDC Group, Deputy Chairman of Resolution, Chairman of Britannic Group and was a non-executive director of JP Morgan Cazenove Holdings, G4S and the National Grid Group. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees for the International Business Leaders Forum.

Chief Executive Officer: Anita Tiessen

Anita Tiessen is the CEO of Youth Business International and leads the global network’s efforts to connect members, partners and young people to develop and scale new solutions that leverage the power of entrepreneurship to drive social and economic change. Anita has extensive experience in international development, human rights and leading global networks.

Before joining YBI in 2018, Anita was CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a global movement of 150 country members, where she focused on growing the organisation’s reach and impact. Previously she was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, and Head of Communications at Amnesty International’s global headquarters.

Jeannie Arthur 

Jeannie Arthur (J) is a serial entrepreneur who has created, grown and exited two marketing technology businesses.  J is enthusiastic about all aspects of business, technology and entrepreneurship; investing and working as a non-exec director for a broad range of businesses as well as working with school kids to encourage them to explore opportunities in the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Outside work she can be found travelling to remote parts of the world, usually with a camera in her hand, on a horse or on a snowboard.

John Downie

John Downie is Managing Director – Resources EALA in Accenture’s London office.  He specialises in strategy and organisational development, as well as M&A and large scale transformation.

He has served clients throughout Europe, Asia and North America. John holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from Swinburne University in Melbourne and a Masters of Business Administration from London Business School. He is married with two children.

Romeo Effs

Romeo Effs is Founder & CEO of Aspyre Group and Founder and Chief Gladiator at Empire Builders. He is a serial entrepreneur, former corporate senior executive, high performance coach, author and international speaker.

He has worked at a senior executive and board level with some of the world’s leading multinational companies, including Accenture, Air Jamaica, Caribbean Airlines, Caribbean Star, EC Express, ARC Systems, Rosslyn Analytics, Marks & Spencer, DHL, Change Capital, MITIE, and The Office of National Statistics.

He sits on a number of private company boards globally including Deputy Chair – Aspyre Corporation PLc., Chairman Ethos Holdings Ltd., NED – AnyData Solutions Ltd., Board Member Black British Classical Foundation and a number of other UK and International charities.

He holds a Dual Masters in Supply Chain, Finance and Trade from Cass Business School, a BBA in International Management from the University of North Florida, and numerous other executive certifications.

Ramanie Kunanayagam

Ramanie is a social anthropologist with over 25 years’ experience of working on social performance, human rights and sustainable development issues in both emerging and developing economies in the context of the extractive sector.

Ramanie is the former Group Head of Social Performance and Human Rights for BG Group, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. Previous to that Ramanie was Principal Adviser Community Relations at Rio Tinto, where she had a global remit. Ramanie has also spent nine years working for two of Rio Tinto’s mines in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, and has also worked for the World Bank Group in Washington DC in the Oil, Gas and Mining Department as Senior Social Specialist.

She has served in a leading capacity on a number of external committees among which are the Centre for Socially Responsible Mining Advisory Board at University of Queensland and the Oil and Gas Multi-Sector Advisory Group on Human Rights Guidance for the European Commission.

Liz Padmore

Liz Padmore is an independent consultant, international advisor, mentor and Board Director. She was previously a strategy partner and Global Director of Policy & Corporate Affairs at Accenture, and currently works with the Oxford Business School.

While global head of Accenture’s strategic think tank she led studies into issues such as entrepreneurship, innovation, corporate reputation, trust, leadership and the role of business as a force for sustainable economic and social development.

Crispin Rapinet

Crispin is a commercial litigation lawyer and a partner with Hogan Lovells based in London with particular expertise in international and cross-border litigation arising out of insolvency, fraud and asset recovery situations. He has worked in Asia for many years and was Regional Managing Partner of the firm’s offices in Asia and the Middle East from 2005 to 2013.  He is the leader of Hogan Lovells’ Investigations, White Collar and Fraud practice and is also co-chair of the pro bono practice and co-chair of the firm’s Citizenship Panel.

Fadi Sarkis

Fadi is a Senior Partner at Sarkis & Associates, one of the largest well integrated law firms in Syria. He joined the firm in 1996 and is a key figure in both domestic and cross-border issues. He is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees to Syrian YBI member organisation BIDAYA.

In the area of development, Fadi has acquired vast experience as a legal expert and consultant for EU, World Bank and UN development projects in Syria and abroad.

Tim Copnell

Tim joined KPMG in 1986, qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1989 and he joined KPMG’s Technical Accounting Group in 1990. He is the founding Chairman of KPMG’s UK Audit Committee Institute and has been specialising in corporate governance since 1993. He is responsible for overseeing a programme of over 40 board and audit committee development seminars per annum and for developing updates, tools and guidance to assist directors in fulfilling their duties. He also has extensive experience of facilitating board effectiveness reviews and in advising on corporate governance matters including compliance with Codes and regulation.

Tim plays a major role in shaping UK corporate governance developments and chaired the European Confederation of Directors’ Associations’ (ecoDA’s) working party on audit committees.

He speaks on corporate governance matters across Europe, Asia and the Americas and is the author of the Audit Committee Guide (ICSA 2010) and The AGM and Shareholder Questions (ICSA 2007). He is also a past winner fo the Accountancy ‘Accountant of the Year’ award for his work with audit committees.


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© Youth Business International 2017. In the UK Youth Business International is a registered charity no: 1123946. Tel +44 (0)20 3326 2060.