Young ICCA Co-chair Candidates Announced

As Sylvia Tonova steps down from her role as Young ICCA Co-chair, the search for a replacement has begun. We have two excellent candidates, Mr Rahul Donde and Mr Tolu Obamuroh, who stand ready to take over from Sylvia. We ask you, our Young ICCA Members, to decide who shall succeed Sylvia. 

All Young ICCA Members are invited to cast their vote for the next Young ICCA co-chair over the next two weeks. Voting is being conducted via email: all members will have received an email informing them of the two candidates and giving them access to vote. We advise all members to check their spam folders for this mail and encourage members to carefully consider their decision before voting.


If you are a Young ICCA Member and you have not received an email, please contact Interested in getting to know the candidates better? Please find their profiles below.


Rahul Donde 


 Age: 32.



Mumbai, India.


Current City:

Geneva, Switzerland.


Current Employer:

Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler.



B.L.S., LL.B. from Government Law College, Mumbai; LL.M. (International Dispute Settlement), from the Graduate Institute, Geneva and the University of Geneva, Geneva; LL.M. (Oil & Gas Law (ongoing)), from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.


How did you get involved in international arbitration?

While I was an intern in India, one of the first cases I worked on was an arbitration against a celebrity for breach of contract (he wore the wrong watch at an event). I enjoyed researching issues of separability (the contract was said to be void as the celebrity was a minor), and designing a cost-effective and expeditious process for resolution of the dispute. The experience sparked my interest in international arbitration, and led me to the firm belief that because of its inherent flexibility, arbitration is an ideal dispute resolution mechanism for resolving commercial disputes.


What is your favourite virtue?



What are your favourite qualities in another person?

Truthfulness, kind-heartedness, humor, wit and efficiency.


What is your chief characteristic?



What is your main fault?

Too outspoken, this often leads to putting my foot in my mouth!


What is your favourite occupation?

Interacting with people from different backgrounds and learning about new cultures. It’s a fascinating world!


What is your idea of happiness?

An empty beach, piña colada(s), chips and a good book.


What is your idea of misery?

Orwell’s 1984.


If not yourself, who would you be?

Homer Simpson – he has it all!


Where would you like to live?

Sydney. Great people, great beaches.


Who is your favourite prose author?

Ramchandra Guha (Indian historian and social/political commentator).


Who is your favourite hero/heroine in fiction?

The Khaleesi from Game of Thrones. She’s been through a lot, and consistently manages to transform adversity into prosperity.


Who is your hero in real life?

My parents. They’ve worked hard to get through tough times, without complaint. They’ve also made the time to contribute to society, something which I see less and less of these days.


What historical person do you most dislike?

I have a long list, with Hitler at the top.


What is your favourite name?

Lassie – brings back fond memories of my dog while growing up.


What do you hate the most?

Getting partially wet in the rain. Either you go all the way, or you don’t!


What is your natural talent?

Putting people at ease.


What is your favourite arbitration-related decision?

In investment arbitration, Metal-Tech which used “red flags” to come to a finding of corruption. In commercial arbitration, Booz Allen v. SBI in which the Supreme Court of India set the limits of arbitrability in India.


Who is your favourite arbitrator?

Someone who pays attention to detail, without losing sight of the bigger picture.


Who is your mentor?

Several people have advised me over the years. At the moment, Laurent Lévy and Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler provide invaluable guidance and constant encouragement.


What is your motto?

Never say never!


What do you hope to contribute to Young ICCA as co-chair?

With my multi-cultural background, I hope to promote and strengthen ties between young practitioners across the globe. The international arbitration market is increasingly competitive, and I would like to focus on the growth and development of younger, less-experienced practitioners ensuring that they are in a position to make the most of the various opportunities available to them. Having benefited myself from the opportunities offered by Young ICCA, by attending, speaking at, and organizing workshops and publishing on the Young ICCA blog, I will fully support Young ICCA’s efforts in these areas. Besides increasing the number of workshops on the “nuts and bolts” of arbitration and promoting diversity, I would especially like to expand the Young ICCA Resources repository, so that practitioners across the world have access to arbitration scholarships. I am also a long-time supporter of the Mentorship Programme, and intend to expand its reach and activities. I hope to have the opportunity to put these and other ideas into practice!


Tolu Obamuroh          


Age: 35


Hometown: Ike-Bunu, Nigeria


Current City: Paris


Current Employer: White & Case


Education: Columbia Law School; Obafemi Awolowo University


How did you get involved in international arbitration?

My first real introduction to international arbitration was when I took Professor George Bermann’s class on Transnational Litigation & Arbitration during my LLM program at Columbia Law School. He appointed me as his Research Assistant on the Restatement (Third) of US Law of International Arbitration, and that was the beginning of my real interest and career in this field. I was also lucky to have Professor Catherine Rogers as my SJD supervisor – she literally ignited my interest in international arbitration by guiding my study of the subject and helping me to discover my career prospects in the field. I understand there is an ongoing argument between them about who gets to take the credit for my interest in the field.


What is your favourite virtue? Integrity


What are your favourite qualities in another person? Honesty and humility


What is your chief characteristic? Tenacity


What is your main fault? Impatience


What is your favourite occupation? Neuroscience – If I had to start over and choose a different field, I would study the complex nature of the human brain and be endlessly fascinated by its complexity 


What is your idea of happiness? Making others happy


What is your idea of misery? Life without God, coffee or books– in that order


If not yourself, who would you be? A presser since, like many other people, I don’t like shirts that are not properly ironed


Where would you like to live? New York City


Who is your favourite prose author? Charles Dickens but I also like Chimamanda Adichie


Who is your favourite hero/heroine in fiction? Kunta Kinte (Roots)

Who is your hero in real life?Bill Gates for his commitment to hands on philanthropy and Barack Obama not so much for his politics but for his intellect and personal decency


What historical person do you most dislike? General Sani Abacha for his mind-boggling corruption and assassination of political opponents as the past Head of State of Nigeria


What is your favourite name? Amani (it’s a Swahili name that means peace)


What do you hate the most? Corrupt politicians and leaders who steal from their people


What is your natural talent? Making friends and making my friends find the best in themselves


What is your favourite arbitration-related decision? The dissent of Chief Justice Roberts (BG v. Argentina, March 5, 2014) where he disagreed with the overly commercial approach of the majority decision, highlighting the distinct nature of treaty arbitration. He considered that the BIT merely set out a unilateral offer to arbitrate subject to certain requirements being met by the investor. He somewhat agreed with the Court’s decision that the arbitral award should be upheld, but not with the reasoning


Who is your favourite arbitrator? Gary Born – for his mastery of international arbitration generally and for how hard he prepares when sitting as an arbitrator


Who is your mentor? The woman who taught me the value of character and how to keep going strong in the face of adversity – my mother


What is your motto?To be great is to be humble, to teach is to learn and to lead is to serve


What do you hope to contribute to Young ICCA as co-chair? I hope to work with the other co-chairs, bringing my experience and network of relationships around the globe to bear in providing leadership for the organization its existing endeavours and in thinking creatively about new directions for Young ICCA. I have worked as an event coordinator since 2014, and I firmly grasp the vision of both the parent organization and Young ICCA.


I will work with other leaders to strengthen the Practical Skills Training Workshops. In addition to the format currently being used, we are in the process of adopting a mock case format, which proved to be highly successful at the Milan and Brussels workshops. I would also like to implement a survey of participants at the end of every workshop to provide concrete feedback in order to make improvement in subsequent editions.


I hope to work with other co-chairs to introduce an “opening statement” competition, using a historical case. Participants can submit by video and we would have an open online voting. This innovation will greatly promote advocacy skills among our members.


We will work to expand the two-year mentoring programme to help more students and young practitioners learn from established practitioners and arbitrators. We will equally strengthen the scholarship partnerships with the University of Miami, MIDS Geneva and Tsinghua Law School as our commitment to education and scholarship.