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Sean Hinton
Co-Director, Economic Justice Program, Open Society Foundations; CEO, at Soros Economic Development Fund


Sean Hinton is a man with an unusual job: to spend money. To be exact, he has the remit to spend 220 thousand dollars a day, or approximately 150 dollars per minute. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And Sean Hinton has no doubts to where he wants to invest his money: the area of refugees.

‘There are 65 million refugees and migrants worldwide. That is a whole nation of stateless people. These people should not be treated as victims, but instead as economic actors’, says Sean Hinton who continues: ‘They are entrepreneurs, employees and an incredible pool of labour. Refugees and migrants compose a large pool of talent and we should look at their inclusion into our economy as a privilege. They are the world’s next trillion-dollar-economy.’

The money is going to be spent on building thriving and tolerant democracies worldwide. While the majority of the means from the Open Society foundations flows out into society through donations, it is Hinton’s responsibility to promote the purpose of the foundation through impact investments. In other words, he has to create social impact, while preferably earning money at the same time. And when the two types of outcomes clash, the social impact trumps economic return.

Prior to this, Hinton was principal of Terbish Partners, which he founded in 2007 to provide strategic advisory services focusing on China, Mongolia, and Africa and the social and economic impact of large-scale extractive investments. He was a long-term senior advisor to Goldman Sachs (Asia) and the Rio Tinto group. His other roles have included: deputy chairman of SouthGobi Resources; special advisor to the CEO of SOHO China; and chairman of China Networks.

Hinton has over 25 years of experience in China and Mongolia, where he lived from 1988 to 1995. He subsequently served as Mongolia’s first honorary consul-general in Australia.

Hinton began his career as a consultant at McKinsey & Company as a specialist in their media and entertainment practice. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, the University of Cambridge, and the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute, and serves on the board of the Natural Resources Governance Institute and the international advisory board of the Baha’i Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland.

Sean Hinton's Network

Agenda Sessions

  • Keynote from Soros, the world’s second largest foundation: How to boost impact with shareholder voting: The argument for asset manager Investment activism when asset manager investor passivism / abstention is just not enough