Sonny Brar comes with over 15 years of Corporate Retail, Human Resources, Health, Safety, Energy and Environmental experience. He is currently the Vice President, Member Programs & Services at Retail Council of Canada and is an honors graduate of Criminology, Justice and Public Safety from Manitoba. Along with other functions, Sonny leads and supports RCC’s Membership, Benefit Partner Programs, Human Resources, Heath, Safety, Energy initiatives and RCC’s Advisory Councils. Sonny has also had great successes in his tenure and has been a recipient of 3 Presidential Excellence awards with Maple Leaf Foods and Toys“R”Us along with several successes and recognitions with his tenure at Sobeys and Ikea.
Antonio Caivano is the Director for Audit & Health & Safety at Cineplex Entertainment. He has been with Cineplex for over 20 years and worked as a General Manager in Operations. He also worked as an LP investigator and internal auditor. Antonio is also manager co-chair in his Home Office JH&SC.
Hassan Chaudhry is responsible for leading the planning and implementation of store development, design and construction for Canadian retail and non-retail portfolios for Staples Canada. He provides leadership to the construction, fixturing, design and operations project teams.
With a business administration degree Fabio initially worked for an Austrian / Brazilian investment bank. Since 2001 Fabio has been working in Brazil and Canada in various capacities related to public and privately funded socio-economic development programs in areas such as entrepreneurship and business education, micro and small business development, employment, immigrant and youth services and education. In 2011 Fabio coordinated the implementation of a Youth Challenge Fund start-up initiative aimed at building capacity among youth frontline workers serving marginalized youth populations in Toronto. Prior to joining United Way Toronto and York Region (UWTYR), Fabio was part of the community outreach team of the Toronto Pan and Pan-American Games’ organizing committee. Since October 2014, Fabio has been a part of UWTYR’s Youth Initiatives team, leading the implementation of the innovate Career Navigator program and also
With over 7 years in the retailing world, specifically within eCommerce, Sarah D’Souza Firestone leads the Digital Experience and Fulfillment teams at The Source. Here she is works relentlessly to offer best in class omnichannel experiences, while maintaining a Customer first approach. Prior to The Source, Sarah had a fruitful and successful career as Manager of Fulfillment and Logistics for Toys R Us Canada, where she was instrumental in its omnichannel transformation. Her mantra is to strive for continuous improvement, professionally and personally.
A career retailer, Micheline leads the $1B+ cornerstone Seasonal and Gardening portfolio at Canadian Tire. Micheline oversees the merchandising function of the Patio Furniture, BBQ, Christmas, Lawn and Garden and Outdoor Tools businesses, where she has P&L accountability and a mandate to deliver innovation that helps Canadians with the jobs and joys of Life in Canada. Prior to her current role, Micheline led Canadian Tire’s Store Design and Merchandising team, where she spent 7 years transforming the store environment from, department resets to new store builds.
Jane grew up in retail, beginning her career as a part time sales associate. After taking care of her Customer within successful Store and District Management positions with companies such as HBC, The Gap, and Club Monaco, Jane moved to the role of Field Visual Director at Indigo. During the past 5 years as Organizational Development and Learning Manager at Red Apple Stores Inc, Jane brings her diverse retail experience and talent development expertise to her Home Office and Field Customers. A champion of corporate culture with a penchant for executing on strategy, Jane's true passion lies in developing her internal Customers in order to provide the very best external Customer Experience.
In 1987, Enterprise Property Group transferred Dora to Ottawa to manage another enclosed shopping centre and then moved to Billings Bridge Shopping Centre where she has been since 1994. Over this period, Enterprise was purchased by O&Y Enterprise and in 2009, 20VIC Management Inc. (now Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services Inc.) continues to assume the property management of this site and other sites in Ottawa with a team of 15 dynamic real estate professionals. In her capacity, Dora has managed several office towers, industrial properties and strip plazas for major banking institutions, REITS and private owners. She has been involved in major shopping centre and office building renovations, retail and office tenant fit ups and federal government leasing. Dora has achieved ICSC awards, BOMA awards and involved in generating LEED EB Gold certifications, BOMA best for several properties in the Ottawa area.
Recognized as a leader in the retail & Ecommerce space, Georgia Genovezos leverages her more than 20 years of marketing management experience in Telecom, Wireless & Ecommerce/Retail while forging ahead on the cutting edge of innovation. She currently sits on the advisory board of e-Tail Canada, and is a frequent speaker at industry events. She has been called upon to judge and offer mentorship at the John Molson School of Business. Georgia is also the Head of Ecommerce for Ardene where she leads the online experience for North America as well as social media and customer service.
Genna’s path in retail hasn’t followed convention. Born an entrepreneur, trained as a pastry chef, buyer, and sommelier, her breadth of knowledge ranges from fashion to hospitality and coffee to croissants to travel and wine. Her decisive curatorial style is inspired by years working abroad in London and Berlin, taking cues from unique retail and hospitality destinations across the globe. In Toronto, she has piloted the lucrative expansions of eminent local restaurants and retailers, including Terroni’s Sud Forno, Pusateri’s Fine Foods and award-winning Saks Food Halls by Pusateri’s. As the lead Category Manager for Pusateri’s specialty food departments since 2015, Genna’s trendsetting vision and collaborative nature have markedly influenced their industry-leading assortment in gourmet grocery. Genna is an honours graduate of the University of Toronto with a Joint Specialist in Political Science and Philosophy, and is currently studying for Sommelier certification with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET).
Kevin Graff is the President of Graff Retail, based in Toronto, Ontario. Since 1988, Graff Retail has specialized in working with retailers around the globe to increase their revenue through improved staff performance. Kevin is widely respected as one of North America’s best retail speakers and trainers and was recently chosen as one of the Top 50 Retail Influencers. His principle belief is that retailers are losing too many sales each day in their stores that they should be capturing. Kevin’s approach to store operations and his intense focus on real, bottom-line issues continually produce outstanding results. Kevin is also the creator of Graff Retail TV, the retail community’s leading source of online sales and management training. Since being launched in 2008, Graff Retail TV has provided thousands of sales associates and store management teams with the skills they need to succeed.
For over 20 years, Richard has been leading the advertising and marketing of some of Canada’s best-known brands on both the client and agency side running large omni-channel marketing departments. Richard’s intimate understanding of retail marketing began during his experience on the retail floor where he spent eight years with Woolco/ Walmart and helped open Canada’s first and second Walmart stores. As Vice President at Havas/Saffer, Richard led the marketing for Home Hardware Stores Ltd, helping build one of Canada’s most respected brands and increasing sales for Dealers for over 10 years. He created Home Hardware’s social media department, and developed the strategies and tactics taking their social media presence from zero to being named #1 Best Brand on Facebook in 2015 by Canadian Business Magazine, #10 Best Brand on Twitter, and one of Canada’s Top 10 Social Brands by Marketing Magazine in 2014. In addition to building sales and segment leading advertising recall, Richard is proud of helping Home Hardware win some major awards including being named one of Canada’s Most Valued Brands for four straight years (2012 – 2016), and Top 25 Brands in Canada for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016 as rated by Canadian Business. Richard has demonstrated proven marketing and advertising leadership abilities on several brands such as Honda, Acura, Taco Bell, General Motors, Nokia, Rogers, 3M, Canon, Four Seasons, and Ford. Richard is currently the Director of Marketing at Ace Canada. Ace Canada is proud to be part of Lowe’s Canadian businesses, which together operate or service over 600 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores across Canada in a number of complementary formats under different banners. For more than 90 years, Ace Hardware has been known as the helpful place in thousands of neighbourhoods globally, providing customers with a more personal kind of helpful. With more than 5,000 hardware stores locally owned and operated around the globe, Ace is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world.
Simon is a passionate Safety professional with over 13 years of experience. He works for Longo’s Brothers Fruit Markets where he is responsible for the Health and Safety program for the company’s 6,400 employees. He has worked in various industries including the public sector, manufacturing, and private security. He is actively involved in the profession and chairs the Retail Wholesale and Office Advisory Committee with Workplace Safety Prevention Services. Simon holds an MBA, CHRL, and CRSP.
David Kappele is an international sales and marketing leader with experience in both direct the to consumer channels as well as the business to business channels. Most recent roles include Vice President Sales for Tilley Endurables, Vice President Sales and Marketing for Tilley as well as overseeing a digital marketing department while quarterbacking a North American sales distribution. David is currently an advisor with the Fashion Zone at the Ryerson School of Business along with completing a FITT certification in International Sales and Marketing.
Corinne Kepper is the Director of Employment Brand & Giving at Aritzia. Corinne oversees executive communications, community engagement and the Aritzia employment brand. She is a champion of corporate culture and led the development of Aritzia’s mobile enabled technology solution to connect more than 2,000 Aritzia team members in an aspirational way and she developed Aritzia’s first, and now annual, full company employee engagement survey. Corinne gives back personally as a Board Director for Dress for Success Vancouver.
Michael has 20+ years of brand/retail/marketing leadership experience and is considered by many as a pioneer in the Canadian omni-channel and e-Commerce retail space. After spending almost three years advocating and lobbying for the Canadian retail industry at Retail Council of Canada (RCC), Michael formed M. E. LeBlanc & Company to leverage this knowledge and experience back onto the front lines and regularly is invited to share his insights on the current and future retail industry in Canada and around the world.
Dionisia Lita is the Director, IT Delivery Business Applications at The Source. She leads her IT team to deliver business applications in the areas of POS, ERP, WMS, Finance, and Marketing systems. She was previously responsible for The Source eCommerce site, and Parts & Repair systems. Dionisia was employed with RadioShack USA, RadioShack Canada, The Source By Circuit City, and now The Source. She led The Source IT team during the transition to Bell, and was the Canada IT Lead for the Circuit City business transformation project. Previously, a member of the team who implemented POS in Belgium for InterTAN European stores. She was one of the panelists at last year’s International Women’s Day at The Source. The Source is a leading consumer electronic retailer with retail stores across Canada. As a Canadian company, The Source recognize and embrace the diversity found in both our national and company culture. The Source has an environment of inclusion that supports the success of all associates through opportunities beyond just their everyday work. The Source is a proud supporter of Kids Help Phone and United Way.
Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Karen Malone is committed to re-imagining the boardroom with a seat for sustainability at every leadership table. Karen’s agency, LitPark, works at the strategic level, identifying the best opportunities for practical and meaningful approaches to sustainability. Karen is an experienced leader in CSR, generating programs to improve the care of women affected by cancer and provide access to sport training for athletes with an intellectual disability. She is a Certified Sustainability Practitioner and the Canadian Affiliate for the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence. Karen works with people who hold a bold vision for the future and who are inspired to run a business that’s sustainable, not only for their growth and value to the economy but to meet the needs of an expanding population and its emerging priorities.
Shauna McMillan is a passionate leader dedicated to continuing to develop and improve organizations through achieving operational excellence and continuous improvement, leading to opportunities for ongoing growth and success. A creative individual who fosters collaboration in problem solving to achieve robust and effective solution. Shauna was appointed Director of Marketing for the Domestic Intermodal group at CN in Spring 2016. In her role, she is now responsible for a wide array of commercial matters including establishing marketing and pricing strategies as they relate to that business unit. Ms. McMillan originally started with CN in June 2013 as the Director of Marketing for the Automotive business unit. Prior to joining CN, Mr. McMillan was with another very large Canadian company, Canadian Tire. During her nearly 14 years with the organization she gained experience across a broad range of project management, operations and analytical environments. Ms. McMillan is a professional engineer with Professional Engineers Ontario and graduated from the faculty of engineering at Dalhousie University in 1999.
You won't find anyone more passionate about retail than Linda Montalbano. She started in the industry 25 years ago on the front lines and worked her way up to become the Vice President of Retail Operations for a national retail chain. For the last 12 years she’s been the Vice President of Graff Retail, working with retailers to achieve the best results possible through their store management teams and front line associates. Although her expertise has always been in retail operations, Leadership has been the pillar to her success. Linda speaks passionately about leadership in the industry and has spoken to audiences about multi-generational workforces, personal branding and influential leadership.
Gary is a Retail Supply Chain Transformation Accelerator, specialising in supply chain convergence. He advises Canadian retailers to create “singles” fulfillment platforms which develop scale quickly. He is a leading advocate of “backroom sortation” and “fulfillment versatility” as key to winning the “speed to market” race. Gary is a recognised as a thought leader in Retail Supply Chain Transformation and Last Mile Fulfillment execution by RCC and is a contributor at many events as individual retailers digitally transform. His 30-year experience within the logistics of retailing is notable for rapidly transforming underperforming fulfilment and distribution networks. Prior to coming to Canada, Gary was a Retail Supply Chain Transformation Consultant in the UK where he provided expertise and leadership to organisations across the end to end retail value chain, completing more than 50 separate mission critical assignments, including many supply chain transformations, accelerations and “shock event” recoveries.
James brings extensive retail knowledge as he returns to the Retail Council judging panel. He has over 20 years of retail experience with 2 industry leading companies; including Shoppers Drug Mart and currently Petro-Canada.
As an award winning sales, ecommerce, marketing and technology leader, Sean has over 15 years’ experience in high growth B2B, B2C and C2C industries. Prior to founding Engagement Agents, Sean was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Stitch It Clothing Alterations, North America’s largest alterations service provider with 85 locations in major shopping centres. With the support & involvement of Stitch It, Sean developed Engagement Agents, a world class solution to help retailers & shopping centres gain competitive advantages, save time and money, while increasing impressions, traffic and sales to their stores, website & social media!
David Thorpe is a high energy, results driven, customer-obsessed marketing professional. who loves working for challenger brands. Over the course of 15+ years, he’s held the senior marketing role with one of British Columbia’s most loved brands, London Drugs Limited. David also lead marketing for national discount leader, Giant Tiger Stores Limited, where he was responsible for all mar-com activities, including digital & social media, public relations, store signing & community involvement. David supported significant growth from 40 stores in Ontario and Quebec to over 200 stores across Canada.
Marty Weintraub has long-standing experience and sought-after expertise in helping retailers improve their financial and operational performance. Using a collaborative and data-driven approach, Marty helps clients strengthen their capabilities through advising on better organizational design, effective operational processes, and the strategic use of tools and technologies. Marty’s retail industry insights have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the Toronto Star and the Supermarket News. He also holds an International MBA from the Shulich School of Business and studied finance at the ESSEC Business School in Paris, France.