Leysin American School Blog

LAS edge Speaker Bios

Posted by Michelle Starke on 08/05/18 08:55

LAS edge is a three-week program of self-discovery, focusing on our three core valuesInnovation, Compassion, and Responsibility. The program offers a variety of challenging topics that will be explored in depth, including company visits, well known guest speakers, and dynamic activities designed to push students limits. Check out some of our guest speakers below!


Didier_Manzoni_photoDidier Manzoni --- 
Deputy CEO, General Manager Space, Vice President of the Swiss Space Industry Group

As General Manager Space at APCO Technologies, one of the largest independent European supplier of Space equipment, Didier Manzoni is responsible for the development of Satellites and Launchers systems and is in charge of the company’s operational activities at the Guiana Space Centre.

Didier Manzoni is also Vice President of the Swiss Space Industry Group.

He started his Space career in 1988 at Dassault Aviation on the European Space Shuttle Hermes. He was then Project Manager in the ENVISAT, XMM and Mars Express missions. At RUAG Space, he managed the Mechanisms Business Unit until 2012. Didier Manzoni holds a Master in Aeronautics and Space from the Ecole Supérieure des Techniques Aéronautiques et de Construction Automobile in Paris. As an Air Force officer, he lectured Aircraft Engineering in the French Air School from 1987 to 1988 and was part of the nuclear missile M51 development team.


Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 08.43.43Jamie Andrew OBE – Amputee Mountainee

Jamie Andrew is an incredible and inspiring individual.  He is the first quadruple amputee in the world to have climbed The Matterhorn in Switzerland, the first to climb Kilimanjaro in Africa, the first to complete a Marathon and the first to complete an Iron Man Triathlon.

Jamie’s story is quite simply one of the most gripping and inspiring you will encounter.

In January 1999 mountaineers Jamie Andrew and Jamie Fisher were trapped for five nights on the storm bound icy summit of a French mountain.  Their rescue, which was one of the most dramatic in the history of the Alps, came only hours too late to save Jamie Fisher. Jamie Andrew, despite suffering hypothermia and appalling frostbite, survived.  Days later all four of his hands and feet were amputated.

For many this fate would have meant the end of all hope, but not for Jamie.  After losing his hands and feet he quickly learned to walk again, and to master all the everyday tasks that we normally take for granted, and in less than four months he was able to leave hospital, move back home and return to work as the manager of a small company.

But that was just the beginning of the story.  Since the accident Jamie has taken up many sporting activities including swimming, running, skiing, snow-boarding, paragliding, caving, orienteering and sailing.  But it was returning to mountaineering that was to provide the greatest goal and the biggest challenge.

Jamie has been awarded many prizes and honours, most notably in 2012 when he was selected as an Olympic Torch Bearer and was awarded the OBE by HRH The Queen for Services to Charity. Find out more, and keep updated at www.jamieandrew.com and on Facebook.


Randall_Zindler_photo (1)Randall Zindler 

Former CEO of the international disaster relief organisation, Medair, Randall is lecturer and researcher with Lancaster University in the area of responsible leadership. He is the Chairman of Mercy Ships Switzerland, which serves people in Africa needing surgery. He also advises boards and management on the topics of governance, strategy and leadership transition. His background includes humanitarian intervention in Africa, corporate roles in the SwissAir and Credit Suisse Groups, developing leadership in the health sector, and playing ice hockey and canoeing with his wife and four kids.


Richard_Johnson_photoRichard is former Director of Corporate Communications for the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) the Olympic governing body of horse sports. Richard created and ran an award winning communications campaign ‘Two Hearts’ leading up to and throughout the Rio Olympics. Richard is now Director of Sport and Youth for HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, working on a number of initiatives including a new global project ‘Anything is Possible’.


Simprints(1)_Nicolas Moreno de PalmaNicolas Moreno de Palma

Nicolas is the Impact Partnerships Manager at Simprints, a tech non-profit that works to close the identification gap using biometrics. A telecommunications engineer and MBA by education, he has formerly held corporate customer and business relationship management positions within large multinational organizations in wide range of sectors - Johnson & Johnson, Vodafone and Salesforce, to name a few. He is passionate about ideas that make the best technology available for those who need it the most and about putting best practices of the private sector into practice within impact-led initiatives.

Simprints(2)_Sebastian ManhartSebastian Manhart

Sebastian is the Chief Operating Officer of Simprints, a non-profit tech company with a mission to provide NGOs, businesses, and governments with the accurate, affordable, and accessible identification tools they need to deliver essential services to millions of people who do not have passports, social security numbers, or any other formal identification. Simprints is currently operational in 8 countries working, amongst others, with Dimagi, Unicef, BRAC, Concern Worldwide, Mercy Corps, and the Afghani MoE, providing identification to over 50,000 individuals to date.

Simprints’ goal is to radically disrupt the inaccurate way we currently track and deliver essential services, instead building a world where every person—not guesswork—counts in the fight against poverty.

As the Chief Operating Officer at Simprints, Sebastian’s task is to drive Simprints towards commercial sustainability (the goal is to be 100% earned revenue driven by 2020), and scaling their deployments around the world (their MNCH project with BRAC is scaling to 4.5m mothers across Bangladesh in 2018/2019). Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur with degrees in Development Studies from the University College London and the University of Cambridge.

Topics: LAS Summer

Why Leysin American School?

Welcome to Leysin American School, a school with “family” values. Located in the breathtaking beauty of the Swiss Alps, Leysin American School has a history of nurturing talent and motivating students to succeed in education, sports and arts. We bring together students from around the world to create a campus community with a global perspective and a family atmosphere.

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