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Michelle Holland - Toronto Mayor's Advocate for Innovation

Councillor Michelle Holland is responsible for championing the growth of Toronto’s technology and knowledge sector, with a focus on talent attraction and retention, increasing diversity and addressing the impact of workers displaced by technology.


For several years she has been a leading voice on the innovation and technology file. In 2016, Michelle was appointed by Mayor John Tory to serve as the City’s first Advocate for the Innovation Economy. She will lead the City’s efforts to encourage growth in the sector, promote and protect innovation and technology jobs, encourage greater gender diversity and position Toronto as a leader in the innovation economy in all respects.


She is currently Chair of Scarborough Community Council, Vice Chair of the Economic Development Committee and Chair of the City’s Corporations Nominating Panel where she has been leading efforts to facilitate gender equality on boards. As a graduate of the Director's Education Program she has considerable board experience including the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Design Exchange and the Art Gallery of Ontario among other boards.


She was elected to Toronto City Council in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. She has served on the most important City Council Committees including Executive Committee, Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, Budget Committee and Economic Development Committee.

Peter Bak - Chief Information Officer, Humber River Hospital

Peter is the CIO of Humber River Hospital, the first fully digital hospital in North America, and the first Canadian Hospital to recruit a humanoid robot. He is a seasoned change leader and innovator with over 25 years of experience in healthcare technology, people and system transformation, business development, and business operations. He was the subject matter expert for developing the digital transformation strategy and implementing the hospital’s digital vision.


He is a firm believer in the value of leadership when it comes to leading change. In his advise to other healthcare institutions looking to take on similar transformative initiatives, he advises “If you’re going to do a major IT initiative like we’ve done here, it has to start with complete buy-in from that level. Without that buy in, don’t even start.”


Peter’s areas of expertise include methods for effective sharing of electronic patient records, interoperability workflow to optimize care delivery, diagnostic imaging systems, IT operations, and transforming care delivery in acute centres.


His skill and contribution to the healthcare industry are reflected in his recognition as the Canadian public sector CIO of the Year for 2016.

Tomi Poutanen - Co-Founder of Vector Institute and Layer 6 AI, and Chief AI Officer, TD Bank

Tomi has accomplished momentous breakthroughs both in leading the way and changing the AI landscape in Toronto and Globally. He co-founded Toronto-based Layer 6, the first company to offer clients a prediction engine powered by a real-time deep learning framework (AI). Layer 6 uses AI in its platform for prediction and personalization; enabling it to analyze various forms of data, learn and anticipate the needs of an individual client. It also won The ACM Recommender System Challenge in August 2017 for the best recommendation system.


Prior to Layer 6, Tomi built a $100M search marketing program, and led the global launch of Yahoo Answers. He also developed the recommendation engine powered by Deep Learning and co-developed the data-compression algorithm used by Microsoft in software distribution and cloud storage.


Tomi co-founded the Vector Institute which has a vision that includes building, leading and sustaining AI Innovation in Canada as well as attracting the best global talent focused on research excellence. Tomi is also a founding G7 Fellow at the Creative Destruction Labs, a leading AI venture incubator that has launched successful Canadian startups worth $1 billion..


He holds an MASc in Computer Engineering and an MBA from the University of Toronto, and proud father of Anna ('07) and Sophie ('09) who love to code. Tomi is an Entrepreneur, a Software Engineer and a Machine Learning specialist.

Claudette McGowan Biosketch - CIO, Enterprise Technology Employee Experience, BMO

Claudette is an award-winning Technology Leader with 17+ years of success leading digital transformation, optimizing infrastructure, designing new support approaches to improve service experience. She has led more than 600 IT professionals in the planning, engineering and support of workplace technologies across all BMO branches and office towers.


For several years she has been a leading voice on the innovation and technology file. In 2016, Michelle was appointed by Mayor John Tory to serve as the City’s first Advocate for the Innovation Economy. She will lead the City’s efforts to encourage growth in the sector, promote and protect innovation and technology jobs, encourage greater gender diversity and position Toronto as a leader in the innovation economy in all respects.


Claudette began her IT career in healthcare at Wellesley Hospital. She later joined the Computing and Telecommunications Division at the Metropolitan Toronto Police Services. Before joining BMO, Claudette spent 4 years at Deloitte where she was a key member of the Technology Management Team.


In 2008, Claudette founded Excelovate, a human services company designed to help people and enrich lives through the creation of new products and services. Her work has played a pivotal role in launching the first innovation centre in Aurora, Rap Riderz Innovation Centre.


Married and a mother of two, Claudette's commitment to the community is evident in her passion for literacy and everything technological. Claudette has authored five books and in partnership with First Book Canada and other leading corporations, Claudette launched the Black Arts and Innovation Expo (BAIE) as a novel way to celebrate Black History Month. The BAIE promotes diversity and inspires excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics by showcasing the outstanding achievements of current innovators in the arts, entrepreneurship and technology.


Claudette is a recipient of a 2014 Green4Good Visionary award and in 2015 she was hailed as a BBPA Exchange - Woman of Honor and among the Top 100 Black Women to watch in Canada.

Dr. Nick Horney, Ph.D.- Leadership Agility Expert, Author & VUCA Master

Dr. Horney is a master in VUCA ((volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), and the founder of Agility Consulting and Training, and has been recognized for innovations in organizational agility theory and practice which includes The AGILE Model®. Nick has consulted with global leaders to help transform their vision to action by anticipating change and building more adaptive capabilities.


He has been recognized as an expert in organizational agility by journals such as People & Strategy and CIO Magazine, and presents at numerous conference on the topics on Change Management, Talent Management and Organizational Agility.


He recently co-authored a book entitled Focused, Fast and Flexible: Creating Agility Advantage in a VUCA World; and is currently working on a book that features a 10-year study of leadership agility with 1078 global leaders -- Decoding Your Leadership Agility: Getting Fit for Continuous Course Corrections.


Dr. Horney's first-hand knowledge of agility and change management was developed during his 23 years as a Navy Special Operations officer leading diving and explosive ordnance disposal teams, where agility was a defining characteristic of success.

Niluka Kottegoda - Vice President Merchandising Innovation & Development Sobeys Inc.

Niluka is an innovative thinker and visionary leader. As Vice President Merchandising Innovation & Development for Sobeys Inc. She is responsible for evolving the overall customer offer, developing key brand relationships with store-within-store concepts, and growing sales and profitability through emerging category management.


Since joining the organization in 2004, she has held progressively senior merchandising and procurement roles across multiple functions including Analytics, Global Sourcing, Procurement & Procurement Services, and Merchandising Process & Integration.


She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Acadia University as well as a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA from Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management, Chicago) and York University (Schulich Business School, Toronto).


She also serves as a Board member for Guyana Help the Kids, focusing on reducing neonatal and infant mortality in developing countries, and recently founded the Dream Chaser Change Maker Scholarship to help improve access to post secondary education both in Canada and around the world.

Brian Comeau - Growth & Innovation Lead, Accenture

Brian is an Accenture Innovation Fellow (Artificial Intelligence) who has worn many hats over the years since starting in 2008, which include lead roles within their Strategy, Management Consulting and Technology practices. His responsibilities have included providing leadership and strategic guidance on digital innovation, and managing the ideation process for new solutions for Accenture at a global level.


Brian works closely with the Canadian leadership team to drive business in the areas of Artificial intelligence, rapid ideation through prototyping in the Liquid Studios, design thinking and talent development and engagement. Artificial Intelligence is set to transform businesses, reinventing how they run, compete and thrive. Brian Comeau is at the center of this rapid change, helping clients pivot towards the New. He has contributed to Technology Canada growing at more than double the market growth rate, exceeding our lofty growth targets.


As an Accenture Innovation Fellow - Artificial Intelligence, his responsibilities include studying, educating, and evolving Accenture's thinking on innovation internally and across the industry. Brian's focus is on Artificial Intelligence and the Canadian AI Startup Ecosystem.

Host: Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta, OliveBlue Inc.

Yvonne is a Change Management and Leadership Strategist, Speaker, Author and John C. Maxwell Leadership Coach. She is a firm believer in the value and benefits of effective Change Leadership, and works with organizations to help them successfully lead and transition through change.


She holds a BSc honours in Business Information Technology & Marketing from London Guildhall University, and an MBA with Warwick Business School, England.


She is multifaceted, having worked with a variety of clients including JP Morgan Chase, Royal Bank Canada, Deloitte, Phillips Consulting, and General Motors to deliver strategic and business critical projects. During her time with these organisations, she led major projects, pioneered change, and gained invaluable experience in developing individuals and businesses to help them drive results.


Her international experience in Europe, Africa and North America has afforded her exposure to diverse business environments and a proficiency in thinking outside the box.


She is also a published author, and an Inspirational and 'Tell it like it is' speaker, who is passionate about helping individuals, entrepreneurs and organisations drive change and achieve their goals.


More information about Yvonne: www.yvonnerukeakpoveta.com

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