Break the Mold

Advances in technology have dramatically expanded our access to knowledge, places, and communities. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, it is tempting to retreat to that which is comfortable and known. But what if doing so ends in irrelevance and stagnation? These complex times require a bold embrace of diversity and difference to create value and turn the unknown to one's advantage. In this provocative, day-long event from BCG and TED, we celebrated creators, leaders, and innovators who explore the unexpected to thrive in today’s world.

TED@BCG 2017 Speakers


Marco Alverà


Marco Alverà is the Chief Executive of Snam, Europe’s largest natural gas utility. He has worked in the energy sector for 15 years, working in both Europe and the Americas; he has negotiated multibillion dollar energy contracts with African, European, and Russian stateowned corporations. Previously, Marco was a technology entrepreneur, but he has a passion for neuroscience and an enduring interest in bridging the divide between the corporate world and the “real” world. At Snam, he launched the Snam Foundation, which helps create infrastructure projects for communities, and now he is spearheading the Snam Academy for leadership development. Marco also serves on the board of S&P Global, which facilitates the connection between global investors, companies, and markets.


Erica Joy Baker

Engineering Lead

Erica Joy Baker is a Senior Engineering Manager at Patreon, where she leads the Infrastructure team. Her career in technology began 15 years ago at the University of Alaska, before she joined Google in 2006. She then joined Slack in 2015, where she originated the Build and Release Engineering team. Erica is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech, and is a member of the Girl Develop It Board of Directors, the Diversity Council, and is on the advisory boards for Barbie, Atipica, and Hack the Hood. A founding member of Project Include, she was the 2015 Level Playing Field Institute Lux Award winner, a nominee for the 2016 Crunchies Include Diversity Award, and was included in WIRED Magazine’s 2016 Next List.

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Kevin Bethune


Kevin Bethune is the Vice President of the Strategic Design cohort at BCG Digital Ventures for North America, where he infuses design thinking principles into the DNA of Fortune 100 companies. Prior to BCGDV, Kevin enjoyed a multidisciplinary career spanning engineering in nuclear power and digital product creation within Nike, Inc., where he found opportunities to design shoes before solidifying his design education at ArtCenter College of Design. Kevin is passionate about sketching connected hardware concepts as the boundaries between physical and digital interaction continue to blur.

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Natsai Audrey Chieza


Natsai Audrey Chieza is Founder and Creative Director of Faber Futures, a creative R&D studio that conceptualizes, prototypes, and evaluates the next generation of materials that are emerging through the convergence of biology, technology, and design. The studio advocates for a shift in thinking away from petroleumdriven resource extraction to material systems that are instead grown, within the limits of our planetary boundaries. Working with partners in academia and industry, she is at the forefront of defining the future of design in the context of the anthropocene and at the advent of enabling technologies like synthetic biology.

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Heather Lanier


Heather Lanier is a writer of creative nonfiction and poetry. Her essays about parenting have appeared in Salon, Brevity, Vela Magazine, America Magazine, Brain, Child, and elsewhere. She is the author of the nonfiction book, Teaching in the Terrordome: Two Years in West Baltimore with Teach For America, and two award-winning poetry chapbooks. Heather has received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and a Vermont Creation Grant. She teaches at Southern Vermont College.


Karen Lloyd


Karen Lloyd is a marine microbiologist who studies novel groups of microbes in Earth’s deep subsurface biosphere, collecting them from disparate remote places such as Arctic fjords, volcanoes in Costa Rica, even deep mud in the Marianas Trench. These microbes are alive, and have been on Earth since long before animals were here, but no one has ever been able to grow them in a laboratory. Karen hopes that by using new technologies to study them, she may find that they have surprising new capabilities, and may even help fill out the tree of life, drive Earth’s carbon, sulfur, iron, and nitrogen cycles, or even provide new targets for biotechnology. Karen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


Vittorio Loreto


Vittorio Loreto is a physicist at Sapienza University of Rome, Research Leader at the ISI Foundation, and Faculty of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna. He is passionate about the complexity of the world around us in all its forms and he actively tries to decode it. He is presently coordinating a research program, the KREYON project, aimed at unfolding the dynamics of creativity, novelties, and innovation. While theoretical modelling and data analysis are his native research tools, in the last few years he has been developing interactive tools, games, and installations to directly involve the public in his research agenda. He created the KREYON DAYS, a new kind of scientific event that combines research, learning, awareness, and fun. His research has been published in Scientific Reports, Nature, PNAS, and other prestigious scientific journals and has been featured in several popular press venues including The Economist and The New York Times.


Lana Mazahreh



Margaret Mitchell


Margaret Mitchell is a Senior Research Scientist in Google’s Research & Machine Intelligence group, working on artificial intelligence. Her research involves vision-language and grounded language generation, focusing on how to evolve artificial intelligence toward positive goals. Margaret’s work combines computer vision, natural language processing, social media, and many statistical methods and insights from cognitive science. Before Google, Margaret was a founding member of Microsoft Research’s “Cognition” group, focused on advancing artificial intelligence, and a researcher in Microsoft Research’s Natural Language Processing group.

Headshot of BCG expert Michael Ringel

Michael Ringel


Michael Ringel is a Senior Partner and Global Topic Leader on Research and Product Development at BCG. His role at BCG spans across industries, but his personal work focuses on biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining the firm, Michael worked in academia, pursuing research in theoretical population dynamics and conducting field experiments in the Amazon basin near Manaus, Brazil. Michael has a BA in biology from Princeton University, a PhD in biology from Imperial College, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He sits on the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.

Headshot of BCG expert Wendy Woods

Wendy Woods


Wendy Woods is a Senior Partner and the Vice Chairman of the Social Impact practice at BCG. She is responsible for BCG’s work addressing global health, development, education, the environment, humanitarian response, corporate societal value, and impact investing. Wendy works with social sector organizations, governments, and businesses, helping clients create inclusive strategies, improve effectiveness, develop public-private partnerships, and drive change. She is passionate about improving cooperation across the private, public, and social sectors to help solve the world’s most challenging problems. Before joining BCG in 1995, Wendy had worked for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and as a Senior Economist for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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