The Future of Armenia

10 March 2018

The Symposium

A Day of Powerful Talks
10 March 2018

The Armenian Symposium is an annual one-day conference taking place at University College London. The event consists of several public speeches, talks and a discussion panel exploring the future development of Armenia, its diaspora and their roles in the global arena from a holistic perspective.


Its aim is to increase Armenia’s presence in London through the creation of a platform that facilitates the exchange of ideas and the promotion of dialogue and collaboration for the development of Armenia.


2017 marked the year of the 1st Armenian Symposium - "Armenians in a Globalised World" - hosting 15 prestigious speakers and about 100 attendees. This year's conference is set to become even better: 200 participants, 10 stalls by exemplary organisations and firms and 20 exceptional speakers from business, political, cultural and academic spheres.


About the Organisers

The main organiser and initiator is the UCL Armenian Society. Since its foundation in 2010, the UCL Armenian Society has been actively promoting Armenian values, culture, and current affairs by organising a wide range of events. New ambitions include the creation of a career-related network and more politically-engaged events, especially regarding Genocide awareness.

The new co-organiser of the Symposium is RepatArmenia. The RepatArmenia Foundation, a non-governmental, non-profit institution, was established in August 2012 to take the concept of active repatriation promotion to the next level. With a full time, dedicated staff based in Yerevan and a network of supporters and representatives throughout the Armenian diaspora, their mission is to:


Inform, initiate and actively champion the return of high-impact (professional, entrepreneurial) individuals and

families to Armenia to secure the future development of the Armenian nation.
More information can be found on their website. 



Panel Discussion

What is Armenia's next step in Development?
Ruben Vardanyan

Ruben Vardanyan is an impact investor and social entrepreneur. He serves on the advisory boards of the IFC (World Bank Group) and Fundação Dom Cabral business school in Brazil. He is also a board member at Ameriabank, SOLLERS amongst a host of other companies, NGOs, public and professional organizations. Ruben is known both for his commercial projects (investment companies Troika Dialog and Vardanyan, Broitman and Partners) as well as his philanthropic programs, such as the first UWC college in Dilijan, and the Tatev Revival Project.

Together with their partners, Ruben and his family have invested about $500M in projects in Armenia to find solutions to social problems. They have also raised over $500M to finance the first private business school in Russia.

In 2015, Ruben co-founded another global project, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. He is in charge of projects related to the development and professionalization of charity infrastructure in Russia (PHILIN) and the question of succession and wealth curation (Phoenix Advisors). With support from Ruben, Troika Dialog, SKOLKOVO business school and several charitable foundations, classics of world business literature were published in Russia. Since 2016 he has chaired the judging panel of the PwC “Business Book of the Year in Russia” Award.

Veronika Zonabend

Veronika Zonabend is an impact investor and social entrepreneur. Ms. Zonabend sits on the boards at a number of international educational institutions such as UWC International in the UK, UWC Dilijan College (as Chairperson), the American University of Armenia as well as Teach For Armenia in Armenia.


Together with her husband, Ruben Vardanyan, she is the founder of the RVVZ Family Foundation and the IDeA Charitable Foundation which implement philanthropic sustainable development projects in Russia and Armenia.


In 2014, the President of Armenia awarded Ms. Zonabend the Order of Friendship.

Ms. Zonabend holds a degree in aeronautical engineering; she is actively involved in philanthropy, focusing primarily on the promotion of global education.

Manuk Hergnyan is the founder and managing partner at EV Consulting, a leading management advisory and corporate finance firm. He is also the co-founder and managing partner at Granatus Ventures. Manuk acts as a member of the Board of Directors of Menu Group and Liquor Pharmaceuticals. He has participated in the work of Industrial Council by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. 

Manuk currently serves on the boards of Union of IT Enterprises of Armenia, Microsoft Innovation Center in Armenia, Central School of Dilijan. He is also the co-founder and member of the Board of Trustees of the Arar Foundation and member of “Ayb” educational club and club “5165”. 

Manuk holds an Executive MBA from Oxford University, Ph.D. in Economics from Moscow State University after Lomonosov and MA in Economics from Yerevan State University.

Manuk Hergnyan 
Dr. Armine Ishkanian

Dr. Armine Ishkanian is an Associate Professor and the Programme Director of the MSc in International Social and Public Policy in the Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics (LSE).


Her research examines how civil society organisations and social movements engage in policy processes and transformative politics in a number of countries including Armenia, Egypt, Greece, and the UK.


She is the author of two books and numerous peer reviewed academic articles. She also is one of the co-editors of the openMovements section on openDemocracy.

Nicolas Tavitian

Nicolas Tavitian is the director and one of the founders of AGBU Europe, the European branch of the international Armenian organization AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union). He is responsible primarily for coordinating the organization's work in Europe, programme development, outreach and advocacy.


Nicolas has previously been involved in advocacy and consultancy in a number of areas. He has worked for environmental causes, environmental innovation, as well as human rights.


Nicolas is a member of the local council of the town of Zaventem for the Flemish Green party (Groen).


He has a master’s degree in Public Policy (Princeton, USA), in Environmental Management (Stirling, Scotland), and in Business and Management (Paris IX, France).

Tatev Petrossian

Tatev Petrossian is Chief Innovation Officer of One Armenia. Previously, she worked as a transactions analyst at Enclude Capital Advisory, London, where she was involved in several M&A and debt transactions with institutional and private investors in developing economies.


She has extensive experience in Alternative Investment, Strategic Research and Impact Investing. After graduating her Master’s degree in Corporate Finance at INSEEC Business School In Paris, she joined responsAbility Ag, Paris, where she participated in a dozen capital raising transactions for Microfinance institutions and SME focused banks in Armenia and Georgia.  That’s where she understood the potential for alternative economies for Armenia and nurtured that feeling until repatriating earlier in January 2018.


She’s also a visiting lecturer at the Presidential Academy in Moscow where she gives lectures in Strategic Management to the Faculty of Finance in RANEPA.

Dr. Randall Rhodes 

Dr. Randall Rhodes is the Provost of the American University of Armenia (VP of Academic Affairs). At AUA, he has oversight of the university’s academic programs, faculty and administration of the colleges. In the past years, there has been emphasis on institutional strategic planning, quality assurance, and program development.

Additionally, he has been serving as the interim Dean of the Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics at AUA. He has extensive experience in designing innovative concepts in university strategic management, including drafting policies and procedures. 

Previously, he worked at Frostburg State University, MD, as professor, chair of department, assistant dean and associate provost. 

He holds Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in Art History from the University of Chicago.

Larisa Hovannisian

Larisa’s inspiration to provide all children in Armenia with an opportunity to attain an excellent education derived from her two-year experience as a Teach For America special education teacher in Phoenix, Arizona.


After receiving a B.A. in International Business & Language Area Studies from St. Norbert College and an M.A. in Special Education from Arizona State University, she moved back to Armenia with a vision to start a program that would inspire and change every child’s life through education.


As the CEO and Founder of Teach For Armenia, her contribution to the advancement of Armenia through her work with Teach For Armenia, Larisa received national recognition by the Armenian government in September 2016.

Vigen Shirvanyan

Vigen Shirvanyan is the education team co-leader at the Center for Strategic Initiatives founded by the Government of Armenia.

He is also the International Donors’ Relations Manager at Children of Armenia Fund (COAF). Vigen works closely with the Ministry of Education.

He is a founding trustee of the “Pahapan” development foundation which works in Armenia’s bordering villages. He was the vice principal for the extracurricular programs at Ayb School (2011-2014), a center of excellence in Armenia. 

Vigen has graduated from UCL with MA in Human Rights and holds LLM from American University of Armenia and MA in Theology and Armenian Studies from Gevorgian Theological Seminary in Armenia. 

Sevan Kabakian

Sevan Kabakian, Country Director, has always been a great enthusiast of Armenian youth. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, he later moved to the USA and lived in Los Angeles for over 25 years. While there, he has worked with the local Armenian youth, aiming to instill in them a sense of  awareness and shared responsibility towards Armenian issues. Sevan strongly believes that a material connection to Armenia is a vital and irreplaceable source of strength for Armenian youth living worldwide, and that volunteerism in Armenia provides an excellent platform for lifelong connection.  

Sevan has an undergraduate degree from UCLA and a Master's degree in Aerospace Engineering from USC. Upon graduation, he worked as an engineer in flight performance at Boeing. He and his family moved to Armenia in 2006. 

Vartan Marashlyan

Vartan Marashlyan was born in Yerevan and moved back to Armenia in 2010 after living in Moscow for over 25 years.

Vartan has more than 20 years of experience working both in public and private sectors. In 2012, he became the Co-Founder and the Executive Director of RepatArmenia Foundation. He was the Deputy Minister of Diaspora and also worked as Economic Advisor to the British Department for International Development in Russia and assistant to the Prime Minister of Armenia. His private sector experience includes real estate development and banking working for some of Russia's biggest firms.

He’s a member of 5165 and ArAr Foundation, leading participant and supporter of #SupportOurDefenders, #CitizenObserver and #YerevanHalfMarathon initiatives.

Vartan graduated from the Russian State Financial Academy with a degree in International Economics in 1997. In 2000, he received his PhD in Economics from Moscow State University.


Get your Tickets now
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UCL Armenian Society

25 Gordon Street
London WC1H 0AY - UK

Repat Armenia
2/1 Melik Adamyan St

0010 Yerevan - Armenia

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