TRMC 2020 Speakers

V. Prem Watsa
Chairman and Executive Officer – Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited

Prem Watsa is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings
Limited, a holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and the associated investment management.

In 1985 Prem took control of Markel Financial which was controlled by the Virginia based Markel family. In 1987 he then re‐organized and renamed it Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. He has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since its inception.

Since 1985, Fairfax has compounded book value by about 19%. Fairfax has total assets of approximately US$70 billion, revenues of approximately US$20 billion and common shareholders’ equity of approximately US$12 billion. The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

He holds a Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of
Technology in Madras, India and obtained his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. He holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Western Ontario, an Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters from Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Tyndale College.

He is a member of the Sick Children’s Hospital Foundation and is Chairman of their Investment Committee, member of the Advisory Board for the Richard Ivey School of Business, member of the Board of Directors of the Royal Ontario Museum Foundation, Lead Director on the Board of Blackberry and Chairman of the Investment Committee of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Toronto. He is on the Board of Horatio Alger Association U.S. and President of Horatio Alger Association of Canada. He is Chairman of Fairfax India. He is the Chancellor of Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario and formerly Chancellor of the University of Waterloo. He was also on the Boards of the Bank of Ireland and of ICICI Bank. He is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

Melinda Rogers
Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors – Rogers Communications

Melinda Rogers has served as Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors of Rogers Communications since January 2018, and as Vice Chair of Rogers Control Trust since 2008. Melinda was also appointed a Director of Rogers Bank on December 31, 2017.

Melinda has held progressively senior roles at Rogers since joining the company in 2000. Most recently, she was Founder of Rogers Venture Partners from 2011 to 2018.  She also served as Senior Vice President, Strategy and Development from 2006 to 2014, Vice President, Strategic Planning & Venture Investments from 2004 to 2006, and Vice President, Venture Investments from 2000 to 2004.

Melinda is on the Board of Directors for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and is Chair of the Board of Jays Care Foundation.

Melinda holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario and a M.B.A. from Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Huron University College at Western University in November 2018. Melinda lives in Toronto with her husband and four children.

Phil Soper
President and Chief Executive Officer – Royal LePage

Phil Soper is President & CEO of Royal LePage and Bridgemarq Real Estate Services. With 20,000 agents in its Royal LePage, Royal LePage Commercial, Johnston & Daniel, Via Capitale and Proprio Direct businesses it is the largest real estate brokerage firm in Canada, with property sales of $100 billion dollars in 2017.

In the 2019 comprehensive ranking of industry leadership in North America, the Swanepoel 200, Soper was again named the most influential leader in Canadian real estate and 11th worldwide. In 2016, he became the first Canadian to receive the Real Estate Leadership Award at the U.S. National Realtor Expo as “an industry visionary who embraces innovation and blazes new paths.” Real Estate Marketing magazine declared him one the 25 most important leaders of the past 25 years, and he has been honoured as “CEO of the Year” by the Canadian Public Relations Society, a first for a real estate industry executive in the long history of the award.

Soper’s community involvement includes the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, Canada’s largest charity focused on eliminating domestic violence and supporting the women and children who fall victim to it; United Way and Toronto SickKids Hospital campaign leadership; and Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Business (Ryerson awarded Phil the inaugural G.Raymond Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2017). He is a former governor of the University of Alberta.

Prior to his real estate career, Phil Soper was an executive with technology giant IBM where he held national and global leadership roles in professional services and technology sales. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta School of Business, and the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Executive Program.

Phil is married to Toronto lawyer Melanie Yach. They have four daughters.

Mike Dobbins
Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer – RBC

As Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer, Mike is responsible for working with RBC’s Group Executive to develop RBC’s overall strategic plan as well as providing leadership for mergers and acquisitions. Mike also heads RBC Ventures, a group focused on creating solutions that go beyond banking to build and deepen relationships with Canadians in new and innovative ways.

Mike chairs RBC’s Innovation Council that, in addition to overseeing investments in strategic partnerships, has responsibility for coordinating RBC’s Innovation Labs that focus on research and the development of advanced capabilities in the areas of data, security and client experience. Mike is also Chairman of RBC Bank U.S. and a director of City National Bank.

As a member of Group Executive, Mike is one of nine executives responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of RBC.

Prior to this position, Mike served as Executive Vice President of Personal Financing Products, RBC’s largest banking segment. In addition, he had responsibility for U.S. strategy where he led both the acquisition and integration of City National Bank – RBC’s largest ever acquisition.

Mike joined RBC in 2010 from Capital One in the U.S. where he served as Executive Vice President, Consumer Banking Segment. Mike also held executive positions with Charter One Bank and Citibank during his 25 year career. Mike is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
Mike and his family are active supporters and fundraisers for WE and other local charities. Mike also sits on the board of directors for Futurpreneur Canada. Mike, his wife Nikki and their two sons live in Toronto.

Leslie Woo
Chief Development Officer – Metrolinx

Leslie Woo is Chief Development Officer (CDO), leading Transit Oriented Development (TOD) program for Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario. Leslie has been named, one of Bisnow’s 2019 Toronto Power Women in Commercial Real Estate, one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017, Spacing Toronto’s Transit Change-maker in 2016 and Canada’s Women’s Infrastructure Network’s 2015 Outstanding Leader. Leslie leads the TOD program for both organizations, the goal of which is to leverage the Metrolinx transit land assets through a fair exchange value with qualified third-parties, so as to increase transit ridership, improve the customer experience and ultimately create more complete and connected communities. Metrolinx’s over $50 billion transit expansion program is enabling extensive market driven opportunities for stations that integrate multi-use development. In her 11 year career at Metrolinx, Leslie has founded a number of key organizational functions in her former planning roles. In addition, she continues to be a champion for driving sustainability and supporting womens’ leadership in the organization. Prior to Metrolinx Leslie worked in the municipal, private and not-for-profit sectors. She was the key author of the original Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan (2006), which by 2016 had resulted in urban intensification totalling over 18 percent increase in multi-family residential development, a two-thirds reduction of greenfield lands consumption, and conserved about 800 square kilometres of agricultural and rural land. Leslie holds international responsibilities as a Global Governing Trustee with the Urban Land Institute, and is a retired member of the Ontario Association of Architects. Awarded a 2011/12 Fellowship with International Women’s Forum, Leslie is a Director on the board of Womens’ College Hospital and for eight years was a director on the board of YMCA for the Greater Toronto Area (2009 – 2017). Leslie is the creator of the blog celebrating women city builders around the world. Leslie received a Bachelor of Environmental Studies, a Bachelor of Architecture and a Masters of Planning from the University of Waterloo. She is also the 2015 recipient of the Renison University College Distinguished Alumna Award. Born in Trinidad, Leslie is the mother of two thriving global citizens.

Michael Friisdahl
President and Chief Executive Officer – Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

Michael Friisdahl is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). MLSE is one of the world’s premier sports and entertainment companies as owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto FC (MLS), the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), as well as each franchise’s development team, and hosts more than 3.8 million fans each year at its venues. In addition to its sports franchises, MLSE’s LIVE division (a joint venture with Live Nation) has established the Scotiabank Arena as one of the leading music and entertainment venues in the world. MLSE’s entertainment properties include popular restaurant destinations Real Sports and E11even. As part of the company’s facilities management, MLSE owns and operates Scotiabank Arena, and has also invested in and manages five of Toronto’s sports facilities — Coca-Cola Coliseum, BMO Field, Lamport Stadium, the Ford Performance Centre and the OVO Athletic Centre. The very successful MLSE Foundation works to continue to change young people’s lives through the power of sport.

Michael previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada’s Leisure Group since it was formed in 2012 where he led the launch of Air Canada rouge, the company’s successful leisure airline. Combined with Air Canada Vacations tour operation, the Air Canada Leisure Group was an important contributor to Air Canada’s very successful transformation. Prior to joining the Air Canada executive team, Michael was CEO of Thomas Cook North America and a member of the international Group Executive Board of Thomas Cook Group plc. As a partner and President and CEO of The Holiday Network, he continued to grow the business until its acquisition by the Thomas Cook Group plc (formerly MyTravel plc).

Michael currently serves on the board for Entertainment One (eOne) as well as the SickKids Foundation cabinet. In addition, Michael is on the fundraising committee at SickKids, responsible for raising $1.3 million to build a new Hospital building. Michael is also the Campaign Cabinet Chair for the Scarborough Health Network and he also serves as a member of the Mercedes-Benz Canada Advisory Council.

Emma Brooks
Head of Marketing – Wattpad

Emma is passionate about three things: branding, community building, and ideas. As Head of Marketing at Wattpad, she brings these passions together to create marketing strategies that tell Wattpad’s rich story to its millions of users around the world. Prior to joining Wattpad, Emma worked in advertising for 10+ years in roles spanning both digital and brand strategy.

In her spare time, Emma is committed to building communities that give back. She volunteers for The Coaching Fellowship, a non-profit that provides massively discounted executive coaching for extraordinary young women leaders in roles of impact around the globe. She is the co-founder of Reset, an immersive digital detox camp experience for adults, that has run events annually since 2015. She has also spent 7 years as an avid TEDster, working on and leading the Programming team for TEDxToronto, an annual conference that has over 1,200+ attendees.

Gabriel Mattacchione
President – Beyond Oz Productions

In 2015 Gabriel Mattacchione had a vision to bring a world-class EDM music festival experience to the Tri-Cities area. Now, Ever After Music Festival attracts more than 30,000 people each day from all over the world. Gabriel’s vision has grown to make Beyond Oz what it is today; a top tier production company with assets such as concert venues, music festivals, and food/drink festivals. Beyond Oz is ever-expanding and there is much more that Gabriel has planned for the future of the company.

Justin Vandenberg
Senior Client Partner – Twitter

For more than 13 years, Justin has worked in the mobile, sports, entertainment and social space, helping passionate brand marketers in the strategy and execution of advertising and marketing campaigns. Justin has been with Twitter since it first opened its offices in Canada and currently leads the Telecommunications, Broadcast Media and Entertainment verticals in Canada. Previously hailing from theScore, Justin led the team responsible for helping brands build their mobile sports strategies in North America.

Prior to the theScore, he spent time selling for the Royal Canadian Golf Association, Golf Canada and Ticketmaster properties in Canada. Graduating from Georgian College In 2005, Justin now serves as Chair of the Advisory board for ADMC (Advertising, Marketing & Communications) at Georgian helping set the direction for today and future students attending the college.

Tony Chapman
Brand Expert and Host – Chatter That Matters

Tony Chapman is one of the youngest individuals to be inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends, a testament to a career where he founded and built two internationally renowned branding communications agencies and a research firm. Four television documentaries, including one from Australia, have profiled Tony’s thinking on consumer and customer engagement.

Five years ago, Tony sold his remaining media assets to speak his mind at conferences and in the media. He has delivered inspirational keynotes to audiences in China, Spain, Poland, Scotland, England, Brazil, and across North America.

Tony is a frequent contributor to the conversation on television, radio, and national newspapers. He is also the host of the podcast Chatter that Matters and the The Dales Report, a video news magazine.

Jim Reid
Chief Human Resources Officer – Rogers Communications Inc.

Jim Reid has served as Rogers Chief Human Resources Officer since 2011. He is responsible for the company’s People and Culture Strategy.

Jim has been at the forefront of Rogers transformation over the past several years, and has helped lead the company through successful change by focusing on key areas of the employee experience, including leadership development, frontline training, talent management, and workplace. He leads a team of 700+ HR and Corporate Real Estate professionals with a common goal of making Rogers one of the best places to work in Canada.

During his tenure, Rogers has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a Top Employer for Young People, and one of the Best Diversity Employers in the country. Jim is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of Ted Rogers School of Management, and was recently designated CHRE from the HRPA, which recognizes HR practitioners that are deemed a strategic advisor and thought leader for their organization.

Jim has more than 20 years of experience leading large, global human resources teams, including Husky Injection Molding Systems and the global health sciences company, MDS Inc. He is a former tactical helicopter pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces and served more than three years in West Germany. Jim holds an MBA from McMaster University and is a graduate of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program. He is also a certified executive coach.

Frances Edmonds, BSc.(Hons), Dip. H&S, CRSP
Head of Sustainable Impact – HP Canada

In her role as Head of Sustainable Impact, Frances Edmonds is responsible for overseeing HP’s full suite of corporate social responsibility programs including strategic partnerships with key nonprofit organizations and an industry-leading volunteer program. Under Frances’s leadership, HP became the most sustainable technology company in Canada in 2018.

Frances works closely with HP’s many partners to drive sustainable practices across HP’s business and throughout Canada. From being a founder of WWF’s Living Planet @ Work and Living Planet @ Campus programs, to her TEDx talk demonstrating the power of collaboration, Frances seeks new and innovative ways to leverage the power of HP to create meaningful change across Canada.

Frances also has a passion for environmental education developing and implementing global environmental education and volunteer programs for HP. She is frequently featured in the news as an expert resource for media on sustainable impact.

Frances received her second Clean 50 award in 2017 recognizing her as one of Canada’s top sustainability professionals. She sits on the boards of Learning for a Sustainable Future and the Schulich Centre for Responsible Business advisory council.

Frances started her career with the UK Government as an enforcer of environmental health and safety requirements, followed by her role as manager of environmental health and safety in Canada’s chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Frances has a degree in Environmental Science from Bradford University (UK), and a post-graduate diploma in Occupational Health and Safety and is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP).

Jan Kestle
President and Chief Executive Officer – Environics Analytics

President and CEO of Environics Analytics (EA), Jan Kestle has been a leader in the marketing information industry for more than forty years. An expert in using statistics and mathematics to help solve business challenges, she directed the initiatives that led to the creation of EA’s PRIZM segmentation system, WealthScapes financial database and ENVISION consumer insight and market intelligence platform, among other products. Over the years, she’s helped hundreds of customers—in industries ranging from finance and retail to the not-for-profit sector—turn data and analytics into insight, strategy and engagement. Prior to founding EA in 2003, Jan was president of Compusearch and spent 19 years at the Ontario Statistical Centre. Active in the marketing community, she is a member of the Canadian Statistics Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Marketing Association and the Advisory Board of Ryerson University School of Geography. A frequent conference speaker, she is the recipient of a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from the University of Western Ontario.

Ashleigh Gray
Vice President, Strategic Partnerships –

Ashleigh Gray is the Group Director, Strategic Partnerships for, a digital innovation consultancy based in Toronto. Ashleigh is a dynamic and forward thinking leader, and has grown her career over 17 years in high performance account management and business development. She now drives win-win corporate alliances at, leveraging her skills in strategic vision and communications to establish partner relationships.

Ashleigh has a talent for inspiring and motivating teams, and is a collaborative and influential coach, participating in mentorship programs for women throughout her career. Prior to working at, she worked for Rogers in their business solutions division, winning the President’s Club Award for top sales results. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree focused in Neuropsychology, from Dalhousie University and has co-authored a manual on treatment for autism spectrum disorder, as well as working as a volunteer with children suffering from psychological stress.

Ashleigh is mom to two wonderful little girls, and is an active volunteer at their school, as well as an avid runner.

Laura Pallotta
Vice President, Sales and Distribution – Marriott Hotels of Canada

As Vice President, Sales and Distribution, Laura leads Marriott Hotels of Canada’s Revenue Generation and Sales Strategy. She partners with Corporate Marketing, Revenue Management and Global Sales to bring Marriott’s Sales and Marketing platforms and programs to Marriott’s 233+ Canadian hotels.

With over 25 years of hospitality experience, Laura spent 12 years in rapidly progressive leadership positions at Delta Hotels and Resorts until Marriott’s acquisition of Delta in 2015. In 2017 Laura led the transformation of the Marriott sales organization in Canada, integrating Delta Hotels and Starwood Hotels with Marriott’s portfolio of hotels.

Laura earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from McMaster University in Hamilton and a Certificate in Hospitality from George Brown College in Toronto. Laura serves on Industry Advisory Councils for Destination Canada, Meetings Mean Business Canada and Ryerson University – Ted Rogers School of Hospitality. She co-chairs Marriott’s Diversity and Inclusion Council in Canada and is a member of Marriott Americas Leadership Advisory Council.

Pia Schmidt-Hansen
Senior Manager, Financial Crimes & Fraud Management – TD Bank

Pia Schmidt-Hansen is a Senior Manager of Financial Crimes & Fraud Management at TD Bank. With over 14 years’ experience in financial services, Pia’s business experience is deep in program management, consulting, risk management, strategy, innovation, and process simplification. Eager to promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace, Pia served for many years as the National Chair for the 2SLGBTQ+ employee resource group at a previous organization and is now is proudly leading and participating in several Forever Proud committees at TD Bank.

Pia is a self-described film lover; every year she is an enthusiastic presence at the documentary film festival ‘Hot Docs’, the LGBT film festival ‘Inside Out’, and the Toronto International Film Festival. She is also a supporting member of various other community organizations in Toronto, including the 519 Community Centre and the Art Gallery of Ontario. To complement her active lifestyle, Pia has been a participant in several Toronto community fundraisers such as the Friends for Life cycling fundraiser (in support of Toronto People Living with AIDS), Cycle for Sight, the Ride for Heart, and the Pride & Remembrance Run.

Evan Kosiner
Co-Founder and Chairman – Skate To Great

Evan Kosiner is a philanthropist, entrepreneur and broadcaster. His notable achievements include receiving The Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal For Volunteers, The Governor General of Canada’s Caring Canadian Award, and for obtaining rights to bring Huffington Post Live to Canada, partnering with AOL.

In September 2012, Kosiner began hosting Entrepreneurship, a live one-hour television show on Rogers Television with notable Canadian guests such as Isadore Sharp, O.C., Founder and Chairman of The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Christine Magee, President and Founder of Sleep Country Canada. He also appears on CTV News Channel as a business contributor.

Kosiner Co-founded and acts as Chairman of Skate To Great, supported primarily by FedEx, Chevrolet, and Procter & Gamble, is one of the largest skating related charities in Canada under his leadership since inception in 2012.

Ryerson TRMC2020 Speakers