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Challenge Advisors

Your advisors for the challenge.

Here you to guide you every step of the way.


Mr Masanori Nishi

Former Vice Minister of Defence, Japan


Senator Liew Chin Tong

Senator, Parliament of Malaysia

Former Deputy Defense Minister of Malaysia

Liew Chin Tong is a Senator in Dewan Negara, he was the Deputy Defence Minister from 17 July 2018 to 24 February 2020. He was first elected Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera (2008-2013), and was subsequently the Member of Parliament for Kluang (2013-2018). Since 1999, Chin Tong has served DAP in various capacities and is now a Member of its Central Executive Committee, serving as the National Political Education Director.

Chin Tong graduated with a degree in Political Science and an honours degree in Asian Studies from the Australian National University and holds an International Masters in Regional Integration from the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya.

Chin Tong is the Chairman of Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) since 2012 and was the Executive Director of Penang Institute (previously Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute, SERI, from 2009-2012). He was also formerly a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore.


Dr Alex Lin

Interim CEO, NTUitive

Since 2014, Dr. Alex Lin has been inspiring, investing, and co-building startup accelerators in Singapore and the region. These accelerators have groomed over 380 startups, of which more than 170 of them have raised series-A funding. This has drastically changed Singapore’s startup landscape and raised Singapore’s startup ecosystem rank from 17th to 10th within 2 years.

Alex is currently the Interim CEO of NTUitive, which is the technology and commercialization unit of the globally 11th ranked Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He continues building ecosystems in the region and creating vibrant startup hubs for more tech adoption and economic progress. This set of knowledge has also been formalized into the NTUit executive development curriculum that is adopted in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Alex has worked closely with the government on policies affecting the economic development in Singapore as well as in the region. He was in the committee that set up Singapore’s Infocomm Media Masterplan (IN2015 & IM2025), the Research-Innovation-and-Enterprise Masterplan (RIE2020) where his contributions shaped the Innovation, E-Commerce, and Smart Nation policies and regulations.

Alex was a member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Fintech Office where he worked with MAS to set policies, especially in incentive, commerce and taxation programs that made and continue to make Singapore the Fintech hub of Asia. The Fintech office has successfully anchored the Fintech Festival as an annual pilgrimage for all Fintech stakeholders around the world.

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Mr Edward Foo

Managing Director, Pacific Harbor Group

Mr. Foo is a founding member and managing director of Pacific Harbor Group, a Pan-Asian alternative asset management company focused on Asia Special Situations and Private Debt investment strategies, having completed over US$ 10 billion in Asian private debt and equity investments since inception.  He is country manager for Singapore and has over 20 years of experience in handling financial transactions in global markets.

Mr. Foo is responsible for investment origination and structuring activities in Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.  He is additionally involved in managing complex asset restructuring, enforcement and recovery operations, achieving notable success in challenging legal jurisdictions.  He brings a unique set of experience, perspective and strategic thought to investing and operating in Asia.

Prior to Pacific Harbor, Mr. Foo was a founding director and Singapore office head for Amroc Investments Asia, an affiliate of Avenue Capital Group, Texas Pacific Group and Colony Capital.  He was responsible for investment sourcing and was embedded within Avenue Asia’s team for investment due diligence and transaction execution - monitoring activities.  He was additionally involved in sourcing and trading of Asian high yield debt and distressed debt for partner funds.

Mr. Foo holds a Bachelors of Commerce from Murdoch University and has completed executive programs at Said Business School, University of Oxford and a joint executive program by The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and The Centre on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University. 

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Dr Gérardine Goh Escolar

First Secretary, Hague Conference on Private International Law

Adjunct Associate Professor, NUS Law

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Gérardine Goh Escolar is First Secretary at the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Her portfolios span family law and child protection, and international commercial and financial law. In family law and child protection, she has primary responsibility over the 1980 Child Abduction Convention, the 1996 Child Protection Convention, and the project on Family Agreements involving Children, as well as joint primary responsibility over the International Hague Network of Judges. In international commercial and financial law, she has primary responsibility over the 1985 Trusts and 2007 Securities Conventions, as well as developments with respect to the private international law implications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and other aspects of the digital economy.


Dr Goh Escolar was previously in practice, acting as counsel, advocate and consultant in international litigation and arbitration proceedings, first with a specialist international law boutique, and then with a top-tier global law firm headquartered in Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Prior to that, she was Legal Advisor to the President of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, and principal legal officer in the chambers of a Judge at the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. She has also served as a legal officer in the service of the government of Germany, in-house counsel at a technology company, and vice-president of external relations at an information technology startup.


Dr Goh Escolar has represented clients, and served as tribunal secretary and advisor, in arbitration proceedings under the ICC, ICSID, and UNCITRAL frameworks. She has worked on cases that turned on both private international law and public international law issues, including cases relating to privileges and jurisdictional immunities, maritime and land boundary delimitations, the law of armed conflict, genocide, environmental protection, investment treaty protection, foreign military sales, cross-border corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and energy markets.


Dr Goh Escolar founded and acted as CEO of a not-for-profit company, teaching theatre and stagecraft to at-risk children and children engaged in disciplinary issues at school and with the law. She was also part of a team that constructed a school for a rural community in Mashan, Guangzhou (PR China), and has lectured on international child rights and cross-border child protection at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.


Dr Goh Escolar has extensive academic experience over two decades, having taught and conducted research at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), the National University of Singapore (Singapore), the University of Cologne (Germany), and the University of Leiden (the Netherlands). She holds a doctorate (Dr. iur.) from the University of Leiden, and an LL.M. from University College London (United Kingdom). She was placed on the overall Dean’s List for her LL.B. (Hons.), which was awarded by the National University of Singapore. Dr Goh Escolar is admitted to the New York bar.

Born and raised in Indonesia, Ivy Santoso is currently the Senior Consultant to International Finance Corporation (IFC). Prior to that, she served as the Managing Director of Moya Indonesia Holdings from 2017 to August 2020.


She is responsible to provide overall direction and strategic management for the group, including evaluating the business and industry, setting goals and recommending strategies and financial targets for growing and expanding the business and operations of the group and implementation of the strategic goals, objectives and policies of the Moya group.

Prior to joining Moya, from 2013 to 2016, Ivy led the turnaround and recapitalization of PT Bank Pundi Indonesia Tbk (“Pundi”), a micro bank in Indonesia which was later acquired by the Banten provincial government. Ivy was the country head of Indonesia and advisor for Actis Capital Partner, a UK based private equity fund for its SE Asia investments from 2012 to 2013. Ivy Santoso also acted as the Indonesian country head for Avenue Capital, a New York based investor.


She is also the founding team for Avenue Asian Funds with the main responsibility to develop strategy for the Indonesian market resulting in an investment of close to US$1,500m over 13 years with Indonesia as one of the key portfolios for Avenue Asia. Ms. Santoso graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Oklahoma State University.

Ms Ivy Santoso
Senior Consultant 
International Finance Corporation

Valerie is a qualified lawyer trained both in civil law as well as common law legal systems. She has been working in the asset management industry for more than 20 years.


Valerie currently holds the position of Regional Managing Director for Apex Group in Asia Pacific. Apex Group is a leading global financial services provider servicing for above USD 1trillion of alternative assets.


Throughout her career, Valerie has led businesses’ growth and performance across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She has worked closely with sovereign wealth funds, financial institutions, asset managers and family offices advising them on the structuring of their alternative investments or providing services support to their alternative assets strategy.


She is also very active in the industry and engages with other professionals through mentorship of youths or chairmanship of professional organizations.

Ms Valerie Mantot-Groene
Regional Managing Director of Asia Pacific
Apex Group

Mr Joseph Schmelzeis

Former Senior Advisor to the Ambassador,

United States of America Embassy, Japan

Joseph most recently served in the U.S. Embassy Tokyo in the appointed position of Senior Advisor to the Ambassador from February 2018 to January 2021.
Prior to public service, Joe’s career included consulting with Bain & Company in the US and Japan, sales and marketing with American Express covering the Asia-Pacific region, software marketing in Japan, venture incubation in China, hedge fund management and real estate acquisition in Japan, and management and overseas expansion of theme parks on behalf of SEGA Corporation where he served as a Division Manager and Corporate Director, overseeing a team of 600 colleagues in Japan, China, and Dubai. 
Joe was born in New York, NY.  When he was 13, Joe’s family moved temporarily to Tokyo, where he attended high school at the American School in Japan, graduating in 1980.  He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and East Asian Studies from Yale University, where he graduated summa cum laude. He speaks Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.  He is an instrument rated private pilot.

Masanori Nishi has been a Special Adviser to the Minister of Defense since August of 2017 till October of 2018 after holding the role previously from 2015-2016. Mr. Nishi has held numerous roles at the Ministry of Defense such as Director General of the Bureau of Finance and Equipment, Director General of the Bureau of Defense Policy. As an Administrative Vice Minister of Defense, he examined the promotion of the defense industry and procurement system, reconsidered traditional Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, introduced F-35, coordinated the submarine export project to Australia, established the Legislation for Peace and Security, reviewed Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, and launched Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency.

Mr. Nishi first joined Japan Defense Agency (JDA) in April of 1978 and through the years held various roles in the Secretarial Division, Bureau of Personnel, Bureau of Equipment, NAHA Defense Facility Bureau. In 2006, he was involved in the development of the SM-3 Bloc2A as Deputy Director General, the Technical Research and Development Institute.

Mr. Nishi holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Tokyo and a M.Litt of International Relations from the University of Oxford.


Mr Louis Chen Luo
CEO of WEIJIA Network Technology Come. Ltd

Partner, Yiling Capital

Mr. Luo Chen has rich experience in business management, especially in the international education industry, immigration industry, IT field, etc. He also has strong leadership, execution and coordination ability and rich industry contacts.
Mr. Luo has been deeply engaged in the field of international education and has integrated the power of technology into the Industry since he achieved MBA in 2000. Weijia Technology Co Ltd, founded by him, has become the largest CRM supplier in the study abroad agency industry in China. His strategic and leadership skills are also reflected in the establishment of many Sino-foreign cooperative education programs. He has actively participated in the cooperation between many universities in Australia and Singapore and Chinese universities, such as Shanghai Normal University, Fudan University and Tsinghua University.
He is also a partner at Yiling Capital, where he is responsible for reviewing investments in education programs

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Mr Ted Chen
CEO, Evercomm

Ted Chen is the Co-founder and CEO of Evercomm Singapore – a Singapore Digital (SG:D) Accredited company with an emphasis on the triple bottom line.

Youngest to receive the prestigious Singapore Energy Award and recognized as one of the digital pioneers by the Singapore Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), Ted works closely with the United Nations Major Group for Children & Youth (UN MGCY) as the Science-Policy Interface Focal Point, with the mission of advancing the role of children and youth in contributing to the sustainable development. He is also an expert technical partner for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) City2City Network and a Barclays Unreasonable Impact Fellow.

Ted has notably received the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and made it to World Cities Summit Young Leader and Forbes’ inaugural 30 Under 30 Asia list.

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Ms Minerva Novero
Policy Specialist, Governance, UNDP

Minerva Novero-Belec is a Policy Specialist in the Governance and Peacebuilding (GP) Cluster of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) in New York. She serves as UNDP’s co-focal point for urbanization, with a focus on “smart cities” and smart approaches to sustainable and inclusive urban governance and development. Prior to this post, she served as Policy Specialist for ICT for Development, e-Governance and Access to Information, managing a portfolio that included focal-point for UNDP’s membership in the Broadband Commission; UNDP’s role as permanent vice-chair of the UN Group on Information Society (UNGIS); UNDP’s co-organization of the annual WSIS Forum; UNDP’s engagement in various multilateral efforts related to ICTD and e-governance such as the Open Government Partnership (OGP; serving as focal point for the Working Group on Access to Information); and coordination of ICTD and e-governance policy advisory and programming support to UNDP country programmes.


Ms. Novero-Belec’s career straddles policy, communications and journalism. She holds a Degree in Mass Communications (major in Journalism) from the University of the Philippines and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs with a concentration on economic and political development from Columbia University in New York