Robson Program for Business, Public Policy, and Government

Annual Conference

Convening Minds of Business and Policy

The inaugural conference hosted by the Robson Program was hosted in April 2018. The event focused primarily on security, including national, financial and cybersecurity, and other pressing issues of concern across the globe and how governments and businesses respond.

Tying it all Together

The Robson Program

Conference highlights various levels of government-business interaction

The 2018 conference sponsored by the Robson Program for Business, Public Policy and Government featured a multitude of speakers highlighting various intersections between civic interests and business gain.

Robson Annual Conference Lecturers

Lado Gurgenidze
Former Prime Minister of Georgia
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Lado Gurgenidze is a career banker who, after a decade spent at several investment banks in Warsaw, Moscow and London, returned to his native Georgia in 2004 and spearheaded, as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the turnaround of Bank of Georgia. During Lado’s three-year tenure, the bank’s total assets and net income grew by 855% and 1,775%, respectively, achieving ROAE of 16.2% and ROAA of 3.6% in 2007. As its market share grew from 18% to 34%, Bank of Georgia became the leading universal bank in Georgia and the region.In 2007-2008, Lado served as Prime Minister of Georgia, leading the Georgian economy through the final stage of free-market reforms, including tax cuts and the financial services sector reform as well as privatisation and liberalisation policies. In January 2014, Lado joined the Board of Directors of Bayport Management Limited, a consumer lender in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and was appointed Chairman in May 2015.

José Cisneros
Treasurer of San Francisco
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José Cisneros is the elected Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco. As Treasurer, he serves as the City’s banker and Chief Investment Officer, managing all tax and revenue collection for San Francisco. Appointed in 2004, and first elected in 2005, Cisneros has used his experience in the tech and banking industries to enhance and modernize taxpayer systems and successfully manage the City’s portfolio through a major recession.

David Abney
Chairman and CEO of UPS

David Abney, who began his career as a part-time package loader while in college, serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of UPS. David was appointed CEO in 2014 and as Chairman in 2016. David previously served as Chief Operating Officer since 2007, overseeing logistics, sustainability, engineering and all facets of the UPS transportation network. Before serving as COO, David was President of UPS International, leading the Company's strategic initiative to increase its global logistics capabilities. During his career, David was also involved in a number of global acquisitions that included the Fritz Companies, Stolica, Lynx Express, and Sino-Trans in China. Earlier in his career, he served as President of SonicAir, a same-day delivery service that signaled UPS's move into the service parts logistics sector. David began his UPS career in 1974 in a small facility in Greenwood, Mississippi, while attending Delta State University. 

Betty Liu
Bloomberg TV Anchor; Executive Vice Chairman, NYSE
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Betty Liu is an anchor for Bloomberg Television in New York. Everyday on her morning program, she counts viewers down to the opening bell. Since joining Bloomberg, Betty has secured some of the biggest interviews for the network including lengthy sit-downs with CEOs and newsmakers such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Fred Smith, and many others. Betty was formerly an anchor and correspondent for CNBC Asia, based in Hong Kong. She covered the daily market action in the Greater China region for all of CNBC's morning shows including the signature program, Squawk Box. She anchored the coverage of the China market meltdown in February 2007 and also anchored CNBC's newest show, Capital Connection, which launched in March 2007. Link to website:


  • Work Smarts: What CEOs Say You Need To Know to Get Ahead
  • Age Smart: Discovering the Fountain of Youth at Midlife and Beyond


Frank Blake
Chairman of Delta Air Lines; Former CEO of Home Depot
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Frank Blake served as Chairman and CEO of The Home Depot from  2007 - 2014. As of November 1, 2014, Frank is now Chairman and Craig Menear is President and CEO. Prior to his appointment in 2007, Frank served as vice chairman of the board of directors and executive vice president. He joined The Home Depot in 2002 as executive vice president, business development and corporate operations. Frank led The Home Depot through the deepest recession since The Great Depression. During his tenure, the company refocused its attention to the core retail business, driving improvements across customer service, supply chain, IT and merchandising, while also dramatically expanding the online business as part of our interconnected retail strategy. Frank previously served as deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to that, he served in a variety of executive roles at General Electric, including senior vice president, Corporate Business Development. Frank’s public sector experience also includes having served as general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, deputy counsel to Vice President George Bush and law clerk to Justice Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court. Frank serves on the board of directors for the Georgia Aquarium. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a jurisprudence degree from Columbia University School of Law. 

Podcast: Crazy Good Turns

Adam Ghetti
Founder and CTO of IONIC Security
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Adam Ghetti, technologist and entrepreneur, founded Ionic Security in 2011 to address the problem of trust in a cloud and mobile enabled world. He has over 15 years of experience building large-scale systems in multiple Internet-related markets. He is an expert in complex systems and task automation and has in depth applied knowledge of application security, network security, data security, and artificial neural networks.Most recently, he was recognized by Forbes as a 30 under 30-thought leader in technology and by the World Economic Forum as a 2015 technology pioneer.

Admiral James Stavridis
Operating Executive with The Carlyle Group; Chair of the Board of Counselors at McLarty 
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Admiral James Stavridis is an Operating Executive with The Carlyle Group focused on advising Carlyle’s executive team and investment professionals regarding geopolitical and national security matters. A retired 4-star officer with the U.S. Navy, served as the Supreme Allied Commander of the NATO Alliance frmo 2009-2013 with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, piracy, and cyber-security. He also led the U.S. Southern Command and held responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006-2009. Admiral Stavridis earned his PhD in International Relations and his MA in Law and Diplomacy both from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and he is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Admiral Stavridis is the Chair of the Board of the U.S. Naval Institute, the Chair of the Board of Counselors at McLarty Associates, a monthly columnist for TIME Magazine and Chief International Security Analyst for NBC News.