Meet the UAlberta VMS Mentors
Shawn Abbott (’87 BSc)
Shawn is a partner at iNovia Capital, a venture capital firm with locations across North America. He has extensive entrepreneurial experience, starting at age 15 with Abbott Enterprises, where he wrote software for his local school board, an oil company and a chain of restaurants. Since then, Shawn’s experienced investor, technical and general management roles across 15 technology startups in 3 continents. He specializes in internet security, hardware cryptography and is holds an early patent as one of the inventors of the ubiquitous USB key. Shawn also sits on numerous boards, including Top Hat, CoolIT, Dissolve, Peraso and 33 Across.
Baerach Anderson (’00 BEd, ’05 LLB)
Baerach Anderson is a partner at the law firm of Prowse Chowne LLP. Baerach specializes in corporate and commercial legal matters from start-up, growth and acquisition, financing, reorganization, to transition and disposition. He has extensive experience working with all sizes and manner of businesses to provide guidance and support towards their growth and development. In addition to business law services Baerach has significant experience working for private and commercial lenders in the funding and securitization of business endeavors. Baerach prides himself in taking the time necessary to understand in detail his client’s businesses before providing well balanced advice on the options available. Baerach’s professional affiliations include membership in the Canadian Bar Association. He serves as an executive member on the Board of Edmonton Masters Swim Club and is also a member in good standing of the Métis Nation of Alberta.
Aspeslet (’94 PhD)
Launa is a biotechnology consultant working
primarily with early stage companies to plan, implement, and follow through
with the development strategy for their drug, device, or combination
Prior to this, Launa was Chief Operating
Officer for Isotechnika Pharma Inc., a former Edmonton biotechnology
company. Launa completed her role with
Isotechnika after being involved with the successful negotiation and merger of
Isotechnika with a Victoria BC based biotechnology company, Aurinia.
At Isotechnika, Launa gained over 15 years
of progressive management and leadership experience overseeing up to a CAN$38M operating budget,
90 FTE and 19 multiple-phase clinical trials. Launa has a depth of expertise in
strategic planning, quality assurance/control, clinical research, regulatory
affairs, R&D in a medical/scientific setting, working with tight
budgets/deadlines, negotiating international licensing partnerships, and
publicly-traded company matters.
Linda Banister (’83 BCom, ’87 MPM/MBA)
Linda Banister is the President and Owner of Banister Research and Consulting Inc., which specializes in market research and program evaluation/performance measurement. Linda is a Fellow of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants and the Canadian Evaluation Society, sits on numerous Boards, including Edmonton Northlands and STARS Air Ambulance. Linda has been awarded the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, holds several professional designations, and is a member of a number of professional institutes and associations.
Sharon Bell (’81 BEd, MBA from Queen's University)
Sharon Bell has 25+ years as a marketing leader in companies that include Procter & Gamble (P&G) and ATB Financial (ATB), delivering financial, customer and employee engagement results. Sharon led a P&G unique corporate marketing team, designed to protect marketing as a competitive advantage. Following that, Sharon led a multifunctional, multilevel, cross border team to develop and implement a bold five year category strategy on household paper. This strategy re-launched all of the household paper brands, to turn a money losing business into a profit contributor. In 2002, Sharon joined ATB Financial as Vice President Marketing. Her primary focus was to upgrade and expand marketing capability, which would directly contribute to business results. She led the work to introduce ATB’s first provincial campaign to establish the ATB brand. Sharon is now an independent consultant, working with organizations (of all sizes) to strengthen their competitive position in the market. Sharon is a sessional instructor in the School of Business at both the University of Alberta and MacEwan University.
Robert Bhatia (’76 BA)
Robert Bhatia has over thirty years of leadership and management experience and has always valued and priorized the development and support of people in their professional lives.
Robert spent most of his career in finance with the government of Alberta and was a Deputy Minister for ten years. His finance and strategic experience includes leadership in major business and financial transactions including the creation of TELUS Corporation and sale of interests in Syncrude. He has also had substantive involvement in virtually every area of finance including investing, borrowing, project finance, small business finance, the financial sector, risk management, tax and accounting.
Robert has served on a number of boards and audit committees and played a major role in establishing and recruiting the initial board of the Alberta Investment Management Corporation. He currently serves on three audit committees including the City of Edmonton Audit Committee.
In recent years, Mr. Bhatia has developed his own independent consulting and coaching business giving him hands-on experience in building and running a small business. He is currently an Executive Coach which enables him to carry on his passion for leaders’ professional development.
Bea Bohm-Meyer (’88 BA)
Bea Bohm-Meyer is founder of The Bohm-Meyer Group, a team dedicated to helping companies leverage corporate culture. Bea has 20 years experience in corporate culture design and transformation. She is known for developing a highly successful corporate culture assessment process that identifies key opportunities for employee engagement and business performance. Her ability to help companies design a strong management infrastructure and performance culture, by getting people moving in the same direction, provides a tremendous competitive advantage. Her experience studying and working with high reliability industries such as aviation and aerospace has guided her to believe, “when a company focuses on its culture, performance becomes second nature”.
Prior to BMG, Bea spent her time working with large corporate and non-profit organizations building success. As a National Director for Canadian Blood Services, Bea was responsible for leading one of three countrywide transformation projects to redesign the blood system which included: driving cultural change, building customer loyalty, increasing public confidence, strengthening cost effectiveness and delivering excellence in quality performance.
In working with one of the largest healthcare regions in Alberta, Bea extensively collaborated with multidisciplinary medical and administrative leadership teams across health care continuums to help redesign the quality culture and build service delivery in patient safety.
Bea is one of Edmonton’s Fab 5 and a founding member of the Amazing Ladies. Born and raised Alberta, she thinks Edmonton is the best place to live. Her parent escaped during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and landed in Edmonton to become successful entrepreneurs. Bea has followed in their footsteps.
She is a speaker’s committee member for the Synergy Network and sits on the Board of Directors as Vice President for the Winnifred Stewart Association, supporting individuals with developmental disabilities. Bea has participated in various events supporting youth success and has a personal dream to work with teenagers, to build young leaders, helping them design Life Strategies to achieve lifelong dreams.
Now, if you ask her 14 year old son, Liam what his mom does for a living, he would tell you, "She makes the world a better place one company at a time." –True story.
Scott Boyer (’89 BA, ’94 BCom)
Scott is a University of Alberta graduate, holding both a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce degree as well as holding a Masters of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He has been connected to CannAmm since 2007 through his positions at DynaLIFE, where he served as the Vice President Occupational Services, before taking on his current role of CEO of CannAmm. Scott’s background includes working as a management consultant focusing on organizational performance, business process improvement and strategy. His extensive experience in strategy and operational enhancement has allowed him to drive the impressive growth that CannAmm has experienced over the past eight years.
Scott is committed to his community and volunteers regularly throughout the city. His most recent work has been with the Edmonton Humane Society, for which Scott has served as Board Chair for two years, as well as Vice-Chair for a year.
During his tenure as Vice President of one of Canada’s most respected developers Ken was responsible for the development, acquisition and management of commercial projects including shopping centres, major downtown and suburban mixed use development projects; light industrial development; and high quality downtown and suburban office buildings with individual project valuations in excess of $500,000,000.
In total, this portfolio grew to include 4,500,000 sf of existing space and space under development in 24 projects. Throughout the exponential growth represented in those numbers, the quality and not the quantity of development within the portfolio and the growth of all the team members – internally and externally – remained paramount.
His greatest strength has always been successfully reconciling the diverse viewpoints and criteria of a variety of internal and external stakeholders from public to private sector. He believes results can be achieved through mutual success rather than at the cost of any one party’s goals.
Ken is passionate about architecture, having been inducted as an Honorary Member of the Alberta Association of Architects, and is a strong supporter of the Edmonton business and arts communities.
Cummings (’82 BA, ’89 SpecCert(Arts), ’91 MBA)
Don is a Partner at National Growth Partners
and specializes in providing clients with complex organizational transformation
services, strategic management advice and executive process coaching. Over the
course of his consulting career, he has developed an exceptional expertise in
the areas of organizational assessment and design, business process innovation
and strategic and operational planning. Don’s consulting engagements have spanned
a number of industries including the public sector, justice, health care,
education, energy and utilities and information technology industries.
Don is well known for his highly effective
facilitation of Senior Management Teams and Executive Committees, Boards and
Councils in the areas of complex organizational renewal and strategy issues. He
has developed and delivered numerous executive workshops and university courses
in the areas of complex program/ project management, organizational change,
performance measurement and improvement practices.
Dave Damer (’91 BSc(CompEng))
Dave Damer is the founder and President of ThinkTel Communications, a national telecommunications provider in Canada focused on displacing traditional telephony with IP-based technology. Born and raised in Edmonton, Dave earned a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Alberta before becoming a Professional Engineer. His experience in technical and management roles with Bell, Sprint Canada and IBM solidified his belief in the power of creativity and automation.
Dave has two teenage daughters, who continue to inspire and perplex him. He is passionate about building effective teams, fostering sustainable businesses and not being too serious.
Donohoe (’95 BA, ’99 MBA)
Nicholas Donohoe obtained his Master’s Degree
in Business from the University of Alberta in 1999. He specializes in growing technology-based
companies and is a partner and cofounder of Resource Merchant Capital Inc., a
private capital firm focused exclusively on partnering with and growing oil and
gas product and service companies.
As the past CEO of ICI Artificial Lift
Inc., Nicholas has gained a unique perspective on growing a technology-based
business within an emerging segment of the oil and gas industry. Combining a
technical understanding with a business mind set, Nicholas was able to move the
company through its Planning Stage (Growth Planning, Capital Restructuring,
Company Re-branding, Sales Collateral Development, Technical Development),
through Implementation (Plan Execution, Market Push, Sales Push) through
Development (Product Advancement, New Product Development, Market Development,
Strategic Direction) and into a rapid Growth Phase (Targeted Sales, Domestic
Expansion, International Expansion).
Under Nicholas’ leadership, ICI grew
rapidly in western Canada - Profit 100 – 5th fastest growing company for 2008
and 2nd in the Fast Growth 50 for 2009. As a result of this rapid growth,
Nicholas was a Finalist in Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2012.
Darrel Ewaschuk 96’ BCom
Darrel Ewaschuk is a University of Alberta business graduate and Strategic Management professional working with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small and medium enterprises (SME’s). He provides a strategic and disciplined approach to business, based on data driven decision processes, development of corresponding objectives, and implementation of goal focused performance metrics
Darrel started his career working in analytic roles for some large international organizations. He soon migrated into roles that had a heavy focus on strategy and new venture creation. He had a market analytics role within a Sales Marketing group and was trained as an internal consultant, or a “growth champion”.
At TransCanada he worked within a think-tank type group focusing on: new venture/product creation, organizational development, and strategic planning. He also has a background in traditional greenfield project development and business acquisitions.
He has provided leadership for SME’s, even helping with the turnaround of an established but tired and failing Edmonton company. Darrel brings a reasoned, collaborative approach to his work life, bringing people and organizations closer together and moving forward.
Lorena Forster (’87 BA(Hons), ’98 MBA)
For the past 20 years, Lorena Forster has worked with early stage technology companies, entrepreneurs and inventors in various technology commercialization related positions, most notably in the energy and ICT industries.
Since the fall 2014, Lorena has pursued several opportunities. She assists advanced- tech SMEs to leverage non-dilutive funding and support programs and has a part-time business development role in Northern Alberta with the newly formed Kinetica Energy Technology Accelerator powered by Innovate Calgary. Lorena was Strategic Partnerships Manager at TEC Edmonton for 5 years and Venture Manager at the Alberta Research Council (now Alberta Innovates Technology Futures) for 9 years delivering business services to researchers, entrepreneurs and Alberta based start-up and early stage companies and working closely with provincial and federal partners and collaborators. Lorena has direct experience in business operations in both the private and public sectors including Marketing & Operations Manager for a small ICT company and COO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.
She is a past board member of the Alberta Clean Technology Industry Association (ACTia) and past Co-Chair of the Licensing Executive Society Edmonton chapter. She is currently an active volunteer mentor for Futurpreneur (formerly Canadian Youth Business Foundation) and more recently the U of A Alumni Venture Mentoring Service.
T.D. (Terry) Freeman (’82 BCom)
Terry is currently Chairman and CEO Corrosion and Abrasion Solutions Ltd. (CASL). CASL is a company dedicated to protecting the world’s energy, mining and industrial infrastructure from wear caused by abrasion and corrosion through prevention and monitoring, surface improvement and innovative product and service development. In the past he served as Managing Director of Northern Plains Capital, a niche private equity firm specializing in growth oriented oil field services and energy industrial investments. Founded in 2005, Northern Plains has $140 million under management in three funds and has made 17 investments in various companies. As a Managing Director Terry was responsible for sourcing investments and investors, driving strategy, value creation and eventual exits for investments and corporate governance at a Board of Directors level. Terry also spent a decade as CFO of Flint Energy Services, where he managed the financial and administrative operations of the company including investor and banking relations, risk management, mergers and acquisitions and various other executive responsibilities including acting as Corporate Secretary.
In addition to these roles, Terry has held multiple volunteer positions with the ICAA CFO Leadership Program, the University of Alberta, and various community and charitable organizations. He has also served on the Board of Directors of numerous public and privately held companies. In his spare time, Terry enjoys running marathons and spending time with his wife of 21 years, Kate, and their two children, Michael age 19 and Emma age 17.
Geoff Gregson (’81 BPE)
Geoff is an academic entrepreneur with extensive international experience, having spent 17 years based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has started up and managed businesses in ICT, social media, the tourism industry and sport science field in Canada and abroad. Geoff is currently Chairman of Axienta Ltd., an enterprise mobility company based in Colombo, Sri Lanka and is Board member of JB Equity, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm focused on agri-businesses.
At the University of Edinburgh, Geoff taught and developed new programs on entrepreneurship, innovation leadership and new venturing, while working with start-ups and existing companies across a number of technology sectors. He co-founded the Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club in 2005, which has become Scotland’s largest e-club, with over 2300 members. Geoff’s areas of interest include private equity financing, technology commercialization, exploitation of intellectual property, entrepreneurial processes and enterprise creation, systems of innovation and innovation strategy and leadership.
Geoff recently returned to Edmonton to take up the JR Shaw Research Chair in New Venture and Entrepreneurship at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). He retains a Visiting Professorship at EADA Business School (Barcelona) and is a Visiting Researcher at the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology & Innovation (Edinburgh). Geoff is also a graduate of the University of Edinburgh (PhD, LLM, MSc) and the University of Calgary (MBA).
Lynn Hamilton (BA, MBA, LLB, LLM, ICD.D)
Lynn Hamilton is a lawyer and entrepreneur. She is the sole owner of Hamilton Aviation Group which owns a diverse group of companies involved in various areas of specialty aviation. Areas include international operation of a fleet of over 50 “water bomber” aircraft for aerial wildfire suppression, aerospace including flight simulator development and aircraft structural engineering and industrial and commercial property investment and management.
After graduating from the London School of Economics specializing in international business transactions, Lynn spent time working in finance and securities in London, England before returning to Canada to start her own businesses. Besides management, Lynn acts as general legal counsel to her companies.
Lynn is also involved with several Boards and Committees locally and nationally. Lynn received her Institute of Corporate Director’s designation in 2014 and was awarded Global Woman of Vision in the same year. In her spare time Lynn competes in show jumping and equestrian endurance riding. She is married with 5 teenagers.
Brian Hesje (’69 BEd, ’73 MBA)
Brian Hesje is Chairman of the Board of Fountain Tire and past CEO of that company. He is also Chairman of the Board of ATB Financial. Brian is on the boards of four private companies, is a member of the Audit Committee for the University of Alberta and is on the Board of Directors of Alberta Innovates – Bio Solutions. Brian is past Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors for the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Education and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, obtained his Chartered Accountant designation from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta and was admitted as a Fellow to the Institute of the Chartered Accountants of Alberta. He was awarded an Alumni Honour Award by the University of Alberta in 2000.
In 2003 Brian was awarded the Canadian Institute of Retailing & Services (CIRAS) retailing award. In 2005 he was the recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Augustana Campus, U of A in 2008.
Prior to joining Fountain Tire in 1984, Brian was a partner in an Edmonton Chartered Accountants firm and an instructor with the Faculty of Business at the University of Alberta.
Barry James (’80 BCom)
Mr. James recently retired as a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers after spending 36 years with the firm. He became a partner in the tax practice in 1989 and subsequently became a partner in the audit group. Mr. James was Office Managing Partner in Edmonton for 10 years, from 2001 to 2011. He has served as Chair of the Stollery Childrens’ Hospital Foundation and has been a Director of the Edmonton Space and Science Foundation, the Support Network Foundation and the Shaw Conference Centre. Currently, Mr. James is a Senator of the University of Alberta, a Trustee of the University Hospital Foundation and is on the Executive Committee of the Edmonton Chapter of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Cory Janssen (’04 BCom)
Cory Janssen Co-founded Investopedia in 1999, an online tool for educating investors, which was purchased by Forbes Media in 2007. He remained with the company for several years, before leaving to found Galt Capital Inc., a private investment company. He is also currently the Director of Brace Tool, and the Co-Founder of Janalta Interactive, an online publisher or educational websites in a variety of industries.
Bruce Johnson (’83 BSc)
Bruce Johnson is a seasoned CEO and currently sits as the Chairman of the Board of HeadCount Corporation and the Chairman of the Management Advisory Board of the Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning. He is a member of the Alberta 100 group of entrepreneurs (A100) and actively coaches start-up businesses. Formerly, Mr. Johnson was a co-founder and the CEO of Intuit Canada and Intuit UK, the founder and CEO of Legend Software Inc., the CEO and Chairman of Baby Gourmet Foods Inc., and the CEO of Semanti Inc. He has chaired or sat on the board of several companies and organizations such as TEC Edmonton, the Regional Economic Development Committee and eBox123.
Kembhavi (’74 MEng, ’78 MBA)
is a Professional Engineer, a Certified Management Consultant and has undergraduate and graduate degrees in
Engineering and a graduate degree in business.
He is the founder and President & CEO of ShivaSoft Consulting Inc, a
company he founded in 2004. ShivaSoft Inc. was founded to develop and implement
‘manufacturing centric’ ERP system to the mid-market manufacturing sector.
Dilip has over 25 years of manufacturing,
health care management, management consulting, system development and project
management experience. His work has included an intimate knowledge of
manufacturing practices and production planning and scheduling in a wide
variety of manufacturing environments, business process redesign, product and
services marketing and strategic planning. Dilip personally directed and
managed the entire sales and implementation efforts for the company from 1993
to 1998. During this period the company
grew its revenues from less than $100,000 to $7,000,000.
Dilip’s industry experience includes
manufacturing, management consulting and systems development in North America,
Europe and Asia.
Ted Kouri (’97 BCom)
Ted Kouri is co-founder and Principal of Incite, an Edmonton-based marketing company whose success has been profiled in Profit, Canadian Business, Alberta Venture, Cool Companies Magazine, and Canada’s Marketing Magazine. Started in 1999, Incite is now home to a team of 25 full-time professionals and provides integrated strategy and relationship marketing services to Alberta-based business-to-business and non-profit organizations. Typically, Incite’s work involves market research, strategy development, branding, staff engagement, creative design, and the overall management of its clients’ marketing activities.
Ted has held senior marketing and consulting positions with AIESEC Canada, a global student exchange organization, and advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather, and is a recipient of the 2004 Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Small Business Owner of the Year Award and the 2008 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award.
Blaine LaBonte 93’ BSc
When Blaine LaBonte joined the family-owned Cougar Tool in 1992, few people realized he’d eventually transform the mid-size Canadian firm into an international oilfield services provider. As the company’s Vice-President of Operations, he jumped at the chance to buy Cougar in 2005 and become its president. Under his leadership the company merged with Blackstone Drilling Systems to become Cougar Drilling Solutions. In January of 2011, he became the newly merged company’s CEO.
In April 2015, Blaine became the Executive Director of Cougar, to spend more time with family and on community projects. He also is taking on high value ventures outside of North America.
Blaine is an active supporter of the Young President’s Organization. He sits on corporate and advisory boards, most recently with Navus Environmental in Edmonton. He and his wife Irene Mertz-LaBonte ardently support NorQuest College, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), the University of Alberta Faculty of Business, the Next Step School foundation, and the Boyle McCauley Homelessness Initiative.
Having gone from student to employee to manager to executive to owner/president to CEO, Blaine has personally experienced virtually every aspect of the business world. Over the course of his remarkable career, he has become an expert in the importance and benefits of leadership development.
Launa Linaker (’05 MBA)
Launa has 20 years entrepreneurial experience in the commercial construction industry. In 2005 she opened a management consulting company where she worked with small and medium size businesses in Alberta. She also specialized in transition planning with The Development Bank of Canada. Currently Ms. Linaker is a faculty member at the School of Business, MacEwan University, where she teaches Organizational Behavior, Management and Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about developing future leaders and actively pursues multiple avenues of mentorship, coaching and leadership development training. She holds an MBA from the University of Alberta and is a certified executive coach.
Stuart Lomas (’84 BSc, ’07 MBA)
Stuart Lomas founded his first Alberta technology company in 1983, and since has contributed to projects across Canada, the US, Europe, and the Far East. A veteran of several small Alberta startups, Stuart has also worked with global companies including General Electric and Hewlett Packard.
Stuart is a software developer by training, and has worked in oil and gas, new computer development, telecommunications, medical devices, banking, and industrial automation. Stuart has a BSc in Computing Science and an MBA from the University of Alberta. He is currently President of Turreco Properties Inc. as well as the President of the Alberta Council of Technologies.
Cam Macmillan (’83 BA)
Cam has spent the last 15 years in the recruitment industry, becoming one of the experts in his field. As President and Co-Founder of The Headhunters; one of Western Canada’s premiere recruitment firms; Cam’s goal is to constantly learn, train and motivate teams while executing on aggressive strategic plans. AfricaUntamed is Cam’s other passion. This niche tour company specializing in trips to South and East Africa is on the fast track. A Co-Founder of this company; tours include climbing Kilimanjaro, visiting Nelson’s Mandela’s South African roots and seeing the Big Five in Botswana.
Cam was raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and earned a degree from the University of Alberta. Prior to recruitment, Cam was a manager in corporations and government departments, and he owned and operated a customer-service oriented business with a nationally recognized brand. He comes from a long history of managing teams of top producing teams.
When not managing the corporate side of The Headhunters, Cam specializes in recruiting and placing senior level operations professionals. He works in any industry sector and with a combination of owner-manager, and large publicly traded companies. Matching owners looking to exit with equity partners is also occupying much of Cam’s time.
Cam is an active father of three, competes in triathlons (including Ironman Florida) and loves this business! He is a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Vancouver Chapter and is Co-Chair for the Global Students Entrepreneurial Awards (GSEA).
Brian Menges (’87 BA, ’13 MBA)
Since 1991 Brian has worked in the areas of residential and commercial mortgage finance, real estate equity finance, property management, investment fund management, investor relations and securities compliance. He is co-founder, President and CEO of Caplink Financial Corporation, which is an Alberta based mortgage brokerage, real estate brokerage and exempt market dealer specializing in real estate debt and equity finance, and real estate acquisition and management. Brian is also President of the mortgage investment corporations Cedar II Mortgage Corporation and Caplink Mortgage Investors Corporation.
Brian’s professional affiliations include Co-Chair of the Private Lenders Forum (Alberta), advisor to the Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada, past member of the Real Estate Council of Alberta’s Mortgage Broker Advisory Committee, and past president and director of the Alberta Mortgage Broker’s Association. He is currently a member of the Edmonton Executive Association, Food for Thought (charity), the Economic Society of Northern Alberta and the American Association of Private Mortgage Lenders.
Brian has a Bachelor of Business Administration, Finance from National University, San Diego, California, a Bachelor of Arts, Economics from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Alberta.
Kristina Milke (’94 BCom)
Kristina is a Chartered Accountant with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Alberta whose career has spanned over various industries. In 2012 she completed her role as General Manager of Investopedia where she oversaw all of its operations for 4 years. Kristina originally joined Investopedia in 2008 when it was still under the management of the original co-founders but owned by Forbes out of NY. Six months into her tenure with Investopedia, she accepted the role of general manager and then transitioned the organization towards focused growth. Kristina also assisted with the efforts in the marketing and sale of Investopedia to ValueClick in 2010. Prior to joining Investopedia, Kristina was the Corporate Divisional Controller for Intuit, Canada as well as the Divisional Controller and Ethics Officer for Spar Aerospace.
Most recently, Kristina has set up her own consulting practice so that she can focus on helping smaller organizations who need Finance and Business Advisory bench strength but are not yet ready for a full time CFO. She is a member of VA Angels, one of the largest gatherings of business angels in Western Canada where she has invested in several start-ups over the last four years.
Craig Milne (’98 BSc (Hons), ‘13 MBA)
Dr. Craig Milne is the co-founder and President of Stream Technologies Inc. Stream has developed the ColorFlow Lens, a new type of hyperspectral imaging product that converts almost any camera into a hyperspectral device.
He is also a cofounder and part owner of Prairie Noodle Shop, one of Edmonton’s most talked about new restaurants in 2016. The company was an idea that grew from his relationships with some fellow U of A MBA students, to see if they could launch a successful food venture utilizing some lean startup methodologies.
Craig has a PhD in Immunology from the University of Toronto and was previously VP Business Development for a company developing technology for rapid fire pathogen detection.
Dr. Milne says he enjoys working at the intersection of science and business, and has volunteered with the MBA Mentorship Program, organized by the School of Business in 2014/2015.
Craig is married to a U of A alumna and they have three children together.
Blaine Mytruk, C.A. (’82 BCom)
Blaine is a business professional with over 30 years of progressive experience. He has been mentoring those around him throughout his career, both formally and informally, helping others develop and succeed.
Blaine founded and developed Enrich Business Literacy, bringing financial leadership training to companies both in Canada and the United States. Enrich enhances the business and financial acumen of operating teams helping them make better and more informed business decisions.
Blaine is also a senior consultant with Results Canada. Results uses a unique approach in working closely with management teams of companies, to educate, inspire and execute on strategy — to transform those companies from good to great.
Blaine has worked previously in a number of industries including sports and entertainment, real estate, pharmacy, franchising, telecommunications, mining, aviation, small business, manufacturing and public accounting.
Blaine is a part-time lecturer at MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta where he has taught Management Strategy. His other passions are his family, learning, reading, hockey goalie, running, skiing, golf and travel. Blaine has volunteered extensively with minor sport programs in Edmonton.
Ross Nairne (‘09 MBA
Ross Nairne has spent almost thirty years in positions of leadership in a variety of careers with the Canadian Forces and with the Alberta Public Service.
He joined the Canadian Forces in 1986 and was commissioned as an officer in 1990. His career took him across North America in different capacities and served overseas in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sierra Leone, and twice in Afghanistan. He retired as a senior officer and joined the Alberta Public Service in 2007.
Since joining the Alberta Public Service, Mr. Nairne has worked in emergency management, clean energy policy and water policy. Since 2011, Mr. Nairne has been the Executive Director of the Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Program Development Branch of Alberta’s Department of Labour, in which he feels very privileged to lead a very diverse team of professionals.
Ross is Alberta’s representative on the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (CAALL) committee on Occupational Health and Safety and was also appointed in 2015 by the Provincial and Federal Governments on the Council of Governors for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
He holds Master's degrees from the Royal Military College of Canada and the University of Alberta, and is a graduate of the Government of Alberta's Corporate Executive Development Program.
Brad Nichol (’93 BSc(MechE))
Brad Nichol is currently the President & CEO of Edge Resources, a public oil and gas company he founded in 2009. The company is dual listed in Canada and in the UK with a shareholder mix from both jurisdictions of approximately 50/50. Mr. Nichol has raised a significant capital, sourced from various countries, and has overseen almost all aspects from the startup of this junior company, through to the growth into its current position today.
Brad has held roles in the executive suite of junior oil and gas exploration and production companies. His experiences are in private and public startups, takeovers and turnarounds. As Management Consultant at a top-tier international firm, Mr. Nichol advised the CEOs and CFOs of Fortune 500 corporations on business and corporate strategies, mergers & acquisitions and corporate reorganizations throughout Europe and the US.
Mr. Nichol joined Schlumberger in 1992 and spent the majority of his efforts in (i) operations and (ii) reservoir construction, evaluation and enhancement strategies. In 1996 he assumed responsibility for reservoir stimulation and wellbore construction services for BP in Colombia. In 1999 Mr. Nichol joined a U.K business unit in the Measurement and Systems division of Schlumberger, and was on the team responsible for the corporate turnaround and eventual sale of that business.
Mr. Nichol is a Professional Engineer (Mechanical, U of A) and earned his MBA, with honours, from the London Business School.
Clive Oshry (’12 MBA)
Clive Oshry is an accomplished entrepreneur who has founded, operated and exited multiple companies.
In 1998 Clive co-founded FIRMA Foreign Exchange, a company which he grew to 23 locations, 200 employees managing over 6 Billion dollars annually. In 2007, he was a winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and in 2010 he was honoured with the Caldwell Partners/Globe and Mail - "Canada's Top 40 Under 40" award. Clive is also a graduate of the University of Alberta Executive MBA program and the University of Alberta ICD Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Board Effectiveness Program.
In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, Clive is an active member of his community. He is involved in business mentorship groups, youth athletic programs and continues to serve as a board member for not-for-profits. His current venture: Integriture - helps business owners and professional practitioners leverage their existing physical and intellectual assets to run better, more profitable ventures.
Shauna Perry (’96 BSc)
Shauna’s career resides at the intersection of business and entertainment. She started in artistic promotions, representing a number of local Edmonton musicians and performers. From there she started her own entertainment and event planning company, Corporate Improv.com, providing talent and custom content for corporate events. Shauna’s strength in working with talent and managing artists made her a good match for another Edmonton based entertainment company, BioWare Corp.
Starting as the Audio and Voice Over Producer and working her way to Studio COO for BioWare’s Edmonton and Montreal studios, Shauna was part of the executive team, responsible for setting strategy and driving execution. In her 11 years with BioWare, Shauna helped lead the studios through times of major change and rapid growth, in particular the transition to becoming a part of video game industry giant, Electronic Arts (BioWare was acquired by EA in 2008). As Studio COO Shauna’s focus included the operational and financial management of the studios, and leadership of the production and operations teams, as well as a variety of development teams. Shauna was the principal driver in the management of corporate shared services and external development partners across multiple disciplines and geographies.
Shauna’s passion lies in building effective teams and organizational structures with a focus on growing leaders. She is a mother of two future leaders, her teenage daughters, Maija and Jenna. She has a love for gardening and good tequila.
John Pinsent (’83 BEd, ’85 BCom)
At St. Arnaud Pinsent Steman ("SPS"), John specializes in the provision of accounting, audit, tax and business advisory services for owner-managed businesses. John has a particular passion for assisting early stage technology and biotechnology companies and has been an active angel investor and mentor to organizations in this space. During his many years in public practice, John has built a strong network of contacts from various industries and he regularly uses this support network to assist his clients and investee companies build value for the their enterprises. John Also serves on a number of public and private company boards and is the Past Chairman of Special Olympics Alberta. John holds an ICD.D designation and is an A100 member. In the past, John was the CFO of Synodon Inc., and spent a decade at Ernst & Young.
Kyle Powell (’03 BSc(PT), ’97 BPE)
Kyle Powell is the co-founder and current President of SureHire Occupational Testing. He is an
experienced physiotherapist and a dedicated entrepreneur. After graduating from the faculty of Physical
Education (Sport Performance) and Science (Physiotherapy) at the University of Alberta, Kyle began
practicing physiotherapy and immediately discovered an unserved need in the market. Fueled by his
unique entrepreneurial instinct, SureHire Occupational Testing was born. Ten years later, SureHire's
team of 150+ staff have tested over 500,000 workers and assists employers in creating safe, healthy and
productive workforces through comprehensive medical and health testing programs.
Kyle is a valued speaker on Fitness-to-Work testing while providing companies with the insight and
resources they need to become employers of choice. His passion for leadership at all levels of the
organization is expressed through the volunteer and community mentorship program that his
company's core values are embedded in.
Kyle is an active member of his community and has been involved with numerous boards including
KidSport Edmonton, Alberta Diabetes Foundation and Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
Genevieve Primus 06’ BCom
Genevieve Primus is a co-owner and managing partner of Daeco HR Consulting Ltd. Daeco considers themselves the black sheep of human resources because they offer simple common-sense advice and customized solutions for their clients. They don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach.
Genevieve has been in human resources for over 16 years. She holds a BCom with a major in Human Resources along with a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation. Her background in corporate retail has served her well because she started out in operations so she can successfully balance both the operational and human resources sides of business ensuring HR is supporting leaders and their vision.
Genevieve has done work with many leadership teams and helps them define their roles and responsibilities ensuring everyone on the team is playing to their strengths. Her ability to help leadership teams be more effective by communicating clearly with one another allows leaders to get on the same page, move forward and grow their organizations.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Genevieve is also dedicated to raising her twin girls to be strong, independent young women.
Her words of wisdom: “You never know what you’re fully capable of until you push yourself.”
Darin Rayburn (’91 BA)
Darin Rayburn is a commercial real estate executive with over 20 years of experience in property management, leasing, operations, marketing, and management. He also has extensive experience with real estate acquisitions and dispositions. Darin was appointed CEO of Melcor REIT after co-leading the successful IPO of the Trust in 2013 and is the Executive Vice President of Melcor Developments. He has grown the companies’ overall investment property portfolio by over 400% over the past decade.
Darin is also passionate about community service and has served on numerous charitable boards and fund raising events. He is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement [of Northern Alberta] and, in 2010, he was recognized for helping to raise over $1 million for the organization. He currently co-chairs the University of Alberta Chancellor’s Cup and is a member of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. He was a founding board member with Startup Edmonton – a campus, co-workspace and accelerator that kick starts and activates local startup businesses.
Ian Reynolds (’90 BCom, ’94 LLB)
Ian Reynolds specializes in private equity, corporate finance and mergers & acquisitions with a focus on private capital markets. Ian advises corporations and private equity firms on strategic planning, risk management, multijurisdiction mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, corporate reorganizations, corporate governance planning and structuring, and diverse financing arrangements including equity, debt, mezzanine, subordinated debt and quasiequity transactions.
Ian is on the Executive Board of the Board of Management and the Chair of the Envision Alberta Committee of the Alberta Economic Development Authority (AEDA), is the representative of AEDA on the Alberta Financial Services Steering Committee, an industry and provincial initiative which will support the growth of the financial services sector in Alberta by monitoring issues and informing and providing recommendations to the provincial government on regulatory/policy decisions. He is on the Board of Directors and a member of the Audit and Strategic Initiatives Committees of AFSC Financial (Agriculture Financial Services Corporation). As well, Ian is a member of the Alumni Council of the University of Alberta Alumni Association as the Faculty of Law representative and a member of the Advisory Committee to the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta and is past Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors and past Chair of the Governance and Audit Committee of NorQuest College. He has also been active in a number of private company boards and in other political, charitable and community organizations.
Margot Ross Graham, (CHRP, CPCC) is the owner of Sandbar Coaching and Consulting. Prior to building her own firm, Margot spent several years in senior executive roles with small and mid size Alberta companies. She has extensive background and expertise leading change and process improvement initiatives as companies move through their organizational lifecycle and has particular expertise in human resources, leadership, integration, and organizational development.
Margot provides consulting and facilitation services in areas such as Strategic Planning, Leadership Development, Succession Planning and Change and Transition. She is a Certified Executive Coach and throughout her career has worked with leaders from private, public and non-profit organizations across Canada. She recently completed a project as Assistant Deputy Minister, Leadership and Talent Development with the Government of Alberta. Margot is currently featured every Tuesday as the Workplace Columnist for CBC Radio’s Edmonton morning show.
In addition to her work with industry Margot is an instructor with the U of A Executive program and is regularly invited to speak at conferences on topics ranging from Leadership Credibility to Workplace Culture.
A dedicated community volunteer, Margot is a founding member of the Amazing Ladies, sits on the Board of the Citadel Theatre, is the past president of the Edmonton Glenora Rotary Club and is a member of the MacEwan University Business School advisory council.
Alfred Sorensen (’83 BCom)
Alfred Sorensen has spent his career in the deregulated energy market, with experience as a Vice President and President for several firms such as Direct Energy, Continental Energy, and Duke Energy. In 2003 he founded the firm Galveston LNG Inc., and successfully negotiated the sale of the company in 2010. He has sat on the Boards of several organizations, including Sierra Geothermal Power Corporation, is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta, and sits of the Board of the Alberta Ballet Foundation.
Bob Sprague (’95 BSc(Pharm))
For over 25 years as a business owner and healthcare professional with extensive experience in the business, health care, and non-profit industries. Business focus primarily includes operations, financial management, business growth, negotiations, marketing, acquisitions and divestures, succession planning and human resources. This experience is enhanced by numerous professional affiliations, memberships, committees, and volunteer activities.
Prior to selling was owner of Sprague Drug Inc.; Past President, Alberta College of Pharmacists; National Pharmacy Advisor, Novopharm Ltd; Provincial Advisor Pharmacy Information Network-Netcare; Hearing Chairman-Appeals Commission for Workers’ Compensation; and Board of Director-College of Alberta Psychologists, Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council and Alzheimer Society of Alberta & NWT. Currently is Director-Health Policy and Advisory with the Alberta Government, Pharmaceutical and Supplementary Health Benefits Branch. Education includes BSc Pharmacy-Alberta, MBA-Queen’s University, and Certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice-Alberta.
Tom Viinikka (’04 BCom, ’15 MBA)
Tom Viinikka is an Edmonton-born entrepreneur. He started his first business, Valley Landscape, during his undergraduate business studies at the University of Alberta. In five years the business grew to a million dollars in summer sales per year at which time he decided to exit the construction business. A year later Tom made his entry into sporting goods retail in 2007 by acquiring Allsports Replay from the original founder. A short time after, Tom branched out further in the sports retail business and founded Prevail Paintball. In 2010, Tom partnered with a friend to found Enzo Energy Services which began acquiring niche oilfield fluid trucking businesses. Today, Enzo has successfully completed three acquisitions and has a fleet of tractors and trailers delivering clean fluids to the oil industry as well as dry bulk tractors and trailers delivering sand for well completions. Tom is married with five children. He is actively involved in several community organizations and is an MBA graduate of the University of Alberta.
Chris Vilcsak (’85 BSc, MechE, ‘97 MBA)
Chris Vilcsak is President and CEO of Solution 105 Consulting Ltd. and has been active in the energy industry for more than 30 years. He started Solution 105 17 years ago, focusing on “Making Sense of Energy” for companies operating in deregulated environments. Today, Solution 105 is an award-winning global provider of complete utility management solutions.
Solution 105 was chosen by Manulife to track all utility usage, cost, and related emissions for their North America and Asian Pacific Rim portfolio, now encompassing 300 buildings.
Chris graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Alberta in 1985 and completed an MBA on a part-time basis from the U of A in 1997. He credits the MBA with sparking his entrepreneurial fires.
He is active in the community on a professional and personal level, having served six years on the board of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, several more years on the City of Edmonton’s Renewable Energy Task Force, and has been on the BOMA Edmonton board since 2005.
Catherine Vu (’94 BCom)
In 1997 Catherine Vu co-founded Pro-Active Computer Solutions, taking a risk as a women entrepreneur in a male-dominated sector. In 2003, Catherine bought out her partner, transforming the original company into Pro-Active IT Management Inc. Catherine is continually evolving both herself and her team, in their quest to be leaders in the information management industry.
Pro-Active IT is now a recognized force within the Alberta IT community, including participating in special Silicon Valley development projects. Building on a foundation of best-in-class practices, honour, and integrity, Pro-Active IT has grown from humble roots into a thriving, customer-centric, computer Solutions Company with customers who are raving fans.
Catherine believes in ‘paying it forward’ and is dedicated to giving back to her community. Her recent support includes the CIBC Run for the Cure, Inside Ride for Kids with Cancer, Bust a Move, Suit Yourself, just to name a few. Catherine’s philanthropic work raises tens of thousands of dollars annually in the community. Pro-Active IT is proud to sponsor and participate in numerous charitable events and campaigns throughout the year.
Dick Wilson (’74 BDes, ’75 LLB)
Dick Wilson graduated from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law in 1975. Upon graduation, Dick joined the firm of Parlee McLaws LLP, where he eventually served as its Managing Partner and then Counsel to the firm acting for clients in corporate, partnership and shareholder disputes as well as product liability professional liability and construction claims until his retirement in January 2013.
Dick was President of the University of Alberta Alumni Association and acted as the Alumni Representative on the Board of Governors from 2007 to 2010, and again as a Public member from 2012 to 2015. He is a sessional instructor in the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and an Institute Certified Director of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Hugh Wyatt (’73 BCom)
Hugh Wyatt is almost retired, after a career coaching small business. Initially as a business banker, with a focus on Knowledge Based Industries. Most recently with TEC Edmonton’s Entrepreneur Development Team where he managed the Connect with TEC program and the TEC Source Advisory Panel. He continues as the Fund Manager for the Alberta Cultural Industries Association, funding and coaching companies in the book & magazine publishing industries as well as the music, film & TV production industries.
Hugh is a lifelong Edmontonian who believes in giving back to the community to help it grow. Other volunteer activities include; the Fringe, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and Habitat for Humanity, both locally and internationally.
Jim Yih (’91 BCom)
Jim Yih graduated from the University of Alberta in 1991 with a Bachelor of Commerce and was hired straight into the financial industry working as a Retirement and Investment Specialist for one of Canada's largest insurance companies. After 5 years, Jim followed his passion for entrepreneurship and has since built and managed a number of successful business ventures.
Jim remains a strong authority in the financial industry as a financial columnist and an accomplished author of 8 books including his best seller Mutual Fundamentals. Today Jim spends most of his professional life managing and growing Clearpoint Benefit Solutions which focuses on providing the best employee benefit programs.
Greg Zeschuk (’90 BMedSc, ’92 MD)
Greg Zeschuk founded BioWare Corp with fellow VMS Mentor and Chairman Ray Muzyka, and worked at the company for more than 17 years in various roles including President, co-CEO, and General Manager. After BioWare's acquisition by EA, Greg continued working at BioWare for 5 years and served as a Vice President at EA before leaving in 2012. Greg and Ray have been inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame and received the Game Developer's Choice Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.
Following BioWare, Greg started a media channel called “The Beer Diaries”, dedicated to sharing the story of Craft Beer through a YouTube channel and website. Currently, Greg is a Director with CodeBaby, Empire Avenue and Zeros 2 Heroes.