2017 Conference Speakers


Prof. Bert van der Zwaan


Rector of Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and Chairman of the League of European Research Universities (LERU)

Since the start of his academic career in 1982, Bert van der Zwaan has been working at Utrecht and Nijmegen universities in the Netherlands, and has held many positions outside of the academia. Being trained as a palaeontologist, his main research interest involved (paleo)ecology, although already early in his career he participated in many interdisciplinary programs. Through this work he became very interested in the (regional) impact of universities on innovation. After becoming dean of the Faculty of Geosciences in 2006, he left the chair of Biogeology at Utrecht University since 1 September 2008 and became completely involved in science management. He has been appointed Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University as of 2011.

Saskia Kapinga

Vice President External Relations at Royal Dutch Shell, The Netherlands

Saskia is responsible for communications and reputation management for Shell in The Netherlands, France, Belgium and Luxembourg.  Her accountabilities include the positioning and the role of Shell in the Energy Transition, but also the communication around Shell’s refineries and chemical plants; Shell’s Upstream division (NAM); Shell innovation and technology; retail and trading; and head-quarter related topics for the Netherlands based company.  Saskia joined Shell in 2004 and has since held roles covering communications, media and stakeholder relations globally and at business level, including Integrated Gas, New Business Development, Exploration and Unconventional resources.

Prior to joining Shell, Saskia spent more than ten years in the Middle East, where she managed communications and marketing for a number of companies and brands, including Lufthansa, Taj Hotels, Ferrari, Jaguar, Range Rover, Armani, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Kenzo and Guerlain.

Diane Kenyon

Vice-President (University Relations), University of Calgary, Canada

Diane holds responsibility for a broad portfolio that includes brand, marketing, government relations, community engagement and internal and external communications. Under her leadership, University Relations has achieved a new level of excellence and professionalism.  The division has been widely recognized with multiple awards for marketing, communications, issues management, and government and community engagement

Diane has a 30 year background in public sector marketing, communications and government and stakeholder engagement. She has developed and directed strategic programs with national and international impact and led integrated teams focused on building reputation, brand and engagement in post-secondary education, broadcasting, and cultural industries.

Kim Lawrence

Associate Vice-President, Marketing, University of Calgary, Canada and winner of International Brand Master (IBM) award

Kim Lawrence has more than 25 years’ experience in the marketing and communications field,  covering the private and public sectors, both in Canada and internationally.  From her early career learning the marcom ropes on the ground in Thailand; to subsequent immersion in the dynamic high-tech start-up space in Canada, Israel and the U.S.;  and then a transition into the post-secondary sector, Kim is a firm believer in structured brand ecosystems and an integrated approach to marketing – no matter how complex or dispersed the organization.

Kim's portfolio includes marketing strategy and positioning (including advertising), brand and identity, digital experience (including web and social channels), and creative solutions. She has spoken at local, national and international conferences on brand and identity topics as well as marketing principles, building of marketing teams and strategies, and creative marketing on a shoestring.

Ulla Gjørling

Head of Rector’s Office at Aalborg University, Denmark

At Aalborg University Ulla is head of Rector’s Office which also includes the central Communications Office.  Her competencies cover support for the top university management, development and monitoring of strategy, strategic planning, political support, recruitment, branding, internationalisation and many other aspects of university management.

Prior to her job at Aalborg University she was International Director at Aarhus University, Denmark with responsibility for student mobility, staff mobility, housing, international recruitment, relocation and strategic support for the university management in  international matters.

Ulla has also worked in consultancy within evaluation and assessment of the educational sector, as an expert on blended learning in the Danish Ministry of Education and as an editor of multimedia for education.

Joanna Regulska

Vice Provost and Associate Chancellor for Global Affairs, University of California, Davis

Dr. Joanna Regulska currently serves as the Vice Provost and Associate Chancellor at University of California, Davis, where she is also a professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies program.  With over 30 years of international experience in higher education, she has developed and led large-scale educational projects and programs that have transformed institutions, established new degree programs and collaborative partnerships, and substantially improved the delivery of internationally focused services to students, faculty, and staff.

Her commitment to diversity, social justice, and the empowerment of women led her to establish graduate degree programs in gender studies at the Central European University (Hungary) and Tbilisi State University (Republic of Georgia).  In 2011, she received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Tbilisi State University in recognition of the importance of her work in Georgia.

A respected scholar, Dr. Regulska’s research concentrates on women’s political activism, grassroots mobilization, decentralization, democracy, and democratization, with a focus on Europe and the Caucasus.  She is the author or co-author of seven books and the author of over hundred articles, chapters, and reviews.  The National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Polish Academy of Sciences have supported her research.

With graduate degrees in geography from the University of Warsaw, Poland (MSc) and the University of Colorado, Boulder (PhD) she is a member of numerous scholarly advisory boards in the U.S and Europe.

Tania Rhodes-Taylor

Vice Principal, External Relations, The University of Sydney

Tania Rhodes‐Taylor joined The University of Sydney in February 2017 as Vice‐Principal, External Relations. Tania leads the work to improve coordination of the University’s external engagement activities and in developing ways of ensuring that staff and students can easily and effectively move between the University and our external partners.

In addition to coordinating the University’s engagement with industry, Tania has direct responsibility for the University’s Marketing and Communications professional service unit, the University’s Museums and Cultural Engagement team, and government relations.

Tania has an MBA in Higher Education Management from UCL’s Institute of Higher Education, a Pgdip in Marketing and BA (Hons) in Art History.

Prior to joining The University of Sydney, Tania was Director of Marketing and Communications at Queen Mary University of London where she had overall responsibility for external relations and reputation development including, international partnerships, marketing, communications, media, events and student recruitment.

Tania has previously worked in the corporate and government sectors and began her career with Unisys, including a period working in Asia, before moving to work for government agencies and, since 2007, within the higher education sector.

Rachel Sandison

Executive Director, External Relations, University of Glasgow

Rachel Sandison is the Executive Director of External Relations at the University of Glasgow, UK, where she has responsibility for leading an integrated service covering  Marketing, Recruitment & Admissions, International Affairs and Development & Alumni Relations. Rachel is also the University's Universitas 21 network Senior Leader.

Rachel is a Chartered Marketer and Chair of the Glasgow Economic Leadership HE/FE Marketing group and a member of CASE’s US Commission in addition to sitting on a number of sector advisory boards. She is also a member of Faculty at the CASE Europe Strategic Marketing Institute and a current School Governor.

Previously, Rachel was the Director of Marketing, Student Recruitment and Alumni Relations at the University of Aberdeen, UK.

Alan Ferns

Associate Vice-President for External Relations and Reputation, The University of Manchester

Alan Ferns is Associate Vice-President for External Relations and Reputation at The University of Manchester, the UK’s biggest and most popular university. He is responsible for providing co-ordination, leadership and strategic direction for a wide range of external relations and reputation building activities and functions.

Prior to taking up his current role in January 2017, Alan was Director of Communications and Marketing at The University of Manchester where he managed the award-winning central communications and marketing team.  He also provided the strategy and leadership for a wider community of communications and marketing professionals across the University responsible for delivering communications and engagement activity for 40,000 students, 11,000 staff and 350,000 alumni.

Alan and his team delivered all of the communications surrounding the successful Manchester “merger” of 2004 and built the brand that has transformed the global reputation of The University of Manchester since then.

He has worked in the field of University communications since 1983 at the Universities of Lancaster, Salford and Manchester.


Dasha Karzunina

Market Insights Manager, QS

As Market Insights Manager in the QS Intelligence Unit, Dasha combines a largely public-facing role with extensive involvement in the unit’s research, analysis and rankings. Leading on key partner and client relationships, she regularly liaises with university officials and presents new research at global higher education conferences.

Dasha specialises in market insight, executing research projects through focus groups, interviews and surveys with students, academics and employers worldwide. The research contributes to the QS thought leadership and provides important insights for higher education leaders on current issues affecting the sector.


Katherine Ma

Director of Communications, The University of Hong Kong

Katherine is in charge of the University’s communication strategies, stakeholder relationship management and holds the custodianship of the University’s reputation and brand. Her Office is responsible for the University’s international and local media relations, public affairs, ceremonies and events, the university website, social media, online and print publications, editorial services and productions. The office also lends support to the communication activities of the 10 faculties and 100+ departments and centres of the University.

Mark Sudbury

Head of Global Network Development, The World 100 Reputation Network and Communications Consultant, The Knowledge Partnership

Mark is Head of Global Network Development for The World 100 Reputation Network and Communications Consultant for The Knowledge Partnership (TKP). Mark was one of the small group of Communication Directors who came together to establish the World 100 Reputation Network in 2007, establishing him a founding member and its first Chair. He has presented at conferences around the world on university reputation, communication and marketing. He has also played key roles in the networks of Communication Directors at the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Russell Group.

Mark led communications and marketing activity at University College London (UCL) for nearly 10 years, helping to build reputation and establish it as a global brand. Earlier in his career, Mark worked for the UK government where he managed communications around legislation which led to a ban on smoking in public places. He was Head of Public Affairs at the Football Association, the governing body for soccer in England, and started his career at the University of Sussex.

Jessica Winters

Communications Consultant

Jessica is Team Lead International Student Recruitment at Utrecht University, Netherlands. With 18 years of experience in international higher education, she specialises in online and social media marketing & communication and was an early adopter in the development and use of such tools in higher education. Prior to starting at Utrecht University, she was Head of Marketing at the University of Groningen. Jessica is a Steering group member of the EAIE Expert Community Marketing and Recruitment and of the Dutch international highered recruitment board.