Adriana Marais

Keynote Speaker - Johannesburg
Adriana Marais


Adriana, who has recently been appointed Head of Innovation at SAP Africa, believes in the value of living your best life in business – doing what truly invigorates you and being part of ‘proudly human’ teams. With the corporate environment in constant flux, and developments in technology taking place at an unprecedented rate, the need for continuous learning and self-reinvention is critical – and Adriana shows teams how to tackle this, through the lens of scientific progress.

South African theoretical physicist and Mars One candidate astronaut Adriana Marais has not bounded herself to the world of academia and space exploration foundations alone. She’s also translated her passion for exploring the frontiers of knowledge and experience into keynote addresses that benefit corporates and special interest groups – especially those fascinated by her extraordinary bid for a one-way ticket to Mars and her provocative thoughts on how we might use our existing resources on this planet more wisely to make everyone #proudlyhuman.

The scientist and candidate astronaut brings fresh, out-of-the-box thinking about human possibility to the professional speaking circuit. She is one of 100 round three finalists in Mars One, a global project which aims to send four people at a time to create a permanent colony on Mars. She has a unique ability to reinvent the known and inspire people to dream big.

Passionate about sharing ideas and collaborating with likeminded people, Adriana’s keynotes evolve into conversations about exploring boundaries and examining our motivations. Believing that we should be proud of our company, our country, our region and our continent, Adriana says we ought to draw on the collective wisdom of humanity to establish our sense of purpose on a day-to-day basis. The corporate world benefits from her profoundly insightful presentations, which propel audiences into a whole new dimension.

It is mavericks who drive change and pioneer innovation, in any sphere of endeavour, and Adriana brings this visionary element into her keynotes. Although she is not a futurist per se, with a research background in fields from data encryption to quantum technologies to life off of Earth, she looks at where the human species is headed and suggests ways in which we could make better use of our resources – a message that resonates with companies that are committed to evolve sustainably.


  • Received her PhD in quantum biology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2015.
  • One of 100 round 3 finalists in the Mars One Project
  • Special Project Coordinator for the Foundation for Space Development South Africa.Royal Society of South Africa Meiring Naude Medal 2016, Royal Society of South Africa, October 2015
  • One of 15 recipients worldwide of a L’Oréal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Grant
  • Regional Fellowship Award for Women in Science in Sub-Saharan Africa, L’Oreal-UNESCO, September 2013
  • Women in Science Fellowship Award, Department of Science and Technology, August 2010


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