Ascend 2017 Speaker Bios

Mel Robbins

Award Winning CNN On-Air Analyst, Best-Selling Author

Mel Robbins is an inspirational force dedicated to helping people and organizations reach their highest potential. Mel is best known for creating “The 5 Second Rule” and delivering one of the most popular TEDxTalks in the world - “How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over.” Her provocative and compelling views on leadership, risk and human potential have earned her international attention and invitations to train and empower executive teams at some of the world’s leading brands: The PGA Tour, Price Waterhouse Coopers, CISCO Systems, Johnson&Johnson, United Technologies, Chase and Lincoln Financial.

When she’s not on stage, she’s on television talking about the biggest stories of our time. She’s an award-winning On-Air Commentator for CNN and drives millions of pages views for - where she’s one of their most popular opinion writers. In 2014, the Gracie Awards named her America’s Outstanding Talk Show Host. She’s hosted shows for A&E, FOX and Cox Media; and has appeared in every major show and publication you can name from Good Morning America to Dr. Phil, the New York Times to SUCCESS Magazine, where she served as a Contributing Editor.

Mel is a Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School graduate and a serial entrepreneur that’s on a mission to help us all thrive at work and in life. She and her husband of twenty years have three young kids and live outside of Boston.

Scott Hanselman

Principal Program Manager

"JavaScript, The Cloud, and the Rise of the New Virtual Machine"

One day we woke up and things were different. Maybe it happened overnight, maybe it took many years. Suddenly we are scripting against thousands of Virtual Machines from the command line while creating things today with JavaScript in the browser that were impossible yesterday. LiveScript becomes JavaScript becomes ES6 and now we're compiling C++ to JavaScript and deploying web apps to an infinite cloud. Join Scott Hanselman in this upbeat and edutaining keynote as he explores the relationship between the Cloud and the Browser, many Languages and one Language, how it might all fit together and what might come next.


Scott is a web developer who has been blogging at for over a decade. He works in Open Source on ASP.NET and the Azure Cloud for Microsoft out of his home office in Portland, Oregon. Scott has three podcasts, for tech talk, on developers' lives and loves, and for pop culture and tech media. He's written a number of books and spoken in person to almost a half million developers worldwide.

The Passing Zone

Corporate Entertainers and Speakers on The Power of Partnership, Innovation, Collaboration & Execution

Many speakers talk about teamwork. Jon and Owen do it. Their success is proven, their talent unique, and nowhere else will you see such an exciting demonstration of the amazing things that can be accomplished when people work together. The Passing Zone is a comedy duo who not only work together - their safety is in each other's hands! Every moment of this presentation is a clear example of collaboration between two people who have prepared, who rely on each other's strengths, who communicate, trust, and have fun cooperating. Their entertaining and inspiring performance uses big laughs, exciting stunts, and flawless teamwork, creating an unforgettable experience.

Anjali Yakkundi

Senior Analyst Analyst Serving Ebusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals

Anjali is a senior analyst serving Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) Professionals. Her research focuses on digital experience delivery, primarily focusing on digital asset management (DAM), personalization solutions, site search, and digital experience 

service providers. Anjali helps Forrester clients implement these technology solutions and technology strategies in order to support the management and optimization of customer experience.

eBusiness & Channel Strategy Blog

Bernardine Wu

Founder & CEO

Bernardine Wu is the founder and CEO of FitForCommerce, a boutique consultancy that helps hundreds of brands and retailers accelerate their businesses through digital, ecommerce and omnichannel strategies, technology and innovation leverage, and organizational optimization. As trusted advisors, Bernardine and her team have cemented FitForCommerce's unique position at the center of the digital commerce universe. A frequent speaker and writer for leading industry conferences and resources including NRF/, Shoptalk, and Internet Retailer, Bernardine is a thought leader of digital and retail operations and innovation. Her early career and focus on investment diligence began at Accenture and Wall Street.

James Norwood

Chief Marketing Officer Episerver

With over 27 years of experience within enterprise business software, James has a proven track record in product strategy, sales and marketing, M&A, brand creation and development, and has detailed industry knowledge.

James has held C-level and executive leadership roles with a number of CRM and ERP software companies, specifically focused on product strategy and marketing, and has also served on boards and as an advisor to Private Equity.

Mark Duffell

Chief Executive Officer Episerver

With over 28 years of experience as a senior executive, Mark has led every function within a software business, including worldwide sales and marketing, strategic planning, international operations, R&D, services and support.

Mark has served as President, CEO and COO of a number of private and public ERP and CRM software companies, helping each of them to grow profitably. Mark has also served as an operational advisor to Private Equity and has successfully lead the acquisition and integration of close on 20 businesses.

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