Kirk Allen has a passion for growing other people’s businesses through the powerful combination of traditional media, social, search and mobile. Kirk’s experience includes 30 years of cross-platform media sales within Canada’s largest media companies. Prior to becoming Co-Founder of Reshift Media, he was EVP, Integrated Advertising Sales at Postmedia Network. When he is not busy driving sales to a client’s door (virtual or real), he can often be found driving to the links and rinks around town. Connect with Kirk on LinkedIn [ca.linkedin.com/in/kirkallen/]
Lori Bailey is Head of Retail at Canopy Growth Corporation. She is a passionate retail leader with a talent for developing unbeatable management teams focused on the art of customer engagement. Lori joined Canopy in 2018 and since then she has been responsible for the smooth roll out and management of our retail stores across the country. Prior to joining Canopy, Lori was Senior Vice President of Retail Operations and Chief Customer Experience Officer for Sears Canada. With 20 years of executive experience, Lori is intimate with the Canadian retail landscape. Lori has held a range of executive positions at well-known retail stores throughout her career including Nine West, Gap Canada, Jones New York, and Laura Canada. She has a history of growing revenue at every company she’s worked for. Lori has been the recipient of multiple sales achievement awards from leading Canadian and International retailers.
Sonny Brar comes with over 15 years of Corporate Retail, Human Resources, Health, Safety, Energy and Environmental experience. He is currently the Vice President, Member Programs & Services at Retail Council of Canada and is an honors graduate of Criminology, Justice and Public Safety from Manitoba. Along with other functions, Sonny leads and supports RCC’s Membership, Benefit Partner Programs, Human Resources, Heath, Safety, Energy initiatives and RCC’s Advisory Councils. Sonny has also had great successes in his tenure and has been a recipient of 3 Presidential Excellence awards with Maple Leaf Foods and Toys“R”Us along with several successes and recognition with his tenure at Sobeys and Ikea.
Diane J. Brisebois is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and has held that position since 1995. Prior to joining RCC, Diane held the position of President and CEO of the Canadian Office Products Association for 14 years. Diane continues to serve on several boards across North America and has spent more than 37 years leading retail associations in Canada. Ms. Brisebois is a native of Montreal, Quebec and now resides in Toronto, Ontario.
Jim has been in the retail industry for 38 years beginning as a part time commissioned sales person with Woolco Dept. Stores in Winnipeg in 1980. Jim worked for Woolco until 1994 when Walmart acquired the company from Woolworth Corporation and continued working with Walmart holding several executive positions in operations and merchandising until 2008 when he joined The Bargain Shop as their Chief Operating Officer. In 2010 he was recruited by The Brick as Senior Vice President of Operations responsible for leading their Stores, Distribution Centers , Franchise Division and Commercial business and then moved to Edmonton in 2013 to become President of The Brick. Jim left the Brick in 2016 to return to Toronto as head of Lowes stores in Canada and in January of 2018 took on the role of President & CEO OK Tire Stores Inc based in South Surrey BC. Jim commented that "In OK Tire I found my forever job, I work with an amazing dedicated team of people, our suppliers are fantastic businesses in their own right and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and work with them as partners, the automotive industry is going thru exciting changes so it’s fun to be on the forefront , driving newness and change and the cherry on top is I get to live in BC !!” During his years in the retail business he has had a wide variety of roles including Store Management, District Management, Corporate Human Resources, Store Operations, Distribution & Logistics, Franchise Operations, Buying and Commercial Sales.
Jesse Cheetham comes with over a decade of curating culture in growing retail organizations across Canada & the United States. He is currently the Vice President, Human Resources at Fire & Flower Inc. holding a Certified Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation & is an honors graduate of the Bachelor of Management, Human Resource Management & Labour Relations program from the University of Lethbridge. Prior to joining Fire & Flower, Jesse was the Director of Employee Services at Peavey Industries LP, an agricultural retailer with 100 locations across Canada recognized by the prestigious Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures Award. Mr. Cheetham also held executive HR management positions with Skechers across Western Canada and the United States. In addition to his success in retail, Jesse held coaching and executive positions with one of the most successful Jr. B Hockey programs in Canada. Awarded 2 provincial titles, 1 Western Canadian Championship, and 1 Western Canadian Bronze during his tenure. Jesse is an advocate for building organizations through checking ego at the door & creating a safe environment for unique people to bring unique talents.
Paula Courtney, a retail strategist with 20 years’ experience, published in 35 countries and advisor to Fortune 100 companies, is trusted by Canadian and American retail leaders to help them refine and create a superior customer experience. She is the product founder and chief strategist of WisePlum®, a SaaS-based research tool designed to measure retail customer insights. WisePlum® is a collaboration between LoyaltyOne, a global leader in customer analytics and loyalty program design, and the Verde Group, a customer insights consultancy specialized in identifying, measuring, analyzing and resolving the financial impact of customer dissatisfaction.
Rob is one of the founding partners of JRoss Retail Recruiters, Canada’s leading recruiting agency specializing exclusively in Retail. In this role he has worked with retailers from single unit owner-operators to large chains with hundreds of locations in Canada, and from multi-nationals entering Canada for the first time to iconic Canadian brands and startups. His focus is on business development, in particular working with new clients to assess their needs and JRoss’ ability to deliver. His experience working in the distribution side of a manufacturing organization, and as a consultant implementing financial, distribution and manufacturing software systems has given him a solid grounding in the realities of how companies operate. Time in sales has helped him understand how to focus on value for clients. His 16 years with JRoss Retail Recruiters has given him a strong understanding of how retail operates. Rob has been focused on Canada’s emerging cannabis retail industry since JRoss was selected to recruit for retail management roles for multiple leading and startup cannabis companies starting in 2017.
Ashley is a loving wife and mama to her baby girl Francesca aka “Frankie.” Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, she was an educator for the better part of a decade before co-founding Smash + Tess with her mother in 2016. Ashley graduated from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC with two Bachelor Degrees in English and Education, along with a Masters in Education. Now a resident of Los Angeles, Ashley started Smash + Tess after finding a void in the lounge-wear market. She attended the summer fashion program at Conde Nast in London, UK, and the rest is history! As Managing Director of Smash + Tess, Ashley oversees everything from designing, to financial planning and forecasting, to dreaming up fun and creative marketing campaigns. Under Ashley's vision and management, Smash + Tess has grown exponentially and trans-nationally, both in market share and public notoriety. Ashley is passionate about creating clothing for women that celebrates and encourages femininity, strength, and comfort- while, of course, never sacrificing beauty or fashion.
If you're interested in what you could save from energy-efficiency upgrades, but never have time to get around to it, you're in luck. Ben Gardiner is a BC Hydro Business Development Specialist and Business Energy Advisor focused on providing support to businesses throughout the province. Ben works directly with customers and business associations to seek energy saving opportunities and share best practices for reducing business utility bills. After a decade helping customers navigate energy efficiency projects, Ben knows what is truly achievable and reasonable for businesses to expect when adopting energy efficient technologies and can assist in accessing available incentive programs and resources. Ben Gardiner has been working directly with businesses and business organizations to promote energy efficient technologies and retrofit projects since joining BC Hydro in 2008. In recent years he has presented on this topic at events for the Vancouver Board of Trade, BIABC, and BC Hydro’s own Power Smart Forum.
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.
David Ian Gray founded DIG360 to help retail and “retail minded” executives deeply understand their customers and their business environments to help discover where healthy growth will next come from - and to transition their organizations accordingly. David has an innate ability to understand the “human” side of change and tailors the DIG360 approach to work best with cultures and personalities. In times of change David Ian Gray delivers insight, provocative questions, and new metaphors as catalysts for reinvention. David helps retail organizations become more relevant to the right target audiences and connect deeply to them. Senior Executives respect David for his fresh counsel on defining customer-relevance, rethinking customer-experience and tailored roadmaps for evolution. He is a recognized expert on retail and shopper trends, consistently producing high-impact knowledge for over 23 years. He has a rare blend of experience integrating business intelligence: operating and financial data, trends and trend spotting, and various forms of customer and market research. Amongst other topics, he presents on emerging retail trends, the role of retail in a sustainable future and the need for strategic adaptation and management of innovation. David has taught senior executives globally for the prestigious London Business School and is widely sought for insight by business media.
Drew Green is an award winning entrepreneur and expert in managing fast-paced, high-growth companies. A visionary leader, Green has created one of the world's fastest growing apparel brands. Since 2015, he has established over $90M CDN in strategic capital commitments for INDOCHINO, with less than 27% shareholder dilution via these transactions. Green’s focus, dedication and decisiveness has tripled the size of the company, helped it achieve profitability in 2017 and improved EBITDA by just under $8 million USD year-over-year. Through a commitment to an experience-based Omni channel commerce strategy the past three years, INDOCHINO has expanded its retail network across North America to include 22 showrooms as of March 2018, with as many as 37 showrooms by year end and dramatically increased its product assortment to become the undisputed global leader in custom apparel. Prior to INDOCHINO, Green founded and was Chief Executive Officer of SHOP.CA, Canada’s first multi-merchant marketplace, which is now owned by EMERGE COMMERCE, which he leads as Chairman and major shareholder. EMERGE has successfully combined several eCommerce brands globally over the past two years. Throughout his career, Drew has helped create billions in shareholder value through leadership roles at DoubleClick (acquired by Google), SHOP.COM (acquired by Market America) and Flonetwork (acquired by DoubleClick). Green is a shareholder, mentor and/or member of 15 Canadian private company boards across Technology, Commerce, Ed-Tech, FinTech, Block Chain and Real Estate and is also a proud to be a member of the Board of Directors at The Scarborough Hospital Foundation, which oversees a network of hospitals in one of the most underprivileged and underfunded urban areas in Canada. This is an area he plans to significantly develop in the decades ahead.
Mr. Jiwani (BCIT Sales and Marketing, 1994) is a top-ranked National Account Manager, with consistent award-winning success over a 23-year career in the beverage and alcohol industry. Mr. Jiwani was recently a Key Account Manager for BC Retail Chains & Grocery at Arterra Wines Canada (formerly Constellation Brands) and previously held the position of National Account Manager for Molson Coors Canada. Mr. Jiwani has consistently been recognized for his contributions to record-setting sales figures, territory start-up/expansion and new account development and acquisitions. He has a proven ability to over achieve on sales objectives and is a leader in the alcohol beverage industry. He has received multiple awards throughout his exciting career. Mr. Jiwani has helped organize and execute many international events, some of which have included: the Molson Indy Vancouver, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, numerous successful product launches and dozens of other local and locally executed internationally based events.
Kimberly Kuzmak is an experienced client management and business development leader with American Express Canada. As Director of Client Management - Western Canada for Global Merchant & Network Services, Kimberly is focused on developing and growing successful partnerships with key B2B and B2C brands across Canada. She is a passionate people leader, who consistently inspires creativity, collaboration, and drives a high level of employee engagement. She also leads the digital transformation strategy which is focused on launching capabilities to enable a better customer and merchant experience, while driving incremental value and loyalty.
William is the Chief Commercial Officer of OTT Pay Inc., a FinTech company focused on connecting Canadian retailers with Chinese consumers through WeChat Pay and Alipay. William has over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry specializing in business strategy and payments. He has lived in Canada, China, the United States and Japan. William strongly believes in the power of globalization. He is passionate about global disruptive innovations and how proven technologies can be tailored and localized to connect businesses with consumers. William holds a joint honours degree in Systems Design Engineering and Economics from the University of Waterloo.
As the President and CEO of Encorp Pacific (Canada), Allen oversees the most successful used beverage container management program in Canada with a mandate to develop, manage and improve systems to recover used packaging and end-of-life products from consumers and ensure that they are properly recycled and not land-filled or incinerated. Through its Return-It collection network consisting of 171 privately owned Return-It depots, Encorp Pacific has routinely exceeded a 75% recovery rate for used beverage containers in the province while at the same time developing a collection network that has become the backbone for a number of other recycling programs around the province. Prior to joining Encorp Pacific, Allen served as the Managing Director for Recycle BC, the first 100% Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for paper and packaging in North America where industry assumed full financial and managerial responsibility for the residential recycling system. Allen has extensive experience in sustainability and previously served as the VP of Sustainability for the Retail Council of Canada and the VP of Environment for the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.
Eleanor is a skilled retail executive with twenty years of experience across multiple leadership roles. Working with large national retailers, Eleanor has a track record in growing brands across Canada with both significant brick and mortar presence and experience in executing omni channel excellence. She focuses on building world class retail teams who deliver premium experiences and is excited to work with her team to bring this to the cannabis retail space.
Dave leads a team of rock stars at Prospect Media, comprised of data geeks, strategy addicts, integrated media experts and retail-aholics. He is responsible for overseeing innovation within the agency and development of data-driven Shopper Marketing strategy — from digital to print to omni-channel. With 25+ years in the media and retail marketing industry, he is focused on using data to drive traffic & sales growth for retailers. His passion is to deliver actionable consumer insights, combined with integrated media strategy to create joyful retail client experiences that make working with agencies cool again! Dave has served on multiple boards within the marketing industry such as the RAC Board, the RCC Marketing Committee, as well as for the charitable organization Youth Without Shelter. He is the founding partner of Cover Me Urban, an annual fundraising event that supports YWS, raising over $600,000 for the shelter since inception in 2010.
Eric is an experienced consultant with a passion for retail and the broader consumer business sector. He has over 20 years of consulting to leading retailers in North America across multiple formats including department stores, specialty apparel, footwear and mass merchandise. He has worked across all departments and functions from store to back office, enabling him to address client challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives. As the National Retail Industry Leader at BDO, Eric leads a group of retail and IT professionals who implement ERP, POS, BI and other retail technologies that enrich consumers' experiences and improve retailers' business results. Eric also advises retailers on technology strategy and helps organizations manage the process and organizational components of their business to ensure that technologies align to business strategy.
Mr. Palalas is responsible for developing distribution channels, sourcing new market opportunities and overseeing the revenue portfolio of High Tide. Andy is a business growth and sales professional with a decade of experience in implementing sales programs for established corporations and start-ups alike. With extensive experience in the loyalty marketing sector, a track record of explosive growth in franchise sales and operations, and a holistic mastery of ground-level business development through to overarching marketing strategy, Andy has most recently taken Famous Brandz from inception to one of the leading manufacturers of smoking accessories internationally. A relentless new business hunter and relationship builder, Andy is determined to fulfill High Tide’s vision of becoming the largest vertically integrated cannabis enterprise in the world.
Mat Povse is the Senior Vice President of Retail and Geek Squad Services at Best Buy Canada. In this role, he is responsible for the employee and customer experience, sales and profits for over 180 retail stores across Canada as well as the development and fulfilment of Geek Squad programs and services. Mat joined Best Buy in March of 2014 as Vice President of Merchandising responsible for Home Theatre, Audio, Wireless, Digital Imaging, Geek Squad, and was instrumental in the development and execution of the Major Appliances expansion plan in Canada. Since then, he has held numerous leadership roles, most recently as Vice President of Geek Squad Services. Mat has a passion for inspiring people and teams, and has a knack for facilitating productive alignment between organizations. Mat’s multi-faceted experiences and work including service centric organizations has proven valuable in areas of convergence where he leads the optimization of current capabilities for future state, develops new and innovative partnerships, and integrates services at retail - all of which have helped to enhance Best Buy’s Total Retail experience and set foundations for future growth. Prior to Best Buy, Mat was Vice President of Sales for LG Electronics and has also held key positions at Compaq, TELUS & XM Satellite Radio. Mat holds a Bachelor of General Studies, Business and Liberal Arts from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Dave Rodgerson is the Retail Industry Lead at Microsoft Canada. His career includes experience both as a line of business executive for some of Canada’s leading retailers and more recently with technology leaders that support the industry. Dave works closely with clients and industry associations that share an interest in creating a new consumer experience. More recently, he has been sharing stories about digital transformation and its impact on consumers and the Omni channel experience, helping his clients create their own vision for the future of retail.
Ted is a partner in EY’s advisory practice, the National Leader of EY’s Consumer Sector and a member of EY’s Global Consumer Advisory council. Over the past 20 plus years he has worked throughout the Americas with product and services innovators who wish to disrupt their markets. He has served clients across the entire value chain from agribusiness and primary manufacturing through to consumer goods and every retail format available. In the digital era, his team’s work has been focused on working with organizations who wish to benefit from digital technologies when considering how best to engage with their customers, operate their business and venture into new business models. As a former Product Engineer who went to business school, he is often referred to as the ‘pragmatic innovator’. Always curious about what the future might be telling us when considering what to build today.
As Head of Sustainability for IKEA Canada, Brendan Seale is responsible for activating the IKEA “People & Planet Positive” strategy across the country – to inspire and enable Canadians to live a healthier & more sustainable life at home, to achieve circular and climate positive operations, and lead towards a fair & inclusive Canadian society. Previously Brendan served as Sustainability Advisor with The Natural Step Canada, and worked in communications with Barrick Gold Corporation. He holds an MSc in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability from Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden), and a BA in Communication Studies & Multimedia from McMaster University. Brendan’s feet like to keep the company of bicycle pedals, soccer cleats, ski boots, and infectious beats, and he is now a father to two young sons who have given his work a greater depth of purpose.
Melanie Teed-Murch was appointed President of Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us Canada in 2016, overseeing the operations and business activities for the continued growth, profitability and success of the company in this market. As President of Toys R Us and Babies R Us Canada, Melanie works collaboratively and cross functionally across the Fairfax family of brands for synergy and best practices. Since first joining the organization in 1996 as a Store Manager in Kitchener, Ontario, Ms. Teed-Murch has held a variety of senior leadership, merchandising and operational roles with increasing responsibility. In 2012, Melanie was promoted to Vice President and then in 2015, she became Canada’s Chief Merchant and Vice president, GMM Merchandise Planning, Forecasting and Allocation. Ms. Teed-Murch holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and attended Wilfrid Laurier University for Business Administration. In addition to serving as a member with the Jays Care Foundation Board of Directors, Melanie currently serves as a Board member with St. Joseph’s Hospital foundation and Retail Council of Canada. She resides in Guelph, Ontario with her husband and family and is an avid baseball enthusiast and life-long fan of the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Peter van Stolk is the CEO of Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery or SPUD.ca™, the largest pure play online grocer in Canada. SPUD.ca is focused on creating meaningful relationships with Canadians around the benefits of local, organic food within the $100 billion annual Canadian grocery market. SPUD.ca operates in 4 markets and utilizes proprietary technology. This allows the company to provide free delivery throughout the 4 Western Canadian cities it services. With 400 employees, SPUD.ca is building community among its customers both online and off with a unique omni-channel strategy of hyper local small markets through its retail brands, Be Fresh Local Market and Organic Acres Market. Van Stolk believes: “Food will have the greatest impact on our generation. How we think about food, how we buy food, and how we consume food will change, and we are excited to be a part of this transformation”. As founder of Jones Soda Company in 1987, van Stolk served as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors until 2007. Jones Soda was one of the first consumer branded companies that recognized the potential of Social Media in creating emotional connections with its consumers. Jones Soda invited its followers to participate and interact with the brand through proprietary custom labelling and unique flavour development. Van Stolk has been recognized for his business savvy and innovative branding strategies in various publications such as The New York Times®, CNN®, Wall Street Journal®, Fast Company™, Inc.Magazine™ and People Magazine®. Peter has received numerous business awards including Price, Waterhouse, Coopers’ 40 under 40, Brand Week’s Top 100 Marketer, and was chosen as one of Canada’s Top One Hundred Canadians by MacLean’s Magazine®. He continues to speak internationally, challenging various audiences on a broad range of marketing and business topics including: How to compete in today’s market place, relating and remaining relevant to an apathetic and fickle consumer, and creating market demand and brand loyalty in a difficult economy. Through the contribution of all proceeds from his speeches, van Stolk is directly responsible for building numerous schools in developing countries, as well as countless donations to organizations that focus on women, children, and cancer research. He is also the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vitamin Angels©, a non-profit global organization that provides vital nutrition to 48 million children annually throughout the world.
Mr. Vioncek comes with over 25 years of experience in the operations of major retail brands across Canada. With deep experience in regulated retail, Mike specializes in successfully opening locations in a regulated retail space. Prior to joining the team at Fire & Flower, he was the President of Canadian Operations for Planet Fitness, specializing in opening new stores from location scouting, leasing, build-out, staffing through to start of operations. Previous to this, Mike was the Director of Operations for Liquor Stores North America, Regional Director for Rexall / Katz Group Canada, and District Operations Manager for the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company.
Derek Weidl is the Digital Marketing Strategist at M&M Food Market. He has spent the past 4 years increasing customer frequency through a loyalty-focused email program, leading explosive growth for M&M’s Click & Collect service and shepherding M&M’s optimization and personalization of the digital marketing mix through the use of an industry leading customer loyalty database containing decades of retail sales data. With 10+ years of varied marketing experience, including agency, non-profit, tech and even broadcast documentary, Derek brings a mix of consumer-focus drive backed with evidence-based marketing decisions to help the reinvention of M&M Food Market, one of Canada’s most iconic brands.
Nick Whitehead is Vice President of Market Development for Aurora Cannabis, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cannabis companies. A passionate advocate for cannabis law reform, Nick joined Aurora in January 2016 as Manager of Public Affairs. Recognized as an integral part of the business development team, Nick ascended to his current role in August 2017. Having more than five years of experience in the cannabis industry, Nick applies his project management expertise to spearhead the planning, strategic development and delivery for the pending Canadian adult consumer market. In his previous role as Manager of Public Affairs, Nick was responsible for relationships with Aurora's extensive physician referral network, developing supply and demand tracking tools, and performing due diligence and business analysis for Aurora's acquisitions and other strategic transactions. Prior to joining Aurora, he held positions with federal as well municipal governments and most recently acted as the Director of Organizing for Sensible BC, a non-profit political advocacy campaign dedicated to cannabis law reform. His work there helped to build the organization into the country’s largest, grassroots drug policy organization. Nick holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University. He is also certified as a Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute.
Lauren joined HelloFresh in July 2016. She specializes in performance marketing and business analytics and leads the teams responsible for all marketing activity from experiential events to podcasts and everything in between. Prior to joining the company, Lauren held brand management positions at Spin Master Ltd. and Kimberly-Clark (Huggies®). She’s a master-level foodie and dabbles in culinary courses at George Brown College in her spare time. In addition, Lauren founded Lilly & Lola Skincare, a premium skincare line focused on small batch products and clean ingredients.
Viktor has been a lead sales executive of reebee for the past 4 years, during which he has worked to transform the e-flyer industry. He has helped shape how retailers view and analyze the effectiveness of their traditional flyer program. Over the course of his career, Viktor has worked closely with major Canadian retailers, brands, and agencies to develop and implement forward thinking marketing strategy.