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Growth Fest Speakers Schedule


Global Leadership Presentations: 

#OITF is proud to be supported by influential thought leaders, who are advocates of entrepreneurship and innovation, working to help shape the future.

Keynote Speaker:





Jennifer Preston is responsible for the digital marketing web delivery, e-Commerce and digital asset management technologies that power Hasbro’s storytelling, brand engagement and content to commerce strategy. Inspired by working on interesting questions, Jennifer’s 28 year career spans financial services, digital gaming and branded entertainment. She is passionate about technology, continuous learning and the power of working as a team.






Incident Response: Plan for the future

Christopher Mellon - Director IT Risk & Assurance Services - Marcum, LLP.



Christopher Mellen is currently a Director in IT Risk and Assurance Services with Marcum LLP. He is a former U.S. Marine and White House cyber executive having more than 20 years of public-and-private-sector Information technology experience. Christopher has significant experience advising organizations on the alignment of IT strategy, information security and data protection in the government, financial services, natural resources, healthcare and technology sectors. 

Chris’ background includes leading and managing IT and security teams to include security operations, threat intelligence, insider threat, Identity Access Management, mainframe security administration, active directory administration, vulnerability management, system hardening, and applied cryptography. He was also a computer crimes specialist at the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) providing cyber security training both nationally and internationally.


Twitter: @MarcumLLP


Facebook: @MarcumLLP




3D-Printing & the Entrepreneurial Future

AJ Perez - Entrepreneur - MIT Fellow



AJ (Alfonso) Perez is the General Manager of Cincinnati Incorporated’s NVBOTS business unit. AJ was previously the Chairman, CEO, and Founder of New Valence Robotics Corporation (NVBOTS), an MIT 3D printing spin-off that invented automated 3D printing, cloud 3D printing, and ultra-high speed multi-metal 3D printing (spun off to form Digital Alloys). AJ holds a BS '13 in Mechanical Engineering and Masters of Engineering in Advanced Manufacturing '14 from MIT. His academic interests, lectures, and research focus on mechanical design, manufacturing processes automation, robotics, and entrepreneurship. AJ has developed and taught several classes during his career. Most recently, he co-developed the first graduate level 3D printing / Additive Manufacturing class for the department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

AJ is the final Lemelson-MIT Inventor Fellow, was selected as one of Boston Globe’s 25 under 25, and won the prestigious Lemelson-MIT “use it” student prize.  AJ is the primary inventor on 30+ inventions in the fields of additive manufacturing, mobile manufacturing, industrial IoT, and surgical devices. AJ chases opportunities that leverage his MIT engineering background, expertise in intellectual property, management experience, and international network of investors.


Twitter: @AJPerezMIT


LinkedIn: AJ Perez


Instagram: @cincinnati_inc




How Blockchain will change our future

Navroop Sahdev - Economic Futurist - MIT FELLOW



Navroop Sahdev is an economist by training, Navroop is currently building a FinTech company that seeks to leverage blockchain technology. She is a Research Associate at the Center for Blockchain Technologies (CBT) at University College London and Centre d’économie de l’Université Paris Nord (CEPN) and holds three masters in IP Management, Economics of Innovation and Applied Economics. A United Nations Youth Delegate for 2017, Navroop has co-authored Hyperledger’s Blockchain for Business online course.


Instagram: @navroopsahdev


LinkedIn: @NavroopSahdev




The Future of E-Sports & Sports Gaming

Gayatri Sarkar - G.P. Venture Capital  - SportVEST



Gayatri Sarkar is Blockchain VC and Investor in crypto market since 2011. Currently a General Partner at a global Sports VC Fund on Blockchain called SportVEST,  disrupting the $500B traditional sports market by investing in future of sports and crypto sports and created a new venture investment algorithm to invest in ICO fundraising protocols.

She was a manager at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston managing US military, navy global payment system highly confidential biggest fintech project. Have 12 yrs of experience managing big data strategy multi-million dollar fintech projects working for HP, IBM, Goldman Sachs, EU Bank. She is a Blockchain VC focussed Hackernoon writer and author of Word from the Block. She is also a co-founder of think tank (currently in stealth mode). She is an accredited investor and has been angel investing since 2015. Had two startups. She is in the board of many non-blockchain and blockchain companies working on AI, ML, healthcare, renewable energy and investment management platform. She has Physics and Math background with MBA. As a HKS alum, she chairs multiple development board of Harvard Kennedy School alumni board.


LinkedIn: Gayatri Sarkar


LinkedIn: SportVEST




The Future of Digital Simulation

Jennifer Potter - Intellectual Property Operations Director - Dassault Systemes



Jennifer Potter received her BA in Psychology, with a minor in Computer Science, from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.  She is also a certified Project Management Practitioner (PMP).  Jennifer has been in the Rhode Island software industry for 25 years, working in software operations roles including software testing, tool development, quality assurance, project management, and intellectual property operations.

For the past 23 years she has worked for Dassault Systemes (DS). She worked on projects that have been instrumental in helping DS become a leader in engineering simulation software. Today, she is the Director of Intellectual Property Process & Operations. She has a strong interest in encouraging STEAM careers, especially for women, and has represented DS at career events across the state.


Twitter: @Dassault3DS





Mark Huang - Co-Founder Managing Director - SeaAhead



Mark Huang leads SeaAhead, an organization whose mission is to Catalyze the Intersection of Sustainability + Oceans + Innovation.  SeaAhead collaborates with ocean clusters around the world with initial plans to launch incubation, corporation facilitation and programming.  A venture investment vehicle would soon follow.

Over 15 year of experience in making financial and strategic cleantech venture investments. Co-founded, raised and closed Novus Energy Partners: a 2008 vintage first time cross-Atlantic cleantech VC fund.  Senior Vice-President at GE Energy Financial Services - Naval Architect and Marine Engineer - Econ Dev: Former Econ Dev Officer for Providence and Former US Army Reserves officer primarily function focused on civil affairs/ nation-building.  Experience in the developing worlds to include SE Asia and a year in Baghdad, Iraq working on basic nation-building at the neighborhood level. Later transferred to the Green Zone to focus on the economic restructuring of Iraq's moribund State-Owned Enterprises and to develop programs to help stimulate the private sector.


Twitter: @SeaAhead


LinkedIn: Mark Huang




Walking Among the Stars: Emerging Tech on How we Visualize and Understand Our Universe

Kimberly Kowal Arcand - Visualisation Lead - NASA CHANDRA X-RAY OBSERVATORY



Kimberly Kowal Arcand is the Visualization Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has its headquarters at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Arcand is an award-winning producer and director. She is a leading expert in studying the perception and comprehension of high-energy data visualization across the novice-expert spectrum. As a science data “story teller” she combines her background in molecular biology and computer science with her current work in the fields of astronomy and physics.  


Instagram: @kimberlykowal




The Innovation of Smart Cities

Derrick Calderon - Director of Smart Cities - Cox Business



Derrick Calderon is a skilled business development executive with extensive experience in the wireless telecom and IoT industries.  Currently, Derrick is the Director of Smart Cities in Cox’s Cox2M business.  In this role, he focuses on enabling Smart City growth throughout the United States, and developing strategic partnerships to build up Cox’s Smart City offering. Prior to joining Cox, Calderon served as VP of Business Development at Ingenu, a provider of Low Power Wide Area Network services, where he led the effort to build out Ingenu’s partner eco-system for the Machine Network.

Previous to Ingenu, Derrick created and executed Kore Wireless’s Latin America strategy, which became the organization’s fastest growing division. Calderon has been involved in the deployment of over 50 IoT projects totaling more than a million connected devices. Calderon holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from Utah Valley University.


Twitter: @coxbusiness


LinkedIn: @Cox Communications


Facebook: @CoxBusiness