Meet the Rational Games Board
Dr. Mark Young
Negotiation Expert, RGI President
Dr. Mark Young, the founder of Rational Games, is an independent author, trainer and consultant with many years´ practical and academic experience in the area of negotiation, mediation and conflict management skills. His theoretical work is tempered by practical lessons learned as a negotiator in government (US Department of Commerce) and in the field of corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions in the US and Europe. Mark divides his time between Cambridge, Mass, Washington, DC and Berlin, Germany.
Board Member, Liaison Trainer Team
Björn is a humanitarian aid worker with professional experience working for international organizations and government departments. In addition to his regular work, Björn has contributed to the ideas and work of RGI since 2009 as an independent trainer and consultant in negotiation skills. In 2014, Björn joined the Board of RGI, supporting Rational Games in carrying forward the idea of constructive negotiations and creative problem-solving through seminars and strengthening RGI’s strategic partnership with other negotiation professionals. With his experience in the nonprofit and governance sector, Björn is able to bring new ideas to the work of RGI.
Björn is fluent in German, English and Dutch. He also speaks French and some Italian.
Raymond is a finance professional active in the controllers division of an international bank. Raymond’s experiences in both the nonprofit and for-profit business sectors come together to support the mission of Rational Games, Inc. Eager to support initiatives locally and globally which further work being done in the fields of conflict management, negotiation and mediation, Raymond is delighted to be serving Rational Games, Inc. in his capacity as Treasurer of the organization.
Ray is fluent in English and German.
Wayne Lifshitz is a 20-year professional with executive and senior-level management experience in the non-profit, start-up and Big 5 consulting industries, and has worked with several large and globally recognized brands which have including CARE, Booz Allen, Nike, and WorldShop. Wayne is an entrepreneur, inventor, and strategic connector. He began his career in international development focused on social change where he was the Founder and Director for CARE’s Sport for Social Change Network [grant program] and later led a large grant portfolio for Booz Allen. At present, Wayne is the CEO of Kennin Co,. an entrepreneur and small business consulting firm, that is focused on COO as a service, strategy, strategic connections, general business consulting, KPI and project management and new business development. The firm works with tech start-ups, consumer goods manufacturers and non-profits on projects that improve short and long-term growth and sustainability. He is also the inventor of the Piggyback Rider and other successful consumer products and works closely with LifecycleVC and Piranha Tank which help start-ups get seed funding.
Wayne obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley and also holds a Master’s degree from Boston University. He has completed an MBA leadership certificate course at Cornell University and is a PMP and Certified Partnership Broker. In his free time, he’s a sailor, father, jujitsu blackbelt and USA National and World Team Judo competitor.
Negotiation Trainer, Strategic Partnerships
Norm Thomas is a recognized industry leader in technology for professional services firms. He spent 8 years with Microsoft as Director of Industry Market Development for the Legal and Professional Services solutions business, focusing on customer engagement and channel-building in the services sector globally. Before joining Microsoft, Thomas was a Client Partner for Cambridge Technology Partners in enterprise-scale project management and client development, and before that was President of Softec Solutions, Inc., a systems integrator for small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from USC and an MBA in Finance from the University of Washington and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Washington.
Board Member, Strategic Partnerships
Antonia Simon has an extensive career spanning over three decades in various roles related to marketing, cultural management, and editing. She has been engaged with the Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) since 2008 and has been a member of the Green Party's think tank for culture (LAG / BAG Kultur) since 2011. Antonia is adept at bringing people together and enjoys working in an international environment.
Antonia Simon holds a Diploma in economics (Diplom Volkswirtin) from Freie Universität Berlin. She also studied Romance Languages (Spanish, French) at Universität Heidelberg.
Jill Tanamal Blackbyrn
Board Member, Negotiation Consultant
Jill Tanamal has been a Research Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy Berlin - an institution of the Robert Bosch Stiftung in 2016. Her field of research was Mega Trends in South East Asia with the vision to enhance an informed and holistic understanding of the Southeast Asian region in Europe.
Since 2016, Jill Tanamal is part of the Board of Directors of the South East Asia Leadership Academy (SEALA) which is an initiative launched by the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF). Prior to that, she was Corporate Communications Manager at Bosch Indonesia for three and a half years succeeding in increasing brand awareness in Indonesia by opening up communication channels from traditional media to digital.
Preceding that, she worked for the German Federal Foreign Office as Liaison Coordinator for the second International Conference on Afghanistan. In this capacity, she was responsible for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She performed similar roles for conferences at the Head-of-State and Ministerial level during Germany’s presidency of the G8 Summit, EU-ASEM and EU-ASEAN. Besides being the point of contact for the UN delegation, she was also a key contact for all ASEAN countries during that time.
From 2008 to 2009 Jill Tanamal was Project Manager for the Corporate Division at MCI Berlin office, handling high-level symposiums for the German government as well as other event formats.
Jill Tanamal is a Certified Event Manager from the IHK (German Chambers of Industry and Commerce). She followed up with Chinese studies from 2009 to 2011 at Beijing Language and Culture University.
Jill is fluent in German, English and Indonesian, and speaks some Chinese.
Meet the Associate Trainers
Negotiation Consultant & Coach
Catherine Mehrtens started her career in the Paris headquarters of the insurance company AXA. There she helped guide the strategic internationalization of the HR department which included negotiating and advising on the ensuing career paths for AXA executives and expatriates.
Since 2012 Catherine has worked as a freelance negotiation consultant, coach and trainer, serving both the private and public sectors. Her primary focus is the support of international change projects and strategic negotiations, particularly in the banking and insurance business, as well as healthcare and IT.
Catherine is a German citizen and is fluent in German, English, and French.
Negotiation Consultant & Mediator
Jan is an attorney, mediator and conflict management professional working for an international humanitarian organization. Jan is passionate about empowering people to constructively deal with differences and conflicts. He has delivered trainings in various parts of the world. Jan has complemented his practical experience in negotiation and conflict management with a range of professional trainings, including with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) and Trigon Entwicklungsberatung. He is a CEDR Accredited Mediator and a Certified Mediator according to the German Mediation Act.
Jan gained further experience in two reputable corporate law firms, a development agency, the Foreign Service, the judiciary and several NGOs. Jan joined Rational Games as Associate Trainer in 2018. He is fluent in German and English and also speaks French and Spanish.
Jan Friedrichs studied business administration with a particular focus on management and human resource development at the Hochschule für Wirtschaft near Hamburg and in Boston. After spending four years in international sales for a global consumer products company, and seven years in total in industry, in 2005 Jan founded his own company as an entrepreneur, trainer and consultant. He coaches, advises and trains middle and senior management and their teams, working for clients such as Airbus, HanseWerk and HELM.
Jan also teaches at the Leuphana Universität Lüneburg and the NORDAKADEMIE in Elmshorn. His company Adventure Learning (www.adventure-learning.de) offers innovative approaches to HR development for management and emerging leaders through original learning experiences training communication and leadership skills as well as personality development.
Jan is a German citizen and lives in Hamburg.
Joana has conducted training on topics such as negotiation, gender and culture in negotiations, conflict management, and emotional intelligence and has wide international experience. Through her work at Rational Games Inc, she has had the opportunity to teach at several prestigious companies and government institutions such as the German Foreign Ministry, the BBC, Mercator Kollege, University of Zurich, Xing, and EU International Communication Union, to name a few.
Besides Mediation and Advanced Negotiations training from the Harvard Program on Negotiations, she holds an MBA from Reykjavik University, a Master's in Humanitarian Action and Conflict from Uppsala University as well and a diploma in Protocol and Diplomacy from the International School of Diplomacy of Brussels. Furthermore, she has specialized in Humanitarian Negotiations at the Clingendael Institute of International Relations of the Netherlands and is a PhD candidate at the Twente University in Negotiations.
Joana is a Portuguese and Icelandic citizen and is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, English and Icelandic.
Felix Miller is a Negotiation specialist with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Banking & Finance as well as Negotiation education, currently working at Deutsche Bank AG as Vice President Deal Expert.
During his career, Felix has created several ventures, worked in Startups & co-founded Deutsche Bank's Office for Negotiation, providing him ample opportunities to work in different contexts & cultures including Africa, the US, Asia & Europe. In 2018, he joined Rational Games Inc., as a Negotiation trainer & advisor to our clients, grantees & board members.
Felix is a Harvard-trained negotiator, holds an MSc. in International Business Negotiation from IÉSEG School of Management in Paris & a BA. in Business Administration from the Munich University of Applied Sciences. He speaks German (native), English, French & Italian.
Felix has a background in strategy consulting in the analytics space in the finance, banking, airline, and retail space. He currently leads a team of Data Scientists at Meta, where he supports the cross-functional development of new commerce products. Felix’ negotiation specialty is cross-functional collaboration and conflict resolution in large, interdependent organizational structures. He holds a bachelor degree in industrial engineering and a Master in Management from the École Supérieure de Commerce in Paris. Felix lives and works in London.
He is fluent in German, English and Spanish.
Sebastian M. Schäfer
Sebastian Schaefer is a strategic consultant working primarily in the banking and financial services industry with a particular focus on marketing, pricing and negotiation. He also advises clients from the public and private sectors with regard to negotiation and communication skills as an Associate Consultant for the nonprofit training and coaching company Rational Games Inc.
Sebastian holds a degree in Industrial Engineering with majors in mechanical engineering and strategic management. He also studied International Business Negotiation at IÉSEG in Paris.
Sebastian is fluent in German and English, with a working knowledge of French.
Hami is a consultant specialising in negotiation training, alliance partnerships, and coaching for young professionals. He is an experienced entrepreneur and worked with strategic management consulting companies, such as Bain and BCG, to deliver primary research data for commercial due diligence projects. Hami currently leads an alliance partnership team of a French software company, which is part of the French Tech Association.
Hami holds a master's degree in International Business Negotiation from IÉSEG School of Management in Paris as well as a BA in Business Administration from Munich University of Applied Science. He speaks English, German, French, and Farsi.
Antonia is a negotiation consultant and trainer specializing in cross-cultural communication and international collaborations.
Throughout her career, Antonia has developed proficiency in adult education, sales, marketing, and strategic partnership development. She has negotiated sales contracts, managed stakeholder relations, and established multifaceted partnerships in both the private and public sectors.
Antonia holds an MSc in International Business Negotiation as well as a Key Account Management certification from IÉSEG School of Management in Paris. She also holds a BA in Modern Languages from the University of Lethbridge, Canada. She speaks English, Spanish, and French.
Janne is an organizational psychologist with a focus on transformation and change management. He is passionate about enabling organizations, teams and leadership to navigate uncertain conditions. Janne has several years of professional experience as a researcher and consultant in international organizations, such as the United Nations, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the Center for Social Innovation and Investment (CSI). He is currently working as a consultant in German development cooperation.
He holds a Master's degree in Psychology from the University of Heidelberg and the University of Vienna. He also obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Political Economy. With his PhD at the University of Heidelberg, Janne is currently further specializing in the topics of organizational decision-making under uncertainty.
Janne is a German citizen and speaks German, English, French and Russian.
Philippe Gruca holds degrees in philosophy (Sorbonne, Paris) and sociology (EHESS, Paris), and today puts his skills to good use in various projects that put values into practice.
On the scientific level, he has co-directed the journal Entropia, addressing contemporary issues such as the Anthropocene, transhumanism and degrowth. Philippe Gruca has specialized in the thought of the philosopher Günther Anders, contributing to numerous books and conferences on the ethics of responsibility, scale and technology. He is also a member of the Malaurie Institute of Arctic Research Monaco-UVSQ and edits the interdisciplinary journal Inter-Nord.
Philippe Gruca is also the founder of a school of rhetoric, the "Atelier Français", which combines linguistic, psychological, and intercultural dimensions. He teaches these disciplines to cultural and political figures in Paris, Berlin and Warsaw.
Together with the psychologist Oliver Vogelhuber, he helps people in crisis situations to initiate a real paradigm shift - which of course implies negotiation skills, with others but also within oneself. His hope is that, through the collaboration with Mark Young and Rational Games, these skills will find their way into the hands of people committed to the values of responsibility, sustainability and dignity.
Philippe Gruca speaks French, English, German and Polish.
Body Language and Voice Coach
As a professional actress, linguist, educator, and voice coach, Julia strives for conscious communication and cross-cultural dialogue. With ten years of expertise in adult education and her acting background, Julia developed her own Know-How in the field of public speaking and communication in a foreign language.
Stage fright, self-confidence, and female leadership are her favourite topics.
The first collaboration with Rational Games happened in 2011.
Since then Julia has been taking part in seminars on negotiation both as an actress and a coach. Sentences you could hear from her often:
"HOW is at least as important as WHAT" and "We are talking bodies, not talking heads"
Since October 2022 she has also working as a consultant for communication and multimedia at DER MITTELSTANDSVERBUND – ZGV e.V. (SME Groups Germany)
Associate Consultant, Photographer
Holding a background in Chemical and Process Engineering, Alberto has built a diverse career across the chemical and energy sectors, working in roles ranging from back-office to front-office positions. In addition to his keen eye for photography, particularly for RGI, he holds a Master of Science in Chemical and Bioengineering. Alberto also has a strong interest in the fields of negotiation and communication.
His interactions are characterized by a genuine interest in connecting with people, learning their stories, and sharing moments of laughter.
Alberto is a native Italian speaker, fluent in English, with intermediate skills in German and basic knowledge of French.
Living in Zurich area (Switzerland)
Coach and Trainer
Ziad Holaihel is a Beirut-based Coach and Trainer with over 15 years of experience in management, consulting, and sales. Specializing in strategic growth, he has a proven track record of transforming start-ups, SMEs, and public sector organizations across the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. A Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Mathematics equips him with a strong analytical foundation.
Fluent in English, French, and Arabic, Ziad is a trilingual advisor who leverages his certifications in Design Thinking, Life Coaching, NLP, and Time Line Therapy to offer holistic business solutions.
His multidisciplinary approach focuses on team-building, operational excellence, and profit maximization.
Henk van der Wath
Gamification and Technical Advisor
Henk is a Lifestyle Gamification Coach, where he helps clients refine their gamification systems for improved productivity and success. He creates games that drive moving conversations leading to win-win outcomes. His professional background also includes positions as a Data Analyst & ISO 27001 Lead at Klir, Business Analyst & Project Manager at Universal Health Care, and various roles in IT consulting.
Henk holds an Honors B.Sc. in Computer/Information Technology Administration and Management from the University of the Free State, where he focused on areas including Strategic Management, Advanced Marketing Management, Internet Marketing, and Data Structures among others.
Henk speaks English and Afrikaans and lives in Cape Town South Africa