ORBiT 2019 Speakers:
Colin Sprake (Keynote Speaker)
Colin H.A. Sprake is a heart-centered Business Sherpa, author, speaker, and trainer.
A South African native and serial entrepreneur with decades of experience building multiple million-dollar businesses globally, in various industries and economies, Colin is also a #1 selling author with four #1 Bestsellers to his name. Colin has won two Quilly Awards and has been inducted into the National Academy of Bestselling Authors.
He is one of two Canadians who is part of an Elite Group called the Transformational Leadership Council founded by Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul series) and is a mentor to over 48,000 entrepreneurs.
Maurice Bitran (Opening Remarks)
Dr. Maurice Bitran is the Ontario Science Centre’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Science Officer. He joined the Centre in 2014 after wide-ranging careers in government and academia.
In the Ontario Public Service, he was the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of the Integrated Environmental Policy Division, Ministry of the Environment, ADM of Policy and Programs at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, ADM of the Secretariat to the Premier’s Jobs and Prosperity Council, and Ontario’s Chief Negotiator for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations with the European Union. He was also the Executive Director of the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund.
In Academia, he is a Senior Fellow in Public Policy at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto and has had academic appointments at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto, the Departments of Astronomy of the University of Florida and the University of Chile, and at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
A native of Chile, Dr. Bitran was selected as one of the “10 most influential Hispanic-Canadians” in 2012, and received the “Public Service Award” from Life Sciences Ontario in 2013. He serves on the boards of Ontario Genomics, Tourism Toronto, the Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC) and the Association of Science and Technology Centres (ASTC).
Afkham Mardukhi (Closing Remarks)
A Family and youth counsellor by training, Afkham is a community builder and civic activist, extensively working and volunteering with the private, public and not-for- profit sectors for over 25 years. Her relentless advocacy for public good expands to a vast arena in social justice and represents the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Over the years, Afkham has been an avid volunteer serving on the governing and advisory boards of Toronto shelters, Social Planning Toronto, Family Service Toronto, Mood Disorders Association and CAMH, all the while founding and strengthening numerous social and cultural groups within the GTA. Her ability to assemble people and form participatory infrastructures has been evident in her intimate involvement with the Iranian Women’s Organization of Ontario-IWOO, where as President for seven years, she was instrumental in its transformation into a vibrant, funded and multi-service community service agency.
Afkham is currently the President of I2CRC, a not-for-profit multifaceted resource centre with on and off line resources, programs and services, contributing to making positive change in community life, establishing partnerships and resiliency. Her experience in and understanding of the socio-economic underpinning of human migration have enabled her to effectively advocate for research, and development of resources and services for newcomers, particularly for their mental health. For the past 16 years, she has worked with Hon. Kathleen Wynne, the former Premier of Ontario as the Director of Community Affairs and a senior staff advisor.
Mimi Boyer is the founder and coach at Happy on Mondays. She is a business coach and all the energy you need to detox from the corporate Kool-Aid and start enjoying your Mondays again. After spending 6 years in corporate, Mimi had a major “ahah moment” and realized she had been settling for good, when she was in fact meant for GREATNESS! Mimi Boyer decided to turn her life upside down and dedicate her life and business to helping people find their true self, shine authentically online and start their own coaching business.
Shahram Sean Yousefi
Shahram Sean Yousefi is passionate for harmony and his mission in life is to help as many people as possible to enjoy it while reaching their full personal potential. Shahram’s current focus is solving problems at the intersection of technology, academia, and healthcare. Be it the next approach towards training highly-qualified personnel or human resource challenges in hospitals, Shahram’s philosophy is that communication and compassion are the key ingredients to achieve beyond win-win solutions.
Shahram has 25 years experience in engineering, technology, teaching, managing teams and projects, as well as public speaking and advising. He received his B.Sc. in electrical engineering from University of Tehran and his PhD in telecom from the University of Waterloo in Canada. He has held positions at the University of Toronto, Canada, Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, Jilin University, China, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA, and Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, where he is currently a tenured full professor and Associate Dean of Corporate Relations.
Shahram has served as the Editor–in-Chief of the IEEE CJECE journal and has received more than 20 awards and scholarships including the Golden Apple teaching award as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Discovery Accelerator Supplement (NSERC DAS) award.
His research interests lie in communications, cloud systems, big data, networks, information theory, signal processing, control, algorithms, and machine intelligence in which he holds a number of patents. He co-founded Canarmony Corp. (2014), MESH Scheduling Inc. (2018), and OPTT Inc. (2018) to apply algorithms to make life better and more harmonious. One of Shahram’s patents in the area of data storage was licensed to another start-up to revolutionize a $500b solid state storage industry. Shahram loves entrepreneurs and advises a number of companies.
Chris Renton is an expert in launching and scaling major new North American financial technology solutions. He drives organizational growth through innovative thinking, deep technology understanding, thoughtful planning, exceptional strategic partnership development, hands-on team development, and flawless execution. Currently Chris is the Chief Growth Officer at SnapPay – (North America’s Fastest Growing Alipay Gateway) where he is responsible for Strategy, Product, Compliance, Sales, and Marketing.
Prior to Snappay, Chris was the head of Sales for TruRating – where he was responsible for strategy, channel development, marketing, tactical execution, and sales. Prior to TruRating, he was the VP and Head of MasterCard’s Merchant Relationship Management Team, where he was responsible for business development and account management with Canada’s largest merchants. Chris Built exceptional collaborative executive level partnerships resulting in a significant increase in MasterCard’s market position. he signed multiple strategic alliance agreements that included: Co-brand, Volume, Marketing, MasterCard Adviser Analytics and Emerging Digital Technologies commitments. Before MasterCard, Chris was the lead role in establishing Visa Canada National Merchant NFC/Contactless/Debit/Digital Wallet market adoption, where he drove significant advances in Visa market position. Chris also has invented and patented new Contactless Form Factor.
As a Career Coach and Positive Psychology Practitioner, Kerri connects with clients and groups using narrative, inquiry and positive psychology to build psychological capital skills (hope, confidence, resilience, optimism) to navigate this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. A quote of inspiration for her, “Good ideas happen when two hunches collide.”
She finds great joy in holding the space to play and create the intersection for these “hunch collisions”. It is at this intersection where psychological capital becomes a crucial guide for curiousity, creativity, grit, vulnerability, and trust which allow for hunches to flourish into ideas. Why she does what she does? It is a great learning privilege to connect people with the creative energy and vulnerable wisdom that empowers them to contribute to a raised global consciousness, which is the foundation from which all great things rise.
Amin Bashi is CareGuide’s Director of Product Management. CareGuide is a portfolio of online marketplaces and their mission is to pair families and individuals with great care providers. CareGuide’s portfolio consists of eldercare.com, sitter.com, canadiannanny.ca, petsitter.com, housekeeper.com, childcareadvantage.com, and housesitter.com. Prior to CareGuide, Amin was leading the product and design teams at CrowdRiff. CrowdRiff is an AI-powered visual content marketing platform used by the world’s best travel and tourism brands such as Zürich Tourism. Before joining CrowdRiff, Amin led the product innovation team at Financeit powering over 7,800 merchants and $3 billion in payment plan applications. Amin also led “Shopify for Startups” program and worked with Shopify’s business and engineering teams to build a world-class developer ecosystem. He worked with 400+ app partners all around the world to help them build their products and grow their businesses strategically. Amin is currently a Senior Lecturer at Product School, and he’s training the next generation of product leaders in Canada.
Fatima Zaidi is the CEO & Co-founder of Quill and former Vice President of Eighty-Eight Agency. Fatima Zaidi has had over ten years of experience in Business Development, Marketing, and Strategy. Her expertise in sales effectiveness and partnerships led to her role as VP of Business Development for Eighty-Eight, a Toronto-based creative communications agency, where she’s responsible for all inbound and outbound sales. Prior to Eighty-Eight she was Head of Business Development at retail company Rent frock Repeat (which was featured on Dragons’ Den – Canada’s version of Shark Tank – in Season 7), where she was responsible for the overall management of all strategic business development, marketing, and customer relationship activities nationwide. Fatima is also a professional speaker with the National Speakers Bureau leading her to keynote on world stages like Web Summit, Haste & Hustle, DX3 alongside speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Arlene Dickenson, and most recently Richard Branson. Fatima is a frequent guest speaker, event host, and moderator for organizations including the Retail Council of Canada, and American Marketing Association. Fatima is a commentator for Global News and BNN, and she contributes to The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, Financial Post and BetaKit. She was named a top 30 under 30 marketer and brand developer in 2016, one of Flare Magazine’s Top 100 Canadian Women, Notables Young Professional of the Year for 2018, and was a finalist for the 2017 Toronto Board of Trade Young Excellence Awards. She also teaches classes on sales and business development at local tech school Camp Tech.
Ozan is a serial entrepreneur and investor with over 25 years of international experience within the angel investment, venture capital and private equity sectors. Based out of Silicon Valley during the first dotcom boom in the 1990’s, Ozan worked closely with Fortune 1000 companies in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Toronto, Hamburg, Stockholm, London and Istanbul. Ozan later acted as General Partner in various angel investment and private equity practices.
He is currently the President of Keiretsu Forum Canada, the world’s largest angel investment network operating on four continents. The global network specializes in syndication of deals and invested over $84 million USD into 168 early stage companies in 2018 alone.
Ozan also holds a Managing Partner position in Trendwell Ventures Inc., a Toronto based boutique M&A practice. He actively participates in portfolio investment decisions and helps technology enabled companies scale through hands-on management toward exit transactions.
Ozan received his MBA in Finance from the University of San Francisco – McLaren School of Business in 1998 and holds a double major in Economics & Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (1994). He speaks English, Turkish and French.
Amanda de Freitas
Amanda de Freitas is a Toronto based corporate development and regulatory affairs executive who specializes in working with companies and their innovators to profitably develop, grow or transition their business models. With over 20 years of experience working with Canadian Banks and Trust Companies, she has worked with 1000+ private and public companies at various stages of their growth and across all sectors of the economy. Her work encompasses a holistic approach to working with management teams, corporate boards and their investors; assisting her clients in their organization’s mandates to instill a shared vision of growth, she helps drive stakeholder consensus to ensure her clients achieve benchmark results in their businesses’ corporate development and its on-going success.
Amanda is the founder of Toronto based management consulting firms that focus on the emerging sectors such as Green Energy and Medical Cannabis, she is also an Independent Director on the Board of Directors for Redfund Capital Corp; a publicly listed incubator and accelerator that provides debt and equity funding to disruptive sectors such as medical cannabis, health technology and Fintech companies who want to grow their business without giving away their equity stake prematurely. The firm targets clients to nurture into global footprints whether through private funding, public vehicles or direct acquisitions.
Dr. Babaei’s track record includes over 23 years of academic and corporate experience, during which he has led a number of novel and first-in-class product opportunities to either commercialization or to late-stage development.
Dr. Babaei is currently the Chairman and CEO of Orpheus Medica, a Canadian biopharmaceutical engaged in R&D and commercialization of novel compounds for “Orphan Diseases”. Prior to Orpheus, he founded AbCelex Technologies that had successfully developed a series of antibody-based products for animal health. He has closed over 15 licensing and strategic partnership transactions, as well as raising over $50 million in equity and debt financing.
Dr. Babaei holds a PhD and an executive MBA, from the University of Toronto. He is currently a Sessional Lecturer in MBA Entrepreneurship Program at Schulich Business School, York University. He is former Chairman of the Board of Directors of BriaCell and Vaxil Bio.
Azita is a Professional Speaker, a Financial Educator and an Established Investment and Insurance Broker with more than 25 years Canadian experience. She began her career as Manager of Finance at IBM Canada and later managed Financial Departments of companies like Dior, Givenchy and Chanel. Those experience provided a great education/experience, risk management in the ups and downs of the market.
On her daily practice she has helped more than 6000 individuals, families as well as businesses and corporations to create a sound strategy and a professional Financial Plan.
Adam Jardine is the Head of Customer Growth for PC Express, the online grocery service offering for Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw Companies Limited. Responsible for customer acquisition, migration, product growth and forecasting, Adam has grown his team from 9 to 19 over a 6-month period to meet the growing demand of this business. A traditional marketer by trade, Adam entered the ecommerce space in 2016 and has been behind the successful launch and growth of online businesses including JoeFresh.com, beauty.ShoppersDrugMart.com and over 13 grocery sites including loblaws.ca. He believes that greatness can be found at the corner of insight and intuition and he prides himself on building highly motivated, focused and results oriented teams.
Dr. Farimah HakemZadeh is an assistant professor at the School of Human Resource Management at York University. She is a civil engineer by training, has an MBA, and has received her Ph.D. in Management of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources from DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. Before joining York University, Farimah was an assistant professor at Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University and School of Business and Economics at Thompson Rivers University. She is passionate about joining forces to tackle wicked problems and therefore loves getting involved in multidisciplinary research. She is currently a co-investigator in a pan-Canadian study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, aimed at improving the retention rate of midwives. She is also working closely with the Institute for Global Health, Equity and Innovation at the University of Toronto on issues of health, happiness, and wellbeing of workers.
Her areas of interest are evidence-based human resource management, health-human resources, work-life interface, and health of workers. She loves learning new things together with her colleagues and students and asking interesting critical questions.
Taylor is a strategic sales leader motivated by helping organizations transform their business through digital innovation. Outside of the workweek hustle, she is an impassioned globetrotter always exploring new professional, volunteer, educational or personal opportunities through unique adventures around the globe.
Reza Khanahmadi (MC)
Reza Khanahmadi is a systems architect, developer, and serial entrepreneur with a passion for the financial markets. He runs a consulting company in Toronto, specializing in creating and launching customized trading algorithms, black-box trading systems, and trade analytics solutions for boutique brokerages and professional traders. Reza graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Electrical Engineering; and thereafter enrolled in the CFA Institute to become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Previous Speakers’ Affiliation:
ORBiT speakers are invited for their expertise in a particular field of entrepreneurship, or who has wide name recognition due to other accomplishments. Our panels are forums for the open discussion and practical development of innovative solutions; The ambition is to build a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs and investors, and presenting practical suggestions to be shared with the audience.
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Meet Our Previous Speakers
Dr. Maurice Bitran
CEO of Ontario Science Center
Dr. Rafik Loutfy
Director of Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University
Executive Director, Imagination Catalyst, OCAD University
Prof. Shahram Yousefi
Professor at Queen's University / President and CEO at MESH Scheduling Inc.
CEO and Co-Founder of TranQool
Dr. Mehrdad Hariri
President of Canadian Science Policy Center
Co-Foundr at Boss Insights
CEO of Training Business Pros
Dr. Shahab Anari
Multiple Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Coach and Trainer
Partner at Accelon Ventures Corporation
Owner of Deborah Austin Coaching
CEO at X-Matik Inc.
Dr. Amir Azhari
President and COO at AOMS Technologies
Founder at InteliStop Inc.
Dr. Diana Kraskouskaya
CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics
Fund Manager at Derivatix Capital Management
Relationship Manager, STEM Engagement Strategist at Ryerson University