These influential leaders, world-renowned visionaries, and passionate entrepreneurs discussed the most critical topics affecting retail today.
The Diversity Agency
Andria Barrett is with The Diversity Agency, which is not only a Speakers Bureau, but also includes Diversity & Inclusion Consultants and Strategic Consultants connecting Companies & Government with Black Entrepreneurs, Consumers & Communities. Born and raised in Canada (with an allegiance to the Toronto Raptors), one of Andria’s very first jobs was in retail. Andria speaks on Diversity & Wellness and is looking forward to participating in this year’s event. Andria is an active investor supporting female entrepreneurs and is active in her community and serves on the board of PACE, Canadian SME and the Culinary Tourism Alliance.
Three Time Best Selling Author
China Marketing Expert
Ashley is a renowned China marketing expert, entrepreneur, bestselling author and vlogger. She was recognized as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Marketing and chosen as an Asia-Pacific Top 25 Innovator by the Holmes Report. Ashley’s been named a “Guru on digital marketing and fast-evolving trends in China” by Thinkers50, as well as one of Top 20 Visionaries of the Media and Technology Industry by Adello Magazine. She is the founder of a China-focused social media agency Alarice and China insights and digital training company ChoZan. Ashley runs the world’s #1 YouTube business vlog about the China market, consumers and social media at Ashley Talks. She is an author of 3 Amazon bestsellers about digital China. Ashley is an active supporter of women in business and is the creator of the self-development program FIRE. She’s regularly featured in media such as BBC, CNBC, CGTN, SCMP, Forbes, WSJ and more.
#1 Bestselling Business Author, Organizational Culture, Employee Engagement and Leadership Expert
The Culture Works
One of today’s most influential voices in workplace trends, Chester Elton has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision, and values. In his provocative, inspiring and always entertaining talks, #1 bestselling leadership author Chester Elton provides real solutions to leaders looking to manage change, drive innovation, and lead a multi-generational workforce. Elton’s work is supported by research with more than 850,000 working adults, revealing the proven secrets behind high-performance cultures and teams. He has been called the “apostle of appreciation” by Canada’s Globe and Mail, “creative and refreshing‚” by the New York Times, and a “must read for modern managers” by CNN. Elton is co-author of the multiple award winning New York Times and #1 USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling leadership book, All In, The Carrot Principle, and The Best Team Wins. His books have been translated in more than 30 languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide. Elton is often quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Fast Company and the New York Times. He has appeared on NBC’s Today, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, National Public Radio and CBS’s 60 Minutes. In 2018 Global Gurus research organization ranked him as #13 in the world’s top leadership experts and #5 in the world’s top organizational culture experts; and he is a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches pay it forward project. Elton is the co-founder of The Culture Works, a global training company and a board member of Camp Corral, a non-profit for the children of wounded and fallen military heroes. He serves as a leadership consultant to firms such as American Express, AT&T, Avis Budget Group and Procter & Gamble. He is most proud, however, to be the father of four exceptional children more exceptional now they’ve grown up and left home.
Senior Vice-President Operations Support and Chief Information Officer
Mr. Eubanks is an executive with significant experience in technology leadership. He is currently the Senior Vice-President Operations Support and Chief Information Officer of goeasy Ltd., which provides leasing and lending services across Canada. Prior to his employment with goeasy, Mr. Eubanks was the Chief Information Officer at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). Prior to that Mr. Eubanks served in progressive leadership roles focused on technology in the retail industry having worked for Canadian Tire Corporation and Best Buy International. Mr. Eubanks also serves as a Director on the Board of the innovation hub Communitech. Mr. Eubanks is a graduate of York University, ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program.
Associate Director, Food & Drink, Canada
Joel Gregoire researches and writes reports on the Canadian food and drink industry for Mintel. He comes to us after stops at NPD, Loblaw's and OMD, where he amassed a breadth experience in the industry. Joel has a Bachelor's Honours Co-op in Political Science and History from the University of Waterloo.
Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer
Emily Heyward is the Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer at Red Antler, the leading brand building company for startups and new ventures. Emily works closely with founders to develop purposeful, strategic visions for their startups and has led branding efforts for top companies such as Casper, Allbirds, Betterment, and Prose. After beginning her career in advertising, she started Red Antler along with her co-founders to directly apply consumer insights and brand positioning to launching and growing new and beloved businesses. In 2018, Red Antler made Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies in Marketing and Advertising and was dubbed the “cult brand whisperer”. Emily was named among the Most Important Entrepreneurs of the Decade by Inc. Magazine, and has also been recognized as a Top Female Founder by Inc. and one of Entrepreneur's Most Powerful Women of 2019. As a brand strategy expert, Emily is frequently interviewed by the press, with commentary appearing in Forbes, Bloomberg, Inc., Fast Company and Adweek. She’s also been a featured speaker at TechCrunch Disrupt, 99U, and the Fast Company Innovation Festival. Her first book, Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One, was published by Portfolio, a division of Penguin Randomhouse, in June 2020. Emily graduated Magna Cum laude from Harvard University, where she studied postmodern theory and consumer culture. Born and raised in New York, she currently lives in Southampton with her wife and son.
Founder, The Huffington Post; Founder and CEO
Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books, including Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. In 2016, she launched Thrive Global, a leading behavior change tech company with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. She has been named to Time Magazine's list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union. She serves on numerous boards, including Onex and The B Team. Her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time, both became instant international bestsellers. Most recently, she wrote the foreword to Thrive Global's first book Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps.
EVP, Chief People & Corporate Affairs Officer
In her current role, Nabeela leads human resources and corporate affairs for one of Canada's largest employers with over 100,000 associates and more than 400 stores nationwide. Her career includes nearly 20 years of leadership and business development experience with three of the world’s most recognized brands - Walmart, IKEA and Starbucks Coffee in the US, Canada and Europe. Nabeela was previously Head of Digital Transformation at Ingka, leading IKEA’s digital and retail transformation globally across 41 countries. Nabeela is especially passionate about enterprise wide transformations, the future of work, change management, diversity and inclusion and organizational design. In 2017, she was appointed to the TaskRabbit Board of Directors, a leading gig economy platform that has revolutionized digital two-sided marketplaces. In 2019, she joined the Future Skills Centre of Canada as a Board Advisor, a pan-Canadian effort focused on skills development and employment training to help Canadians transition in the changing economy. Nabeela also serves as a board member for the Miracle Foundation a US and India based organization which has the bold ambition to end the suffering of orphaned children and find a loving home for every single orphaned child in the world. Nabeela graduated with a dual degree in Marketing and Supply Chain Management and Distribution from Indiana University and holds a master’s in Industrial and Organizational Behaviour from the University of Texas. She is a certified executive coach through the International Coaching Federation, a member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches and a six-sigma green belt.
Former Chairman & CEO of Best Buy; Author, The Heart of Business - Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism
Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School
Acclaimed for his ability to put people and purpose at the heart of business, Hubert Joly rebuilt Best Buy into one of the nation’s favorite employers while dramatically growing the company’s stock price. Recognized as one of the top 100 CEOs in the world by the Harvard Business Review, one of the top 30 CEOs in the world by Barron’s, and one of the top 10 CEOs in the U.S. by Glassdoor, Joly’s leadership as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Best Buy has been praised by his colleagues, consumers, and investors alike. In 2012, the retail industry was suffering, and Best Buy was no exception. However, under the direction of Joly, the retail giant not only survived, it thrived, to the benefit of all of the company’s stakeholders. To accomplish this, he employed a powerful philosophy: pursue a noble purpose, put people at the center of the business, create an environment where every employee can succeed, and treat profit as an outcome, not the goal. His greatest achievement, however, may have been to make himself dispensable: he decided to step down as CEO in 2019 and as executive chairman in 2020, and passed the baton to a diverse, new generation of leaders, which included appointing Corie Barry as CEO, and building a board of directors that had a majority of woman directors and three black directors. Hubert Joly currently serves as a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. He is also a member of the board of directors of Johnson & Johnson and Ralph Lauren Corporation, a member of the International Advisory Board of HEC Paris, and a Trustee of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He is the author of the bestselling book “The Heart of Business – Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism.”
Sarah is CEO of Mastermind Toys, Canada’s largest specialty toy and kids book store. She leads 69 stores coast-to-coast and online with thousands of employees including stores, head office and warehouse – bringing to life their reputation as Canada’s Authority on Play, and creating a world class employee and customer experience. In 2020, Mastermind Toys was named The Most Innovative Retailer of the Year, and Sarah was recognized as a Global Influencer in Customer Experience. Sarah is a passionate, energetic leader with a track record of delivering results while leading transformational change at organizations. Previously she was the Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Omni Channel Strategy at Scotiabank where she led the bank from #5 to #1 in customer experience ratings. She spent a decade with The Boston Consulting Group, where she advised Fortune 500 companies on large scale retail customer centric transformations and cultural change. Sarah holds both an MBA and an Engineering degree from Queen’s University. She is a lecturer at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in the MBA program, and a guest speaker at Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in their Innovation in Retailing & Services program. She is a board member at the Canadian Toy Association, the first-ever retail member in the organization’s history. She is also a jury for the 2021 Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends, one of the nation’s most respected and renowned industry awards.
CEO and Founder
Evio Beauty Group
At the age of 21, Leifso was living in a women's shelter when she founded the concept for Evio, a Canadian clean beauty company that is redefining luxury beauty to be kind, conscious and affordable. Evio’s line of cosmetics and skincare products are affordable, inclusive, vegan, cruelty-free, toxin-free, gluten-free and paraben-free, and are ethically and consciously produced. Evio’s mission is to create a more conscious and kind future with products and packaging that are made with good-for-you, sustainable ingredients, including hemp, avocado, rosemary, elderberry and cocoa seed butters, to leave less of an imprint on our planet. From humble beginnings, Leifso has raised millions through strategic alliances and has won the support of a coveted board of directors and advisor to grow Evio into a respected thought leader and a direct-to-consumer brand with distribution across North America. In 2018, Leifso secured a spot as an alumni member of the esteemed Sephora Accelerate program and was selected as one of Chatelaine Magazine's 2018 Women of the Year. In 2019, Leifso spoke at Forbes Under 30’s first-ever Global Women Summit in Israel, Cosmetic Executive Women’s Future of Cannabis in Beauty in Los Angeles, and the CAFA Fashion & Retail Forum in Toronto. Most recently, Leifso was recognized as one of 2020’s Top 25 Women of Influence. “We want to live in a world in which each person is empowered to live their authentic truths, with brands that make them feel luxurious, regardless of their social status. At Evio we believe in celebrating all forms of beauty and making a positive difference and breaking stigmas along the way.” - Brandi Leifso, CEO and founder of Evio
AmberMac Media Inc.
Amber Mac is an award-winning podcaster, TV host, and bestselling author - and an internationally-known technology reporter, entrepreneur, and social media personality. She started her career at Razorfish in San Francisco during the dot-com boom and has since been at the forefront of reporting on and participating in digital innovation, including the future of work, commerce, and emerging technologies. Her broadcast roles include hosting innovation programs on networks such as Bloomberg, TechTV, and SiriusXM. She is also a frequent contributor to Fast Company. She has written a bestselling business book on digital marketing (2010) and most recently wrote an Internet security book (2016). In 2018, she was named one of DMZ’s 30 inspirational women making a difference in tech.
Managing Director, Head of Retail
Eric Morris is the Managing Director of Google's Retail practice in Canada, leading sales, operations, research, strategy and analytics for Google's advertising business. Eric has held several leadership roles at Google Canada since joining in 2002. Prior to his current role, Eric led Google Canada's search and performance advertising business. Previously, Eric launched and led Google’s mobile advertising business in Canada. In 2016 Eric was named inventor and issued a patent in the United States for identifying rising search queries and trends at scale for advertisers worldwide. Eric was elected to the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada’s board of directors in 2009, including a term as Chair of the board in 2015-2017. Born in Montreal and raised in Toronto, Eric is a graduate of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.
Michael Schneider was appointed Managing Director Bunnings Australia and New Zealand in March 2016. Bunnings is the leading retailer of home improvement and lifestyle products in Australia and New Zealand and a major supplier to project builders, commercial tradespeople and the housing industry. Operating from a network of more than 370 stores and trade centres, Bunnings caters for consumer and commercial customers. Prior to his appointed as MD, Michael led Store Operations teams across Australia and New Zealand after joining Bunnings in 2005. Before joining Bunnings, Michael held a range of senior operational, commercial and human resources roles across regional and national markets, both in retail and financial services businesses. Michael is committed to developing diverse teams that challenge the status quo and embrace innovation to drive high performance which is critical in today’s competitive retail environment. As a leader, he is known for his collaborative, genuine and honest style and for having a real passion and energy for the Bunnings business. This has fostered Bunnings’ supportive culture which empowers team members to take responsibility and have ownership in how the business delivers its customers’ a unique and compelling proposition. Michael believes that team members’ ability to connect with customers and the local community is key to the business’ success and that this requires an ongoing investment in building the best team as well as creating a culture that builds trust, inspires action, develops people and drives performance. He is a strong advocate for emerging talent and believes in giving young leaders every opportunity to realise their full potential and develop their careers across a range of disciplines within the business. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of NSW and has completed the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD, and the Advanced Strategic Management Program at IMD.
Clint G Seukeran
Clint G Seukeran is the owner of Ganjika House, which became Brampton’s first legal cannabis dispensary on April 1 2019. He was an AGCO cannabis lottery winner in January 2019 and subsequently featured in various media including CP24, CBC Toronto, CBC Radio, and the Toronto Star.
Prior to entering the cannabis space Clint owned a food processing facility in the Dominican Republic, which supplied raw beverages and produce to various international markets including the US, Canada and the Caribbean. He holds an MBA in Food and Agribusiness as well as certifications in Food Science and Logistics.
When he entered the cannabis space in 2019 Clint was called a novice. Now in 2021 he is recognized as one of Ontario’s cannabis retail leaders. He has five retail cannabis stores in Ontario with more openings planned.
Over the past 2 years Clint and his team have built a strong customer centred retail brand, which passionately represents cannabis. Ganjika House was formed to fiercely fight the ill-educated stigma of cannabis, using brand pillars of truth and kindness.
Founder and CEO
Doug Stephens is one of the world’s foremost retail industry futurists. His intellectual work and thinking have influenced many of the world’s best-known retailers, agencies and brands including Walmart, Google, Estee Lauder, BMW and LVMH.
Prior to founding the consultancy Retail Prophet, Doug spent over 20 years in the retail industry, holding senior international leadership roles.
Doug is the author of three internationally bestselling books. His latest titled Resurrecting Retail: The Future of Business a Post-Pandemic World (2021). He is also the author of Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World and The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism. Doug is also the nationally syndicated retail columnist for CBC Radio and sits on multiple corporate and academic advosry boards.
His unique perspectives on retailing, business and consumer behavior have been featured in many of the world’s leading publications and media outlets including The New York Times, The BBC, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company.
John S. Thorbeck is Chairman of Chainge Capital, a firm focused on retail industry transformation. John is co-author with Warren H. Hausman, professor emeritus, of the Stanford-based “Zara Gap” metrics linking speed and investor value, case study on fast fashion implementation, and process and data innovation for superior profit performance. John is a former CEO of GH Bass & Co (PVH), and Rockport (Adidas), and senior executive for Timberland Co and Nike. John received an MBA at Harvard Business School.
CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer
Michael’s journey with IKEA began with what started as a one-year internship program in 1986. From there he quickly progressed to hold various positions with increased responsibilities at IKEA Canada, and then moved onto IKEA globally where he held strategic leadership roles in Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States. Michael has a passion for retail with a proven track record of driving growth and leading through change on both a country and a global level.
Associate Director, Canada Leisure & Lifestyle Reports
Carol Wong-Li has been writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industry for Mintel Canada since October 2014. Prior to joining, she worked in market research consulting on both the research supplier and client. Carol has a MA in Sociology from the University of Calgary.
General Manager, Marketing
Yvonne is the head of Marketing and member of the Executive at London Drugs. Since joining London Drugs in 2018 she has advanced the marketing strategy of one of BC’s “most loved” brands by optimizing the marketing mix for owned, earned, and paid media to gain relevance, and creating meaningful customer connections.
Driving for a customer led experience is at the core of the marketing strategy Yvonne is pursuing for the London Drugs brand. By embracing and acting on the data generated from the LDExtras loyalty program and merging with the insights achieved through research and additional data sources, London Drugs is on the path to a new level of personalized customer experiences.
Yvonne has a wide background in marketing covering the vendor and retailer perspectives in a variety of the companies that have informed the work she does for London Drugs. She achieved an MBA in Executive Management from Royal Roads University in 2018 and a holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo.
Chief Customer Officer
As Chief Customer Officer at omNovos, Andrew is responsible for the success of its customers. For much of the past 25 years, Andrew has been successful in a multitude of interdisciplinary business roles by doing one thing – and one thing alone – helping his customers be successful with their customers. Truth be told, he’ll be the first to admit that he got lucky at first, but soon realized that he was having fun working closely with his customers to brainstorm and solve problems.
His truly unique perspectives and consultative approach have helped organizations around the world build, develop, and grow world-class offerings and programs.
Now Andrew gets to spend his days working with world-class retailers building digital customer engagement solutions and offerings (true personalization and not simple segmentation, and real customer Loyalty (with a capital L – not just dollars and points), and his nights trying to solve teenage problems for his two daughters. (You can imagine how much they appreciate that!)
Director of Insight
To be posted.
Creative Director In-Store Marketing
Oscar Bertola is a Creative/Design Director with 15 years of experience with TC Artisan Complete and 23 years total experience in the retail design and marketing industry. Engages a multi-discipline studio of 25 designers and collaborates with clients and various brands to ideate, design, and execute innovative and relevant solutions in the retail environment.
Managing Director, Canada
Ian Black joined Shopify in 2019 as Head of Retail and is now Shopify’s Managing Director in Canada. He plays a pivotal role in helping over 100,000 Canadian businesses and partners - of all sizes - build and grow their business on Shopify. At Shopify, Ian led the launch of Shopify’s Retail products: POS Pro (software) and Retail Kit (hardware). When the pandemic hit, Ian helped create ‘Go Digital Canada’ - in partnership with the Government of Canada - to bring thousands of small businesses online. He also spearheaded the launch of over a dozen new products that enabled socially distant commerce for retailers, such as local delivery, curbside pickup, and tap payments. Prior to joining Shopify, Ian led Uber’s business in Canada and Uber’s food delivery business in the U.S. He also led the launch of uberX and Uber Eats across Canada; changing the way millions of Canadians move around cities, eat and work. Before Uber, Ian worked at Bain & Company, a leading global management consulting firm.
Christian has over 20 years of experience in the fields of public opinion and market research. Christian is Executive Vice-President at Leger and manages its Montreal research team. He is also a partner in the firm and acts as a senior consultant to the firm’s major clients. As a spokesperson for the company, Christian is a political commentator for the CBC and consumer trends columnist on Radio-Canada.
One of the many projects that Christian oversees is the Leger annual WOW Customer Experience Index which is an industry benchmark that provides amazing insights for Retailers.
Christian still teaches research methodology at Université de Montréal
CEO and Co-Founder
Steve Buors is a leading authority on digital marketing for multi-location businesses such as retailers, franchises and restaurants. He works with national and international brands to develop inventive strategies using existing and emerging technologies to find new customers, increase sales, and combine the best of national brand strength with local relevance.
Steve is CEO and Co-Founder of Reshift Media (reshiftmedia.com), a Canadian-based digital marketing and software development organization with more than 200 clients in 20 countries worldwide. Reshift specializes in developing and implementing industry-leading social media, search and website/mobile strategies to enable multi-location, single-location and online-only brands to achieve exceptional business results.
As a senior executive, entrepreneur and thought leader in the digital marketing industry, Steve has spoken at a variety of events, hosted many webinars and actively contributes to a number of blogs.
CEO & Founder
With nearly 30 years in payments and digital banking, Mike has helped drive a generation of innovation in payments. Mike’s career began in the earliest days of debit card roll-out and Internet banking with Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Bankers Association.
With Visa Canada from 2004-12, Mike’s team led the launch of new products including chip cards, RFID/tap cards, Visa Debit, prepaid and mobile payments. As a member of the global product leadership team, Mike helped to transform Visa’s Canadian operation through the IPO period (NYSE:V).
As a consultant, Mike has supported payment networks, banks and companies across North America, including Payments Canada, Rogers, Interac, Visa, Moneris and major credit unions. Mike is an instructor for the Rotman course The Business of Payments.
Mike is the CEO and Founder of Clik2pay and is dedicated to its success.
Diane J. Brisebois
President and CEO
Retail Council of Canada
Diane J. Brisebois, CAE, oversees the largest retail association in Canada serving over 45,000 retail establishments including independent merchants, chain stores, mass merchants, big box and online retailers. RCC’s membership covers all segments of the retail market including general merchandise, grocery and pharmacy. Diane joined RCC as its President and CEO in January 1995. Diane has held CEO positions in the not-for-profit sector representing various industries for the past 35 years.
Vice President, Account Management
As Vice President, Account Management in the finance practice, Sharon Brown helps clients develop actionable data strategies to uncover insights that lead to business growth. With over 30 years of experience in CRM—focusing on acquiring customers to maximizing customer loyalty, engagement and profitability – she is committed to delivering measurable solutions that deliver results. Earlier in her career, Sharon led the account services team at OgilvyOne and served as Director of Response Marketing at ING Direct. Prior to joining EA, Sharon headed her own consultancy practice, designing strategies for customer communications and loyalty programs. Sharon has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto.
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Brian is a management-side labour and employment lawyer at the national, and international, law firm Fasken Martineau LLP.
The Fasken Labour and Employment Practice Group (comprised of over 120 lawyers globally) is ranked Band 1 in the current Chambers Canada rankings, a ranking it has held for a number of consecutive years.
Fasken is proud to be a Partner Company in the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Brian dedicates most of his law practice to the rapidly unfolding labour and social developments, both at home and abroad, within the Business and Human Rights (BHR) and the Environmental/Social/Governance (ESG) fields.
Brian is counsel to the Canadian Employers Council (CEC). The CEC is the official "voice" of Canadian business, on the international stage, including at the International Labour Organization (ILO), in respect of the world of work. In January 2021, the CEC submitted a Report to the Canadian government setting out the views and perspective of the Canadian business community on a wide variety of unfolding international and domestic developments impacting the world of work and global workplaces.
Associate Creative Director In-Store Marketing
Associate Creative Director at TC Artisan with 20 years experience in POP and Graphic Design. Extensive knowledge in providing innovative and creative solutions for the retail environment. Past projects include environment and display solutions for TeleComm Retailer, Office Supply Retailer and Beverage Provider.
Retail Strategy & Transformation Leader
Sangeetha is the National Operations Transformation and Retail Consulting Practice Leader at Deloitte Canada, with 20+ years of experience in strategy and transformation across the retail industry. She has deep expertise in leading and managing large scale retail transformations by leveraging consumer insights to drive business and operational effectiveness. She helps clients deliver rapid, visible performance improvements while strengthening their organizations and positioning them to win in the long term.
Before joining Deloitte, she has spent 7 years as Head of Corporate Strategy and Development/ E-commerce for a $25B+ grocer; reporting into the CEO and as a core member of the executive team.
Chief Financial Officer
Jeffrey Chiasson has been working in finance for nearly 35 years. His expertise in financial management, corporate strategy and business leadership has led to positions in leading Canadian companies such as Holt Renfrew, White Rose and most recently, Soft Moc where he has served as Chief Financial Officer for 12 years.
Throughout his career, Jeffrey has proven to be a master at understanding consumer trends and behaviours and their impact on a company’s bottom line. Always putting the customer experience at the forefront, Jeffrey has steered companies successfully through some of the most challenging times in retail. At Soft Moc, Jeffrey has overseen a business strategy that includes nearly 130 stores in Canada and the U.S. as well as a booming e-commerce site. He looks forward to sharing his experiences about maximizing a company’s potential in the digital era.
VP of Global Retail Strategy
Shannon Colquhoun has been retailing since college – both in-stores and as a buyer, merchant, consultant, sales leader, and strategist. She’s been an executive with Gap Inc., Lands’ End, and Macy’s, defining and managing strategic initiatives, with expertise in omnichannel transformation.
She’s also partnered with hyper-growth companies to Fortune 500 companies during her time with Accenture, Infor and Slalom. She’s now leading the Talkdesk Industry Team for Retail. She is passionate about delivering exceptional customer experiences and what it means to be an operating model to make happen. Retail is never boring and she loves it!
Steve’s an entrepreneur and innovator with 20+ years of experience leading technology-based businesses. He’s a two-time founder (most recently, FlipGive) and has spent his career leading commercialization, growth and digital transformation initiatives. Steve’s an angel investor, a start-up mentor, and a frequent speaker and blogger on topics that include entrepreneurship, automation, eCommerce, and innovation. He holds an MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University and is currently the Managing Director of Zip Canada – a global leader in digital retail point of sale financing and payment solutions.
Luc, who’s been part of the Léger team since 2006, has more than 20-years experience in quantitative and qualitative market research, notably in customer experience, usability, product development and innovation studies. Luc is a seasoned focus group moderator and, thoughout his long career, has been called upon to conduct qualitative research in several countries. His mission is to help Leger clients create and adapt experiential strategies to build up customer loyalty and strengthen brand attachment.
Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer
Andrea Fiederer is Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at goeasy Ltd. (TSX:GSY), Canada’s leading alternative financial services provider servicing non-prime Canadians through its easyhome and easyfinancial divisions. In her role, she is responsible for brand stewardship, customer experience, digital strategy and communication & Corporate Social Responsibility. Prior to joining goeasy, Andrea spent several years in Management Consulting at BearingPoint and held progressively senior roles at TELUS, XM Satellite Radio and Mobilicity. In addition to Andrea’s Executive leadership role at goeasy, she is also responsible for founding goeasy’s Women in Leadership program designed to help grow and develop female talent within the organization. In 2016, Andrea was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Woman through the Women's Executive Network (WXN). Andrea is also Chair of the Canadian Lenders Association Marketing Committee and was a Senior Judge for the 2020 Canadian Marketing Association awards. She is also on the Board of Directors of Avante Logixx Inc. (TSXV: XX), a Toronto based provider of high-end security services. Andrea holds a Master of Business Degree from the Schulich School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from McGill University.
Jessica combines over 15 years of experience in the Financial Management and Operational experience, with a focus on the consumer packaged goods and retail space sectors.
After completing a Bachelors of Commerce and Accounting at Ryerson University in Toronto, Freeman went on to complete a Chartered Professional Designation in Public and Management Accountancy (CPA/CMA).
Today, Jessica holds the position of Vice President of Finance at DECIEM, The Abnormal Beauty Company, named in 2020 as “the most popular beauty company in the world”. Jessica oversees and is responsible for the company’s Global Finance, IT, and corporate & e-commerce development.
Driven to make a positive change to the customer journey, Jessica most recently orchestrated a full digital and business transformation of DECIEM’s online retail site including the overarching technology strategy - with the goal of creating an omnichannel experience that solidifies DECIEM’s offline and online presence, making the shopping experience the best in the world.
Head of Retail
Leanne is known for being a passionate people leader, strong operator, and a partnership-focused executive. As Head of CPG, Automotive, Travel, eComm, and Retail for Facebook Canada, Leanne is responsible for leading a consultative sales team, building strategic partnerships and digital innovation with partners.
Leanne was previously with Twitter Canada where she held several positions including Head of Agency Development, Interim Managing Director and Head of Revenue. Prior to this, Leanne was Head of Advertising Products and Business Operations at AOL Canada. Leanne has more than 20 years of digital media experience specializing in sales, product strategy, monetization, partner management, client services and business operations.
Leanne holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree from Queen's University, is a mother of three, mental health advocate and marathon runner - including three runs in Boston. Always a brand ambassador, Leanne believes in the importance of loving what you do, loving where you work and keeping a glass half full.
Kevin Graff is the President of Graff Retail, based in Toronto, Ontario. Since 1988, Graff Retail has specialized in working with retailers around the globe to increase their revenue through improved staff performance.
Kevin is widely respected as one of North America’s best retail speakers and trainers and was recently chosen as one of the Top 50 Retail Influencers. His principle belief is that retailers are losing too many sales each day in their stores that they should be capturing. Kevin’s approach to store operations and his intense focus on real, bottom-line issues continually produce outstanding results.
Kevin is also the creator of Graff Retail TV, the retail community’s leading source of online sales and management training. Since being launched in 2008, Graff Retail TV has provided thousands of sales associates and store management teams with the skills they need to succeed.
Senior Manager, Strategy and Insights | Retail & Consumer Goods
Michelle Grant is a seasoned researcher who helps global organizations build the future of their business. At Salesforce, she blends data and analysis to create thought provoking content that helps companies understand how new technologies will impact the future of their business.
Renee Harwood Souza
Industry Principal, Retail
Renee Harwood Souza is a former retail customer-partner who joined RingCentral in 2020.
Renee’s partnership with RingCentral was started at Gymboree, a children’s apparel company, where she held the role of Vice President, Infrastructure and Store Technologies. There she created a business changing integration of cloud UCaaS and CCaaS collaboration utilizing all of RingCentral’s service offerings.
Prior to Gymboree, Renee came from leadership roles at Gap Inc., Levi Strauss and Proctor and Gamble. She’s a highly collaborate executive IT leader that understands the issues and relevant use cases faced with distributed computing across the supply chain and is excited to help retailers implement and optimize their UCaaS and CC and Digital solutions to that end.
Previous experience included venture funding to create Socially Conscious Contact Centers with Accel Partners in cooperation with Ben & Jerry’s. She’s also held seats on the National Call Center Institute board as well as the Help Desk Institute and ITSMF.
Most recently she participated in large global transformational efforts to replace Point of Sale at Levi Strauss and Gymboree. Data Center consolidation and outsourcing as well as Infrastructure as a service also round out her deep experience in IT transformation.
Head of eCommerce and Fashion Partnerships
Bobby Hennessey is the leader of the eCommerce and Fashion team at Pinterest Canada. Through 15 years of digital marketing and sales experience, he’s focused on people-first leadership and data-driven storytelling. Bobby was previously with Facebook Canada where he grew the eCommerce team across a number of different roles.
Bobby was born in Prince Edward Island, a graduate of the University of New Brunswick, and has resided in Toronto for the past decade. He’s a father of two, a passionate sports fan, and avid traveler.
Chief Technology Officer, Consumer Industries
Tim has over 30 years of experience in the software industry. Starting in 1999, Tim focused on providing innovative solutions to the retail industry. Tim’s current role at SAP covers the complete consumer industries value chain: from consumer products and life sciences through wholesale distribution to retail and healthcare. In recent years, Tim has spent his time at the interface of SAP and our customers, bridging the gap between business and enterprise technology – to translate from business to geek and back again. For the first part of his career, he was deep in the software factory: starting as a coder and progressing through leadership roles in development, architecture and product management. Tim has been active in the retail industry, including working with NRF-ARTS since 2001, joining SAP in 2006 through the acquisition of Triversity, where he was the lead of the product development organization.
President, More Rewards
Dan is President of More Rewards at the Pattison Food Group. More Rewards is a coalition loyalty program that collects rich data on over 3.5 million Canadians enabling partners to execute personalized digital offers and communication to drive profitable sales growth. By building a strong consumer brand, More Rewards has successfully moved from loyalty into travel, insurance, and data & media monetization.
Dan joined the Save-On-Foods team in 2012 and he has held various executive roles leading marketing, loyalty, private label, strategic planning, digital strategies, call centers and communications teams to success through strong consumer-based strategies. Dan Howe is a diversified international marketing, loyalty and strategy executive with previous experience with Yum Restaurants (Pizza Hut / KFC / Taco Bell) in Europe and Canada, Campbell’s Soup Company, and Nielsen Marketing Research.
Dan is actively involved in the community both at work and in his personal life with United Way, Children’s Hospitals and Foods Banks. Dan and his wife, Eva, have three teenage daughters, who can be found in North Vancouver or Whistler skiing, mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding or in an intense game of cards.
Ifrah Hussein is a Somali-Canadian award winning poet and author of "An Anthology of Grief or the ways a Somali Woman Loves." Her North America poetry tour "Heavy Caravan Tour" received stellar reviews. Ifrah's excellence in poetry has garnered attention thorugh it's exploration of home, identity and belinging. Ifrah's accolades include 2020 People's Choice Award for best Spoken Word Artist in Canada in 2017 and one of the top 5 Woman of the World - the only Canadian to make the finals in it's 12-year history.
Shannae Ingleton Smith
Head of Business Development & Influencer Talent
Kensington Grey Inc.
Shannae Ingleton Smith is a creator, strategist, and multihyphenate entrepreneur conquering the media space. She worked in sales for eight years managing a multimillion-dollar portfolio for Rogers Communications, one of Canada’s largest media conglomerates. Setting her sights on social media, Ingleton Smith left the company to build a dedicated following of over 60,000 supporters as @TorontoShay, creating content in the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle spaces. Fueled by her own experiences as a Black creator, she then founded the influencer management agency, Kensington Grey, alongside her husband in 2019 – amassing over 1000 successful campaigns to date. Ingleton Smith is also a founding member of the Canadian Black Standard, a collective of like-minded professional women working to dissolve systemic barriers to employment for Black Canadian women in the marketing industry. Her most important role by far is that of loving wife to Sean and Mom to her daughter Kensington.
Founder and CEO
Sarah LaFleur is the Founder & CEO of M.M.LaFleur. Sarah founded M.M.LaFleur in 2013 with a mission to help women take the work out of getting dressed, so they can focus on the work that matters to them. Prior to founding M.M.LaFleur, she worked at Bain & Co. in New York and TechnoServe in South Africa. Sarah sits on the board of International Rescue Committee's Airbel Impact Lab and on the business advisory council of the New York Fed. She graduated from Harvard University. M.M.LaFleur is named after her mother, whom she calls her biggest inspiration.
Catherine Laporte is a marketing and e-commerce expert who is known for her leadership, creativity, and business acumen. She joined Lowe’s Canada in 2018 as Divisional Vice-President, E-Commerce. Promoted Vice-President, Marketing in November 2019, she is responsible for promoting and raising awareness about the Lowe’s, RONA and Reno-Depot banners on both the digital and traditional marketing scenes.
Catherine first made her mark at the ALDO Group where she was responsible for launching the Little Burgundy and Locale brands and was involved in developing the Call It Spring brand in North America and internationally. Before joining Lowe’s Canada, she was Vice-President, Marketing, E-Commerce at DAVIDsTEA and worked to create a customer-focused centre of excellence.
While doing so, she transformed the customer experience by redesigning the website and loyalty program. Catherine is a graduate of the John Molson School of Business and is actively involved in the Montreal community as a board member of the Fondation les Petits Trésors and as a Guide for Zu Montreal
Founder & Principal
M.E. LeBlanc & Company
Michael has 20+ years of brand/retail/marketing leadership experience and is considered by many as a pioneer in the Canadian omni-channel and e-Commerce retail space. As an award-winning insight driven strategic marketer with a passion for holistic retail brand/customer experience, Michael has been on the front lines of retail industry change for his entire career with brands such as Black & Decker, Levi Strauss & Co, Hudson’s Bay, CanWest Media, The Shopping Channel and Herbal Magic. After spending almost three years advocating and lobbying for the Canadian retail industry at Retail Council of Canada (RCC), Michael formed M. E. LeBlanc & Company to leverage this knowledge and experience back onto the front lines and regularly is invited to share his insights on the current and future retail industry in Canada and around the world.
VP, Digital & Technology Operations and Cyber Security
Nick Marchand is the VP, Digital & Technology Operations and Cyber Security at Cineplex Entertainment. With over 13 years at Cineplex, his role oversees the Technical Support, Audio Visual, Infrastructure, and Cyber Security teams within Cineplex supporting over 170 cinema, family entertainment centres, and corporate offices throughout Canada and the United States.
Chairman Global Retail Group & UK Head of Retail
An experienced international business professional with over 15 years’ experience in advisory, research and analytics focussed on the retail and consumer goods sectors. Paul was previously the Group Managing Director at Planet Retail. He has also worked in the retail sector for T-Mobile Stores in Germany in Merchandising & Store Operations.
Paul co-chairs the KPMG/Ipsos UK Retail Think Tank as well as the European Retail Think Tank Next Generation Retail. He teaches retail best practice for GS1 the global retail standards organisation and is a regular event speaker and press commentator on the sector.
During his career Paul has:
- Created the 2020 Commercial Retail & Digital Strategy and Implementation plan for one the world’s top 10 hub Airports. Focussing on the future retail, f&b and passenger services business models and delivering the first pilots within a 6-9 month timeframe.
- Led a feasibility study for a UK Symbol Group retailer analyzing the potential roll-out of a franchise model. In this context developed a front-end roll-out and organizational change plan to be implemented over the period of 24 months to open 50 franchised stores.
- Established the international expansion strategy for a UK mid-market specialist retailer through identifying the entry markets and relevant business models. Produced a clear implementation plan and relevant operating model changes required to deliver £10m Ebitda from the international business within 4 years.
- Assisted the leading UK non-food multichannel retailer in their commercial transformation by designing and implementing the new operating model focused on dynamic pricing, demand driven supply and a customer centric focus
- Led a strategy project for a global fashion retailer analysing their 1,000 store international operation delivering key recommendations on entry and exit markets and developing guidelines for all future store openings defining, location, size and category mix. Goal of the project was to assist the program in doubling Ebitda over the period of 3 years
- Worked with the Board and the Merchandising teams of a leading North American based retailer to transform their food to go and private label offering
- Transforming Planet Retail from a European focussed grocery research program to a global pan-retail analysing program which resulted in doubling the staff headcount and doubling the turnover over the period of 5 years
- Headed a research project for a Russian multi-channel retailer analyzing different options of introducing a loyalty card scheme and comparing global best practice and the impact of loyalty schemes
Terry is a senior retail executive with over 30 years experience working for many of Canada’s largest and most admired brands, including Walmart, Canadian Tire, Hudson’s Bay, Sobeys and Loblaws.
His experience spans retail operations, marketing, financial services, insurance, payments, loyalty/CRM, telecom, credit and gift cards. He has a demonstrated passion for retail, financial services, customers and brand building.
Equally comfortable pulling apart a retailer credit card P&L or designing and restocking a gift card fixture, Terry’s unique expertise provides the ability to successfully understand and leverage the magical connection that’s possible between customers, associates, financial services, payments and loyalty and turn them into superior financial returns.
Terry is Senior Retail Advisor to Clik2pay.
Penney Mctaggart Cowan
Vice President, Marketing & Member Experiences
Penney brings almost 25 years of experience in consumer research and marketing when she joined Calgary Co-op in 2018 as Vice President, Marketing & Member Experiences. Passionate about data and consumer understanding she is deeply involved in the loyalty initiatives for Calgary Co-op. She holds a B. Sc. (Biology) and a M.B.A. Penney is incredibly proud and honoured to be part of Calgary Co-op and its deep roots in the community. Being local is special not only in the products Calgary Co-op offers but in its ability to connect with the community and support its neighbours when they need it. As the current chair of the Calgary Co-op Foundation, Calgary Co-op lives its purpose to enrich our member communities by addressing food security among vulnerable populations. She is also passionate about food and wine, and always excited to try new products and experiment with new ingredients.
Visa Payment Fraud Disruption
Dr. Megan Munroe has served as an Intelligence and Cybercrime Analyst on Visa’s Payment Systems Intelligence team since February 2020. With a specialty in digital payment threats, including cryptocurrency and NFT fraud, her daily mission is identifying and disrupting threats to the payments ecosystem. Dr. Munroe holds a PhD in International Relations, and prior to joining the Visa team she served in state government and law enforcement fraud prevention and intelligence analysis roles.
Director of Marketing
With over 20 years in marketing and communications industry, Romain Naudot shares his knowledge in research and media strategy to build and consolidate strong brands and marketing strategies.
VP Business Development In-Store & Direct Marketing , Premedia,
Joined TC in 2013 to lead the new In-Store Marketing initiative since then TC has grown into the largest provider in the country as the in-store partner for almost all of Canada's largest retailers.
For over 20 years, Deborah has created impactful marketing programs and campaigns in the consumer product, retail, and beauty industry. Known for building strong, impactful, and motivated teams with a strategic focus, she has taken the lead role in developing the marketing function for the Sephora retail brand for the past five years.
Since joining Sephora Canada, Deborah has amplified the omni client experience and leveraged key consumer insights that drove successful brand marketing programs for Sephora. She continues to lead programs focused on driving accessibility and market penetration, launch innovative event concepts, form new and exclusive brand programs, and launch new social media platforms – all which have propelled Sephora Canada to be the number one prestige beauty retailer in Canada. Under her leadership she has spearheaded many firsts including a Canadian expression of the Sephora’s “We Belong to Something Beautiful” brand campaign focusing on belonging and inclusivity. Other notable local campaigns include Lunar New Year, Diwali, and this year, the first ever National Indigenous History Month featuring Canadian Indigenous influencers.
As a member of the Canadian Leadership Team Deborah’s strategic priorities are focused on ensuring Sephora clients interact with the brand through an elevated experience in-store and online while curating programs to grow market share in Canada. Deborah is also a member of EllesVMH, an LVMH Group Platform that ensures equal opportunity, promoting women's access to leadership positions. Her involvement in Canada continues to empower and support the professional development of all women, investing in a diverse pipeline. Previous to Sephora, she worked in Brand Marketing at Revlon for ten years and eight years at General Mills.
Senior Exec on Call – Retail Supply Chains & The Last Mile
Gary has developed an international reputation for designing and executing supply chain Agility, Innovation and Digitisation within the “make move sell” flow of Manufacturing, Third Party Logistics, Wholesaling, Retail and The Last Mile.
When it comes to tackling mission critical issues, armed with multiple operational turnarounds and strategic transformations under his belt, Gary helps business leaders conquer disruption by re-aligning Processes, Systems, Architecture, Culture and Metrics for enduring competitive advantage through RetailAID.ca
Gary is a prominent thought leader, speaker, podcaster and trainer in “Retail Supply Chains & The Last Mile” by many professional bodies. He recently was awarded with Supply Chain Canada’s “Top 40 Immigrants impacting on Supply Chains”, recognised for his creative thinking via CITT’s “2020 Innovator Award”, he was also recently awarded “Retail Rethink’s Top 100 Retail Influencers 2021”.
Gary has an MBA and an MSc (SCM&L) from Cranfield University, and is recently CCLP, CSCMP, PMP, Retail Management (Ryerson University) and LSSBB certified.
HR consultant, Specialist in quality of life and well-being at work
Marie-Josée Nucci is a consultant for a human resources firm (GoRH), and is specialized in mental health and well-being in the organizations. She is driven and leads teams to engage, mobilize and achieve high quality performance, all while maintaining the human connection to the tasks involved. She accompanies businesses with the implementation of programs, webinars, coaching pertaining to wellness and quality of life in the workplace.
Prior to this role, she worked for several retailers and occupied different functions such as Director of Operations, Project Manager, Planning & Allocation Manager and Store Manager. Furthermore, she collaborated with psychologists on multiple projects whereby providing changes that impact the work environment positively and productively.
Recently she completed a certification at the Canadian Mental Health Association (Psychological Health and Safety Champion Training program) in addition, a certification at Montreal University in Quality of life in the workplace.
Customer Lead, Canada
Dan has a passion for creating great customer experiences that drive sales and loyalty such as personalization, digital marketing, e-commerce, and omni-channel. He has had the privilege of working with brands in retail, CPG, utilities, and wholesale distribution across the country. Dan brings a different approach to digital given his background in operations and ERP. These elements help build the digital experience achievable by the physical operations (from phone to warehouse to your house).
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Chris is a Partner in Fasken’s top-ranked Labour, Employment, and Human Rights group. His practice has focused on labour, human rights, and public law matters, including at the international level.
Chris has an active international practice advising Canadian, foreign, and multinational organizations on ESG / Business and Human Rights (including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and OECD Guidelines), international labour standards and labour rights, Human Rights Impact Assessments and supply chain due diligence, and cross-border industrial relations and dispute resolution in the social context.
Chris is counsel to the Canadian Employers Council (CEC), the exclusive representative of Canadian employers concerning global labour and employment issues. Chris served as counsel to the CEC in the Supreme Court of Canada concerning the impact of international labour and human rights standards and norms in the Canadian context.
Chris has experience dealing with the International Labour Organization and its constituent bodies, the OECD National Contact Point process, and other international authorities dealing with labour and human rights matters.
Chris has served as an adjunct faculty member at Western University Faculty of Law, the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at U of T, where since 2017 he has co-taught an annual graduate-level course on International Law and Policy Development.
Chris has written and spoken extensively on Business and Human Rights and international developments, including on “Defining labour rights in a globalized world: a Canadian perspective” and related topics.
Dr. Sarah Reid
Head of Doblin Canada
Doblin Canada, a Deloitte Business
Dr. Sarah Reid leads Doblin Canada, Deloitte’s design-led innovation practice. She brings deep expertise in sociology and consumer psychology to help clients make products and services that elevate the human experience. She works closely with Canadian family businesses, large corporates, and governments to tackle issues of consumer trust, digital disruption, affordable housing, and climate change with innovation and service design.
She earned a PhD in Sociology at the University of Toronto and held a postdoc at Rutgers School of Management. Her work is published in the Harvard Business Review, the Behavioral Scientist, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Work & Occupations, and numerous Deloitte Insights reports.
Logistics & Customs Specialist
Orchard Custom Beauty
A self-described #TradeGeek, I am experienced in multi-modal shipping, supply chain operations, customs compliance, free trade agreements and international tax.
Currently a Logistics & Customs Specialist at Orchard Custom Beauty, I am an in-house expert tasked with managing the logistics and cross border compliance of a global supply chain in over 16 countries.
In 2021, I’ve reached over 2500 attendees as a panelist on webinars, podcasts and virtual conferences.
I am recognized as a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP® | FIBP®) by the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT), I am on the Board of Directors for Fashion Group International (Toronto Chapter) and the International Board for the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT).
Watch for me as a regular panelist on “Thoughts & Coffee” with Let’s Talk Supply Chain where I discuss the hot topics in global supply chain.
Chairman and Co-Founder
Rajen Ruparell is a Canadian investor and serial entrepreneur. His most recent venture, Endy, was sold to Sleep Country in one of Canada's largest ever e-commerce deals. Originally Endy's lion (majority) shareholder, he remains with the company as its Chairman & Co-Founder. Previously he co-founded Citydeal which he sold to Groupon, and became one of the youngest executives in Silicon Valley, helping take the company public in the largest IPO since Google. He's also a board member and investor at Clearco (formerly Clearbanc), and was a pre-IPO investor in Twitter and Spotify, alongside a portfolio of investments in retail, tech, and real estate. Rajen is also a dedicated philanthropist, building schools in India, serving as a major supporter of charities like Artists for Peace and Justice and the Furniture Bank, and providing mentorship to young entrepreneurs across Canada.
Global Head of Retail Strategy and Marketing
Nikita Shetty is Pinterest’s vertical strategy and marketing lead for retail. She is committed to building meaningful relationships with advertisers focused on brand growth and connecting with an audience passionate about finding and shopping for what they love. Niki has over 15 years experience in the retail industry and prior to joining Pinterest, she led consumer marketing teams at various companies including Ralph Lauren, Jet.com, and Bergdorf Goodman. Ahead of her brand days, Niki spent many years on the agency side working on clients across the home, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle categories. Niki currently lives in Brooklyn with her partner and two children. When she’s not laughing with her family, you can find her reading memoirs, practicing yoga, or saving interior decor ideas to her board.
Since October 2019, Benoit has led GoCo, a new disruptive Canadian company that brings next-generation business communications solutions to market. It operates as an independent carrier but is part of the TELUS family. GoCo was formed through the acquisition of six experienced entrepreneur-led companies that have united their strengths and expertise to help businesses connect with their customers and the world. GoCo’s business model is based on simplicity, scalability and speed, and focuses on delivering innovation in technology along with a best-in-class customer experience. Benoit has 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry - all at TELUS - where he has held leadership positions in Marketing as well as Customer Solutions targeted to Business clients. He also played a key role in developing TELUS’ business strategy in Canada - notably in building its presence in Quebec and facilitated numerous mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining GoCo, he was responsible for national business product development and marketing at TELUS. Benoit has built a track record of excellence and innovation in the marketing strategy and technology sectors. He is recognized and widely sought after for his empathetic leadership, high energy and keen industry insights, in addition to a winning penchant for team collaboration. Benoit holds a marketing degree from Université Laval and completed senior executive training programs at Paris’ INSEAD and the Harvard Business School. He is a member of the Cercle des présidents du Québec (Quebec Council of Presidents) marketing network. He also sits on the board of Numana and is a member of its Executive Committee.
CEO & Founder
The Phluid Project
Rob Smith, the CEO and Founder of The Phluid Project, has created a brand, combining his profession, which is retail, along with his passion, a commitment to social justice.
After graduating from Michigan State University, Rob began a long retail career, spanning over 30 years, orchestrating multi-billion dollar businesses through merchandising, e-commerce, marketing, product development and supply chain management.
He worked his way through Macys for over two decades, working within four divisions and finishing with his final position as GMM/EVP Macys Corporate in product merchandising.
Gaining new experiences, Rob became GMM/EVP at Victoria’s Secret direct. He was the Children’s Global Chief Product Officer for Nike, Levi’s Jordan, Hurley, and Converse with Haddad Brands.
Rob mentors numerous fashion brands and designers, leads the CSR committee as a Board of Director for Steve Madden Ltd., and raises critical funds for LGBTQIA+ organizations.
He’s the former Board Chair for The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which empowers, educates and advocates on behalf of LGBTQIA+ youth around the world and has also served on the board of directors for Athlete Ally, eliminating homophobia and transphobia in sports.
Today, Rob leads and mange’s The Project Project, a leader in gender-free fashion. Phluid, joining a global movement of freedom, authenticity and self-expression, leads with values, a powerful community and a fearlessness to challenge the status quo. Phluid thoughtfully expands into new spaces where they can offer insight, education and impact.
Rob lives in NYC with his husband, Rod Grozier, and his dog, Jackson.
As senior vice president of products, Nathan Smith is responsible for innovating and developing new products for Appriss Retail’s customers.
Nathan launched his career on the retail side of the business, starting at Safeway in the UK. He worked for several high-profile retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Tesco, performing roles as diverse as cashier, store manager, and enterprise software architect. This broad range of retail experience and knowledge enables Nathan to have great insight into the challenges facing retailers today. He went on to co-found Sysrepublic (now part of Appriss Retail).
Nathan has a degree in Information Technology for Business and over the last decade has presented at major retail events and trade shows around the globe highlighting how technology can be used more effectively to deliver value for retail businesses.
Joe is a Partner in Toronto with Deloitte’s Sustainability and Climate Change practice and leads the market for eastern Canada. Joe brings over 26 years of experience in providing strategic advisory services to clients in the Consumer sector including various retail segments such as grocery, general merchandise, apparel and automotive. Joe has offered a variety of services around climate change, ESG strategy and operations, supply chain, food waste, plastics and circular economy, risk management, digital enablement and reporting and disclosure.
Joe has also spent time in the consumer industry working in a leadership capacity in automotive manufacturing and retail for Walmart. Joe frequently contributes to Deloitte’s external thought leadership and is often a speaker at related industry and sustainability conferences.
Managing Principal, Value Advisory
Matt leads Ceridian’s Value Advisory practice, a team dedicated to bringing strategic thinking, project management, and technology together to help shape the transformation agenda for senior HR and business leaders. He holds an MBA from the University of Toronto.
Chief Marketing Officer
As Chief Marketing Officer of Mejuri, Nicole is one of North America’s most principal marketing executives, leading innovation in marketing in an ever evolving landscape of technology and consumer values. Mejuri, the category-defining fine jewelry brand, designs everlasting luxury pieces for everyday wear and is redefining the way women purchase jewelry—for themselves. It is recognized as one of the fastest growing brands in North America.
Mejuri has developed a loyal customer base selling over 1.4 million pieces, across 97 countries with a repeat rate of 45% in an industry where on average people are buying jewelry once every 3x years. With over 1M Instagram followers, Mejuri’s marketing team has a globally recognized community that connect and grow their audience through both in-person and digital experiences.
Prior to Mejuri, Nicole was Vice President of Canada at Casper (NYSE: CSPR), where she launched and scaled Casper’s largest international market, establishing the sleep brand globally, and contributing to the IPO. Prior to that, she was a Director at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, responsible for launching the organization’s social media strategy. Nicole began her professional life as a management consultant with Accenture, launching new media initiatives for large North American Companies. Nicole holds an MBA from INSEAD and an Honours Business Administration (HBA) degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario.
Chief Human Resource Officer
Best Buy Canada
Chris Taylor is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Best Buy Canada. In this role, he oversees the people strategy for 12,000 employees across the country, leading HR teams supporting all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores, distribution centres, and the corporate headquarters located in Burnaby, B.C.
Chris joined the company in 2004 and has served in a breadth of human resources, talent development and employee relations leadership roles since, most recently as Vice President, Human Resources.
An authentic and purposeful leader, Chris has led the company through key growth and rewards initiatives over the years including brand consolidation, Workday HCM implementation and numerous engagement initiatives. He has also championed important discussions on mental health, diversity and inclusion, and other key topics of tremendous value to employees.
It’s thanks in part to his leadership and contributions that Best Buy Canada’s HR team was recognized as Canadian HR Team of the Year in 2019 and that Best Buy Canada has been recognized as one of Canada’s and BC’s Top Employers for several years running.
Chris holds a CPHR designation, along with an MBA from the University of Fredericton. Chris is the father of two active children and when time permits, enjoys the active west coast lifestyle, whether biking, boating or skiing.
Vice President, Digital and In-store Commerce
Jason is currently vice president, Digital and In-store Commerce at PayPal where he is responsible for helping retailers accelerate growth and transformation in our now ‘digital-first’ world. Jason is a lifelong student of consumer behavior with a passion for helping retailers and brands connect and engage shoppers in new and innovative ways. With more than 20 years of experience in technology, business intelligence, retail and consumer packaged goods, Jason draws upon a depth and breadth of experiences from his leadership roles at companies like P&G, Clorox, Catalina, Ask Jeeves, Global Streams and KindUrth Wellness.
Before joining PayPal, Jason was president and co-founder of an innovative start-up health and wellness brand, KindUrth. With technology at the forefront, Jason built a best-in-class e-commerce and CRM platform to drive high conversion and loyalty. Before that, he spent nearly 16 years at Catalina, leading business development and analytics teams responsible for helping retailers and brand manufacturers optimize their marketing investments and expand loyalty programs.
Vice President Walmart Connect
Dana Toering is a digital media and technology veteran with over 20 years of experience in high growth industries. In his current role as Vice President of Walmart Connect Canada, Dana is responsible for leading and transforming the business into the number one destination for omnichannel advertising solutions. Before being named Vice President in 2020, Dana held leadership roles in leading digital media and technology-based companies including AOL Canada, Adobe, and Accenture Interactive. With his wealth of experience, Dana brings his unique point-of-view and expert knowledge of the ad-tech ecosystem to Walmart Connect Canada.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.
Liz Volk, Chief Human Resources Officer at Longo Brothers Fruit Markets, believes that an organization’s results are achieved through highly engaged teams delivering on a clearly defined customer strategy. A CHRE, Liz has acquired over 25 years of experience working in fast paced, multi-unit retail environments since graduating from the University of Western. She joined the Longo’s team in 2006 with a mandate to develop a long-term people strategy aligned to the company’s strategic plan. In 2014, she embarked on an assignment in Operations to fully understand and experience the business from a customer and team member perspective. The past 14 years of growth has been an exciting journey requiring innovation in areas such as total rewards, talent acquisition, learning & development, communications, safety, sustainability and well being.
Longo’s was started by Tommy, Joe and Gus Longo in 1956. Longo’s currently has 33 stores including 6 urban format stores, “The Market by Longo’s”, operates Canada’s largest on-line grocer, Grocery Gateway and employs over 6,000 team members. Longo’s is a family owned and operated grocery retail business committed to creating meaningful and long-lasting relationships with customers based on trust, loyalty and the appreciation of great food.
National Retail Leader Joe Solly, Sustainability Leader
Marty Weintraub is the National Retail leader for Canada. For the past 20 years, he has advised retail clients on developing and implementing enterprise-wide retail transformation and operational improvement programs that impact business processes, organization designs and technology enablement. These programs result in his clients realizing significant improvements to sales, margin, SG&A and working capital in a world of retailing where traditional ways of operating are no longer sufficient.
President, Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Frank Zitella has nearly 30 years of experience in finance, strategic planning and governance. Mr. Zitella joined DAVIDsTEA as CFO in December 2018 and was subsequently promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer in May 2019. Prior to joining DAVIDsTEA, he was CFO of Loop Industries, Inc. (Nasdaq:LOOP). Prior to that and for more than a decade, he served as CFO of DST Health Solutions, a subsidiary of SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:SSNC). From 1998 to 2006, he was CFO of International Financial Data Services, a joint-venture between SS&C and State Street Bank, where he successfully maximized profitability and top-line growth. Earlier in his career, Frank gained M&A and transaction experience as a senior manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers. He also previously worked as a senior internal auditor for Coca-Cola.