Each year at the Top Employer Summit, we present a spectacular line-up of world-class speakers, thought-leaders and the best case studies from our annual competition — each hand-picked by our editors to bring you the latest thinking on becoming an employer of choice. Case studies are drawn from current winners of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, as well as the 18 other regional and special-interest competitions that our editorial team manages.
We will be posting our full list of speakers for this year’s event in the coming months, but in the meantime you can read about our keynote speakers from previous years here.
With a career spanning five decades, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. But George Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII, to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality—George Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture.
Takei, who is openly gay, has long been a passionate advocate for social justice. He has served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign “Coming Out Project,” and was Cultural Affairs Chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He is also chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He was appointed to the Japan-US Friendship Commission by former President Clinton and the government of Japan awarded Takei the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his contribution to US-Japanese relations. The decoration was conferred by His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. In 2007, Asteroid 7307 Takei—located between Mars and Jupiter—was named in the performer’s honor in appreciation for his social work.
In 2012, Mashable.com named Takei the #1 most-influential person on Facebook, currently with nearly 10 million likes and more than 1.81 million followers on Twitter.
As National Senior Director for Human Resources at McCarthy Tétrault, Rita Apa is the chief steward responsible for overall strategic direction and implementation of all aspects of the firm’s human resources function. With over 35 years of experience, her mandate to cultivate a collaborative and innovative culture while attracting and retaining top professional talent is all-encompassing; covering recruitment, performance management, compensation and benefits, reward and recognition programs, staffing as well as training. She leads development of the firm’s human resources vision, values and goals for staff and develops and maintains oversight of firm-wide policies, practices and procedures. Rita is a regular guest lecturer at the HEC Business School’s MBA program in Montreal on the establishment of strategic corporate reward plans including the role of the people leaders in making those plans a success. She has also served as President of the Québec Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators. Rita’s professional contributions go beyond her leadership role at Canada’s leading law firm. For 15 years, she was a volunteer member of the YMCA Advisory Committee on Community Issues whose goal in particular was to support the homeless. During that time, she also ran a physical education program for those suffering with multiple sclerosis. Rita has also served on the Ethics Committee at the Lakeshore General Hospital establishing guidelines for advanced directives for patients.
Brad Badelt is currently the acting assistant director for sustainability with the City of Vancouver. He has worked in local government for nearly 15 years on a variety of sustainability related projects, including green infrastructure, waste reduction, and climate adaptation. He is a professional engineer by training and has a master degree in water resources engineering from the University of Guelph.
Nora Beatty is HR Business Partner at FreshBooks.
Margaret is currently the Director of Recruitment for the City of Edmonton and leads a passionate team that is accountable for developing community outreach programs, operating an internal temporary staffing agency, attracting diverse candidates that mirror the working population of the City, advancing their social media presence, and providing HR strategic advice to the our business partners. Under her leadership the City has been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers, one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People, a leader in social media recruitment, and most recently won an award for having the “Most Welcoming Workplace”. Prior to joining the City, Margaret had the privilege of leading diverse teams and/or participating on HR leaderships teams at Bank of Montreal, Exult/AonHewitt, CIBC and TELUS Sourcing Solutions.
Virginie Bronsard is a Senior Director Human Resources at CN, a transportation company with over 21,000 employees that offers integrated transportation services: rail, intermodal, trucking, freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution. She has over 20 years of experience, having played operational and strategic roles in organizations such as Sodexo, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Yellow Pages Group. In addition to being a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP), Virginie was formally the acting Treasurer at the CHRP Foundation Board. She has a Master in Business Administration and a Bachelor in Industrial Relations.
Richard Eyram is Area Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Salesforce Canada Corporation.
Diana Godfrey is Vice President of Human Resources at Fidelity Canada.
Nicholas Greschner is Director of Human Resources at Accenture Inc.
As Vice President of Human Resources at Cisco Canada, David Heather has responsibility for one of the largest international subsidiaries for Cisco. He is responsible for over 1,600 employees across Canada and covers all facets of human resources. He drives the Human Capital Strategy with the president, and ensures that his team drives a strong employee engagement strategy leveraging innovative and compelling interventions, which has resulted in Cisco being named among Canada’s Top 100 Employers ranking in 2015 and 2016. David also is responsible for designing and developing Global Learning Strategies for the senior leaders of Cisco’s worldwide sales teams. David also leads Global Learning Strategies for the senior leaders of Cisco’s World Wide Sales teams leveraging experiential learning to connect strategy with action. Prior to moving to Toronto, David had roles at Cisco Corporate Headquarters in San Jose driving HR strategy for World Wide Sales and he was also based in London in senior HR roles for the European Operation for Cisco. David is also experienced with acquisition integration, having played a lead role in a number of key acquisitions for Cisco. David has also worked in the Utility, Oil and Gas and Mining sectors prior to joining Cisco and holds a degree in Human Resources from the Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England. David was awarded Canadian HR Leader of the Year in 2015 by HRM Magazine’s Canadian HR Awards.
Doug Jeoffroy has served as the Vice President, Corporate Real Estate for Rogers Communications since 2014. For the Rogers corporate office and retail portfolio, he is responsible for all facilities, project and energy management, workplace transformation strategies, leasing transactions, lease administration and employee experience initiatives. With more than 25 years in Corporate Real Estate and a passion for design and the employee experience, Doug is leading an aggressive multi-year Workplace Transformation initiative to drive a more agile and collaborative environment. In the first year of the program, more than 330,000 square feet of the company’s Real Estate footprint was transformed. Doug has extensive experience managing and leading large real estate portfolios in Canada and internationally including at CIBC and Brookfield Johnson Controls. He was recently recognized as CoreNet’s Canadian Chapter Executive of the Year for 2016. Doug holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Business.
Kimberlea Kozachenko is Senior Leader, Talent Attraction & Acquisition with ATB Financial. With 10 years experience in Canadian financial, healthcare and government industries, she is a catalyst to reimagining the status quo of employer and candidate experiences. She has successfully led strategic initiatives including the development of ATB 101: ATB’s first enterprise-wide post-secondary recruitment strategy and student development program, led the implementation of a screening tool that measures fit to organizational culture in candidates, developed enterprise-wide talent acquisition fundamentals: a set of smart, simple and helpful tools that encourage consistent and intentional hiring practices across ATB, and conceptualized myCareer: centralized enterprise talent development resource that empowers team members to become self-accountable for career growth through self-discovery, inspiration, connections and action plans. Recognized for strong strategic vision, leadership and creative abilities, Kimberlea is changing the conversation around talent through her aspiration to deliver results, drive continuous learning, and set compelling objectives for effective talent initiatives. She carries the belief that relentless innovation, transparency and genuine connections will transform global talent practices for the better.
Kristina Leung is the Editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project at Mediacorp Canada Inc. In addition to working on selections for the Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition, Kristina also is active on the editorial work for the 19 regional and special-interest “top employer” competitions that are affiliated with the national project. Kristina received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Toronto and, prior to her current role, was an Editor on the Eluta.ca project at Mediacorp. Originally from Oakville, Ontario, Kristina currently resides in Toronto.
Tracey Malcolm is the North America Practice Leader for Talent Management & Organization Effectiveness, as well as the global Human Capital Strategy offering lead at Willis Towers Watson. Tracey has over 25 years’ experience working with organizations on their talent strategy, organization alignment and design and HR strategy.
Some of Tracey’s recent global experience includes designing the organization, governance model and talent strategy for a new business development bank, defining and implementing a new employee value proposition and HR strategy for a global technology and services company, leading business transformation change management for a global financial services company, and building HR business partner and manager skills in leading change for a global media company, and a global insurance company.
Tracey is certified in leadership assessment and development and frequently works with management teams collectively and individually. She has completed the High Performance Leadership Programme at Oxford University. In addition, Tracey holds an Honours BA in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa and a Certificate in Personnel and Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto.
Tony Meehan is the Publisher of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, now in its 15th annual edition. The Top 100 project, which started as a best-selling paperback, now reaches millions of Canadians every year through numerous newspaper and magazine partners as well as online through the popular Eluta.ca job search engine. Mr. Meehan also serves as President of Mediacorp Canada Inc., the nation’s largest publisher of employment periodicals, and is Founder of the Eluta.ca job search engine. Since its inception, Mediacorp’s employment guides have sold more than one million copies in 17 countries and, last year, the Eluta.ca search engine was used by over 5 million Canadians. Originally trained as a lawyer, Mr. Meehan holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario. He also holds a Certificat from the Université de Paris IV (Sorbonne). Raised in Nova Scotia, Mr. Meehan currently resides in Toronto.
Karen O’Leonard joined Willis Towers Watson in 2015 as the Global Leader of Client Solutions. In this role, Karen works closely with the firm’s business units and geographies to identify topics of future importance and to bring new products to market. Prior to joining Willis Towers Watson, Karen served as Vice President of Talent Analytics at Deloitte, where her focus was helping HR organizations build their capabilities for data-driven decision making. Earlier in her career, Karen held senior roles in product management, research, and M&A at Silicon Valley firms Apple, Sun Microsystems, and eBay. Karen holds a BS degree in business administration and an MBA with a concentration in quantitative methods. With this background, and 20+ years of experience, Karen brings expertise in product development, analytics, and a keen understanding of business issues to her work at Willis Towers Watson.
Vanessa Perdue is Senior Director, Global Workplace at RBC.
Shelley Ralston is Director, Talent and Culture at Xerox Canada.
Tom Redl is President & CEO of CHANDOS Construction Ltd., a role he has held since 2001. He is responsible for guiding the successful operation and development of CHANDOS, a market leader in the provision of value-added construction solutions. Tom truly believes in giving back to the community. He is this year’s Co-Chair of the Alberta Capital Region United Way Campaign Cabinet, a role he shares with Edmonton’s First Lady, Sarah Chan. In 2015, he personally created a scholarship fund at CHANDOS entitled the “Amisk Award”, a scholarship to advance the education or community interests of the award recipients. A lover of the City’s arts, Tom currently serves as Secretary on the Citadel Theatre’s Board of Governors, where he has also served as President & Chair of the Board of Directors in years prior. In 2015, Tom completed a full 8-year term on the Board of the Edmonton International Airport, serving three years as Board Chair. Tom also sits on the Board of the Edmonton Construction Association and is Chair of their Governance & Human Resources Committee. Tom is an instructor at the UofA’s Alberta School of Business in the Small and Medium Enterprise Governance program and is a frequent speaker and panelist on the topics of governance, employee ownership and corporate social responsibility.
JoAnn Sheahan is a Senior Human Resources Manager at Procter & Gamble. JoAnn joined Procter & Gamble in 1987 after graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Science. JoAnn has extensive human resources experience in both a manufacturing and general office environment, and is currently leading HR for P&G’s Marketing and Product Supply functions. JoAnn has led Procter & Gamble’s Health and Wellness strategy since 2010, most recently creating Procter & Gamble’s Mental Health strategy and policy.
Richard Yerema is the Managing Editor of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and is this country’s most widely-read career author. Mr. Yerema oversees the editorial team that manages the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, which has been called one “of the most prestigious lists” in Canadian business, as well as a series of 20 regional and special-interest competitions. Mr. Yerema is also the author of The Career Directory, now in its 21st edition, which lets young people find great employers that are looking for people with their academic qualifications. His editorial independence and quality of work is one of the most enduring and respected in the Canadian career field. Raised in Southern Ontario, Mr. Yerema is a graduate of the University of Toronto and currently resides north of Toronto.