Hear from the visionaries laying the groundwork for a sustainable future.

About the Defiant Optimist Series

Bringing you the stories of some of the world’s boldest thinkers making finance work for all.

Join IIX founder and CEO, Professor Durreen Shahnaz for The Defiant Optimist™, a webinar series that features individuals making great strides in inclusive finance and business. Through personal stories, anecdotes, and words of wisdom, these sessions inspire bold action in the key development and private sector actors; including policymakers, development specialists, investors, corporate, financial professionals, and the wider impact investing community.

What’s in it for you?

Discover what it really means to follow your own path and remain steadfast in your pursuit. Become driven to work with a purpose and leverage key insights to further your personal and professional goals. Find strength in your own capabilities and feel emboldened to question the conventional.


World-class special guests:
Hear the inspiring stories of change-makers from around the globe


Get inspired:
Understand how you can make a real impact in the lives of others


Grow your network:
Connect with other professionals and stay up-to-date on industry trends


Get recognized:
Attend all sessions and earn a digital credential as a Defiant Optimist

Past Speakers


Shayne Elliott

Chief Executive Officer of ANZ


Preeti Sinha

Executive Secretary for the UNCDF


Dr. Hongjoo Hahm
Deputy Executive Secretary,


Annie Chen
Founder & Chair,
RS Group




Anita Bhatia
Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director,
UN Women


Mauricio Claver-Carone
Inter-American Development Bank


Stephen Liberatore
Head of ESG / Impact – Global Fixed Income,

Annual Memberships Available

Hear the advice, stories, and words of wisdom and take the first step in becoming a leader for change. Learn from industry experts and chart your path to becoming a Defiant Optimist today!

Curious About A Session?

A message from our Founder & CEO

 Check out snippets from our latest session!


Contact iixinstitute@iixglobal.com for your student or alumni discount

About the Host

Durreen Shahnaz, a global leader of social impact and impact investing, is the founder of Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) and IIX Foundation. Over the past three decades, her mission has been to build a more inclusive, sustainable world by transforming financial markets and bringing underserved women to the forefront of capital markets. Drawing on a rich career as an investment banker, development worker, researcher, educator, and serial social entrepreneur, Shahnaz’s work has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, governments and impact stakeholders around the world to play a role in sustainable development and women’s empowerment.


What is the Defiant Optimist series?

Defiant Optimist™ is a monthly webinar series hosted by IIX Founder and CEO, Prof. Durreen Shahnaz, and features individuals making great strides in inclusive finance and business. Through personal stories, anecdotes, and words of wisdom, these monthly sessions seek to inspire a new generation of defiant optimists.

Who can attend?

The session is intended for anyone interested in making finance work for the 99%! We hope our listeners will be inspired, find strength in their capabilities, and feel emboldened to question the conventional, through these sessions.

How long is each session?

Each webinar in the Defiant Optimist™series will run for one hour and includes a Q&A session, with Prof. Shahnaz and the guest speaker. In instances, guests with our annual membership pass may also be invited to a 10-15 minute closed-door session with the guest speaker.

How can I attend?

You can purchase single session tickets, as well as annual memberships. Please register your interest here, or drop us an email at iixinstitute@iixglobal.com

I am a student and/or a member of the IIX Institute alumni network. Am I eligible for a discount?

All students and alumni of the IIX Institute are eligible for a 10% discount. Please contact us at iixinstitute@iixglobal.com for further details.

I purchased a ticket but missed the session. What do I do?

You are eligible to receive a recording of the session shortly after the event has ended.

How can I contact the IIX Institute team?

Feel free to contact us at iixinstitute@iixglobal.com or at (65) 6221 7051 for more information.