We are pleased to announce this year’s Canada’s Tech Titans: Top 19 of 2019, presented by IBM and Plastic Havas.
The list of Top 19 Winners represent an esteemed group of Canadian technology leaders who have achieved significant accomplishments in their career and have instigated a positive change or made an impact on the growth and innovation of his or her company.
“We are celebrating this inaugural award of Canada’s top technology executives who have either disrupted an industry through the use of technology, led a digital transformation or used technology in innovative ways to enhance their businesses value.” said Sep Seyedi, Founder, Evoke & CTO, Plastic Havas. “Today we recognize and celebrate the top 19 winners as they join our inaugural community of prominent and innovative technology leaders.”
The Canada’s Tech Titans: Top 19 of 2019 Awards span a broad range of industries including the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. The final selection process for Canada’s Tech Titans: Top 19 of 2019 Award Winners was completed by CASCON x EVOKE’s 2019 Judging Panel consisting of senior technology executives from some of the world’s largest organizations.
To celebrate this year’s awards, CASCON x EVOKE hosted an Awards Gala on November 5 at the Hilton Toronto/Markham Conference Centre featuring over 500 attendees and an opening performance by Canadian superstar Kardinal Offishall!
Here are Canada’s Tech Titans: Top 19 of 2019:
Chief Technology Officer
As CTO of Wysdom.AI, a Conversational AI as a Service platform, Karthik leads R&D, innovation, product strategy & tech presales and lends his expertise towards business development at Tier-1 enterprises. With over a decade of hands-on experience and proven expertise in emerging technologies such as Machine Learning and microservices, he’s held senior positions globally, spanning India, Cyprus, U.S. and Canada. His data driven approach to problem solving along with expertise in applying Machine Learning algorithms such as Regression, Bayesian Networks, Deep Learning etc. towards solving real world challenges and driving innovation in the Conversational AI field, have garnered him much respect and recognition in the Toronto tech community. Off tech, Karthik is an avid painter and specializes in rendering impressionistic landscapes.
President and CEO
Transformix Engineering Inc.
Peng is a dynamic and innovative executive and co-founder of Transformix Engineering. Peng has served as its President and CEO for the past 21 years, taking the company from her basement to become one of Canada’s manufacturing success stories as an international supplier of advanced manufacturing technologies. In December 2018, Peng sold the company IP to ATS.
Peng’s many accomplishments include Toronto OWIT’s Women Exporter of the Year, inducted into the Kingston Business Hall of Fame, Kingston’s Business Woman of the Year, Queens University’s Jim Bennett Award recipient, St. Lawrence Honorary Diploma and the Kingston Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award. Peng travelled with Prime Minister Harpers on two Trade Missions to the Netherlands and China. Peng also served on a number of board and committees including as a Board of Director on the Kingston General Hospital’s Board and the Kingston Health Science Center, Center for Global Enterprise Advisory committee, Minister Bain’s Advance Manufacturing Economic Strategy Advisory Board, and Kingston Mayor Workforce Steering Committee to name a few.
Peng and her family came to Canada from Pol Pot’s Cambodia as a refugee in 1980 with just the cloths on the back and not speaking a word of English. By 1990 Peng graduated at the top of her high school class in Regina, Saskatchewan and won scholarships to Queen’s University. She graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Vice President, Research and Innovation
Dr. Marc-André D’Aoust joined the Research team at Medicago in July 1999. Over the years, he has led the development of the plant-based Proficia® technology, the virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine technology and the VLPExpress® high-throughput discovery platform of the company. As Vice President Research & Innovation, he advances Medicago’s technological vision and is responsible for the discovery, the development and the protection of the technological assets of the company. He is co-inventor on more than 700 patents and patent applications related to the platform or the products of the company. He studied plant biochemistry and molecular biology at Laval University where he received his Ph.D. in 2000.
Co-Founder & CEO
Aly is the CEO & Co-Founder of Finaeo, the world’s first end-to-end marketplace for life and health insurance. Aly spent his early career as a financial advisor. Intrigued by the way technology was shaping financial services, Aly decided to join an employee benefits startup as the first employee. Aly helped scale the company into acquisition by one of Canada’s largest third-party administrators for group insurance, Benefits By Design (BBD). Aly served as Managing Partner at BBD before launching Finaeo. Aly is also the Co-Founder of TriCelerate, a not-for-profit tech incubator to help youth go from idea-to-product.
Senior Engineering Manager
Inmar Givoni is a Senior Autonomy Engineering Manager at Uber Advanced Technology Group, Toronto, where she leads a team whose mission is to bring from research and into production cutting-edge deep-learning models for self-driving vehicles. She received her PhD (Computer Science) in 2011 from the University of Toronto, specializing in machine learning, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge. She worked at Microsoft Research, Altera (now Intel), Kobo, and Kindred at roles ranging from research scientist to VP, Big Data, applying machine learning techniques to various problem domains and taking concepts from research to production systems. She is an inventor of several patents and has authored numerous top-tier academic publications in the areas of machine learning, computer vision, and computational biology. She is a regular speaker at AI events, and is particularly interested in outreach activities for young women, encouraging them to choose technical career paths. For her volunteering efforts she has received the 2017 Arbor Award from UofT. In 2018 she was recognized as one of Canada’s 50 inspiring women in STEM. She was featured in Marie Claire, Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, TWIML & AI podcast, ReWork’s list of 30 influential women in Canadian AI, UofT’s News, and other media venues.
Managing Director and Head, Wealth Digitization, Robotics and Process Transformation
BMO Bank of Montreal
Michelle Joliat is the Managing Director and Head, Wealth Digitization, Robotics and Process Transformation at BMO. Michelle is the Accountable Executive that has led the development and launch of BMO Wealth’s new client facing online portal, and she has grown the Digitization program across Nesbitt Burns, InvestorLine, and to both the Canadian and US Private Banks. In addition, Michelle founded the Robotics team within BMO Wealth Management. Before she joined BMO Michelle founded and ran the Digitization Program at RBC Wealth Management. Prior to RBC Michelle was a management consultant with both at Oliver Wyman and running her own firm.
Michelle holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Queen’s University.
President & CEO, UGO & Head of Digital Experience
TD Bank & UGO
Imran Khan leads TD’s North American Digital Experience and is President and CEO of UGO Mobile Solutions, A TD Bank Group Company focused on accelerating new innovations into the marketplace. His teams focus on enriching the lives of customers, colleagues and communities. Prior to this role, Imran held various executive roles within TD’s Digital and Marketing groups.
He has also held senior leadership roles at Deloitte Consulting and Critical Path Inc. where he led the creation of several leading global digital experiences. Earlier in his career, Imran was an Engineer for the F-22 aircraft and an original member of a Silicon Valley startup that pioneered digital sharing experiences eventually selling for $600 million US.
Imran has served on the TD United Way cabinet and is currently on the Diversity Leadership Council for his business. Imran is a professionally licensed engineer (P.Eng) with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a B.A.Sc in Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto. He is married with 3 young children and resides in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Co-Founder & CEO
Michael Litt is the CEO and co-founder of Vidyard, the video platform for businesses. Thought leader, surfer and serial entrepreneur, Michael leads the development one of the most innovative video analytics platform technologies for marketing, sales and internal communications professionals.
Director, Cybersecurity Research Lab
Dr. Atefeh (Atty) Mashatan is the founder and director of the Cybersecurity Research Lab (CRL) at Ryerson University. Mashatan’s expertise at the frontlines of the global cybersecurity field was recognized by SC Magazine in 2019, when she was named one of the top five Women of Influence in Security. Through strategic collaborations with government and industry, Mashatan and the CRL seek to spearhead crucial, ongoing dialogue with the Information and Computer Technology (ICT) industry in Canada, and to help solve industry problems through cutting edge information security and research into cyber risk mitigation strategies and solutions.
Previously, Mashatan was a Scientific Collaborator at the Security and Cryptography Laboratory of School of Computer and Communication Sciences, EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne), followed by a position at CIBC, where she was a Senior Information Security Consultant in cryptography. Since 2016, Mashatan has been a professor of information technology management at Ryerson where she is training the next generation of cybersecurity experts. Mashatan serves on the board of directors at Compute Ontario, a consortia which serves to drive the province’s capacity in advanced research computing and big data; and on the board of the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst, which is dedicated to solving critical cybersecurity challenges and accelerating Canadian cyber technologies.
VP, Product & Design
Stephanie Nguyen is a passionate Canadian product and designer leader, co-founder, and advocate for diversity in tech. She strives to bridge the gap between technology and humanity. She is the VP, Product & Design at Flashfood where she focuses on developing a scalable solution for reducing food waste while making food more affordable for families. In her spare time, she is a Director for Women Who Code Toronto where she helps encourage women to excel in technology careers, as well as is a co-founder for a digital magazine called Brief Take. Stephanie has a history of taking on new technical challenges from projects in blockchain, AI, and machine learning. She is defined in tech industry as a “unicorn” and has worked as a software developer, product designer and within product management. Outside of tech, you may catch her at a Raptors game as she is an avid NBA fan.
Chief Executive Officer
Juno College of Technology
Heather Payne is a Toronto-based entrepreneur and angel investor with a passion for education and technology. In 2012, she founded Juno to bring longer-term coding training to Toronto. She now operates Juno full-time, serving over 1000 students a year from a 12,000 square foot space at Queen & Spadina. She is also the founder of Ladies Learning Code, now known as Canada Learning Code, a national non-profit serving Canadians in dozens of cities across the country. In 2013, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women for her work exposing women and girls to programming and technology. Heather loves biking to work from her home in Parkdale where she lives with her husband and two young kids.
Co-Founder & COO
Vitaly Pecherskiy is a co-founder of StackAdapt, a Toronto-based advertising technology company that helps brands accelerate customer engagement and acquisition. In 2019, StackAdapt was named one of Top Growth Companies by The Globe and Mail and one of LinkedIn’s Top Canadian Startups. Vitaly was previously named 30 Under 30 by Marketing Magazine.
Founder & CEO
Shahrzad Rafati is the Founder and CEO of BroadbandTV (BBTV), a media-tech company that is advancing the world through the creation, distribution, management, and monetization of content. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, the company is the second largest video property in the world, it generates tens of billions of video impressions per month and its video content is viewed by more than 578 million unique viewers on a monthly basis.
In addition to building an incredibly successful company that has experienced phenomenal growth, Shahrzad has built a quadruple bottom line business that measures success not only on financial performance but also on employee, culture, social, community and environmental KPIs. BBTV has a 0% pay gap between male and female employees, 43% of its employees are females and 46% of its managers are female managers.
Shahrzad actively pursues ways to encourage social change and is a champion for equality in all forms. She is passionate about job creation, education, and advancing opportunities for women, girls, and refugees. In September 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed her to represent Canada on the G20 Business Women Leader’s task force, a global initiative to drive actionable, measurable, and results-driven solutions to impact women’s economic empowerment.
RBC Royal Bank of Canada
Salah is a Senior Director with RBC leads the API delivery and operations. In the last 25 years, Salah delivered high-profile solutions and provided vision and leadership to several industries, including financial, telecommunication, and high tech, as well as mentored professionals and students.
As a Senior Director with RBC, he led the delivery of the first Developer Portal in Canada, which enables API economy and allow external Developers across industries to collaborate and innovate. As Technical Head with BMO, Salah’s technical and leadership skills managed his team to successfully deliver several high-profile initiatives such as the first mobile account open in Canada, the first bio-metric touch ID solution, and the first integrated tablet solution for investment and everyday banking.
He has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and contributed to several books. Salah is an Adjunct Professor and a member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University.
Adam Storm is a Distinguished Engineer in IBM’s Analytics division. Over the last two decades he’s been at the forefront of relational database technologies including building the first cost-based database memory optimizer, delivering first class database availability, and speeding up analytics through in-memory columnar processing. Most recently, Adam conceived, architected and led the team that build Db2 Event Store – a new cloud-native database offering which delivers high-speed ingest and analytics processing for IoT workloads. Adam holds over 40 patents, is an active mentor and is a proud father of two wonderful daughters.
Chief Technology and Operations Officer
Peter Sweers is Chief Technology & Operations Officer at Interac Corp. and is responsible for all technology and security, and the delivery of operational platforms such as the Interac Token Service Provider and Interac e-Transfer and supporting Interac network participants. Peter is spearheading payments modernization efforts for Interac, including working with Payments Canada on the design and delivery of real-time rail. With over 30 years of experience, Peter has led many organizational transformations, built high performance teams and has been at the forefront of innovation with the deployment of new technologies and business solutions. Prior to Interac, Peter held senior executive level positions at CGI, Foresters, Tech Mahindra and Scotia Bank.
Chief Digital Technology Officer
Sun Life Financial
Alice Thomas is Chief Digital Technology Officer at Sun Life, where she oversees technology enablement of the company’s digital strategies globally. Alice joined Sun Life in 2007 and has more than 25 years of experience in technology, with a focus on digital strategy and solutions. In her current role, she leads a global centre of excellence for the design and development of digital solutions for Sun Life’s Clients, advisors and employees. She also leads an Enterprise-wide Innovation program to deliver world class client solutions enhanced through digital channels.
Prior to joining Sun Life, Alice held senior digital leadership roles at a number of companies including CGI, GE Capital and Imperial Oil. She holds a B.Sc. in computer science from the University of Ottawa and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Alice is a passionate supporter of diversity and inclusion and champion for the advancement of women in technology. She has spearheaded a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives at Sun Life and is actively engaged in the community. Alice currently sits as a member of the Alumni Advisory board at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Engineering. In 2019, she joined Seneca College’s Board of Governors.
Head of AI Technology
BMO Bank of Montreal
Yevgeniy Vahlis is the head of the Artificial Intelligence Technology at BMO Financial Group. Prior to joining BMO, Yevgeniy built applies machine learning research teams at Borealis AI and Georgian Partners and worked closely with startups to introduce applied research into their products.
Yevgeniy kicked off his career at AT&T Labs in New York as a research scientist after completing his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Toronto and a year of postdoctoral studies at Columbia University.
Chief Information Officer
Canopy Growth Corporation
Ru joined Canopy Growth Corporation in September 2016 as the Chief Information Officer. At Canopy, he led the technology transformation of the company from a Canadian direct to patient business model to diverse global business models including business to business and retail. Prior to joining Canopy Growth, Ru was the Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Professional Services at March Networks. Ru joined March Networks in 2010 as CIO, overseeing a successful business transformation and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation. Prior to joining March Networks, Ru spent close to 20 years at Nortel Networks where he held leadership positions in IT, product management and operations.