Karen Shakhnazarov: Film Industry Titan in Russia

Karen Georgievich Shakhnazarov, PAR, is a Russian national treasure in many ways because of his prolific works as filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer. He is the current Director General of the Mosfilm Studios, a position he has held since 1998. He is the son of a politician, Georgy Shakhnazarov, and a housewife, Anna Grigorievna Shakhnazarova.

He is also one of many living descendants of the famous princely family, the Melik-Shahnazarian clan, which hails from Nagorno-Karabakh. Emphasis must be made that the Melik-Shahnazarian clan ruled the Varanda province in Nagorno-Karabakh, both in medieval and modern times.

Shakhnazarov is a multi-awarded filmmaker in the international circuit. His 1987 film, Courier, won a Special Prize at the 15th Moscow International Film Festival. His 2012 film, White Tiger, was nominated as his country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar category at the 85th Academy Awards although it did not make it to the final selections.

He is also a member of the Public Chamber of Russia since 2005.


Anna Melikian: Making Her Mark in the Directorial World

Anna Melikian is certainly making her mark in the highly competitive world of filmmaking as a premier film and television director and producer. Her works have been recognized by several award-giving bodies and publications in the international film industry.

Melikian learnt the filmmaking trade from yet another highly recognized director, Sergei Solovyov, the director and writer of Assa, a cult favorite. She has become a well-regarded director herself especially in the genre of magic realism, as evidence by her numerous prizes at many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, such as Sundance, Berlin, and Clermont-Ferrand.

She studied in film school particularly at the All-Russian State University of Cinematography where Sergey Solovyov and Valery Rubinchik also taught. She was awarded the prestigious St. Anna prize for her film, Poste restante, in 2000. After her graduation, she was funded by the GosKino Russian organization to make various television and documentary films.

Melikian has asserted that she never re-watches her films, either at their premier showings or during film festivals. She is more interested in the audience reaction to her works.

Among her numerous awards are:

• FIPRESCI Prize during the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival for Rusalka

• Special Jury Award during the 2001 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival for Poste restante

• Feature Film during the 2008 Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival for Rusalka

• Independent Camera Award during the 2008 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for Rusalka

• City of Melbourne Award for Best Short Experimental during the 2001 Melbourne International Film Festival for Poste restante

• Grand Prix award during the 2008 Sofia International Film Festival for Rusalka

• Directing Award, World Cinema – Dramatic during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival for Rusalka

After her Sundance Film Festival victory, she was recognized by Variety magazine as among the Top 10 most perspective film directors.

Aside from the multi-awarded Rusalka and Poste restante, she has also directed other films including Pro Lubov (2015), Zvezda (2014), and Mars (2004).

Gerard Cafesjian: The Brains Behind the Cafesjian Legacy

Gerard Leon Cafesjian (26 April 1925 – 15 September 2013) has certainly left a notable legacy that his descendants can be proud of. He is the founder of three well-known non-profit foundations, namely, the Cafesjian Museum Foundation (CMF), the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF), and the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Cafesjian’s parents barely escaped the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. He became a sailor aboard the USS Oceanographer, a survey boat, as well as on USS Andres, a destroyer escort, during World War II.

He earned his degree in economics at the Cornell University and his doctorate of jurisprudence degree from the Columbia Law School; he finished both in just 5½ years. He became a member of the New York Bar Association.

He was first employed as legal editor at West Publishing and rose up the ranks to become its executive vice president with responsibility over sales, marketing, public relations, and customer service as well as office training and development.

Ian Bremmer: Known Specialist in Political Risk Research

Ian Bremmer is a well-respected American political scientist whose views on United States foreign policy, international political risk, and states in transition are considered authoritative and, thus, influential by stakeholders in these matters. His status in the industry is partly based on his status as the founder and President of Eurasia Group, among the world’s leaders in global political risk research and consultations.

The Eurasia Group provides reliable information and valuable insights into the relationship between political developments and economic movements. In doing so, the firm helps its clients anticipate and plan appropriately for the threats and opportunities that come their way. Founded in 1998, the company first focused on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union but it has since evolved its focus on the global platform including Asia, Africa, Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, North America, and Latin America.

Its analysts monitor the social, political and economic as well as security developments in these areas as well as examine multiple cross-border issues, such as trade, energy, climate change, financial regulation, and global health. Its coverage includes regulatory issues, social trends and developments, governance and politics, international and regional relations, economic indicators, and security.

Aside from his leadership of the Eurasia Group, Bremmer also write for Time as an editor-at-large and foreign affairs columnist. He has also been named as a Global Research Professor at the prestigious New York University.

He has been referred to as a guru for his advancements in political risk analysis and for his combination of the discipline of political science with the financial markets. Such a designation was given by the likes of The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. He was the creator of Wall Street’s first-ever international political risk index now known as the Global Political Risk Index (GPRI).

Bremmer is also an author of several books, such as Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World, a national bestseller.

Charles A. Agemian: Banker to the Core

Charles A. Agemian (22 July 1909 – 30 March 1996) is one of the foremost bankers in the United States, thanks to his stints as executive vice president at the Chase Manhattan Bank as well as chief executive officer and chairman of the Hackensack Trust Co., now known as the Garden State National Bank.

Born in Aleppo, Syria, Agemian and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a teenager. He received his undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree from the Columbia Business School.

Agemian is the epitome of a successful banker who truly moved through the ranks. His first job in the banking industry was as messenger at the Bank of Manhattan, which allowed him to move up the corporate ladder. He became Chase Manhattan Bank’s deputy controller and vice president in 1955; controller and vice president in 1955; and controller general in 1959. He became executive vice president of operations in July 1963 until his retirement in December 1969.

Michel Mossessian: An Emerging Architect Extraordinaire

Michel Mossessian is among the world’s emerging architects set on making their mark in the world. The French architect has a diploma in architecture from the prestigious École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts UP N°8 in Paris, France where he was also actively involved in philosophy with Michael Foucault and Jacques Derrida.

Upon his graduation, he was invited to the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York as a Villa Medicis Hors les Murs fellow. During his time here, he studied the principles and practices of Advanced Design that contributed to his success in completing his master’s degree in design studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Mossessian honed his chops by working as Senior Designer for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in both its London and Chicago offices. He and Larry Oltmanns, a Senior Partner, made a successful bud for the design and construction of the new NATO headquarters in Brussels. But his services were terminated in 2004 even before the project’s completion.

As any brilliant architect will do in this situation, Mossessian established Mossessian & Partners, an architectural studio where he is principal architect. His first building design was the Carmine Building, a London-based 15-storey office building; since the Carmine Building was part of the Paddington Basin Development, it was topped off by Boris Johnson, the City of London Mayor.

Mossessian & Partners were highly productive in 2010 with the completion of three buildings, namely, the 5 Merchant Square (London, England); a private home (Sorede, France); and ExxonMobil Headquarters (Shanghai, China). Mossessian is instrumental in all of these projects in his capacity as principal architect, a fact that extends to the completion of the schematic designs for a major public square and 26 buildings in Qatar’s Msheireb regeneration project.

The studio was also awarded the urban renewal project in Morocco’s Medina of Fes urban renewal project; it was won via an open international completion.

Kochouseph Chittilappilly: From Stabilizers to Waterparks

Kochouseph Thomas Chittilappilly can be a controversial figure in India, as evidenced by his involvement in the eradication of stray dogs, but he is also a well-respected businessman, humanist, and writer. He has a master’s degree in physics from St. Thomas College in Thrissur.

He started his career by working as supervisor at Telics, an electronics company that manufactures emergency lamps and voltage stabilizers, in 1970. By 1977, he established his own company, V-Guard Industries that initially manufactured voltage stabilizers; the small electronics company initially had 2 employees and a modest production facility. He managed the business until it became the bestselling brand of stabilizers in India with over 500 distributors; 20,000 retailers; and 3,000 dealers as well as wide network of service centers across India.

V-Guard Industries also manufactures pumps and motors, wiring cables, electrical and solar water heaters, ceiling fans, and UPS. It also takes a significant share of the market for these products, such as 20% in the UPS sector and 15% in the pumps segment.

Chittilapilly is also the founder of waterparks, namely, Veegaland and Wonderla.

Ashok Soota: IT Is In His Blood

Ashok Soota is one of the foremost figures in the Indian information technology (IT) industry considering his renown as a successful serial entrepreneur coupled with his 30-plus years as an IT expert. He is currently the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Happiest Minds Technologies, a company that enables digital transformation among consumers via the delivery of secure, smart and connected experience through the application of disruptive technologies.

Happiest Minds Technologies was ranked #2 on the 2014 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 India, which ranked the top 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the country. It was also ranked #13 in Deloitte Technology’s annual ranking of the fastest-growing technology companies in the wider Asia Pacific region. It also claims to be on track in its goals of achieving break-even status by the end of 2015 and in $100 million in revenue by 2017.

For his achievements in the IT industry, Ashok has been recognized as Electronics Man of the year and IT Man of the year. He was also among the so-called 12 Gems, an honor given to people who helped in building the Indian IT industry; the award was given at the 2013 INFOCOM in Kolkata. His other awards include the Prof. SN Mitra Award conferred by the Indian National Academy of Engineering; the Most Innovative People award in Knowledge Innovation during the 2008 World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and the Golden Peacock Award for Technology Leadership.

Ashok worked with the Shriram Group of Industries as well as President of Wipro Infotech. During his 1984-1999 tenure at Wipro Infotech, he grew the company’s IT business from US$2 million to US$500 million run-rate.

In 1999, he co-founded Mindtree. Under his leadership, Mindtree also grew by leaps and bounds such that it is now a profitable global entity with several offices across North America, Europe and Asia. According to reports, it has approximately 9,000 employees and earns over US$350 million in gross revenues.

He is also a noted philanthropist. He is the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled’s founding chief patron and Ashirvadam’s founding trustee.

Pedro Moreira Salles: Banker Extraordinaire in His Own Right

Pedro Moreira Salles was to the banking industry born, so to speak, since he is the son of the late Walter Moreira Salles who is considered by many as one of Brazil’s founders of its modern banking and finance industry. He joined his father’s company, Itaú Unibanco, in 1989; Itaú Unibanco is Brazil’s largest private banking institution.

He became Vice Chairman for nearly six years and then Chairman of the Board of Directors by 1997. He was elected chief executive officer in April 2004. He also currently holds the distinguished position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Unibanco AIG Seguros e Previdência as well as Chairman of Unibanco Holdings’ Board of Directors.

Salles is also a member of several organizations outside of the banking industry. He is a member of a non-profit initiative known as the Group of 50 along with other influential Latin American executives; the group is sponsored by the Inter-American Dialogue and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is also the Vice-Chairman of a microcredit non-governmental organization, PlaNet Finance Brasil, as well as an Advisory Board of IBMEC member.

Norberto Odebrecht: Among Brazil’s Most Successful Engineers and Entrepreneurs

Norberto Odebrecht (9 October 1920 – 19 July 2014) was among Brazil’s most brilliant and successful engineers and entrepreneurs. He was also the founder of two organizations that bear his name, the Odebrecht Group and the Odebrecht Foundation.

In 1944, Odebrecht founded the construction company that eventually became the Odebrecht Group. Today, the international conglomerate has diversified businesses in several fields including construction, engineering, petrochemicals, and chemicals as well as employs over 167,500 people in offices across South America, North America, Central America, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East (i.e., over 60 countries).

Among the companies under the Odebrecht Group are:

• Odebrecht Energia for energy production especially in hydroelectric, nuclear power, and thermoelectric production in in Latin America

• Odebrecht Engenharia Industrial for industrial engineering projects across several sectors

• Odebrecht Infraestrutura for infrastructure projects in sanitation, transportation, irrigation, and sports

• Odebrecht América Latina & Angola for investments and construction projects especially geared toward the conglomerate’s international expansion

• Odebrecht Venezuela for investments in real estate, infrastructure, industrial, petrochemical, oil and gas, and food security projects in Brazil

• Odebrecht International for the maintenance of unique quality standards for each region where the conglomerate has operations

• Odebrecht Óleo e Gás S.A. for the exploration and production of oil and gas

• Odebrecht Realizações Imobiliárias S.A. for real estate developments in the residential, commercial and tourism sectors

• Foz do Brasil S.A. for the provision of water supply and waste treatment services

• ETH Bioenergia S.A. for the production of ethanol as well as sugar and power using sugarcanes

Other companies are Brasken S.A., Latin America’s largest producer of petrochemicals; Odebrecht Participações e Investimentos; Odebrecht Administradora e Corretora de Seguros Ltda.; and Odeprev.

Odebrecht also had a heart for his workers as well as for the youth and communities, as evidenced by his creation of the Odebrecht Foundation. Founded in 1965, the foundation was originally created to provide company members with increase social security benefits. Today, it has expanded its focus on human, social, productive, and environmental capital in communities.