2018 Speakers

Hon. Janet Austin

The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC
Lieutenant Governor, Province of British Columbia

The Honourable Janet Austin was sworn-in as the 30th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia on April 24, 2018. Prior to this appointment, she spent 15 years as Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Metro Vancouver, one of the province’s largest and most diversified non -profits. There she oversaw operations delivering services to tens of thousands of people annually at more than 40 locations.

Under Her Honour’s leadership, the reach and scope of services offered by the YWCA increased significantly and flourished under the social enterprise model she championed. Using solutions-oriented and collaborative advocacy, she positioned the YWCA as a leading voice on women’s equality. She fostered relationships with non-profits, business communities and all levels of government to contribute to policy changes at the federal and provincial levels to improve the lives of women, children and families.

Her Honour has actively volunteered for many organizations in commitment to helping improve the lives of others. She has served on the boards of TransLink, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Council for Early Child Development, the Women’s Health Research Institute, MOSAIC and the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. She has been a long-time volunteer with United Way of the Lower Mainland and has served on the BC Provincial Advisory Council on Social Entrepreneurship, the City of Vancouver Healthy City for All Leadership Council and the Organizing Committee for the National Retreat for Women.

Her Honour is Chancellor of the Order of British Columbia and was invested as a Member of the Order in 2016. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Her Honour is a graduate of English from the University of Calgary. She spent her early career in public sector roles in Calgary, working in regional planning and public consultation and communications for the Alberta government. She eventually moved to British Columbia, where she began working with BC Housing and discovered her passion and aptitude for public office. Prior to joining the YWCA, Janet served as Executive Director of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.

Wyle Baoween

Wyle Baoween
CEO, HRx Technology

As CEO of HRx Technology, Wyle is focused on building diverse and inclusive workplaces. In 2016, Wyle launched HRx, which provides training, consulting and technology solutions to address bias in our people, processes and systems.

Prior to HRx, Wyle worked for over 10 years in consulting and project management, specializing in process improvement, technology and strategies for change management. He worked in the marine, transportation and construction industries with local and international clients.

Wyle holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). In 2014, Wyle was appointed to the role of Ambassador for the University of Victoria’s Business School and in 2015 he was recognized as one of the University’s 25 Alumni to Watch. Wyle is also a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Advisory Committee for Women’s Leadership.

Wyle speaks regularly on the issues of diversity and inclusion, unconscious bias and technology.

Tanya van Biesen

Tanya van Biesen
Executive Director, Catalyst Canada

Tanya van Biesen is Executive Director of Catalyst’s operations in Canada. She is responsible for leading Catalyst’s growth in Canada and shaping strategies to advance Catalyst’s mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion with Supporters, corporate partners, professional organizations, CEOs, senior leaders, and stakeholders.

A recognized leader and influencer with deep experience in the executive search sector at the most senior levels of corporate Canada, Tanya brings more than two decades of corporate leadership and diversity experience to Catalyst. Most recently, she co-led the Financial Services Practice at Spencer Stuart and was a key member of the Canadian Boards Practice, focusing on executive search assignments at the board, CEO, and general management levels. She also led the firm’s Canadian Diversity Practice, specializing in the placement of chief diversity officers and diverse slates of candidates across all search assignments.

Tanya began her career at Procter & Gamble, working in both Toronto and Calgary in regional and national sales leadership roles. A sought-after speaker on the topic of diversity in the boardroom, Tanya has contributed to several research studies and articles analyzing leadership trends and attributes. She holds an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University, and speaks English, French, and Dutch.

Tara Bosch

Tara Bosch
Founder, SmartSweets

Tara is the founder of SmartSweets, where they are on a global mission to kick sugar, and keep candy. Tara dropped out of university at 21 on a quest to drive re-invent the $176B and are on track to exceed 15M in revenue in their 2nd year in business.confectionery industry, tackling one of the largest and most concerning problems in our everyday food- Sugar.

Today, SmartSweets can be found in 4,000 doors across the USA & Canada, with retail and corporate partners including Whole Foods, Target, Bed Bath Beyond, Google, & Facebook,  SmartSweets has amassed a kick sugar social tribe of 263,000+ and has been featured in Forbes, Fox Business, dubbed “life-changing” by PopSugar Magazine and is the winner of several entrepreneurial awards, including being named a 2017 Peter Thiel Fellow, Ryan Holmes 2016 “The Next Big Thing” Venture in Residence, and Canadian Entrepreneur’s Top 20 under 23, among others.
Kevin Brennan

Kevin Brennan
Transaction Advisory Services Markets Leader and Real Estate Sector Leader, EY

Kevin is the EY BC’s Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) Markets Leader and Real Estate Sector Leader. He has 28 years of restructuring experience and has acted for lenders and debtors in formal and informal proceedings in Canada, the United States and internationally.

Kevin has assisted debtor companies in the development and implementation of strategic alternatives. He is a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional (CIRP). Kevin is the past Chair of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals and a member of the Insolvency Institute of Canada.

Kevin is dedicated to active development of women entrepreneurs through his activity with the Futurpreneur program. He also uses diversity in leadership as a metric of success in for the BC Transaction Advisory Services practice.

Kate Furber

Kate Furber
Partner, Audit & Assurance Group, PwC

Kate Furber is a partner within the Assurance practice of PwC. She leads the BC Region’s Technology, Media, Telecommunications & Consumer Markets group, and, in that role, oversees an experienced team of audit, tax and advisory professionals with specialized industry knowledge.

Kate has over 24 years’ experience in diverse global PwC offices including London, Frankfurt, Washington DC, and now Vancouver. As an assurance partner, she provides audit services and also assists companies with their risk assurance, controls and corporate governance requirements. She brings advice to clients regarding accounting and financial disclosure, as well as internal controls and operating efficiencies. She works with both public and private companies and is familiar with both Canadian and US regulatory requirements. Kate holds a BA from Warwick University and is a CPA, UK ACA, US CPA as well as an Internal Audit Practitioner.

Kate is passionate about diversity and community involvement. Aside from client work, she dedicates significant time to the recruitment and development of talent at PwC, with a particular focus on PwC’s Women in Leadership program. She is an active coach and mentor both within and outside of PwC. Kate is currently on the board of York House School and for the past six years, was on the board of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Helena Gottschling

Helena Gottschling
Chief Human Resources Officer, RBC

Helena Gottschling is RBC’s Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) with global responsibility for Human Resources. Together with other members of Group Executive, Helena is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of RBC – extending to over 80,000 employees in 37 countries.

Helena joined RBC in 1985, holding progressively senior roles in Retail Banking, Human Resources and National Office, which included positions in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. She re-joined Human Resources in 2006 and held a number of executive roles before being appointed CHRO in 2017.

Prior to her current role, Helena was Senior Vice President, Human Resources, responsible for executive and high potential talent management, including leadership development and succession planning. She was also accountable for RBC’s enterprise learning function and organizational effectiveness centre of expertise for change management and organizational design. In addition, Helena led the Human Resources business partner teams supporting Technology & Operations and Global Functions.

In her 32 years with RBC, Helena has distinguished herself as a trusted advisor, a change champion, and a devoted employee advocate – leadership qualities that help to unlock the potential of RBCers and strengthen our brand as a top employer of choice on a global scale.

Helena was a co-chair of RBC’s record-breaking 2016 National Employee Giving Campaign, inspiring employees to go above and beyond in their personal donations to help Canadian communities prosper. She has been a longtime supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ride for Research and is a past board member of The Mosaic Institute.

Helena holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jodi Kelleher

Jodi Kelleher
Partner-in-Charge of Tax, GVA, Partner, International Tax, KPMG

Jodi Kelleher joined KPMG Vancouver in 2005 and has over 22 years of experience in public practice, with 20 years specializing in international tax.

Jodi is the GVA’s Tax Business Unit Leader. She is well known for her insights and guidance on corporate reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, and domestic and international tax planning for Canadian and foreign multinational companies.

Jodi specializes in complex cross-border transactions and has advised on a broad range of international tax issues for various industries, including significant experience in the mining and resource industry.

In 2015, 2016, and 2017 she was recognized as one of Canada’s Women in Tax Leaders by International Tax Review’s Women in Tax Leaders guide to the leading female tax advisers in the world and has been referenced in the International Tax Review’s world tax report of Canada’s leading tax advisors.

Catherine Ludgate

Catherine Ludgate
Manager, Community investment Vancity Credit Union

Catherine Ludgate is a manager of community investment at Vancity Credit Union. In this role, Catherine provides support to and participates in the Living Wage for Families Campaign and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, and spends a good amount of time talking to other employers about why they should become Living Wage employers. She manages the microfinance work at Vancity, providing small loans at start-up to entrepreneurs, and she also oversees financial education for folks to ensure they have the right tools to succeed. She holds a masters degree in the management of co-ops and credit unions and serves on the Federal Advisory Committee on Poverty and the BC Poverty Advisory Forum, as well as the City of Vancouver’s Poverty Advisory Action Group, working with all three to understand the role of the Living Wage as a poverty reduction strategy.

Don MacPherson

Don MacPherson
Partner, Deloitte

Don MacPherson is a Partner at Deloitte, responsible for its risk advisory practice in BC.

Don specializes in providing clients with risk management advisory services across a variety of data and technology domains, including project risk, cyber, privacy and data governance.

Don has assisted clients in the energy, gaming, automotive, telecommunications, data brokerage, information technology, luxury travel, retail and health sectors navigate the complex business challenges.

Don has a thirst for innovation and is constantly challenging his teams and clients to think differently around the services they provide and how they leverage advanced technologies to maximize their impact in the market.

Don is passionate about his work and leading inclusive, dynamic teams to deliver value. He loves spending time with his family and exploring BC.

Kiran Marohn

Kiran Marohn
Deputy Chief – Business Operations, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services

Levi Nahirney

Levi Nahirney
Transgender Advocate

Levi Nahirney is an authentic, inspiring seventeen year old from North Vancouver.  Levi was an early champion and advocate for transgender awareness and rights.  He was one of the first teens to come out publicly in Vancouver as transgender and was profiled on Global News and in the Vancouver Sun with his personal story.

Levi was born an identical twin girl in Vietnam and adopted at 7 months.  At age 3 was the first time he asked why he wasn’t a boy.  He transitioned in Grade 8 and has been a role model and advocate for LGBTQ and transgender rights at school and in the community.  He volunteered with the Whatever LBGTQ Youth Group to support fundraisers and awareness, and has helped organize the annual Diverse Genders Conference.  He has received two West Vancouver Youth Community Awards for this work.  He also volunteers with the Vietnam Education Society and has helped to build schools and support anti-trafficking work in rural Vietnam.  VES was recognized with a Medal of Honour by the Government of Vietnam for helping to change the lives of youth.

Levi’s goal is to help spread awareness and acceptance of trans youth to create a more inclusive society.

Jake Sitka

Jake Stika
Executive Director, Next Gen Men

Jake Stika is the Cofounder & Executive Director of Next Gen Men, an organization creating spaces to engage, educate, and empower men and boys in conversations around gender in schools, communities, and workplaces.

Jake has earned recognition from Ashoka, the British Council, the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, and has spoken as part of the Canadian delegation at the United Nations.

Tru Wilson

Tru Wilson
Transgender Advocate

Tru Wilson is a bold, articulate fifteen-year-old transgender advocate from Ladner, BC. Tru first made headlines when she filed a human rights complaint against her local Catholic school board for not supporting her transition, which resulted in the development of the first known policy in any Catholic school in North America that spoke to supporting a child’s transition in school.

Since then, Tru has become a proud and voracious speaker for trans rights, and in 2015 was recognized by Vancouver Magazine as one of the city’s 50 most powerful and influential people. In 2016 she was named Options for Sexual Health’s Sexual Health Champion, and in 2017 her entire family was nominated to be grand marshals is the Vancouver Pride Parade. Tru was also chosen to be a speaker at Vancouver’s 2017 TedX East Van event.

Tru continues to share her story to educate and inspire others and show support for members of society who feel excluded… for any reason. Tru and her family are part of BC’s SOGI123 education curriculum and is she an ambassador for Out in Schools and Big Love Ball.

With a proud voice, we expect to hear much more from Tru as she continues to inspire those around her.