Conference Speakers

Wayne Chang, Entrepreneur & Angel Investor (Opening Keynote)

Wayne Chang is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. His latest company, Crashlytics, was acquired by Twitter in its largest acquisition at the time. Google then acquired it from Twitter a few years later. Crashlytics now lives on 3 billion active devices, including the phone you're holding right now.

Wayne has been involved in other notable startups such as JetSmarter, Dropbox, Napster, and others, now valued at over $10 billion. He is also a prolific angel investor with over 55 companies so far. To increase his reach, Wayne is also a limited partner in several prominent funds including Baseline Ventures (Instagram, OMGPOP, Weebly, Heroku), 137 Ventures (tumblr, Spotify, Palantir, Hyperloop One), Boston Seed Capital (Draftkings, Shareaholic, RunKeeper, BostInno). As part of his passion for helping the next generation of entrepreneurs, he regularly speaks and lectures at universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Cornell, and also serves as a mentor for TechStars, Extreme Startups and MassChallenge.

To pursue his passion for movies, Wayne also started a film production company with Paul English, co-founder of Kayak. He's a producer in two documentaries, Frame by Frame, which was acquired by Time, Inc (Rotten Tomatoes rated it 92%). The second documentary is Chasing Coral, acquired by Netflix (Rotten Tomatoes rated it 100%). He's also a producer in a new film starring Michael Caine and Katie Holmes, and producing a new film with Samuel L Jackson. Wayne was named 40 under 40 by Boston Business Journal. He was also awarded an honorary PhD by his alma mater, University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he was the 2016 Commencement Speaker.

Ian So, CEO, Chicken & Rice Guys (Ascend Leadership Talks Speaker)

From 2012 to 2016, Ian has led Chicken & Rice Guys to be the 206th fastest growing private company in America (officially recognized by Inc 5000) and the 10th fastest in Massachusetts. He is not stopping there. Ian's goal is to be the first global food truck brand. And, with a 4 year growth rate of over 3,000%, his business is quickly on track for that global expansion. What started as one food truck the team bought on eBay, is now 5 trucks with permanent locations, 7 restaurants, and a multi-million dollar catering business.

Chicken & Rice Guys has also won numerous awards and publications in the media including Boston Business Journal's Diversity in Leadership Award for Corporate Impact, Boston Eater's Hottest Restaurants of 2015, Thrillist's Best Food Trucks in Boston, Reader's Digest Nationally Top Ranked Food Truck, Boston A-List's Best Food Truck of 2013, 2014 and 2016, and has enjoyed top rankings Some of Ian’s greatest accomplishments are winning Boston Business Journal's 2016 40 Under 40, winning Mayor Walsh's 2016 Spark Impact Awards, and Smart CEO's Future 50 2017 award.

Ian is frequently featured on the speaking circuit for his entrepreneurship. Notable appearances include sitting on a panel with Bizarre Food's Andrew Zimmern & Top Chef's Gail Simmons at Babson College's Food Day, and a guest on NBC's Asia Focus with Mary Sit. His most interesting speaking engagement was doing a reading with Pulitzer Prize winner Cerise Jacobs.

In his spare time, Ian is very active in the Asian community serving as a board member/leader for the National Asian Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, the Asian American Civic Association, and the Boston Hurricanes Athletic Club. He also recently joined the City of Boston's Food Truck Advisory Committee. To balance out all his hard work, Ian spends his free time doing yoga, meditating, hiking, biking, and his favorite past time, playing basketball.

Sheetal Acharya, Organizational Effectiveness Consultant (Ascend Leadership Talks Speaker)

Sheetal Acharya is an organizational effectiveness consultant with over 20 years of experience in assisting global, multinational organizations in managing and implementing strategic initiatives and operational efficiencies. Sheetal has successfully led large teams to achieve long-term strategic goals and has proven expertise in developing successful comprehensive and integrated change management (people) strategies. With a focus on financial services firms, her areas of experience include strategy and operations, change management, organizational behavior, project and portfolio management, and developing relationships with and influencing key stakeholders. Sheetal is passionate about developing people and helping others achieve their own personal and professional goals.

Sheetal is highly engaged in the community especially in the area of women’s rights. She recently received the India New England Woman of the Year award for empowering women related to her work with the Boston Women’s March for America and her role on the Advisory Board for Girl Rising India. She has spent time on various non-profit board and charitable event host committees. She was also the first National President of the Network of Indian Professionals of North America. She received her MBA from FW Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and her BA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Robert J Thomas, Leadership, Top Teams Consultant (Ascend Leadership Talks Speaker)

Robert J. Thomas specializes in helping CEOs and their leadership teams to get aligned and achieve extraordinary results. His model for top team effectiveness is simple: clear roles, straight talk and one foot in the future. Bob crafted this approach over a career spanning 30 years as a strategy consultant, executive coach, professor and author of seven books on leadership and transformation. High integrity. Creative. Pragmatic. Engaging. Unafraid.

Bob's mission in life is straightforward: To help smart people solve complex problems that they care deeply about. He's done that with companies in the US, India, Indonesia, Brazil and the UK and with NGOs like the World Food Program and Save the Children.

Bob has written seven books and is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review. He recently retired from Accenture after 18 years. While there he led the Institute for High Performance. Before joining Accenture he worked at Arthur D. Little, taught at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the University of Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he enjoys fast cars and fresh vegetables.

Anurup Upadhyay

Anurup Upadhyay is an audit senior within the commercial audit practice of the Deloitte & Touche LLP. Anurup focuses in the consumer and industry products sector. Anurup was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and came to the United States to attend undergraduate school at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. Anurup graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an Accounting and Finance concentration. For leisure, he enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, and ping-pong.

Ariel Kuo

Ariel Kuo is a Manager in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and holds a Master of Accountancy from Arizona State University. She has five years of varied advisory services experience, particularly focuses on internal audits in the Healthcare industry. She co-develops and manages a 7,000 hour internal audit plan for a Northeast Academic Medical Center and its affiliated payor, with a focus on helping clients evaluating and addressing operational, compliance, and strategic risk.

Christopher Huang

Christopher Huang is a photographer who is seen more as a boutique visual branding agency, trusted by clients for his knowledge of the impact of visual narratives to ensure he is creating imagery that will capture the best parts of their personalities and show accurate representation that resonates with actual demographics in the US (often given the euphemism of “diversity.”)

He has been hired by various politicians, CEOs, public figures, artists, companies, non-profit organizations, and universities for visual branding work throughout his career.

Christopher’s career highlights include being hired to photograph some of his Asian-American media idols, people who inspired him to pursue a creative path as a storyteller: George Takei, Michelle Kwan, Ming Tsai, and local Boston news anchors Janet Wu and Frances Rivera.

Furthermore, being hired to photograph local influential Asian-American politicians, Nina Liang, Daniel Koh, and Michelle Wu has been another reminder of the importance of Asian-Americans telling their own narratives in all avenues.

Perhaps the biggest highlight has been receiving flattering compliments from younger Asian-American storytellers about how he has inspired them to pursue their own way of telling their own story.

David Kim

David is currently the Service Executive of BNY Mellon’s Asset Servicing Americas Business. In this role, David leads key business initiatives and projects focused on continually improving Client Experience.  He serves as a co-chair of the Asian leadership group within BNY Mellon’s diversity organization IMPACT.  Beginning in September 2017, David serves as the President of the Ascend New England Chapter.

David joined Mellon Bank during the summer of 1996 as a Cash Specialist. Enjoying client interaction, he sought and moved to the Client Service Organization as an Assistant Client Service Officer in 1999 and was promoted to a Client Service Officer in 2001. During that time, David benefited from the company’s tuition reimbursement program which partially financed his part time MBA program at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. In 2006, he took a Sales and Relationship Management post in Singapore supporting the expansion of the ABN AMRO Mellon joint venture. Following the merger of the Bank of New York and Mellon Financial Corporation, David moved to Seoul, South Korea in 2008 to head the BNY Mellon Korean Asset Servicing business.

David had the privilege of launching the first BNYM Seoul Branch Community Partnership Program in 2009. Members of the Seoul Branch were passionate about the program and volunteered and donated much of their time and resources to the new found partnership with Childfund Korea. In November 2011, the BNY Mellon Seoul Branch was fortunate enough to be recognized by the Mayor of Seoul, with an award distinguishing the hard work and dedication to the Seoul community.  Being able to make small impacts on the local community was the highlight that brought the most perspective to David’s life and career.

David has a BS from Babson College and an MBA from The Carroll School of Management at Boston College. His favorite vacation destination is Bali, Indonesia. He is also a pianist and a violist.

Faud Murad

Hands-on Senior Manager with over 10 years of experience in public accounting, consulting, and private industry.  Demonstrated track record of leading and managing teams in high pressure domestic and international business environments. Possess cross-functional finance, accounting and information technology skills.

James Loo

James Loo is a Senior Consultant within Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP. Within the firm, he has done a rotation of projects within Consulting and Advisory services, he also sits on the Asian Business Resource Group executive board. Prior to Deloitte, James worked in M&A for Blackstone Capital and served in the Intel Community for the U.S. Government. He also has global business exposure having grown up in a family biotech manufacturing business, which expanded to over 50 countries. Personally, James loves a challenge and is a nationally ranked weight lifter, certified nutritionist, and personal trainer.

Jenny Chan

Jenny started her Ernst & Young career in the Minneapolis office in 1999 and relocated to China in 2006.  In her 10 years of EY experience in Asian, she held a number of leadership roles, including Q&RM Leader for Far East Area Advisory, Risk Assurance Leader for Far East Area, Shanghai ITRA Leader, Greater China ITRA Leader, Asia Pacific ITRA Leader, Greater China RISK Leader, and Greater China Data and Digital Leader,  From the People perspective, She was also the D&I Leader for Greater China Advisory and Greater China leader for Women Network.

Prior to joining EY, she held positions at AlliedSignal (Honeywell) and Pillsbury (Diego Group) as an Internal IT Auditor and Cost and Data Analyst at the Aerospace sector. Jenny is graduated with a undergraduate accounting degree from Arizona State University, another undergraduate degree in Information Management System from DeVry University and a MBA from San Francisco State University.

Jenny has 25 years of working experience in Internal Audit, IT Audit, IT Financial Audit Support (FAIT), Big Data and Digital and Project Management, project Management including process redesign for Oracle and SAP ERP solution implementation. Jenny is also experienced in helping big company is running their Internal Audit and Internal IT Audit departments.  Her in-depth knowledge includes conducting Risk assessment, developing audit and resources plan, leading and executing audit, and presenting and communicating with Audit Committee.

Jenny is Specializing in the consumer food manufacturing industry as well as Retail sector. For her IT Risk Assurance responsibilities, she focuses on serving large and major global, complex audit clients. With Jenny’s 10 years of leadership experience in China and Asia Pacific, she has in depth and hands on knowledge in helping clients to run a global operations, include helping clients to setup and improve their operations in China.


  • Achievement Superhero of the year, 2012,  Fourth Annual Women in Business Leadership Award
  • 2013 Elite Value Top Chinese Women
  • Best Consulting Team Award, CJ Corporation, 2014


During Jenny’s career in China, she has the following appointments from the China government:

  • Member of Accounting Informatization Expert Advisory Panel , MOF PRC, 2010 -2011
  • Committee member of information System National Standards , MOF PRC, 2012-2016
  • XII Nominations Committee (representing MOF),XBRL International Inc. 2013-2016

Julianne Woo

Julianne is a Principal in EY’s Advisory Strategy Practice, based in Boston.  With more than 20 years of experience in strategy transformation, digital and customer experience, Julianne has worked with clients to develop and execute growth strategies across a variety of industries including telecommunications, media and entertainment, consumer product goods, healthcare, utilities and financial services.  She has a primary focus on Digital Strategy and Customer Experience, working with clients to help them embrace digital disruption, delight their customers and deliver superior digital business performance. 

Manish Mandhwani

Manish Mandhwani is a Manager in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. He has over seven years of experience and is based at the Boston office.

Manish has worked extensively on

•  Risk based internal audits;

•  Process documentation and control testing for SOX requirements;

•  Enterprise risk management; and

•  Contract management services

Mon Chou

Mon Chau is a senior manager at Deloitte & Touche LLP in the Investment Management practice.  Mon serves some of the firm’s largest investment management clients. Previously, Mon served as the chief of staff for our U.S. Investment Management Sector Leader. In that role, she supported a variety of strategic growth and eminence activities.

Outside of the firm, Mon currently serves on the Board of Advisers for the New England Chapter of ASCEND, a non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals. Previously, Mon served as the executive vice-president. During her tenure with the organization she has developed and facilitated several trainings on leadership and development topics. Mon was recently honored by the Boston Business Journal by being recognized in the 2015 class of 40 under 40 for her community involvement.

Nishit Mehta

Nishit Mehta has over 11 years of public accounting experience, and primarily serves multinational corporations. He is a senior manager at Deloitte Tax LLP. His clients include large publicly traded corporations and clients in the early stage of development. He has extensive experience in managing large tax compliance engagements and tax accounting for income taxes, including accounting for uncertain tax positions and accounting for business combinations. Nishit has experience in multinational and multistate taxation and has extensive experience managing global tax compliance engagements. Nishit is heavily with the Town of Westborough to build a cricket field and to initiate youth cricket in the town.

Paul Lee

Paul Lee is a first year Senior in EY’s Advisory Services practice. His experience ranges from Internal Audit, Risk Assurance, and Digital Performance Improvement engagements.  He graduated in May of 2015 from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management with a Major in Accounting and a Minor in Philosophy.  He shows a strong interest in the Technology sector and has recently helped launch a new technology business line for a global telecommunications company. Paul has provided services in a myriad of other industries as well including consumer products, aerospace and defense, pharmaceuticals, and real estate.

Pauline Huie

Pauline Huie has over 20 years of corporate experience in sales, marketing, organizational development and talent management.  She has worked in various industries, ranging from healthcare, hi-tech to banking/financial services for companies such as Merck, Gillette, Dale Carnegie, and the Brigham Women’s Hospital.

She is currently AVP, Learning and Talent Development at Cambridge Savings Bank where she oversees the Talent Development & Learning function.  She drives and manages key strategic Talent initiatives to include Leadership Development and Diversity & Inclusion programs.

She earned a Masters of Education from the University of Massachusetts. She has also completed graduate certificates in Human Resources from Villanova University and Organizational Leadership from Regents University.

Ryan Martin

Ryan Martin is a principal of PwC, and leads the Intelligent Automation practice for Risk Assurance. The practice provides risk and control services over Robotics Process Automation (RPA), machine learning, and artificial intelligence. These services help clients understand the enterprise impact, transform their approach, and identify and take advantage of opportunities for Intelligent Automation technologies.

Ryan holds CRISC and CISA certifications, a B.S. in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a MBA from Boston University.

Selena Joe

Selena Joe is currently a senior manager in the Strategy and Operations practice at Deloitte Consulting. She has more than 14 years of experience focusing on healthcare technology and clinical transformation with large healthcare systems. Many health organizations are transitioning and leveraging electronic health information by incorporating automated / system workflows for clinicians to care for patients in a clinic and hospital setting. Selena specializes in end to end IT / Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementations by working with clinicians on process design, patient safety and quality of care, and performance improvement opportunities. Selena enjoys working with children and strives to continue to build our community through mentorship and leadership development via her position. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she received a bachelor’s degree in policy and management and a master’s in information systems management. Selena also serves as a Member of Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.

Victoria Fritz

Victoria Fritz is a consultant at Deloitte Consulting. She is a recent graduate of Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and a past undergrad at College of the Holy Cross. Victoria practices her passion for people and population health both in and out of the office. Before moving to Boston, she participated in United Way of the Midland’s efforts to improve population health outcomes by improving education and health for children; she now participates in the United Way Youth Venture program in Boston, which focuses on creating buy-in amongst teens to get involved in and impact their community. She previously worked in Process Improvement at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and Health Policy Research at CASAColumbia in New York, and is an avid hiker and snowboarder.

Tamie Phan

Tamie is an Assistant Vice President and a manager of the Global Inclusion & Diversity Office at State Street Corporation.  In this role, Tamie oversees the communications strategy and events management for the Global Inclusion & Diversity Office.    

Prior to her current role, Tamie was a manager of the Diversity Consulting and Sourcing Office.  There, she helped build the team from the ground up and was also responsible for driving recruitment at national diversity conferences.  In addition, Tamie has over 10 years of experience in campus recruitment and diversity hiring strategy.    

Tamie also served as a Steering Committee Member on State Street’s Asian Professionals Alliance group.  In this capacity, Tamie launched the group’s Professional Development Subcommittee and established an effective operational model with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.  She also assembled the Commerce Subcommittee and helped the team kick off its mission. 

Born in Vietnam, Tamie and her family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Massachusetts when she was 9 years old. She attained her B.S. in Management from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.