Human Futures in Smart Cities


Conversations about 'Smart Cities' are typically technology led, which can subvert the impact on people and disempower them from participating in how the future will play out. 

This conference brings human stories and experiences back into the 'Smart City' narrative and technology driven conversations. 


Day One

Wednesday, November 28th

Day one brings everyone together at the spectacular Maritime Museum overlooking Victoria harbour for a day of stories, case studies, interactive sessions and speculative conversations. Speakers from different regions, professional backgrounds and diverse perspectives come together to share their vision about human stories in smart cities.






A fun and energising warm up activity to get you right in the zone.



Prototyping Democracy

How much of design thinking is merely critical thinking, listening and learning to disagree? After years of teaching design thinking in the rigid learning culture of China, May has a new take on the old concept.

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Professor May Lee

Dean, School of Entrepreneurship and Management, Shanghai Tech University

An expert on innovation, May is highly regarded business leader, entrepreneur and educator in the U.S. and China. She has held senior positions at organisations, such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, NYU, and ShanghaiTech, applying strategic, operational and entrepreneurial skills. She was also invited to serve on the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.



Financial Literacy before FinTech

In this engaging and interactive session, Steven urges us to ‘get real’ about how to practically apply the theories of design thinking.  Drawing on Simon Sineks ‘start with why’ attendees learnt what matters most about getting real results, fast.

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Steven Lau

Head of Branding and Customer Experience, Big Cat Solutions

With over 20+ years experiences in Creative Direction, Digital Strategy, Branding/Digital Marketing and User Experience Steven is passionate about creative and innovation, he's on a quest to change how corporate think about creative mindset, design thinking and the important of user journey.



Navigating the future - the human experience of innovation

Michael, Liam and ?? 3 flavours of Innovation Why do so many organisations find it hard to change? What's getting in the way? What can we do to break through? The panel spoke about how to fire up create a sense of urgency and overcome the resistance to human-centric practices. Our passionate and opinionated panel had everyone fired up!

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Professor May Lee

Dean, School of Entrepreneurship & Management, Shanghai Tech University

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Maria Sit

Chief Client Experience and Digital Officer, Sun Life Hong Kong

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Chirryl-Lee Ryan

Head of Experience Design, Isobar Hong Kong

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Steven Lau

Head of Branding and Customer Experience, Big Cat Solutions

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Arthur Yeh

Representative of Service Design Network Taiwan


Coffee Break




Battling Disney - How local company Ocean Park fared against one of the world’s biggest brands

Todd shared the story about Ocean Park’s unique focus on customer experience and how the approach enabled them to compete with Disneyland, against the odds.

Todd Hougland

Executive Director, Operations and Entertainment, Ocean Park Hong Kong

Todd is the Executive Director of Operations and Entertainment at Ocean Park Hong Kong overseeing the day to day operations of the park and serving as the creative Executive Producer for the event and entertainment offerings. His diverse industry background and multicultural experiences provide Todd with a unique skillset to lead an international, world-class theme park.



Shiny Happy People - The Ovolo story of customer experience

Multi award winning hotel chain Ovolo’s detail-driven philosophy and relentless focus on customer needs is setting new standards in travel experience


Girish Jhunjhnuwala

Founder & CEO, Ovolo Hotels Group

Girish Jhunjhnuwala, Winner of 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Hong Kong & Macau Region, is the lifelong entrepreneur, founder and visionary behind Ovolo Hotels in Hong Kong and Australia. Girish is about challenging industry convention, thinking differently and creating intuitive new concepts that deliver from a genuine customer’s point of view.

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Tim Alpe

Chief Operating Officer, Ovolo Hotels Group

With an international resume that spans New Zealand, Mainland China, the United Kingdom, Macau and Hong Kong, Tim leads the Ovolo Hong Kong office and focuses on reaffirming the brand in the market.


Lunch Break


Conference Challenge

Active Data

Participants got up on their feet and explored different viewpoints on the most controversial topics facing design in Hong Kong.




Technology and Inclusive Leadership

Traditional patterns of leadership have to evolve to make space for transformation. Maaike shared how she pioneered a culture of inclusive leadership at CBA to enable innovation, creativity and change.

Maaike Steinebach

Chief Executive Hong Kong, Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Maaike Steinebach has been in banking for 20 years having worked across multiple jurisdictions and financial institutions including Fortis and ABN AMRO. She joined Commonwealth Bank of Australia 3 years ago from ABN AMRO where she was lastly Chief Executive of ABN AMRO Hong Kong Branch and Managing Director of Large Corporate and Merchant Banking business in Asia.



Best Practice is Past Practice

What are the most progressive businesses doing differently from others? Developing an appetite for risk and overcoming addiction to best practice is just one of the new conditions for success in a rapidly changing world.

Nelson Mckey

Director, Fintech Solutions Asia at Sun Life Financial

Angelia Muller

IoT Mentor at TechStars, NYC

Alvin Chia

Innovation Program Lead at DBS Bank

Song Chae

Senior Experience Design Strategist, Sun Life Financial



Design-driven Fintech

In his talk, Nelson explored how design is helping to change the future of finch and financial services in Asia and globally.

Nelson Mckey

Director, Fintech Solutions Asia at Sun Life Financial

Nelson has worked across a number of large financial services companies in Asia Pacific, with a focus on driving the digital transformation of traditional business models. He has experience guiding large scale online and mobile platform innovation, using design thinking to align technology and product development road maps to business outcomes and compelling customer strategy.





Conference Challenge

Creative Mix

We teamed up to  to find oblique solutions to the problems that the local comunity faces day-to-day.




Storytelling for Designers

In this interactive session, Perry shared practical techniques to tap into the power and influence of stories, to engage people and create design value.

Perry Lam

Founder and Chief Excellence Officer, The Lam Institute

Stories are incredibly powerful in many business situations. Some people use them naturally and we often (secretly) admire the ease with which these gifted few can influence, engage and inspire. However, with a few core skills, this power is totally available to everyone. Join this Storytelling for Leaders® inspired session to tap into the natural power of stories.



A 22,000 Person Startup

Alvin took us on a fascinating journey about how DBS went from operating like a traditional corporation to a 22,000 person startup.

Alvin Chia

Innovation Program Lead at DBS Bank

Alvin believes that life is a journey of endless discoveries. His inquisitive nature brought him to the world of innovation, where he gets to utilize his acute understanding of emerging markets as the Innovation Program Lead of DBS Bank.



Wrap up


Friday, October 20th

Day two was all about hands-on practice with workshops across the city. Participants chose from the four tracks, each of which gave a different take on making change happen from strategic to personal, and theory-centred to action-packed.


Track 1

Stirring Change


Tackling Tough Topics

Change starts with braver conversations. This workshop gave participants hands-on experience in opening up the tough dialogues that can instigate real change in their organisations.

Sunhera Cariappa

Founder, The Ultimate Toolkit


Breaking Down Barriers to Change

Designing how things should be is only the first step in a transformation. This workshop helps participants figure out what’s standing in the way of their ideal, then systematically break down those barriers to get there.

Alvin Li

CEO and Co-Founder, Givo

Jenny Zhang

Transaction Services Manager, Deloitte, AICPA

Track 2

Scaling Change


Strategy through Action

Service design is most effective when it has a seat in strategic discussions. That way, customers have the spotlight, value proposition perfectly fit their needs, and business process all support one customer-centric vision. This fast-paced workshop helps participants use design to drive business strategy.

Kristian Martin

Director, Make Studios

Clarence Tam

Service Designer and Storytelling Lead, Make Studios


Connected Service Design

Complex services can only be delivered when the whole organisation—from the front line to the boardroom—is working together toward the same goal. Participants in this workshop learn the theory of using an organisation’s existing to culture to create change, then hit the streets and actually make a change happen.

Cat Hayes

Design Director, Make Studios

Track 3

Sustaining Change


Transformational Leadership

Grand transformations often go astray without great leaders. In this workshop, participants compose, prototype and test leadership constellations to redefine what kind of minds, personalities and actions it takes to make innovation happen.

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Angelia Muller

IoT Mentor, TechStars New York


Selling Service Design

Build the case for service design in your organisation using an evidence-based approach to overcome barriers and fast-track innovation.

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Meghan Hayes

Experience Design Manager, Lane Crawford

Track 4

Mojo Nomad Jam


Creating a Co-living Experience

Immerse yourself in the Ovolo way in a full-day collaborative design jam on how premium hospitality can be applied to a new co-living brand.

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Lou Schenk

Service Design Lead, Make Studios

Samantha Lim

Senior Service Designer, Fjord