Best of the Best.

Best of the Best.


YPO International Press Release.

Best of the Best in Forum: The Terry Plochman Award – Winner: Mark Bilton

This year’s winner is a Forum Officer who has made his mark on not one, but two YPO Chapters – and in the process, has strengthened his entire Region.  Mark Bilton joined the Auckland Chapter in 2001 and served as Forum Chair from 2003 – 2005, before transfering to YPO Sydney, where he served as Forum Chair from 2009 – 2010.  In this role, Mark tackled one of the most challenging situations Sydney Chapter had ever faced:  namely, how to minimize the impact of the rollback of Ages to Stages on the Chapter’s Members and Spouse Forums.

YPO Sydney had already decided to implement the Ages to Stages rollback by June 2010 when Mark assumed the role of Chapter Forum Officer.  In light of the fact that 25 members and their spouses would be leaving the YPO Chapter, Mark assessed the potential impact and acted quickly to ensure the smoothest possible transition for the Chapter’s Member and Spouse Forums.  His efforted have been lauded by his peers:  “Mark’s integrity, courage and focus have been the key driver for the strength of the Sydney Chapter Forums and the recent revitalization as a result of the rollback of Ages to Stages”, says Simon Smith, Sydney Chapter Forum Moderator.

What challenges were faced and overcome?

Working with Chapter leaders, Mark created an effective strategy for reconstructing the existing Forums to ensure that each had sufficient members to be viable Forums.  Some Forums were disbanded, others were combined to create new Forums.  During this sensitive process, Mark demonstrated great empathy and tireless commitment to working with individual Forums.  In a very short period of time, all of the Forums were reconstituted with sustainable membership numbers.

“Mark has been flexible in his approach, has been very open and transparent in his dealings with all of us in the chapter and has, above all, been incredibly authentic, in whatt can be and usually is a very emotional issue of Forum transition and reconstitution.” – David Crow, Sydney Chapter Forum Moderator.

What made this program stand out?

Mark understood that creating new Forums was merely the first step towards ensuring the long term health of the Chapter’s Forum program.  He retained the services of Jim Warner, a Certified Forum Facilitator, to lead Forum SuperCharge programs for each Member and Spouse Forum. 



It has been a privilege and pleasure to be a part of YPO over the last ten years. The Young Presidents Organisation now has over 18,000 CEO members. These leaders represent companies with a combined turnover of over USD5.4 Trillion. That is over 8% of global GDP.

I have had the honour of serving at a Chapter Board level in both Sydney and Auckland representing Forum. Two terms as Regional Forum Chair looking after the Australia and New Zealand zone was a rewarding experience.

During my time with YPO I have seen live brain surgery, introduced my son to an astronaut, heard met and mixed with laders from all over the world. These have included people as diverse as The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Julian Assange, HRH Princess Rainia, Diane von Furstenberg, Renzo Rosso (Diesel), William Fung (Li and Fung), Renée Mauborgne, and even Dr. Craig Venter, the first scientist to map the human genome

It has been a wonderful part of my life but, I am now moving onto the equally great, graduate organisation, WPO, and helping establish the new “Greater Sydney Chapter”, once again in the capacity of leading Forum. Bring on the new phase!

If you are under 45, and a CEO of a good sized business, then check out:

YPO Conference

YPO Conference


It was my pleasure to attend the YPO 2011 GLOBAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT in Denver. This Summit made history – and headlines – with a program that spanned topics from freedom of the press to freedom in the Middle East. Speakers including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and legendary newsman Tom Brokaw joined more than 1,600 YPO and WPO leaders for a remarkable two-day dialogue covered by media outlets around the world, including live CNBC broadcasts.

Ex-President George W Bush was meant to be speaking but pulled the plug after hearing that Julian Assange would be piped in from house arrest in London. In my view a reasoned response would have been more appropriate than the given reaction. I was looking forward to hearing his take on the last few years.

“The Summit demonstrated that YPO-WPO is an international organization dedicated to education, networking and idea exchange for the sole purpose of making better leaders,” said Summit Chair Scott Dickman (YPO Tulsa). “Sometimes inspiration and motivation are found in concepts and ideas that take us out of our personal comfort zones. I hope that the discussion and inspiration that occurred in Denver will continue and reach an even a higher level in Singapore next year.”

The incredible line up of speakers were:

Summit Moderator Rich Karlgaard

Forbes publisher and columnist Rich Karlgaard brought an entrepreneurial and journalistic perspective to his role as Summit moderator. He opened by sharing his observations on the economy. “What you find following a great recession is a great restructuring,” said Karlgaard. “This recovery is going to scare the daylights out of us, but the opportunity around the world for those who have the vision will be unprecedented.”

Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey

An anthropologist who documents the vanishing knowledge of indigenous people, Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey shared how her research among the Micronesian non-instrument navigators relates to leadership challenges today. “These navigators sailed more than three million square miles of the Pacific without the use of instruments,” said Dr. Lindsey. “As companies weather economic storms and executives are called to navigate turbulence, the skill of the Micronesians offer valuable lessons.”

Julian Assange

The founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange spoke via satellite on a wide range of topics, including the challenges of running his company. “WikiLeaks is going through tremendous growth in an adverse climate,” he said. “We don’t just have the competition trying to attract our employees, we have the FBI trying to bribe our employees.”

Renée Mauborgne

A market strategist whose bold ideas have taken the business world by storm, Renée Mauborgne is co-author of the international bestseller, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. “Every day, no matter what you’re doing, you’re engaging in one of two activities: productivity or creativity,” said Mauborgne. “Are you doing the right thing? Only the creativity of our strategic thinking is going to allow us to succeed. Productivity is not the answer. Entering into the creativity space is increasingly key.”

Dr. Craig Venter

A pioneer in decoding the mysteries of DNA, Dr. Craig Venter was the first scientist to map the human genome. Today, as the chairman and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute and CEO of Synthetic Genomics, he continues to unravel the sequence of life and blaze new trails in next-generation vaccines. “There are 200 trillion microbes in each human body,” said Dr. Venter. “You have tens of thousands of different microbes in your mouth. We differ from each other far more than we thought.”

Dr. Anthony Atala

Dr. Anthony Atala is a world-renowned surgeon and research scientist whose groundbreaking work in tissue and organ regeneration is saving lives. “Every 30 seconds a patient dies from a condition that could be resolved with tissue or organ replacement,” said Dr. Atala. “What if we could regenerate ourselves? Is this science fiction? Not really. All humans have the ability to regenerate up to a point.”

Middle East Panel

Rafi Demirjian (YPO Lebanon), Mohammed Al Tawash (YPO Bahrain), Ali Tabbara (YPO Saudi) and Yasser Yacoub (YPO Abu Dhabi) shared their thoughts on current events in the Middle East. “There is a misconception that the Middle East economy across the board has been affected, a misconception that the economy has collapsed and the turmoil in the area has stopped business or made it more difficult,” said Ali Tabarra.

Making a Difference

Social entrepreneur Bobby Sager (WPO New England) moderated a program on making a difference featuring YPO-WPO’s Social Enterprise Networks and presentations by President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Canadian philanthropist John McCall MacBain.

His Excellency Paul Kagame shared his perspective on Rwanda’s rebirth and YPO’s role in that journey. “Members of YPO understand the relationship between leadership, business innovation and self-determination in a complex and rapidly changing world,” said President Kagame. “You appreciate that poverty is not just low incomes; it is the exclusion from global networks of learning, trade and investment. It is the loss of hope, the death of aspiration. We have labored over the last 16 years to emerge from such a place.”

Canadian social investor, philanthropist and YPO “alumnus” John McCall MacBain has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in social enterprise projects in Africa and around the world through the McCall MacBain Foundation. “As a global community, we have two overriding problems that threaten the well being of humanity: climate change and poverty,” said MacBain. “In 2006, when we sold our business, Trader Classified Advertising, for a 10-digit figure, we decided to be part of the solution.”

Global Education Reform

Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend, bestselling author Wes Moore, and entrepreneur and clinical psychologist Naif Al-Mutawa (YPO Kuwait) shared their thoughts on the education reform. Legend is the founder of The Show Me Campaign, Moore is the author of The Other Wes Moore and founder of Students Taking a New Direction (STAND), and Al-Mutawa is the creator of THE 99, a group of comic superheroes based on Islam that has become an international role model for East-West understanding.

Brandon Beck (YPO Los Angeles)

As one of YPO’s newest – and youngest – members, Brandon Beck (YPO Los Angeles) is the 28-year-old founder of Riot Games. He and his partner recently sold the majority interest in the video game company to Chinese Internet giant Tencent, in a deal speculated to be worth U$400 million. As the son of former WPO Board Chair Dennis Beck (WPO Los Angeles), Brandon attributes the success of his company’s popular game title, “League of Legends, to a company philosophy that “a video game should be a service not a product.” Millions of players log more than a billion minutes of play time every month.

Rose Mapendo

Rose Mapendo survived death camps in the Congo, enduring torture and unimaginable conditions for 16 months. Rescued by an American peace-keeping group and resettled in the United States, she has become a global advocate for peace and reconciliation. She was the recipient of the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year Award presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Visit for more information.“Don’t just talk; talk action,” said Mapendo. “To heal a disease like genocide, find the cause. It’s not a crime to be who you are.”

Tom Brokaw

One of the most trusted newsmen in American television history, Tom Brokaw shared a breadth of insight made possible by his extraordinary broadcast career. As the co-anchor of the NBC Nightly News for 21 years, he was the first American news anchor to interview the Dalai Lama and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, the only anchor at the Berlin Wall the night it fell, and the first to report on the war with Iraq. He has won seven Emmy Awards and is the author of five books including the bestsellers The Greatest Generation and A Long Way from Home. “We must use our own initiative to understand the media information flood,” he said, commenting on the rise of Internet journalism. “We are all responsible to reenlist as citizens of the world.”

The Young Entrepreneurial Spirit

Two young social entrepreneurs, Talia Leman and Joshua Williams, shared their passion for making a difference. As the founder and CEO of RandomKid, Leman has organized young people in 20 countries in support of hundreds of volunteer projects around the world. Williams, the founder of Joshua’s Heart, has distributed 300,000 pounds of food, clothing and toys to disadvantaged children in south Florida. Both are recipients of the Young Adult Caring Award presented by the Caring Institute.

Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji is the bestselling author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, and creator of the Emmy-nominated PBS film, Faith Without Fear. Her new book, A Guide to Reconciling Allah, Liberty and Love, will be released in June. As a professor and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, she inspires her students to embrace difficult ethical questions. “As someone on the front lines of free expression, I know it’s not easy to engage in honest dialogue about Islam and the West. When it comes to issues about identity, defenses always run high….But as Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out, we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny….What happens within the fold of Islam affects countless lives outside the fold of Islam.”