Mícheál Smith

Micheal Smith

VP Technology, IDA Ireland

Mícheál Smith leads IDA Ireland’s Technology Division across Texas, the Mid-West and the South-East. Mícheál works with US companies making the leap into Europe for the first time and is also responsible for maintaining the relationship between IDA and many of the leading technology brands at a corporate level across the region who already have a presence in Ireland.

IDA Ireland, the Irish Government’s inward investment agency, promotes Ireland as a cost efficient and effective bridge to Europe and EMEA for US and other international companies. IDA works with its existing client base of over 1000 of the world’s top companies in an effort to ensure the development of their internationally-focused activities in Ireland.

Mícheál has recently moved to the USA from Asia where he spend 7 years. The first 4 of those years were with Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, based in The Embassy of Ireland in Singapore, with an Asian-wide Economic and Innovation remit. He then went on to open IDA Ireland’s first ASEAN office, which he ran for 3 years.

Previous to his time in Asia Mìcheál spent 4 years as an Economic Analyst with Ireland’s Department of Communications and Energy while also working weekends and holidays in his Family’s food business.

Mìcheál holds a BSC in Management (Business & Economics) from Queen’s University Belfast and a MSC in Economic Policy Studies from Trinity College Dublin.

(FYI Mícheál is Irish for Michael and pronounced Me-Haul)


Tomasz Sowa

TS_photoTomasz Sowa is the deputy head of the Trade and Investment Section in the Embassy of Poland in Washington D.C. He received his M.Sc. from Warsaw University of Technology and by training he is a production engineer. His portfolio in the Trade and Investment Section covers trade policy, trade promotion and support for trade mission and companies entering the American market.

Before posting to the Embassy he worked for the Trade Policy Department in the Ministry of Economy and was in charge of international trade analysis as well as impact assessment of trade policy measures. Previously to the Ministry he worked for a few financial institutions and was responsible for financial planning and controlling. He currently resides in Bethesda with his wife Monika and their three year old Izabela.


Josh Stanton

Josh Stanton

Project Manager, Transatlantic Relations

Josh joined the Bertelsmann Foundation in August 2012, shortly after receiving his master’s degree in comparative European stud- ies from American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. While studying at American, he held internships at the Center for European Policy Analysis and the Bureau of Eu- ropean and Eurasian Affairs at the US Department of State. His research thesis focused on the effects of collective memory on for- eign-policy behavior in post-unification Germany.

Josh’s writings have appeared in the Journal of International Service as well as the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. Josh’s responsibilities at the Foundation include research and project management support on several Foundation initiatives, with particular focus on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as well as German and Eastern European politics. Josh is the lead project manager for the TTIP Town Hall program, an information and awareness-raising campaign that will focus on the local and region- al impact of a potential TTIP agreement while expanding the TTIP debate beyond Washington, DC.

Prior to obtaining his master’s degree, Josh lived in the Czech Re- public and Germany for two years, working in multiple positions in support of international education exchange. He holds a bache- lor’s degree in mass-media studies and international affairs from Florida State University.


Gemma Thompson

Thompson, Gemma
Gemma is a Director at Indeed, working with Indeed’s International Team in Austin, Texas. Indeed is the #1 job site in the world and allows job seekers to search millions of jobs on the web or mobile in over 50 countries. More than 140 million unique visitors come to Indeed each month to search more than 16 million jobs.

Gemma leads a team of Country Managers and International Operations Associates who drive Indeed’s growth in key international markets. Gemma also worked on establishing Indeed’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Gemma earned a BA in Modern and Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge, UK, and an MBA from the McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin.

Allison Turner

Allison Turner 1

As an Area Director for the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), Ms. Turner helps growing U.S. businesses setup their European operations. For those companies well entrenched in Europe, she discusses and helps evaluate strategies for expansion as well as cost savings and consolidation.

Based in Atlanta, Ms. Turner reaches out to generate business expansion interest in the southeastern U.S. region, including important economic areas such as Atlanta, Raleigh, the greater DC region, Texas and the South East. Prior to joining the NFIA, Ms. Turner was project manager at the Rotterdam Municipal Port Authorities. She gained European business development experience while assisting companies as they established European distribution centers and facilitating the development of business partnerships. Previously, Ms. Turner worked at the European headquarters for Nissan Motor Parts in Amsterdam, where she focused on business planning, market research and project management.


Geert Visser

VisserGeert C. Visser is currently the President of the Netherlands – American Chamber of Commerce, Texas Chapter and the former Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands He has exercised the position of Executive Secretary of the Consular Corps of Houston, Texas, since 2006. On January 01, 2010, Geert Visser was appointed Regional Director in the U.S. for the Port of Rotterdam. Since 1982, Geert Visser has occupied the position of President of Global Marine Transport Inc. With more than 30 years of experience in the Marine Transportation industry, Geert has carried out and contributed to Marine Transportation projects throughout the world. Prior to his relocation to Houston, in 1978, Geert was Vice President of the Dutch Marine Installation company of Heerema Marine Contractors and as such was stationed in The Hague, The Netherlands, in London, England, in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in Port Gentile in the Congo. Geert’s work environments have exposed him to different cultures and his extensive work experience has consistently involved operation management, diplomacy, and technical and security issues. Geert Visser is a Dutch national and has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of The Hague, The Netherlands. Besides his native Dutch, his languages include English and German.

Vincent Volpe


Vincent R. Volpe Jr. is President and Chief Executive Officer of Dresser-Rand and has served as a member of the Board of Directors since October 2004.

Mr. Volpe has been with Dresser-Rand Group, Inc., its affiliates and predecessor companies to the business since 1981.  He has held positions in Engineering, Marketing and Operations residing and working in various countries, including:  Applications Engineer in Caracas, Venezuela; Vice President Dresser-Rand Japan in Tokyo, Japan; Vice President Marketing and Engineering Steam and Turbo Products in Olean, New York; Executive Vice President European Operations in Le Havre, France; and President Dresser-Rand Europe in London, U.K.  In January 1997, Mr. Volpe became President of Dresser-Rand Company’s Turbo Product Division, a position he held until September 2000.  In April 1999, he assumed the additional role of Chief Operating Officer for Dresser-Rand Company, responsible for worldwide manufacturing, technology and supply chain management, serving in that position until September 2000.  Mr. Volpe became President and Chief Executive Officer of Dresser-Rand Company in September 2000.  He has served as an independent director of FMC Corporation since 2007.  Mr. Volpe earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in German literature both from Lehigh University.

Mr. Volpe has substantial historical knowledge of the Company and its operations with 32 years of employment in various capacities with the Company, its affiliates and predecessor companies to the business, across the organizations’ international operations.  He brings leadership experience and extensive operations industry experience to the Company.

Michael van der Woude

van der Woude, Michael
Mr. Michael van der Woude serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Emergo Group Inc. He is an international business development expert and has many years of experience in international markets advising companies in establishing or expanding their business in the USA and Europe. He was Founder of APT Plus LLC. Prior to joining Emergo Group, he spent six years as a director for the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), offering support and expertise to US companies expanding into the European market. He has ten years of first hand experience operating his own company, and worked for a leading multinational financial services company. Mr. van der Woude holds Masters Degree in Business from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Philippe Yvergniaux

Philippe Y
Philippe Yvergniaux was appointed President of the Invest in France Agency (IFA) in North America in September 2009. In this role, he is charged with leading efforts to promote France as an ideal business destination for North American businesses looking to expand in the European market.

Having worked in foreign investment and development more than 20 years, Yvergniaux brings with him a combination of global field work and leadership experience. In his most recent post with the Agency, Mr. Yvergniaux served as the director of the UK and Ireland office.

Prior to joining IFA, Mr. Yvergniaux served as Chief Executive Officer of NFX, the IFA regional partner representing the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Northern France) region, from 1998 to 2005.
From 1993 to 1998, he was Director for International Projects at Ouest-Atlantique, the IFA partner for Western France (Bretagne, Pays de Loire and Poitou-Charentes) Mr. Yvergniaux also worked in Indonesia, Haiti, Africa and South America as a civil engineer for various rural development, road construction and irrigation projects.

Mr. Yvergniaux received a degree in engineering from the renowned Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, holds a Ph.D. in mechanics from INP Grenoble, and is an alumnus of the IHEDATE-Paris (Higher Institute for Territorial Planning and Regional Development in Europe). He is Ingénieur Général of the Corps de Ponts, des Eaux et des Forêts (French Corps of civil engineers). He is married with 4 children.