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Keynote speakers

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Rohit K Upadhyay
Founder and President, FinPlusTech Inc
Rohit Upadhyay possesses deep expertise in machine learning, data technologies and distributed systems within the technology sector. His extensive experience includes the architectural design of more than a dozen cutting-edge FinTech and data-centric systems, the establishment of machine learning initiatives and operations, and advisory services to government enterprises on the utilization of analytics and LLM driven systems. With a proven track record, he has provided strategic consultation to numerous Fortune Global 500 companies, specializing in technology and international business strategy. He recently architected risk-AI, a situationally aware AI powered Governance, Regulatory and Compliance (GRC) tech for use of AI in regulated businesses.
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Prof Jan H van Vuuren
Head of the Stellenbosch Unit for Operations Research in Engineering (SUnORE), Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University
Professor Jan van Vuuren was born in Durban, South Africa. He obtained a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Stellenbosch University in 1992 and a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, in 1995. He has been a member of staff at Stellenbosch University since 1996, first in its Department of Applied Mathematics (1996–2007) and then in its Department of Logistics (2007–2013). He is currently professor of operations research and head of the Stellenbosch Unit for Operations Research in Engineering (SUnORE) which is part of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University. He is the author of numerous journal and peer-reviewed conference proceeding papers. He has also supervised many undergraduate and postgraduate students to the successful completion of their studies in areas of operations research.
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Dr Rénette Blignaut
Head of Statistics and Population Studies Department at UWC, University of the Western Cape 
Rénette Blignaut manages UWC's Data Science programs and has spent 24 of her 30-plus years in academia leading the Statistics and Population Studies Department. She worked in industry for nine years while earning degrees in Mathematical Statistics from Pretoria and UCT, completing her PhD in 1995. Her research includes data mining, statistical learning, and predictive modeling. Promoted to full professor in 2015, Rénette has published over 83 articles and presented at numerous international and national conferences. She has supervised 34 master's and 8 PhD students and holds a NRF C2 rating for 2023-2027.

In 2021, she received the South African Statistical Association's Thought Leader Award, becoming the second female recipient. Rénette chairs the Data Science Academic Committee at the National Graduate Academy for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, and is on the Governing Board of the Centre for Multi-dimensional Data Visualisation at Stellenbosch University.
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