Meet the Experts

Anita Agrawal pic

Anita Agrawal

CEO of Best Bargains

“Lessons From the Trenches” Panelist

Anita Agrawal is the CEO of the multi-award winning Canadian jewellery manufacturing company, Best Bargains, the recent recipient of the Organization of Women in International Trade’s, 2012 Ontario Woman Exporter of the Year award. She oversees the sales, promotions, advertising, jewellery designing and media relations of the company. In addition to her work at Best Bargains, Anita has also put her multi-faceted skill set to use in her capacity as a consultant to the Canada Council for the Arts and CPAMO (Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario).

As an industry expert, Anita has been interviewed for leading Canadian and international magazines and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, Profit Magazine, Canadian Jeweller and more. Anita’s commitment to her local civic and business community led her to run as both a provincial and a federal candidate in 2007 and 2008, respectively, for the New Democratic Party of Canada.


Jaeny Baik

CEO of Jaeny Baik Media Inc

“Top 3 Secrets to Shine Online With Video and Serve Customers Anywhere in the World”

Jaeny transforms women entrepreneurs from “zero to hero” on video.Her insatiable curiosity drove her to dig up stories for a decade as a reporter and TV host for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Her first show won a Gracie Allen Award from New York City and after hosting “Living Vancouver,” viewership shot up by almost 50%. As CEO of Jaeny Baik Media Inc, she trains women to perform on­ camera with the belief that people buy from people, not corporations.

Her company also produces YouTube videos, crafts stories and elevator pitches with authentic *’PUNCH!* After winning WBE Canada’s “The Pitch” competition, Jaeny’s speaking career has taken off to stages across North America, including TEDx and Pecha Kucha talks. Her clients span the globe, including Doha, Qatar in the Middle East. Jaeny’s passion runs deep ­ slaying corporate clichés and guiding women entrepreneurs to discover their authentic voice through video.

Michele Bailey

CEO of Blazing the Agency

“My Big Idea – Keeping Goals First and Foremost!”

Michele Bailey is Founder, President and CEO of Blazing Design Inc., known as Blazing THE AGENCY, a full services advertising firm. In business since 1994, Michele signature style of energy, perseverance, creativity and honesty fueled her ability to build a dedicated and talented team, a strong business network and a loyal client following.

Michele is also a published author and engaging, dynamic professional speaker who, because of her extensive experience and accomplishments, speaks on a variety of topics. She shares strategies borne of an intellectual curiosity, the desire to better herself and a demonstrated wish to see others succeed. Michele has been recognized with multiple awards and distinctions by peers, community and industry.

Eleanor Beaton

Women’s Success Coach

“Claim Your Power: Discover the 5 Critical Mistakes Ambitious Women Make That Keep Them Playing Small”

Eleanor Beaton is an award-winning writer, entrepreneur, women’s leadership coach and personal branding consultant. She has worked one on one with some of the country’s most notable women including celebrity entrepreneur and investor Arlene Dickinson, Order of Canada recipient and former Home Depot president Annette Verschuren, two-time winner of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneur Kelsey Ramsden, and many others.

Eleanor works with ambitious professional women in two main areas. She helps established women tell their stories and create authentic, knock-out personal brands in order to unlock the very top level of success. And she helps emerging women leaders and entrepreneurs cultivate the leadership skills and executive presence they need to be taken seriously as a leader in order to reap the rewards they deserve.

Eleanor is a graduate of the United World College of the American West, the University of Toronto, the University of King’s College and the Martha Beck Coach Training Program.

Diana Bishop

Diana Bishop

The Story Telling Coach

“Me Inc. — Telling Your Story in the 21st Century”

Helping  Women Trailblazers take center stage is a second act for Diana Bishop, also known as The Storytelling Coach.

Diana spent 20 years as national and international TV News Correspondent working for CBC, CTV,  Global and NBC News where journalism took her around the world covering the stories and careers of some of the biggest newsmakers of the day from Nelson Mandela to Celine Dion.

In this new era where people struggle to differentiate themselves, Diana is now using her well-honed communication and marketing skills to help  leaders in business, politics, law, health care, fashion and entertainment package their stories and brands into intellectual property they can use to reach and influence a wider audience, create new products and services, and ultimately move them from success to significance.

Marty Britton

Marty Britton

President & CEO of Britton Management Profiles Inc.

“Lessons From the Trenches” Panelist

Marty Britton, is the President  & CEO of Britton Management Profile Inc, the first ever reference checking company in Canada.  Incorporated in 1974, Britton Management Profiles recently celebrated their 40th year in business.   The company has a strong global presence and can conduct checks in a variety of countries.

The company has been under the direction of Marty for the last 22 years.  When she first joined the company, the only service provided was reference checking.  She strongly believes that keeping current and providing intensive training to all the associates who handle background checks is what has kept Britton Management Profiles in the forefront of the industry. Providing “world class” customer service is also very important to her.

Marty has added a wide range of pre-employment screening services to their list of products, from education, criminal and credit checks, employment verifications, exit interviews and the most recent being social media checks. She is a recipient of the 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year award.


Michael Clouser

Academic Entrepreneur & Angel Investor for Women-Owned Businesses

“Access to Capital” Panelist – “Angel Investing”

Michael Clouser is an entrepreneur, former venture capitalist, venture consultant, advisor, and academic. He is an expert on raising early stage venture finance in the USA, UK and Canadian contexts and has practiced in this marketplace for 20 years.

Michael is a Co-Founder Director of Nautilus Beam Limited (Tusi), GeeLearn Limited, Nosecone Ventures, and Dragon Trek. He advised Invoke as a venture consultant, and currently advises a range of new ventures including Longtale, Introjunction, Fabourg Paris, Innovation Academy, CourseDiver and others. He often plays interim CFO roles in new ventures and is adept at finance.

Michael has co-founded numerous companies in the past including New Era Strategies, LearnSpec, Gadder, iLodging, Market Diligence, CEO Research and others. He has raised angel capital for many of these.

In addition, in his role with Nosecone Ventures, a 2nd stage acceleration firm, Michael assists growing ventures in raising angel and venture capital from both local and international sources.

Current networking groups that Michael is a co-founder and organizer of include CoFoundersLab Matchup Scotland and the Scotland-Silicon Valley Link.  Past groups that he co-founded and ran include the Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club, the Edinburgh Entrepreneur Meetup, the Jupiter Entrepreneur meetup, Cascadia Angel Investor meetup, and the Hospitality and Tourism Technology Entrepreneurship Association (HETTA). Michael is currently assisting the start of two associations. He also serves on the Mayor’s Economic Development Advisory Board in Sooke, BC.  Michael supports charities such as SightSavers and Child Family Health International in addition to universities such as Cornell, Syracuse, Edinburgh and UCF.

Michael earned the BS degree from the School of Hotel Administration and the MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University; the MSc from the Business School from the University of Edinburgh and is a PhD Candidate currently on-leave from the same. His research focuses on entrepreneurship, innovation and policy, and in particular the supply of entrepreneurial risk capital in a region. He has published in top innovation and management journals, and maintains a blog entitled The Academic Entrepreneur where he writes about the financing of new ventures, supply of risk capital, policy, universities and related matters.

Carolyn Cross

Chairman and CEO, Ondine Biomedical Inc.

“Championing Innovation Technology” Panelist

Carolyn Cross is the Founder of Ondine Biomedical Inc., and currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of this Vancouver-based medical device company that develops non-antibiotic infection control therapies for a number of applications. She has 30 years’ experience with public market securities and 27 years’ experience working with early stage companies, with a background in finance and institutional investing. Previously, Ms. Cross was responsible for managing mutual funds, pension funds, pooled funds and discretionary private client portfolios as a Vice President with Royal Bank Investment Management Inc., the fund management arm of the Royal Bank of Canada. Ms. Cross currently sits on a number of corporate boards including Periowave Dental Technologies Inc., Sinuwave Technologies Corporation and Cayoose Creek Development Ltd., a First Nations company based in BC. She is a Board Member and Treasurer of the International Photodynamic Association (IPA) and Founder of the PanAmerican Photodynamic Association. Ms. Cross is a past Director of the Board of the Canada Foundation of Innovation and past member of its Audit and Finance Committee. She is a Founding Member of the Ernst & Young Global Women in Business Advisory Council, and member of the Advisory Council of GroYourBiz, a national organization assisting Canadian Women Entrepreneurs. She is a Founder and Chair of the Women’s Economic Business Advisory Council (WEBAC). Ms. Cross is a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award Recipient from the Government of Canada, a recipient of BMO’s 2014 Global Growth Award and a recipient of the 2015 BIV Influential Women in Business Award. Ms. Cross holds a CFA designation, an MBA from York University and an Honours in Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario.


Liz Dickinson

CEO and Founder, MIO Global

“Making Foreign Less Foreign” Panelist – “First-Hand Experience”

Liz is a visionary leader who knows how to get new technology to the market. She started Mio in 1999 to address a gap she identified in the market for heart rate monitors for physical training. She is now one of the world’s most experienced leaders in the field of heart rate monitors and holds 7 patents and 9 patents pending in the area of fitness and sport performance.

Under her direction, Mio has continued to grow and produce new innovative products for heart rate monitoring training.

Liz’s background includes positions with leading high tech companies including Oracle, AT&T, IBM and TELUS. She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

Chala Dincoy

CEO and Founder of Coachtactics

“Bullseye: How to Re-Niche to Grow Your Leads”

Chala Dincoy is the CEO and Founder of Coachtactics, www.coachtactics.com. An ACC level certified International Coach Federation Coach, she’s a Market Demand Expert who helps entrepreneurs package their unique expertise and tap into their Qualified Buying Market.
In her former life, Chala was an award winning marketer at companies such as Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Frito Lay, Diageo, Playtex and BIC Inc for 20years. Now she’s a certified business coach, the author of Gentle Marketing: A Gentle Way To Attract Loads Of Clients, a speaker featured on Rogers TV, the National Post,the Ottawa Citizen, a radio segment host on the Small Business Big Ideas Show and a video blog contributor to the Meetings + Incentive Travel Magazine.
Chala dishes out big advice that’s to the point, accelerates your growth and is like ROCKET FUEL for your business!

Kay Douglas

Kay Douglas

President, Douglas Marketing Group

“Best Practices in Supplier Diversity with Big Brands” Panelist

Kay Douglas, President of Douglas Marketing Group, has been serving clients in Michigan and Ontario since 1991 and established a Detroit-based office in 2007.  Driven by connections that stimulate communications, Kay leads a full service advertising agency that recognizes the importance of growth for Michigan with international reach.  Specializing in brand culture development, Kay has created comprehensive big picture strategies that put strategic plans into action. This visionary approach has led to the development of her firm’s proprietary software that manages brands and fully integrates return on investment dashboards to track results for clients in North America, Africa and Asia.

Kay has been recognized by Women Business Enterprises with the 2014 Perfect Pitch Award, she

Is the 2014 recipient of the Athena Award from the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce as well as a long history of recognition for the work she has done internationally through NAWBO.  Becoming President of Executive Women International Detroit Windsor was a catalyst for involvement in Michigan business and community organizations.  Clients she has been proud to serve include Henry Ford Hospital, Cirque du Soliel, Michigan International Speedway, St. John Brighton Hospital, Metrobank, Harvey Hohauser & Associates, Wayne County Community College District, Michigan Epilespy Foundation, Homes for Autism, Oakland University School of Nursing to name a few. Her talents were extended to art and author of a Children’s book “Yours for the Dreaming” that teaches the creative process aligned with strategic thinking paths. The book was the foundation for an educational program that has been piloted in Clarkston Michigan at Cedar Crest Academy and in programs throughout schools and seniors centers.

Sherri Griffiths

Sherri Griffiths

Regional Vice President of Commercial Banking, BMO

“Access to Capital” Panelist

Sheri Griffiths is responsible for Bank of Montreal’s Commercial business in the Greater Toronto Area.  Sheri brings over 25 years of extensive retail and commercial experience to this role. She has been with BMO for 15 years and holds an MBA from Dalhousie University.  She is a passionate champion of mentoring Women in Commercial Banking as well as promoting BMO as the bank of choice for female entrepreneurs.

Christian Hansen photo

Christian Hansen

Director, Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

“Making Foreign Less Foreign” Panelist – “Barriers for New Exporters: Accessing Market Intelligence”

Christian Hansen became a Canadian Foreign Service officer in 1995 and has served in Ottawa, Osaka, Oslo, Vancouver, and at Canada’s Mission to the European Union in Brussels.  He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from the University of British Columbia and Master of Public Policy (International Relations) from Princeton.  His academic interests include border management, transportation security, and trade facilitation.

Christian is the Regional Director and Senior Trade Commissioner at the Pacific Regional Office of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.  In this role he leads a team of 17 Trade Commissioners in supporting the international business of clients in British Columbia and Yukon.  He speaks Japanese, French and some Norwegian.

Julia Hubbel

Author, Entrepreneur, Journalist & International Professional Speaker

“The Power of Positive Linking”
“Tackling the Titans: How to Sell to the Fortune 500”

Julia has spent three decades in senior corporate and consulting positions in the areas of training and organizational development in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Her clients include Dell Computer, Cargill, Intel, Chevron, Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, Delphi, Cisco Systems, Qwest, Exxon, Pfizer, and Tyco International. She is the author of multiple prize-winning books, a sports enthusiast, and has been named one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women Impacting Diversity by Diversity Plus Magazine.

Finka Jerkovic

CPCC coach, Certified Fascinate Advisor, Personal Branding Consultant and Communications Strategist

“How to Fascinate® Training”

In today`s business world, women face many challenges. Now more than ever, women need to know, understand and bring her value to the table.  No longer, can fear of failure, lack of self-promotion or the desire to please all, stand in the way. In this competitive and distracted world, women need to know what makes them distinct before they become extinct.

Finka helps women to do just that.

Finka works with entrepreneurs, professional careerists and teams using the Fascination Advantage® system.  How to Fascinate® helps you discover the distinct value you bring. How to Fascinate® is the first science based professional branding system that is based not on how you see yourself, but how the world sees you.

Prior to founding FINKA Communications Inc. she spent  20+ years in Corporate Canada in the financial services industry, ranging in roles from sales, leadership, HR and training. Finka’s passions lie in helping women discover their `secret sauce`. She works with women on the edge of their bigger game activate their competitive advantage – their Fascinate Advantage®.  She believes that focussing on what you`re already doing right you will feel more confident,  no longer struggle to find the words to differentiate yourself  and  deliver impeccable results.

 Deborah Johnson

CEO, High-Stakes Communication

“The Secret to High-Impact Communication (hint: it’s not what you say!)”

Deborah Johnson is a six-time EMMY Award-winning writer and producer.  During her 2+ decades in the highly competitive world of commercial television, she fine-tuned her ability to break through the noisy clutter and influence an audience.

Today, Deborah uses her lifetime of experience and expertise to groom people for a wide variety of high-stakes situations – from witnesses in multi-million dollars law suits or a civil rights case to an interview with Barbara Walters.  Whether it’s in the courtroom, the boardroom or in front of the media, she knows that every facial expression, very word, every nuance has a profound effect on your success.

Jennifer Kelly

CEO, New Initiatives Marketing

“How to Get More Mileage Out of Your Content”

Jen Kelly is founder and CEO of New Initiatives Marketing (NIM), a company focused on the implementation and execution of marketing strategies. Some call it marketing project management, other clients refer to them as “quarterbacking all our marketing stuff.”

In 2015, NIM brought to market a Twitter content service called Nimble Quotes. This service posts inspirational quotes to your Twitter account as if you tweeted them yourself. Quotes get an enormous amount of engagement on social media are a great icebreaker helping small business owners and brands to start conversations with potential supporters and clients. The service has early support from TEDxWomen, GroYourBiz, the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals and Communitech – a technology accelerator.

Prior to starting her company, Jen spent 17 years in the marketing departments at big brands such as the Financial Times UK, Siemens and Motorola. Jen brings a marketing generalist point of view to help her clients successfully execute their strategies.

Marla Kott

CEO, Imprint Plus

“Lessons from the Trenches” Panelist

Marla Kott is a Chartered Accountant and Chief Executive Officer of Imprint Plus. She was the 2013 winner of the WeConnect Canada WBE Ambassador award, the 2012 winner of the Bank of Montreal Global Growth Award, and a 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist. Marla’s relationship with Imprint Plus began a $20,000 angel investment and a personal bank guarantee, needed to keep a 7 year old start up afloat for a childhood friend. When the bank called the loan in 2000, she gave up her Chartered Accounting practice, moved across the country to Vancouver, British Columbia, and became the full time CEO of Imprint Plus. Marla arrived to face an unproductive management team, thin capitalization and a balance sheet that sported a debt of $700,000. In the thirteen years that Marla Kott has operated as the CEO of Imprint Plus, she has built the company into a thriving international exporter of name badge systems with a goal to becoming a category leader in this niche market. IP operations head office is in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company also has offices in Florida, Ontario and the UK. Imprint Plus has been listed in Profit Magazine’s as one of Canada’s top 100 women owned businesses for 7 consecutive years. The company today has over 35,000 customers in 75 countries.

Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker High Res

Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker

PhD in Medical Science and CEO, DeeBee’s SpecialTea Foods

“Making Foreign Less Foreign” Panelist – “First-Hand Experience”

Dr. Dionne Laslo-Baker is more than just your average mom. As a medical scientist with a PhD from the University of Toronto, she spent years studying how the environment and the food we consume impact our health and wellness. Her dissertation focused on the study of toxins on fetal development and the Canadian Institute of Health Research gave her a doctoral award for her professional work in this field.
During her Masters degree training, Dionne was named Humanitarian of the Year at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She is widely published in medical literature and has taught courses in human anatomy and physiology at both the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University.
The focus on health and wellness transcends her workplace – it has become an intimate part of her life, a personal passion. This passion for wellbeing is the guiding force in her day-to-day life, which she openly shares with her own family and families across the country.
The idea of TeaPops was conceived as a casual conversation between Dionne and her two sons. Realizing that grocery stores did not provide many nutritional choices for treats, Dionne and her husband, Dr. Stephen Baker, MD, began experimenting with organic fruit and various flavours. Their research and experimentation led them to produce the world’s first organic tea and fruit frozen novelty — the TeaPop!


Lesley Lawrence

Senior-Vice President, Financing and Consulting – BC and North, BDC

“Access to Capital” Panelist

Lesley Lawrence was appointed Senior Vice President, Financing and Consulting, British Columbia and North in September 2014. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing BDC’s lending and consulting services in British Columbia and the North Region and ensuring the Bank achieves its mission to support small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.

Ms. Lawrence has over 25 years of experience in the financial services sector. Since joining BDC in 2000, she has held several senior management positions including Vice President, Financing and Consulting for GTA North Area, and Vice President and Area Manager for Toronto East Area.

Lesley leads a passionate team that is proud to promote BDC’s role as a development bank and its total offering as a complementary lender.

ianmackenzie 1

 Ian MacKenzie

New Paradigm Media Activist and Filmmaker

“Access to Capital” Panelist

Ian MacKenzie is an award-­winning filmmaker & media activist based in the Pacific Northwest. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic TV, CBC Documentary, The Globe and Mail, Adbusters, and film festivals around the world. His focus covers a range of diverse topics & subjects, though all fall under his mission of uncovering and amplifying stories of the emerging paradigm.

In 2016, he’s releasing Amplify Her, a new documentary exploring women in electronic music. Previously, he co­produced Velcrow Ripper’s feature film Occupy Love (2013), and earlier that year the short film Reactor (2013) about post­Fukushima Japan. Sacred Economics (2012) is one of his most popular web films, in collaboration with author Charles Eisenstein. Ian’s previous short The Revolution Is Love (2011) was named one of the top 10 Occupy films to watch 2011.

Along with film, Ian teaches and lectures widely on crowdfunding, having successfully raised over 1 million dollars over 40+ campaigns.

moniqueMonique Maissan

Founder, Vision Textiles

“Championing Innovation Technology” Panelist

Monique Maissan is a China-based Dutch entrepreneur, specializing in high quality woven and knitted garments. She is the driving force behind Vision Textiles, Waste2Wear® and Waste2Weave. Monique founded Vision Textiles in Shanghai in 1998 which has evolved from a wholesale trader to a manufacturer with offices in India, Malaysia, the USA and Europe and its own factories in China and India. Monique has 25 years of experience in the textile industry and is passionate about creating a new “circular economy”, sustainable standard in textile.

Waste2Wear® and Waste2Weave produce eco-friendly fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles. This special process involves turning environmentally damaging waste into useable, sustainable yarns. The latest sustainable product is “the green pillow” made from 82 Recycled Plastic Bottles. It took two years to bring to market as Monique didn’t want to compromise quality in order to be truly environmentally friendly.

Producing fabrics and garments is just the tip of the iceberg for Monique and her team. They are constantly developing initiatives that have a direct impact and improve the livelihood of people in local communities. They are involved in the Handloom Project in India and the Ocean Recovery Alliance in Hong Kong. They also support disabled children in special schools and orphanages in China and Tibet by supplying school and sports garments via active involvement projects contributed by children attending international schools. Such projects help in creating awareness and consciousness about life and goodwill amongst fortunate children.

Janice McDonald

President, Beacon Agency

“Are Women ‘Risk-Takers’: Preliminary Data from BMO Research”

Janice McDonald is a trusted advisor and strategist. An award-winning serial entrepreneur, she has expertise in the music industry, apparel/accessories and start-ups. She has Leadership training from Harvard and INSEAD and was appointed to Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard Kennedy School. She has many career achievements including driving the financial turnaround and re-branding of Women in Communications and Technology as it’s Board chair from 2013 to 2015.  She has been recognized by WXN as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women.  She is Chair of the International Women’s Forum Canada, Ottawa Chapter.

Caterina Papadakos

Caterina Papadakos

MBA, Commercial Account Manager, BMO Bank of Montreal

“Making Foreign Less Foreign” Panelist – “Barriers for New Exporters: Getting the Working Capital You Need to Finance Your Export Business”

Caterina Papadakos is a Commercial Account Manager at BMO Bank of Montreal in Vancouver. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and enjoys working with her commercial clients to support their growth and expansion into new markets.

Caterina started her career in international business development at the European Parliament in Brussels with the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Secretariat. After returning to Canada, Caterina was an International Business Development Manager at Trade and Invest BC with a focus on Europe, India and the Americas. During that time, she was appointed Private Sector Liaison Officer for the World Bank Group where she connected Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to financing and procurement opportunities with international financial institutions and development banks. She holds an MBA from the University of British Columbia with a focus on Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship.

Caterina is a member of the CARE Canada “I am Powerful” Vancouver Council which is supporting local entrepreneurs in Bolivia through the Tukuy Yanapana project. Caterina thoroughly enjoys working with women entrepreneurs and was a member of the GroYourBiz Vancouver Board. A former backcountry whitewater canoe guide, Caterina is equally passionate about adventure travel having visited 20 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.

Emily OhlerEmily Ohler

CEO, Broadleap Solutions Ltd.

“Women’s Economic Empowerment & Impact on the World” Panelist

An international lawyer by background, Emily has worked in the private and public sectors, domestically and internationally. As a barrister and solicitor, she has dealt with human rights, employment and administrative issues at various levels of court and in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. As an international lawyer, she advised the United Nations and various governments on policy, legal, procedural and practical matters related to a portfolio of $4.3 billion in complex sustainable development projects.

In 2013, Emily founded Broadleap Solutions Ltd, with the mission of helping businesses & organizations effectively integrate principle with practice in the field of human rights and sustainability. Through Broadleap’s ProspArity division, Emily works with organizations to eliminate hidden bias with a focus on gender mainstreaming from policies to organizational culture. Through its Knowledge in Context division, Emily works to educate, engage & empower young people to effectively shape their futures & their world in the way that they intend. She has now delivered her Core Curriculum to nearly 500 students across the Lower Mainland. Broadleap has also been accredited to participate in the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ upcoming international Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva in November.

Emily currently serves as interim secretary of the UN Association Vancouver, Co-Chair of the International Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (BC), and has been appointed to the Canadian Bar Association’s Government Affairs Committee.


Maryam Sadeghi

CEO, MetaOptima Technology Inc. and Director, Digital Health Hub

“Championing Innovation Technology” Panelist

Maryam Sadeghi, director of Digital Health Hub and CEO at MetaOptima Technology Inc, completed her PhD in Computing Science at Simon Fraser University in the Medical Image Analysis lab working closely with BC Cancer Agency and Skin Care Center at UBC Dermatology. She is interested in e-Health and m-Health applications and innovative patient-centric digital health solutions.

Maryam took home the Gold award at the World Congress of Dermatology in Seoul, Korea, for creating a computer program that uses images to detect signs of skin cancer.

In 2012, she founded the company MetaOptima Technology Inc. in Vancouver, Canada, developing intelligent technologies for health related real-life problems. Meanwhile Sadeghi’s company, MetaOptima Technology Inc., was one of the 10 companies shortlisted (out of 146 entrants) for the 2013 BCIC New Ventures Competition. Maryam is also the co-chair of Mayor’s Health Working Group in the Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard project.

In addition, she acts as a mentor for CIHR program and works with high-school students in addition to her role as a volunteer in the Let’s Talk Science and Try/CATCH. Try/Catch is an annual event and conference at SFU to promote Computing Science and Engineering for girls in elementary and high-school.

Sheryl Sauder

Sheryl Sauder

CEO, Mi5 Print and Digital

“Best Practices in Supplier Diversity with Big Brands” Panelist

After graduating from Princeton University, where she competed for the varsity diving and swimming teams, Sheryl Sauder began her career with News Corporation. Within 3 years, she became founding partner of Prospect Media Inc. which she helped lead for 13 years. She then sold her shares and joined Prospect’s main print supplier, Mi5 Print and Digital where she is currently CEO. Her experience in both marketing and print has been an asset to many of her clients in helping them create successful marketing campaigns right from design to implementation. Sheryl has worked with a variety of companies across different market segments including; Packaged Goods, Retail, Automobile and QSR.  Mi5 Print and Digital is a certified women owned business and a proud member of WBE Canada.

Mark senn

Mark Senn

Regional Vice-President, Western Region, Export Development Canada

“Making Foreign Less Foreign” Panel Moderator

Mark Senn is the Regional Vice President for business development in western Canada.  Appointed to the position in January 2014 he is responsible for coordinating and delivering EDC’s finance and insurance solutions to the exporting community in our four western provinces.  Increasingly, EDC is using its’ international resources to bring Canadian companies to new markets, and Mark is enthusiastically allocating resources to make this market diversification a reality.

Mark has worked at EDC since 1997, with prior responsibilities as a Senior Account Executive covering strategic accounts in the Life Sciences, Oil and Gas, Mining and Transportation sectors.  In addition to his experience on the business development side, Mark has also worked in the risk adjudication and treasury functions of the corporation. Prior to joining EDC he worked as a corporate banker for ABN AMRO, Bank of New York, RoyNat and Bank of Montreal.  Mark has a MBA and a BA in Economics both from Queen’s; as well as an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the Pacific.

Vanessa Shaw photoVanessa Shaw

International Business and Success Coach, Wealth Mentor and Inspirational Speaker

“Think like a CEO: Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions capping your income at 250K or less”

Widely recognized as savvy and sophisticated yet grounded in business brilliance, Vanessa Shaw is an international Business and Success Coach, Wealth Mentor and Inspirational Speaker on a mission to eradicate the “smallness” in from small businesses and stop the financial and emotional roller coaster most entrepreneur’s face.

Through her Vanessa Shaw signature BIG BOLD entrepreneur leadership courses and events, she has become one of the most sought-after speakers and recognized authority on personal leadership, money strategies and business mastery. She has inspired thousands of entrepreneur’s globally to BE BOLD. PLAY BIGGER.® in their personal and business lives.

Vanessa’s broad international experience as a business coach includes clients such as The World Economic Forum, KPMG, Oracle, The Global Fund, Cameron McKenna, Sandler Training as well as other professional service providers. Her in-depth knowledge of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur & create a business from scratch has led Vanessa across continents to specialize in business & success coaching for small business entrepreneurs.
She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs; business owners, coaches and consultants around the globe to step up powerfully into the world create lucrative boutique businesses that positively impact the lives of others.

Katt Stearns

Director of Social Strategy, Katt Stearns Consulting

“Making Sense of Social and How to Monetize”

We all have a story to tell. Sharing it in a manner that educates, empowers, entertains and engages your audience requires Strategic Social. Katt Stearns is the Director of Social Strategy for Katt Stearns Consulting. She has worked with numerous medium businesses and government organizations including BC Hydro, FortisBC and Thompson Rivers University and GroYourBiz developing marketing strategies that help them share their stories and make a difference. Katt is the recipient of the 2015 Canadian Digital Marketer of the Year Award and was also nominated for the 2014 British Columbia Small Business Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. You can find Katt on Twitter at @KattStearns.

heather stokes pic

Heather Stokes

Account Manager, Export Development Canada

“Making Foreign Less Foreign” Panelist – “Barriers for New Exporters: Finding New Customers”

Heather Stokes, Account Manager at Export Development Canada (EDC), has managed portfolios consisting of start-up companies to under $300 million in revenues in both Ontario and BC.  Heather graduated with a BA from the University of Ottawa and completed a post-graduate program in International Business where she received her Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation.  Prior to EDC, she worked in Sales at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, which is an international steel company in Hamilton, ON. Heather has been part of the business community in Vancouver for over three years and is constantly fascinated by the entrepreneurialism and export-focus of BC Businesses.  She speaks French and Spanish and likes to keep active in her spare time by skiing, playing sports and taking advantage of BC’s beautiful outdoors.

Michelle Taylor PicMichelle Taylor

Diversity Procurement Director, Cummins Inc.

“Best Practices in Supplier Diversity with Big Brands” Panelist

Michelle L. Taylor, CDE became the Diversity Procurement Director on February 1, 2013 for Cummins, Inc.

Michelle is responsible for managing and integrating more than $1.5B in diverse spend for Cummins global diversity procurement initiative. She leads the attainment of $1.5 billion in diverse spend for Cummins through benchmarking efforts, Tier 1/Tier 2 opportunities and collaboration with Cummins business units and area business organizations worldwide.  Michelle also manages the inclusion of more than 12 global diverse categories within the Cummins supply chain including small business categories supported by the Small Business Administration.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University and a Master of Science Management degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. She is certified in Lean Manufacturing Systems from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Systems and is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE). She has held a variety of leadership roles throughout her automotive career and is a former M/WBE entrepreneur.  Michelle received recognition for her entrepreneurial pursuits. She received the 2005 New Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Indianapolis Black Chamber of Commerce and the 2007 Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award from the Center for Leadership Development.

Michelle has served on the board of directors for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Indianapolis and the YWCA of Greater Indianapolis. She enjoys reading, exercising and participating as a community volunteer.

Marnie Walker 1Marnie Walker

Owner, 401 Bay Centre

“Are Women ‘Risk-Takers’: Preliminary Data from BMO Research”

Marnie’s passion is entrepreneurship. A serial entrepreneur she has founded, grown and sold 2 successful companies. The first was Student Express a special needs school bus company that she grew from a start up to a mulita million dollar company with a fleet of 250 buses. The most recent venture, 401 Bay Centre is an executive office centre which launched in 2009 and she sold earlier this year. Her many awards and acknowledgments include Canada’s Women Entrepreneur of the Year, Extraordinary Women of the Year and inclusion in the W100 Top Women Business Leaders in Canada.

She teaches entrepreneurship at the Schulich School of Business, reviews business plans for funding for Ontario Centres of Excellence and sits on the advisory boards of various high growth companies. As an angel investor and co-founder of Maple Leaf Angels Marnie is involved with many entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organizations.

Julie WeeksJulie Weeks

President and CEO, Womenable

“Women’s Economic Empowerment & Impact on the World” Panelist

Julie Weeks is the President and CEO of Womenable, a for-profit social enterprise that works to enable women’s entrepreneurship worldwide by improving the systems – laws, policies, programs and research-based knowledge – that support women’s enterprise creation and growth. Weeks is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of women’s enterprise development, with experience in both the private and public sectors in the areas of research, public policy and program management. She is an accomplished oral and written communicator, with proven ability to translate data and complex information into clear, concise, and actionable knowledge.

Weeks has over 30 years experience in research, public policy, and communications. For three years, she served as Executive Director of the National Women’s Business Council, a federallyfunded bipartisan policy advisory body created by the U.S. Congress to serve as an independent voice of women’s entrepreneurship and an advisor to the President, U.S. Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration on women’s entrepreneurship issues. Prior to that position, Weeks spent nine years as the Director of Research and Managing Director of the Center for Women’s Business Research, a nonprofit organization that conducts research among women business owners and their enterprises. She has also served as Deputy Chief Counsel for Statistics and Research at the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Vice President for Research and Public Policy at two market research firms.

It can be said that Weeks has been personally responsible for much of the research-based information on the state of women business owners and their enterprises in the United States. Additionally, she has led, coordinated or consulted on research projects focused on women business owners and their enterprises in over two dozen other countries.

Weeks has a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and a Master’s degree from that same institution in Political Science with a concentration in research methodology. In addition to her work leading Womenable, Weeks serves on the board of the Leelanau Conservancy and the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation, the advisory board of WEConnect International, and the editorial advisory boards of Enterprising Women magazine and the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship.

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