Leaders Meeting Brussels – 19 & 20 November 2021

If you fall, you get back up, dust yourself off, and carry on. That’s what we’ve always been taught. It’s how we have always acted and it’s how we work towards a new future. Now that we’ve been under the spell of this damn virus for over a year, the time has come to firmly press the REBOOT button. Now is the time to recharge, rethink, reinvent, restart… But what does ‘re-’ really mean? Will we go back to the way things were before the crisis? Do we even want to? Or do we choose a clean slate?

Let’s regenerate, rethink, and reinvent ourselves by reflecting on what we did well and what we did less successfully. This is how we learn to improve ourselves and our society. One thing is for sure: the future holds plenty of opportunities and we need to seize them with both hands. But let’s do so wisely.

A smart, well-contemplated new start. That’s what we’re focusing on in this Leaders Meeting, together with the experts in their respective fields, and a fantastic audience. Together, they will exchange ideas and experiences to lead our society towards an unprecedented reboot. 

Friday 19 November 2021

10.00 AM | Official Opening with Mr Guillaume Boutin, CEO Proximus Group

Mr Guillaume Boutin, Chief Executive Officer, Proximus Group

Guillaume Boutin has been Chief Executive Officer since 1 December 2019 and presides over the Executive Committee of Proximus. Mr Guillaume Boutin joined the Proximus Executive Committee as Chief Consumer Market Officer in August 2017, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Scarlet Belgium. From January 2019 until December 2019, he was also a member of the Board of Directors of Proximus Luxembourg, which is the surviving entity after the merger between Tango and Telindus Luxembourg. Mr Boutin started his career as a strategy consultant before joining a web start-up. He then moved to SFR, where he successively held various positions in strategy, finance, and marketing until he joined Canal+ Group in 2015 as Chief Marketing Officer. Guillaume Boutin followed a scientific secondary school diploma before getting a degree in telecommunications engineering (Telecom Sud Paris ‘Programme Grande Ecole’, 1997). He went on to obtain a further degree from HEC Paris (‘Programme Grande Ecole’) in 1999.

11.00 AM | Coffee break

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11.30 AM | Panel of young entrepreneurs discusses the central theme ‘Reboot’ featuring Ms Yana Seel, CEO Astana-Premier Tech, Mr Hassan Al Hilou, Founder and Innovation Director, CAPITAL and Ms Audrey Hanard, Chair of the bpost group Board of Directors, moderated by Mr Peter De Groote, Editor-in-Chief De Tijd

Ms Yana Seel, CEO Astana Premier-Tech

In 2019, Yana Seel (36) of Belgian-Kazach origin, became the first Belgian CEO in the professional cycling ‘World Tour’ for the Astana Premier-Tech team. She could have never imagined leading a professional cycling team when she decided to move to Belgium 20 years ago to study biomedical laboratory technology at Howest in Bruges. After having worked as a researcher in the laboratories of the University of Ghent for two years, she opted for a career change. She successfully completed business management and sales and marketing degrees and subsequently entered the corporate world. In 2019, she transferred to cycling and became the CEO of the Kazach professional cycling team Astana-Premier Tech.

Mr Hassan Al Hilou, Founder and Innovation Director, CAPITAL

Hassan al Hilou is a Dutchman who lives and works in Brussels. At just 15 years old, he became Belgium’s youngest entrepreneur with Youthtalks.co, a platform that was fully dedicated to the empowerment of the veritable news. He is currently Innovation Director at CAPITAL, an organisation to help young people in Brussels to develop their talents and thus lead them to financial independence. This is just one of the many social projects Hassan is involved in. Hassan and his social organisations help build community projects led by local youth and to cultivate the youngsters’ talent to a higher level. In between these projects, he is a much sought-after keynote speaker at international companies, such as Coca-Cola & Johnson and Johnson.”

Ms Audrey Hanard, Chair of the bpost group Board of Directors

Audrey Hanard is today Chair of the bpost group Board of Directors and Associate Partner at Dalberg Global Advisors, a mission-driven strategy advisory firm focusing on social impact. She works with her clients, who are NGOs, UN agencies, governments and foundations to improve educational and employment outcomes globally by developing, implementing and measuring impactful strategies in support of inclusive development. In doing so she leverages 10+ years of experience advising corporate, government and philanthropic clients on those topics. Audrey Hanard is currently also President of Be education, an organization supporting initiatives that contribute to improving the quality of education in Belgium. She previously was President of the Friday Group, a think tank of young Belgian talents from different professional backgrounds determined to inspire Belgian policy through diversity. Audrey Hanard holds a MSc in Business Engineering from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University.”

12.30 PM | Lunch

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2.00 PM | Talk between Mr Etienne Bouas-Laurent, CEO AXA Belgium, and Mr Paul Gérard, Editor-in-Chief L’Echo

Mr Etienne Bouas-Laurent, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Belgium

Mr. Etienne Bouas-Laurent graduated from ESCP Europe business school. He started his career in 1990 at Guy Barbier & Associés (Arthur Andersen) in Paris, before joining Franz Haniel & Cie in Duisburg in 1992.

From 1997, he has been occupying various financial and operational functions within AXA, including Group Corporate Finance Manager (1997/1999), Head of Controlling of AXA France (2000/2005), Head of Group Investor Relations (2006/2010), Managing Director of AXA Wealth Management France (2010/2012), Chief Financial Officer of AXA Germany (2012/2016,) and CEO of AXA Hong Kong (2016/2019).

In 2019, he became a Member of AXA’s Management Committee as Deputy and then Chief Financial Officer.

In July 2021, he was appointed CEO of AXA Belgium and Chairman of the Board of AXA Luxembourg.

2.30 PM | Keynote by Mr Seppe Nobels, Michelin-starred chef known from Graanmarkt 13, Instroom, etc.

Seppe Nobels, Michelin-starred chef, known for Graanmarkt 13, Instroom… 

Michelin-starred chef Seppe Nobels successfully leaves the mark of his green thumb on the art of cooking. For 13 years, Nobels stood in the kitchen of the Graanmarkt 13 restaurant in Antwerp. On the menu? Innovative dishes made with local vegetables.

Nobels developed into one of the best chefs in Belgium. In recent years, he has been lauded as the Best Vegetable Chef of the Benelux and the Chef of the Best Vegetable Restaurant in Flanders, among other things, as well as being inducted into the order of Mastercooks of Belgium. In the meantime, Nobels has also published many cookbooks and won the first green Michelin star for his creations at Graanmarkt 13, a reward for his vegetable-inspired cuisine and sustainable culinary philosophy.

Like for so many of us, the pandemic made Nobels reconsider his career path, and as a result he has added a new twist to his professional life. He said goodbye to Graanmarkt 13 and is now committed to the social-culinary project Instroom. In this context, Nobels works together with non-native speakers who are new arrivals to Belgium. Together, they prepare dishes from the home counties of these refugees and asylum seekers, but they prepare them ‘à la Seppe’. And that means using local products and respecting seasonal availability—to sum it up in one word: sustainable.

3.30 PM | Exclusive tasting experiences

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7.00 PM | Reception at Hotel de Merode

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7.30 PM | Double interview between Mr Georges-Louis Bouchez, President MR and Mr Conner Rousseau, President Vooruit, moderated by Ms Isabel Albers, General Editor De Tijd & L’Echo at Hotel de Merode

Mr Georges-Louis Bouchez, President MR, and Mr Conner Rousseau, President Vooruit

Georges Louis Bouchez obtained a master’s degree in law at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and started working as an advisor in the Cabinet of the then Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Didier Reynders. He remained Reynders’s advisor after he became Foreign Affairs Minister. His own political career started in 2006, when he was elected to the Mons municipal council at the age of just 20. In 2012, he became alderman for Finance, Budget, and Works in Mons. He then became a member of the Walloon Parliament in 2014. During the 2019 elections, he was campaign spokesperson and ranked fourth on the list in the Hainaut region. Despite fourth place, he obtained the second-highest number of preferential votes, after list leader Ducarme, but did not get elected. Later that year, however, he was elected with 62% of the votes as the successor to current European President Charles Michel as president of the Reformist Movement (MR) political party. He played a crucial role in the formation of the current de Croo government in this position.

Conner Rousseau is currently the youngest ever political party president in Belgian politics as the president of the Forward political party. Since the age of 16, he has been organising youth holidays and camps for (vulnerable) young people as a volunteer at Joetz vzw. Together with his friends, he also organises the Walhalla Festival in Sint-Niklaas every summer. While still studying law at the University of Ghent, he became communication advisor to the then President John Crombez and later party spokesman. In 2019, he became list leader, member of parliament, and the youngest president ever in Belgian politics. In this function, he transformed s.pa into Vooruit and let a new wind blow through the socialist party. His strongest conviction is that small things can have a big impact. Conner’s long-term ambition is to make Belgium the best country in the world.

Saturday 20 November 2021

8.00 AM - 10.00 AM | Breakfast at the Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel

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10.00 AM | Keynote by Ms. Ine Van Wymersch, Crown Prosecutor, Brussels' district of Halle-Vilvoorde

Ms Ine Van Wymersch, Crown Prosecutor, Brussels’s district of Halle-Vilvoorde

Ine Van Wymersch graduated in law from KU Leuven in 2003. In 2019, she was sworn in as Crown Prosecutor to the Brussels’s district of Halle-Vilvoorde, making her the youngest public prosecutor in the country. Key points of her policy plan include Working towards an accessible justice system; A focus on road safety, domestic violence, juvenile crime, and the protection of children; An integral safety plan for the airport and the incorporation of a ‘victim reflex’ into a case from the outset. Before becoming Crown Prosecutor, she served as a prosecutor and spokesperson of the Brussels Public Prosecution Office for nearly 10 years. In this role, she earned the title of Spokesperson of the Year 2016, primarily for her part in the national communication after the Brussels attacks.

11.00 AM | Coffee break

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11.30 AM | Talk between Ms Nafi Thiam, current Olympic, vice-World and European heptathlon champion and Mr Peter De Groote, Editor-in-Chief De Tijd

Ms Nafi Thiam, current Olympic, vice-World and European heptathlon champion

Born to a Belgian mother and Senegalese father, Nafi is a geographical sciences graduate and the current Olympic, vice-World and European heptathlon champion. She is one of only four heptathletes to break the magic 7000-point barrier and was voted IAAF World Female Athlete of the year in 2017. At only 26 years old, her list of achievements makes her one of the world leaders in athletics.

A modern multi-eventer, Thiam currently lives and trains in Liège, Belgium. She first immersed on the international scene when scoring a world indoor best in the junior pentathlon in 2013. Later that year, she won gold at the European junior championships and went on to compete in her first World Athletics Championships in Moscow. Thiam displayed maturity under pressure as a junior and then continued on to take the senior stage by storm. She wasted little time in reproducing her early successes now at senior level, becoming the youngest Olympic heptathlon gold medalist in history. She distinguished herself as a world class performer by adding the World and European gold medals to her name and has managed to break a mythical heptathlon barrier by scoring a massive 7013 points. Thiam is a geography graduate from the University of Liege, a subject she enjoyed because “it’s multidisciplinary like heptathlon”.

Our amazing 2021 partners