Industrial Advisory Board

Stefano Cao (Italy)
Stefano Cao (Italy)
Chief Executive Officer

Stefano Cao is an Italian engineer and senior business management executive with vast experience in the energy and infrastructure sector.

Since 30 April 2015 he has been Chief Executive Officer of Saipem S.p.A., a leading global company in the Engineering & Construction and Drilling business lines, with a strong bias towards oil & gas-related activities in remote areas and deep waters.

After graduating in Mechanical Engineering from the “La Sapienza” University in Rome, Mr. Cao began his career in the Eni Group in 1976, first in Saipem S.p.A. – which he left as Executive Chairman in 2000 – and subsequently in Eni S.p.A. – which he left in 2008 as Chief Operating Officer of the Exploration & Production Division. Between 2000 and 2008, the hydrocarbon production of the latter Division increased from 1,200,000 to 1,800,000 boe/day with the entry into production of new fields, the acquisition of independent exploration and production companies and the purchase of productive assets.

From February 2009 to June 2012 Mr Cao was Managing Director and CEO of Sintonia SA, a holding company in the infrastructure sector established as the result of a joint venture between Edizione Holding, Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners, Mediobanca and GIC.

Other positions held include Chairman of Eni Corporate University, Chairman of Assomineraria, member of the Boards of Directors of Telecom Italia S.p.A., Aeroporti di Roma (ADR) S.p.A. and Autostrade per l'Italia (ASPI) S.p.A., member of the Management Board of A2A S.p.A. and Non Executive Director of Petrofac Ltd.

Jean-Paul Chabard
Jean-Paul Chabard
Scientific Director
EDF Research and Development Division

Graduated from the Ecole Centrale de Paris, Jean-Paul Chabard spent his entire career with the Research and Development of EDF which he joined in 1984 as a researcher in computational fluid dynamics. He successively headed the National Hydraulics Laboratory, the Department Thermal Transfer and Aerodynamics and the Service Modeling and Information Technology. More recently, he has held various positions within the management team of EDF R&D including a position as Finance Director and next Director of the Saclay Project and French Academic Partnerships. In this position, he was responsible for the installation of a new research center of EDF on the Paris-Saclay Campus and for the development of collaborations with French Academic Institutions. From April 2015, he is now Scientific Director of the EDF Research and Development.

Jean-Paul Chabard has held various teaching activities. He is currently Professor of Aerodynamics and Thermal Transfer at the Ecole des PontsParisTech.

Also very involved in scientific societies, he is Honorary Member of the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR). He served in different positions in this association and he was during 8 years Vice President of the association (2001-2005 and 2009-2013). He is also member of the Board of the Société Hydrotechnique de France (SHF). He was awarded the Seymour CRAY award for numerical simulation in 1988 and the “Grand Prix de l'Hydrotechnique“ by the Société Hydrotechnique de France in 2006.

Vera Silva
Vera Lucia Fernandes de Paiva da Silva
Chief Technology Officer
General Electric Grid Solutions

Portuguese engineer and chief technology officer (CTO) at General Electric (GE) grid solutions part of GE Renewable Energy business. She is one of the few women to hold a chief technology officer position at General Electric. She works on electricity grids technology and renewable energy integration.

As a child Silva visited a large hydro power plant and this sparked her interest for electricity systems. Silva studied electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Porto. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1999 and a master's degree in 2003 both in electrical engineering. She moved to the United Kingdom for her doctoral studies, earning a PhD in the electrical and electronics engineering in 2010. Her PhD investigated the value of flexibility in systems that use wind powerand was supervised by Goran Strbac. She worked as a lecturer and data scientist at the Polytechnic Institute of Porto. After completing her doctorate, Silva joined EDF R&D in France, where she directed their program on Energy Systems and Markets. As of 2019 Silva is the chief technology officer at General Electric grid solutions, where she leads 3,400 engineers around the world. She is one of the few women to be made technology leader. At General Electric, Silva works on new electricity grid technology. She believes the future will involve more sustainable and flexible technologies, integrating microgrids and high voltage direct current (DC) transmission lines. She is pushing for utilities operators to find it easier to integrate renewables in homes.

Pierre-Alain Graf
Pierre-Alain Graf
Member of the Board
World Economic Forum

Resilient, international CEO in telecommunication businesses, power infrastructures and high-tech industries with P & L responsibility. Successful in strategy creation and implementation. Strong track record in transforming organizations and successful government and private stakeholder management. Passion for sales and growing businesses. Used to leading very large and complex M&A projects. Strength in cross-cultural team building; talented communicator and strong negotiator (Sweden and Nordic Countries, UK, US, France, Germany, Switzerland). Bridges technologies with finance, business with politics and strategy with execution.

Pierre-Alain Graf is on the board of Leclanché SA, Landis+Gyr Group AG and Broadband Networks AG and Owner at Pag Consulting & Services GmbH. In his past career Mr. Graf held the position of Chief Executive Officer for Swissgrid AG and General Manager of Cisco Systems (Switzerland) Investments Ltd.

Mr. Graf received a graduate degree from the University of Basel and an MBA from the University of St. Gallen.

Thomas Miao
Thomas Miao
CEO, Huawei Italy

Thomas Miao is the CEO of Huawei Italy. He is responsible to enhance the strategic commitment of the company as partner of Italy's government, carriers and enterprises in the digital transformation process and to develop the successful business built in the Italian market during the last 16 years.

Thomas Miao has held several positions at Huawei throughout his 17-years tenure with the company. He started his career as Software Engineer at Huawei R&D Center in Shanghai, then in 2005 moved to Huawei South-Africa where he was responsible for the Vodacom Account. After one year in Russia as Director of the Sales Management Dept. and 3 years in Ukraine where he was appointed as CEO, Thomas Miao moved to Italy in 2016 where he firstly served as Deputy General Manager until the end of 2017 when he was appointed CEO of Huawei Italy.

Thomas Miao was born in 1977 and holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou, China.

Franco Ongaro
Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality
Head of ESTEC (European Space Research and Technology Centre)
ESA (United space in Europe)

Franco Ongaro graduated as a Doctor of Aeronautical Engineering from the University Politecnico of Milan. In 1987 he joined ESA, working at ESA HQ in Paris on the Columbus project. In 1988, he moved to ESTEC in the Netherlands as Head of the Columbus Payload Interfaces Unit. He was shortlisted as candidate in the European astronaut selection of 1991. In 1994, Franco Ongaro moved back to HQ, to join the ESA Strategy Directorate as General Studies Programme Manager. In 2001, he initiated and managed the start of the Aurora exploration programme until 2005, when he became head of the ESA Advanced Concepts and Technology Planning Department, issuing the first ESA Technology Long Term Plan and creating the Advanced Concepts Team. From 2007, he led the preparation and implementation of the Iris programme to develop a 'satcom' component for air traffic management. In 2009 he became Head of the Telecom Technologies, Products and Systems Department in the Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Directorate at ESTEC. On 1 April 2011, he became Director of Technical and Quality Management (D/TEC) at ESTEC in Noordwijk and, since 1 January 2017, Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality.

Francesco Starace
CEO and General Manager of Enel S.p.A.

Francesco Starace is CEO and General Manager of Enel S.p.A. since May 2014. Starace joined the Enel Group in 2000, holding various leading managerial positions, including that of Director of the Business Power Area (from July 2002 to October 2005) and Director of the Market Division (from November 2005 to September 2008). From 2008 to 2014 he was CEO and General Manager of Enel Green Power, a Group company dedicated to the generation of energy from renewable sources and one of the main players in the renewable energy sector at a global level. In November 2010, Starace led the company's placement on the Milan and Madrid stock exchange lists with a market capitalization of 8 billion euros. He began his career in the management of the construction of electricity generation plants, initially in the General Electric group, then in the ABB Group and later in the Alstom Power Corporation, as head of global sales for the Gas Turbine Division.

Francesco Starace further consolidated his professional experience internationally, having worked in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United States, and Switzerland. He has been a member of the Board of the Polytechnic of Milan since January 2014 and of the Board of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) since February 2015. Since June 2014 he has been a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy 4 All. Since May 2015 he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the United Nations Global Compact. Member of the General Council and of the Advisory Board of Confindustria respectively from 2015 and 2016. From January 2016 to January 2018 he was co-president of the World Economic Forum's Energy Utilities and Energy Technologies Community. In October 2016 he was appointed co-president of the B20 Climate & Resource Efficiency Task Force and again in January 2020 co-president of the B20 Saudi Arabia “Energy, Sustainability and Climate Taskforce”. From June 2017 to May 2019 he was President of Eurelectric, the sector association of the electricity industry at European level. In September 2017 he was appointed by the European Commission as a member of the “Multi-stakeholder Platform on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU“. At the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation, Engineer Starace became a member of the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty since September 2019.

Graduated in nuclear engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, he is a passionate cyclist.