Joanne Gassman was formerly with BMO Bank of Montreal for over 39 years, most recently as the Senior Vice President of Personal & Commercial Banking for BC & Yukon Division. Joanne joined BMO in 1974 and has worked in several markets both in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1985, she was appointed Corporate Auditor, Personal Banking in Toronto and held that position until 1996. She returned to the West Coast in 1996 and worked in various progressively more senior roles in Personal and Commercial Banking – such as Commercial Account Manager; Community Banking Manager; and Director, Personal Banking – all within Vancouver. Her first executive appointment with BMO Bank of Montreal was in 2005 as Vice President, Vancouver Island District. Joanne then became the Vice President, Personal Banking for the Vancouver Suburban District. She was appointed Senior Vice President, BC and Yukon Division, Personal and Commercial Banking in 2011. Joanne is the incoming Chair for “I am Powerful” Vancouver Council for CARE Canada, Vice-Chair of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, a Governor of the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation and a supporting member for Kidsafe Project Society. Joanne is on the University of Northern British Columbia Vancouver Advisory Committee. She has an MBA from Dalhousie University. Just recently retired, Joanne Gassman will be taking on a new consulting role with BMO Financial Group nationally, as the Senior Vice President, Women’s Market. In this new capacity, Joanne will continue to promote BMO’s focus on the needs of women entrepreneurs by improving the business and financial information available for women and by facilitating self-sufficiency and success for women business owners and managers. Joanne is a member of the Board of Advisors for GroYourBiz, an initiative developed for women entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level. She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum.
Carolyn Cross, Chair and CEO, Ondine Biomedical Inc.
Carolyn Cross is a Founder of Ondine Biomedical Inc., a Vancouver based Medical Devices Company, and currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. She also is a Board Member and Treasurer of the International Photodynamic Association. As the global leader in antimicrobial photodynamic solutions, Ondine is dedicated to the development of non‐antibiotic anti‐infective therapies for a broad spectrum of bacterial, viral and fungal infections, working from its photodisinfection technology platform. Earlier in her career, Ms. Cross was responsible for managing pension, pooled, mutual and private client funds as a Vice President with Royal Bank Investment Management Inc., the fund management arm of the Royal Bank of Canada. Ms. Cross has over 20 years direct experience with early stage companies and 30 years’ experience with public market securities. She currently sits on several corporate boards including Periowave Dental Technologies, Inc., Sinuwave Technologies Corporation, Antares Project Services Ltd., OrGenX Biopharma Corporation and others. She is currently serving as a Board Member of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Advisory Board of McGill University Dental School and The Vimy Foundation. She is a Founding Member of the Ernst & Young Global Women in Business Advisory Council as well as the Women’s Economic Business Advisory Council. Ms. Cross is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization, TEC Canada, the International Federation of Women, the Toronto Society of Financial Analysts, and the Courthill Foundation. She is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Angelika Vance, Director of Products & Services for Small Business Marketing, TELUS
Angelika Vance is the Director of Products & Services for Small Business Marketing at TELUS, a leading national telecommunications company that provides innovative communications, information, and entertainment solutions for customers at home, at work, and on the go. Angelika joined TELUS (BC Tel at the time) in 1997 and since then has focussed her energies on supporting small and medium-sized businesses through development of bundles and marketing programs that integrate wireline and wireless solutions. She has held a variety of positions within marketing, including Manager of SMB Strategy & Analytics, Product Manager of TELUS’ flagship business bundle, and Campaign Manager for small and home-based businesses. Angelika and her team are responsible for Wireline profitability through pricing, product management, sales support, and customer experience improvements, and are passionate about helping businesses succeed by developing and delivering solutions that meet their evolving needs. Prior to joining TELUS, Angelika was involved with marketing in the industrial product development industry and also spent a number of years in the shopping centre retail industry with Bentall Property Management. Angelika holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from University of Phoenix. A former member of Rotaract, she has also enjoyed volunteering with the SPCA, the Vancouver Food Bank, as well as at her children’s school activities. She lives in Langley, BC, where she and her husband are busy raising their two children, Tristan and Arianna, a fruit and vegetable garden, and their of-unknown-origin cat, Lucas.
Brandi Wingrove, Partner, KPMG Enterprise
Brandi Wingrove is a partner in KPMG’s Vancouver Enterprise practice. KPMG Enterprise is an integrated team of advisors who seek to continually understand the challenges and opportunities facing businesses, organizations and individuals, with the ultimate goal of making our clients’ businesses better. Brandi understands firsthand what entrepreneurs face day to day. She played an integral role launching, operating, and eventually selling a family business. Her practice area within KPMG Enterprise focuses on providing audit, tax and advisory services to retail, real estate, and technology companies and a variety of not-for-profit organizations. Brandi is passionate about supporting women in business. She serves on the Board of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs – an organization that supports through education, female entrepreneurs across Canada. Brandi serves on the Board of Advisors for GroYourBiz, an initiative dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.
Eva Sun, CEO & President of The Rice People
Eva Sun, CEO and President of The Rice People, emigrated from Taiwan in 1976 helping her father manage grocery stores and later establishing her own rice business. Known as the “Rice Lady”, she shares her knowledge not only in the world of rice, but also influences the food industry as whole. Eva is committed to community and to helping others in the industry. She is on the BC Premier’s Women’s Economic Council, a board member of BC Food Processors Association (BCFPA) and GroYourBiz. She is also a member of International Women’s Forum (IWF), WBE Canada, WEConnect International, Canadian, Australia & New Zealand Business Association (CANZBA), Taiwan Chamber of Commerce in BC (TCCBC), and GroYourBiz Executive Advisory Board. Eva provides mentorship, support, empowerment, inspiration and practical solutions for other women in the food industry. Her support for supplier diversity has gained her recognition with a variety of global buyers. She promotes and advocates the importance of global trade organizations and businesses helping businesses. She also supports various charitable and philanthropic events. Eva’s achievements were acknowledged with the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award for “Trailblazer”, Star Women in Grocery Award, BMO’s Community & Charitable Giving Award, BC New-Canadian Entrepreneur Award, and Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Business Leadership Award. Eva is a leader focused and driven to foster proactive changes within all communities that she touches. Eva envisions and builds and makes a difference. She is engaging, insightful with an entrepreneurial drive to get things done. She believes in fairness and inclusiveness. She has a generosity in sharing lessons learned, her knowledge and expertise with others. Through her passionate belief in the value of people she brings hope, develops confidence and self-worth.
Marla Kott, CEO, Imprint Plus
Marla Kott is a Chartered Accountant and Chief Executive Officer of Imprint Plus. She was the 2013 winner of the WeConnect Canada WBE Ambassador award, the 2012 winner of the Bank of Montreal Global Growth Award, and a 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist. Marla’s relationship with Imprint Plus began a $20,000 angel investment and a personal bank guarantee, needed to keep a 7 year old start up afloat for a childhood friend. When the bank called the loan in 2000, she gave up her Chartered Accounting practice, moved across the country to Vancouver, British Columbia, and became the full time CEO of Imprint Plus. Marla arrived to face an unproductive management team, thin capitalization and a balance sheet that sported a debt of $700,000. In the thirteen years that Marla Kott has operated as the CEO of Imprint Plus, she has built the company into a thriving international exporter of name badge systems with a goal to becoming a category leader in this niche market. IP operations head office is in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company also has offices in Florida, Ontario and the UK. Imprint Plus has been listed in Profit Magazine’s as one of Canada’s top 100 women owned businesses for 7 consecutive years. The company today has over 35,000 customers in 75 countries.
Betty retired from Women Business Enterprise Canada Council October 2015 where she had been one of the founding leaders of the supplier diversity organization with responsibility for creating the certification program, operating protocols, and market-outreach. Her background includes an accomplished career as a commercial banker, women’s market strategist, and advocate for women entrepreneurs. Prior to WBE Canada, Betty consulted for the gender program of the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank Group (Washington, D.C.) and was Director of the Women Entrepreneurs Market for RBC. Betty is one of the founders of the Global Banking Alliance for Women; served on the Board of Athena-Oakville; and was a mentor for Career-Edge. She has received awards for her work including from RBC; The International Alliance of Women (TIAW); OWIT; and the Global Business Women’s Network (USA).
Brittany Manulak, Co-Principal, Concept Plumbing and Gas Ltd.
Brittany brings several years of business skills and acumen to the table with her past experience as Vice-President of Impact Communications Ltd., a business development company specializing in business training, marketing and international trade and development. Brittany is heavily involved in the marketing and strategic development of Concept and works closely with clients to achieve maximum success in a project. Brittany enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, hiking and playing recreational soccer.
Teri Cavanagh, International Business Consultant
Teri Cavanagh has a deep understanding of what it takes for women to be successful. She grew up in Seneca Falls, New York, where women organized the first Convention for Women’s Rights in 1848, For the past 15 years she has been at the forefront advocating for women’s economic empowerment with various positions in senior management within financial institutions. From 2010-2012 Teri was the CEO for the Global Banking Alliance for Women. Currently, she participates in forums to empower women, and is a proud member of the WE CAN Board of Directors. In her position as SVP and Director of the Women’s Financial Connection at Fleet Bank, Ms. Cavanagh built The Connection from its inception, and launched a $2 Billion business initiative over 7-year period to assist women with capital, resources and information to grow their businesses. She has led as the CEO of The Global Banking Alliance for Women, an international consortium of financial institutions who aspire to be the bank of choice for women in their country or region. From 2005 -2009 she worked as an international consultant with banks in developing countries creating successful models for women in business.
(In loving memory of) Michelle Pockey, Partner, Fasken Martineau LLP (1968-2016)
Michelle Pockey was a partner in the Vancouver law office of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. Fasken Martineau is one of the world’s leading international business law and litigation firms advising in every sector of business, industry and government and with more than 650 lawyers with offices across Canada, in the United Kingdom, France and South Africa. Michelle ‘s practice principally involved the provision of strategic legal and business advice in relation to environmental matters and natural resource and property development. She assisted organizations to obtain the social licence and regulatory approvals to carry out a variety of projects and helps them to identify and minimize environmental and regulatory risks arising a variety of commercial transactions and business operations. Michelle has been recognized in her community as an entrepreneur and a strong supporter of women in business. In 1997, she founded and served as Chair of the Professional Women’s Network with chapters in Vancouver and Calgary with the sponsorship of Fasken Martineau. As well as serving on the Board of Advisors for GroYourBiz, she was also on the Board of WBE Canada – an organization that certifies Canadian women-owned businesses as such and that facilitates education and networking among women-owned businesses and large corporations to advance supplier diversity programs and to facilitate supply chain opportunities for both. Michelle was a former Director of the Environmental Manager’s Association of British Columbia, of the Vancouver Bar Association and of the Women Lawyers Forum of the Canadian Bar Association, and she served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, an organization that provides free top-quality music education to underserved children and youth. In 2010 and 2011, Michelle was named a finalist for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award. In 2011, Michelle received from The International Alliance for Women a World of Difference Top 100 Award for her efforts to advance the economic empowerment of women and in 2013, she received a Champion For Change Award from GroYourBiz and a Community and Charitable Giving Award from BMO Bank of Montreal. Michelle was a key player in the development of GroYourBiz and is missed dearly.