Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Can these young financiers change the world?

Sean Klimczak, senior managing director for private equity firm Blackstone Group, is shown on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange where the 2015 class of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders rang the opening bell, March 27th, 2015.
Valerie Caviness | New York Stock Exchange

A blind hedge fund trader in London, a former fighter jet aviator who now finds businesses to grow in Southeast Asia, and a private equity power project specialist who helped double electricity in Uganda are among the young financial-types who are set to change the world, according to people behind the World Economic Forum.

—the group whose annual conference in Davos, Switzerland draws international attention—recently named its fresh group of "Young Global Leaders" for 2015 and expect them to be forces for global good.

"The YGLs include the world's most pioneering, next-generation leaders who have developed in their journey to produce positive, tangible impacts in their countries, industries and societies," John Dutton, who leads the YGL effort for WEF, said in a statement.

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People in and around the investment world figure prominently in the class of 187 hotshots under the age of 40.

From private equity, there's Sean Klimczak, a senior managing director at Blackstone Group who focuses on power projects. Klimczak helped lead the firm's investment in the Bujagali hydroelectric dam in Uganda, for example, a project that boosted economic growth by nearly doubling the country's electricity capacity.

Also from the PE industry is Hua Fung Teh, a former F16D fighter aviator in the Singaporean Air Force who's now a vice president at PE giant TPG Capital who helps find investments in Southeast Asia. There's also Genevieve Sangudi, a Tanzanian who grew up in Boston and is now head of West Africa for the Carlyle Group. Sangudi is based in Lagos, Nigeria for Carlyle, one of the large private equity firms starting to invest on the continent.

From banking, there's Max Neukirchen, a finance PhD who became the head of corporate strategy at JPMorgan Chase in 2013 after more than a decade as a banking expert at consulting giant McKinsey & Co.

There's also Karen Fang, a managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch who helps clients hedge their risk across asset classes. Fang, born in China, is a former ballerina who went to college in Japan and then started at Merrill Lynch in 1998 working to structure derivatives.

And there's Kathryn Koch, the head of global portfolio solutions at Goldman Sachs. Koch worked under former asset management head Jim O'Neill and helped him promote the idea of the "BRICs"—Brazil, Russia, India and China—as important growth markets starting in the early 2000s, according to a profile in The National.

From hedge funds, there's Ashish Goyal, a portfolio manager at London-based BlueCrest Capital Management. Goyal, who is blind, used to manage risk for JPMorgan. He calls himself a "thinker by obsession, and lover of good things in life as a passion" on his Twitter account, @insaneodyssey.

And for venture capital, there's Connie Chan, the head of Asia and consumer-related technology investments for prominent Menlo Park, California-based investor Andreessen Horowitz. A Stanford educated partner at the firm, her LinkedIn profile says she seeks "industry experts, great entrepreneurs and very cool ideas!"

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Straight-talking Schauble
Straight-talking Schauble

Members of the YGL class, including Blackstone's Klimczak, rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 27.

The forum's goals for the leaders may sound hyperbolic, but alumni of the 10-year-old program represent an impressive array of positions. Big names include U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Google co-founder Larry Page.

Together, the YGL group includes 11 heads of state and government, 10 heads of Fortune 500 companies, 15 UN Goodwill Ambassadors, six Guinness World Record holders, four Oscar winners, three Olympic gold medalists and two Nobel Prize winners, according to WEF.

The 2015 class was drawn from a pool of more than 2,000 candidates, according to WEF. They were evaluated by recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles and screened by a selection committee chaired by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.

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Correction: a previous version of this story incorrectly characterized background information for Genevieve Sangudi.