Keynote Speakers

Tabassum Mumtaz

CEO - Ampex Inc.

Morning Keynote

Tabbassum is the President and CEO of AMPEX Brands, one of the countries largest multi-franchise restaurant companies. His businesses have grown to over 10,000 employees and over $1 Billion in annual revenue. Tabbassum has served on the International Franchise Association Board of Directors and a variety of corporate, civic and non-profit boards. He has also formed the Apex Family Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to the advancement of humanity through community programs that provide assistance in times of need.

Saba Gul

CEO - Popinjay

Afternoon Keynote

Saba is the founder and CEO of Popinjay, a Pakistan based manufacturer of luxe, artisan handbags. Her startup has been profiled in Vogue, CNN, the Huffington Post, Refinery 29, and many other media sources. She was also the founder of an earlier startup named BLISS. Prior to Popinjay and BLISS, Saba worked in software development roles in Oracle and Thomson Reuters.

Saba earned bachelors and masters degrees in Computer Science from MIT. She has spoken at TEDx events, and is regularly invited to speak on panels on entrepreneurship and social impact at forums like Harvard Business School, MIT, United Nations and the World bank.

Entrepreneurship Panel

Kemal Farid

MD - BlueVine Ventures

Kemal is an investor and a veteran technology entrepreneur in energy, financial, manufacturing, e-commerce and health care products & services businesses. Kemal founded Merrick Systems, served as its CEO and grew it into the global leader in oil and gas production software. He is the founding partner of Farid Ventures, a venture capital firm for early and growth-stage enterprises.Kemal was awarded E&Y's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. He serves on several profit and non-profit boards.

Kemal earned a Bachelor of Science degree at UT Austin and an Entrepreneurship Masters from MIT. Farid is regular speaker on entrepreneurship, the digitization of industrial operations and the cultural impact of technology.

Dr. Naveed Sherwani

CEO - Peernova

Dr. Sherwani has founded or co-founded nine companies in systems, software, and services, including Open-Silicon, Intel Microelectronics Services, and Brite Semi, and now PeerNova. He has served on the boards of various companies and is a noted author on the topic of algorithms, parallel computing, and chip design automation. Dr. Sherwani served as a Professor at Western Michigan University, and received his Ph.D from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Jim McAlister

CEO - Rockspring Capital

Jim is the CEO of Rockspring Capital, a Houston-based real estate private equity firm. He has raised and successfully invested on behalf of premier North American investment partners more than $300 million in capital in 12 fund vehicles since 2003. Jim has been featured as an expert on Texas land in several local and national top-tier publications.  He also spends his time and energy as an active member of numerous Texas-based charities.

Jim earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin.

Bill Pickard

COO - Vendor Safe Technologies

Bill is COO of Vendor Safe Security, a company that provides VPN based solutions for secure wireless transactions. Bill and his partner purchased an existing 5 person company in the development of VSS, and grew it to 6,000 customers with 85 employees before it was sold to Providence Equity Partners in 2014. Bill also serves on the board of directors of Voxofon, an HTC company that has built a mobile app for international dialing utilizing a private VOIP network. 

Bill earned a bachelors degree in finance and accounting from Emory University.

Richard WIlliams

Co-Founder - Texas Direct Auto

Rick Williams is co-founder of Texas Direct Auto and a serial entrepreneur. Based in Houston, Texas Direct Auto is the the No. 1 retailer on eBay Motors and sells thousands of vehicles each month to consumers and dealerships. In 2015 the company was acquired by New York based Vroom Inc., but it still operates as a separate entity. Rick has started and sold several technology focused businesses with longtime friend Mike Welch.

Insights: Women in Power

Tauseef Salma

VP Enterprise Technology - Baker Hughes

Dr. Tauseef Salma is the Vice President of Enterprise Technology for Baker Hughes. In this role, Tauseef is responsible for research and technology portfolio, return on investment in technology, regional technology centers, technical excellence, technical support and knowledge management at Baker Hughes. Tauseef has over 19 years of experience in leading multi-disciplinary teams across 20+ countries in upstream sector of oilfield.

Tauseef holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University. She is a member of Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). She is on the Advisory Board of Rice University's Professional Science Masters program and the Energy Advisory Board at the University of Houston.

Narjis Ali

CEO - Sure Secure Solutions

Narjis is the CEO of Sure Secure Solutions, a firm that provides end-to-end information technology services to its federal customers. Narjis has over thirty years of extensive knowledge of IT solution development. She has significant experience working with the Department of Homeland Security and is deeply involved in security engineering and architecture, identity and access management, and security requirements for modernization efforts in Customs and Border Protection.

Sherry Richard

Board Member - SBM Offshore

Sherry currently serves on the Board of Directors at SBM Offshore, a leading Dutch based system and service provider to the offshore oil and gas industry, which earned $2.6B in revenues in 2015. Prior to her Board role Sherry served in VP and SVP roles in leading companies across the oil and gas industry, including Phillips Petroleum, Chevron Phillips, Global Santa Fe, and Transocean.

Sherry received a bachelors in science and an MBA from Murray State University. She also currently serves as an Executive Professor at Texas A&M University.

Lora Cecere

CEO - Supply Chain Insights

Lora is the founder of the research firm Supply Chain Insights, which helps supply chain leaders pave new directions in supply chain management. Lora's blog Supply Chain Shaman and her LinkedIn articles are followed by over a 100,000 readers. With more than 30 years of experience, Lora has worked for the Gartner Group, AMR Research, Procter & Gamble, Kraft/General Foods, and many other recognizable names.

Lora earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Maryam Chaudury

Chief of Staff - HP Enterprise - Americas Server Business

Maryam joined Hewlett Packard in 2006 and has held numerous roles across the company during her tenure. As Chief of Staff for the HPE Americas Server Business Unit, she leads Business Strategy, Programs, and Pricing efforts for the group. Maryam is also the executive advisor of HPE's Houston Intern Program.

Maryam received her B.S and M.S degrees from the University of Houston, where she was the recipient of a number of scholarships including the M.A Jinnah scholarship and the Association of Women in Computing scholarship. 

OPEN Houston is a voluntary not-for-profit association dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurship and professional excellence. Our members includes professionals, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists, social leaders, academics and students.