Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Screen Shot 2021 04 27 at 12
May 1, 2021

Blinding Rays of Sunshine – The Ampersand May 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

There’s a scene in The Simpsons where Homer Simpson attempts to cheer up his despondent son, Bart, who has just confided in Homer that “This is the worst day of my life.” Homer bends down on one knee, places his hand on Bart’s shoulder and consolingly says, “This is the worst day of your life, so far.”

In that spirit, I think it’s fair to say that I hit my pandemic nadir in April. Of 2021. The wind just went out of the sails. So close to the goal line, only to see it move. Planning our rooftop Stampede party and a family vacation one day, back in lockdown amidst rising case numbers and double mutant variant strains the next. I’ve never run a marathon, but I can now imagine how it would feel to approach the finishing tape only to have the people holding it start running – sprinting – away from you.

Yet another quarantine for a son in grade 11.  A daughter who isn’t at university even though she’s in university. The two Boards on which I serve – The YMCA and the CMLC – both having to deal with bad news as the Y again locks down and lays off while the Calgary Event Centre gets put on hold. The brief tease of spring, replaced by the usual Calgary April snow. A profound sense of deju vu, comparing this April to last which, strangely, is more discouraging than comparing last April to the one prior. And, to top it off, the Costco liquor store, for weeks now, completely sold out of Lagavulin single malt Scotch whiskey?!  Talk about a vaccine shortage. Low spirits, indeed.

And yet in that same month, on April 23rd to be precise, I received my first dose of the vaccine; a feeling of incredible relief, even euphoria. Many friends and family got theirs, too – Gen Xr’s far more enthusiastic to receive their #GenXZeneca pokes than the Baby Boomer crowd. Moreover, our firm enjoyed its best month since September 2019 all but ensuring our fourth consecutive quarter of growth.

Reasons for hope tempered by moments of despair. Like being an Edmonton Oilers fan.

So, which is it? Good news or bad? Is the worst ahead or behind? Is the Third Wave the third period of the game, the variant having pulled the goalie and firing everything at us before the horn sounds and we win or, like actual waves, one of an infinite number lapping the coastline for the rest of our days?

The answer is probably somewhere in the middle; that elusive, fraught, narrow spit of land where thoughtful consideration lives. Thoughtful consideration is in short supply these days.  No surprise, then, to listen to the untethered optimism pouring from our government leaders lately.

Of course, we’re used to the optimistic notes in these parts. We hear it all the time. Calgary’s can-do spirit. Inviting you to “be part of the energy.”  Resilient. Entrepreneurial. Vibrant.  A city that seemed to attract only optimists—people inspired to succeed by their own talents and efforts. On it goes.

But of late those optimistic tones have been super-sized. The recent flurry of amazingly, super-duper positive news seems a bit over the top; forced, canned and all of it a bit too doth protest too much-y. Indeed, lately, Calgary has been clinging to its 5th most livable city in the world status the way a punch-drunk boxer hangs on to the hope of a right hook.

That statistic – 5th!, did you hear?! – was on full display, among countless others, during the recent euphoric Report to Community hosted by Calgary Economic Development who gamely stepped into the ring to do battle with Reality at the virtual pay-per-view event. The conference, marked by soaring speeches and stirring statistics, was so brimming with optimism, so gushing with positivity, you could hardly be faulted for thinking you wandered into the wrong Zoom.

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 1

This was Bagdad Bob claiming the infidels were retreating. Donald Trump’s miraculously disappearing virus. I looked around the room at one point to try to read the expression on other attendees’ faces but then I remembered I was alone in my kitchen.

I snapped back to the screen to hear the CED CEO breathlessly exclaim, “it’s an exciting time to be in Calgary!” Clearly, I’m watching the wrong Netflix shows.  And when Premier Kenney gushed that “2021 is going to be Alberta’s year!” I thought, wow, legalized marijuana is totally underrated. I had to quickly check my calendar to confirm that 2021 is, in fact, one third over. If this is Alberta’s year, I’d like another spin of the wheel, Pat. It felt like Reg Dunlop telling the Charlestown Chiefs to ‘go get ‘em’ enthusiastically cheered on by the overly exuberant Hanson brothers.

Everywhere you look, unbridled enthusiasm!  This tweet from Premier Kenney:

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 2

Or put another away, “Amazing News! Due to the ongoing painfully slow vaccine rollout, a league hanging by a thread will delay the start of its season by over two months, only to play in half full stadiums (unlike the half empty ones they’re used to playing in) and host its championship game in an outdoor venue in mid-December!  A great Alberta summer is coming!”

The infidels are retreating!

Or this exuberant post from the Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation:

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 8

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 3

Okay, waaaaiiit a minute. Calgary is the world’s most affordable city for housing? Because “the average person there is able to afford 60.3 more square feet in 2020 than in 2016…a bigger positive jump than anywhere else in the world.”  Is this what it’s come to in our quest for good news?

One day, like a miracle, it will disappear! 

The survey, which you can read about here, basically theorizes, I think, that because we have more supply and perhaps fewer people living here, our person-to-affordable-square-feet ratio is tops in the world?  Since when is that even a metric? The article notes that “as a comparison, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was found to have the second-biggest improvement in affordability.” Ha! Take that, Jeddah. You suck.

So maybe I’m not moved by the data; that I now can afford 60.3 more square feet to spend in solitude, than I could in 2016, when I could go do things with people. I’d happily sell my 60.3 square foot plot for a pint in a pub with friends.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown so incredulous about data, generally, and politicians, specifically, that I no longer know who or what to believe. Six, out of seven million people, develop complications from a vaccine and we halt using it? Have you never listened to the possible side effects on those prescription drug ads? Just consider the commercial for the prescription sleep aid Lunesta: a soothing voice tells you the drug might deliver you to “the land of restful sleep” or, alternatively, that you might end up driving your car in a foggy sleep, feel suicidal, or experience an allergic reaction that leads to fatal throat swelling. But, hey, gotta get your eight hours, right?

As for the directions from our political leaders? Don’t get me started. This article from The Vancouver Sun called it pretzel logic. To summarize, you can fly from Calgary to Kelowna, no questions asked. But you can’t drive. You can drive from the US to Canada, few questions asked. But you can’t fly without a government mandated three-day hotel stay. Unless you just pay the fine? As of Friday April 16th, if you lived in Ontario you couldn’t go to a playground. The next day you could.  As of Friday April 23rd, if you lived in Alberta, you couldn’t travel to BC. Later that night, you could. For now. You can drive through Manitoba, but you can’t stop for the night without isolating for 14 more. Casinos open. Schools closed. Or is it the other way around? Restaurants, bad; Enclosed patios, good? What if it’s a leap year? No wonder I’m confused. I practically have to write the LSAT every morning before getting out of bed.

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 7

So what, then, of the unbridled optimism shining through all this confusion and isolation?  Surely, it’s not just a PR campaign designed to make us feel better, underpinned by nothing? The problem with my mom telling me as a kid that avocado tasted like peanut butter in an attempt to get me to eat avocado is that it doesn’t taste like peanut butter. This isn’t that. There really is some good news out there. You can read a good summary here but, in short, in addition to steadily rising commodity prices, it’s about technology and innovation, about more companies and jobs being attracted to the city, $353 million in venture capital flowing into Calgary last year, 16 trade deals secured, a recovering film and TV business, the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF), a $100-million business investment fund established in 2018, committing $43 million for 14 projects since its inception resulting in $636 million of OCIF, private and other government funds going into the economy — a 15-to-1 investment result!

Yeah, baby! Somebody, turn up the music! Let’s get this party started!!

Sorry to be a downer, but a shortened CFL season, 16 trade deals and 60.3 extra square feet to reside, aside, I’m just not feelin’ it down here on planet earth.

Why the skepticism? Well, 14 months of chasing the horizon will do that to a guy. But the real challenge is that we live in complicated times and if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Premier Kenney, in explaining the latest lockdowns on April 7th strayed into the thoughtful consideration minefield saying his government’s approach has been to find “a sensible, safe middle ground.” His reward?  Turns out, trying to find “middle ground” these days is like trying to appease two screaming kids, both of whom want to sit in the front seat, by saying they can share it. How’s that working out? Well, according to this survey, roughly half of Albertans think the government is going too far and the other half think it’s not going far enough.

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 5

There you have it. The perineum of public opinion. A 12% strip of middle ground that offers Goldilocks lukewarm porridge, a lumpy mattress and a wobbly chair. And you know what happened to Goldilocks? She never came back to that house.

What to do, then?  Too optimistic and you’re Pollyanna. Too pessimistic and you’re Debbie Downer. Strive for the middle ground and everyone hates you.

Perhaps the answer is to remove the subjectivity and unreliability of human spin and self-interest and rely more heavily on the science and data. As someone in the people business, this sentiment does not come naturally. Yet, it has been interesting over these past months as we have launched our leadership advisory practice, immersing ourselves in the world of psychometric assessments, how swiftly and almost unquestioningly our clients gravitate to the science, over even their own human instincts, inherently trusting it to de-risk their hiring decision.

Why shouldn’t the same de-risking instincts apply to the pandemic?  Well, for starters, even those assessment results must be interpreted by a human. The human behind the Alberta science, the beleaguered Dr. Deena Hinshaw is, I am quite convinced, not out to get us. She’s just a civil servant, reviewing and explaining the data, thanklessly doing the best she can to, you know, keep us alive.

Sure, there are costs. Massive ones. I’m a small business owner. I’m aware. But when the politicians inflate morsels of good news into blinding rays of sunshine, they lose credibility. And when they pull a “heads I win, tails you lose” when the news isn’t good, or they’d rather not own the decision, it’s just not helpful.

Blinding Rays of Sunshine - The Ampersand May 2021 • Image 4

This Alphonse-and-Gaston routine is growing old.  As is 2021.

And so, we sit here on the First of May, month five of “Alberta’s Year.” Can you fault us for not yet purchasing our tickets to the Alberta’s Back, Baby! summer concert tour?  Another cancelled, or certainly scaled down Calgary Stampede reality will soon set in. More disturbingly, white hats are giving way to white hoods as hate crimes are way up in our city. Long before COVID, we lost our nerve on the Olympic file by voting ‘no’ to hosting the games. Now, we’ve learned that the new Events Centre deal is on pause. Young people are leaving the city. Anti-mask protests, tiki torches and Trump flags fly in downtown Calgary. The Green Line faces more delay.  Most incredibly, one in Five Albertans don’t plan on getting vaccinated when the vaccine is about the only sure way out of this mess.

Even the Calgary Flames, once a sure bet themselves, recently inexplicably demonstrated the furthest thing from Western hospitality after a recent game by keeping the puck from a rookie NHL goalie who had secured his first ever win.

In fairness, I actually don’t think the Flames player intentionally deprived the rookie goalie of his “moment.” I think he was just really frustrated. Like all of us. Let’s not toss the puck out with the bath water, or something like that.

My frustration stems, in part, from the inconsistent and ever-changing messages from our leaders about the data, not from the data itself. It seems the strategy du jour is to lather us in positive news. Though I appreciate the efforts of our political leaders to strike an optimistic tone, let’s just call it what it is. And this has absolutely been the worst month of the pandemic. The worst month of the pandemic, so far.



The Ampersand Unplugged
The Humanis podcast explores issues that impact our community, businesses of all shapes and sizes and challenges impacting human capital and the human condition.

The Ampersand Delivered
Subscribe to The Ampersand and receive instant access to thought provoking articles on the human condition, the motivators & deterrents, the reason some excel while others fail, and the dirty little secret that the bottom 90% of the class usually do better than the top 10%. With over 11,000 subscribers and 175 posts and counting this is one newsletter you won’t be able to delete from your inbox.

Let's Connect
We acknowledge that we live, work, meet and travel on the traditional territories of Indigenous Peoples that have cared for this land, now called Canada, since time immemorial.
Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy


Since 2007, Caroline has founded three companies in the healthcare sector. In 2016, Edelman, a global leader in communications and public relations, acquired her agency SIXDEGRÉS, a company specializing in medical communications and health marketing.

Throughout her career, she who acts now as Senior Stretegic Advisor at Humanis, has collaborated with over 50 major companies and associations for strategic national or international projects in the fields of life sciences, pharmaceuticals, health technology, and innovation.

She stands out for her strategic vision, collaborative leadership, and ability to achieve concrete results, which has earned her a finalist spot for the prestigious Quebec Businesswoman Award. Frequently sought by the media as an expert, she comments on entrepreneurship and business.

Caroline holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Sherbrooke, with a concentration in microbiology, a certificate in marketing, and an Executive MBA from the University of Quebec in Montreal.

An athlete, she advocates for a healthy work-life balance, which she believes is essential for happiness and success in business.


As a Senior Strategic Advisor at Humanis Montreal, Hooman leverages his extensive experience and cross-industry credentials to assist premier organizations in identifying and connecting with high-performing executives. His role involves bridging these high performers in his trusted network with opportunities that align with their culture and aspirations, ensuring successful placements and long-term success.

With over 25 years of experience at top international consulting firms, he has advised senior executives and delivered complex global transformation efforts for CFOs and Treasurers. His expertise spans business transformation, enterprise systems selection, implementation and integration, financial planning, and reporting. He has worked with dynamic global companies across various industries including asset management, banking and financial services, insurance, real estate, and high-technology manufacturing.

Hooman owns a CMA-MBA in Accounting, Management and Finance from UQAM, and a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Management Information Systems from McGill University. His personal and academic journey has taken him across multiple continents, allowing him to become proficient in French, English, and Spanish, and conversant in Italian and Farsi. He is a proud and present father of three, and cherishes spending time with friends and family, engaging in active sports, and sharing sharp opinions on politics, economics, and life outlooks.


Adam is the Founding Partner of Pekarsky & Co., the predecessor firm to Humanis, and has been recruiting executives and advising Boards for nearly 25 years.

A writer, sessional instructor at the University of Calgary, and frequent speaker, Adam has achieved success as a member of the management team of a national law firm, a partner in a global executive search firm and, once upon a time, a practicing lawyer. Formerly, Adam was a Client Partner in the Calgary office of Korn/Ferry International.

Adam holds a law degree from the University of Alberta and completed his undergraduate studies at Tufts University in Boston where he attained summa cum laude distinction for his undergraduate thesis.

Adam spent six years on the Board of Directors of Tourism Calgary, eight years on the YMCA of Calgary Board and is currently chairing a Camp Chief Hector Capital Campaign raising $17m. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and chairs the HR Committee.


Cameron is a Partner at Humanis and brings more than 15 years’ experience within executive search. His experience extends to recruiting senior talent across corporate services and operations within oil and gas, oilfield services, financial services, manufacturing, real estate and construction, as well as non-profit.

He began his search career in Sydney, Australia, joining a leading international firm straight out of university.

In 2010, Cameron moved to Calgary spending more than 6 years within the retained search practice of a national integrated talent development firm, recruiting permanent roles across numerous functions and industries, as well as leading the firm’s interim search practice. In 2017, he joined Pekarsky & Co., Humanis Calgary’s predecessor.

Cameron is active in the community volunteering his time with numerous charitable organizations including The Calgary Stampede’s Courtesy Car Committee and the Executive Committee for The Top 7 Over 70 Awards Program.

Once active in Calgary’s rugby and cricket scene, now Cameron spends most of his time enjoying the outdoors and spending time with his wife and three kids.


As Managing Partner of Humanis, Calgary, Ranju leads the management and operations of the office and executive searches with an expertise in C-Suite and for-profit Board searches. She leads the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and is a member of the Americas Council for the Association of Executive Search Consultants, a global association leading the search industry in best practices and innovation. Ranju’s Board involvement includes her current role as Vice-Chair for the Calgary Convention Centre Authority, and past Chair of the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association Board. She was honored to be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal (Alberta) in 2022 and acquired her ICD.D designation in 2023 from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Business.

Ranju joined the firm in 2009 with a 16-year career in environmental sciences. Previously, she was the Senior Vice President, Corporate Services for an organization with remediation and reclamation services and teams across Western Canada. Ranju acquired her Bachelor of Science and Graduate degree in Environmental Toxicology from Simon Fraser University and enjoys international travel as well as spending time outdoors.


Susie joined Humanis in 2016. She brings a diverse background in the recruitment, healthcare and professional services industries. Susie draws from her past experiences as an entrepreneur, Chartered Accountant and Registered Nurse to bring both technical and business understanding to each client engagement.  

As a CPA herself, Susie naturally leads the majority of the firm’s senior level finance and accounting searches. Over the past few years, she has also enjoyed leading the annual Board recruitment for a number of vital not-for-profit organizations serving diverse communities across Calgary. Susie is known to her clients and candidates for her dedicated professionalism, business acumen and expertise in matching talent to client needs.  

Prior to joining Humanis, Susie worked as a Search Manager with a national search and consulting firm where she specialized in placing finance and accounting leaders.   

After completing her Business degree, Susie worked with KPMG Calgary where she obtained her Chartered Accountant designation.
Susie Besler


Neel is a Research Associate with Humanis where he brings a global perspective into the firm’s research initiatives and specializes in market research across various industries. Originally from Tanzania, Neel holds a degree in Bachelor of Management from the University of British Columbia.

Neel initially gained experience as an Analyst with a marketing agency. He holds an EKT-Interactive certification in Oil and Gas, Renewable Energies, and Hydrogen Energy. Additionally, he possesses an Executive Research Certificate from the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants.

Neel resonates as a third-cultured kid and values cultural diversity at his core given his upbringing living in East Africa. He actively contributes to community development, serving as an alumni advisory member for the UBC Afro Caribbean Association to continue his efforts in promoting cultural understanding.

Intrigued by architecture, he capitalizes on his artistic intuition by exploring oil on canvas or using Sketch Up. Tennis, sailing, boxing, and soccer are where Neel channels his competitive spirit.


Kate is a Consultant with Humanis Talent Acquisition & Advisory and executes on various searches within the legal, not-for-profit, marketing & communications and professional services sectors, among others.

Prior to joining the firm, Kate worked as a purchaser for a local equine retail company where she was a key component to the buying team as well as assisting in all aspects of customer service.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Communication & Culture from the University of Calgary. In a previous life, Kate was a competitive showjumper and coach. She competed across Western Canada and worked with amateur riders in developing their skills both on and off the horse.

Outside of work, Kate is an avid distance runner, beginner surfer and travel enthusiast. When she’s not embarking on a new adventure, she can be found with her nose in a book and loves to travel back home to Calgary as often as she can to visit friends and family.


Kiara is the Director of Marketing & Administration at Humanis Talent Acquisition & Advisory, driving dynamic strategies across social media, website, events, and our widely read blog, The Ampersand. As a co-host of The Ampersand: Unplugged podcast, Kiara explores issues that impact human capital and, more broadly, the human condition. With a solid foundation in marketing strategy through her diverse previous roles, Kiara has spearheaded the marketing function of Humanis including refining brand identities, developing targeted campaigns, and implementing innovative digital marketing initiatives to drive engagement and growth.

With a BBA in Marketing and Finance from Mount Royal University, including a transformative study abroad semester in Australia, she elevated her expertise with an MBA from the University of Calgary in 2023.

Beyond the boardroom, Kiara energizes her life with fitness classes and travelling. Her passion for exploration extends to immersing herself in new cultures, savoring cuisines, exploring stunning views, and connecting with diverse people worldwide.


Breanne Giasson is the newest addition to the team at Humanis Talent Acquisition & Advisory as our Office Administrator, providing administrative support to all team members.

Before joining the firm, Breanne gained experience working in office settings to advance her skills in administrative support and also worked in customer service.

With a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Mount Royal University, Breanne graduated on both the Dean’s and President’s honour rolls, showcasing her dedication to academic excellence. During her studies, Breanne developed and honed her writing, editing, and research skills, which will be valuable assets in her role here at Humanis.

Breanne’s passion for social issues, both on local and global scales, drives her to make a positive impact in the world through her work and personal life.

Outside of work, Breanne is an avid reader, TV enthusiast, and pop culture aficionado. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and taking her dog (“son”), Arnold, on walks.


Erin is a Senior Consultant at Humanis where she leads executive search mandates across a wide variety of industries and functional roles. As a lawyer herself, she brings expertise in legal executive search. She also routinely leads executive searches across the not-for-profit, tourism & hospitality, professional and financial services, utilities and energy industries, among others. Prior to joining Humanis, Erin was a corporate lawyer at one of Canada’s most prestigious national corporate law firms. She was called to the bar in 2015 and remains a member of the Law Society of Alberta.

Erin is a lifelong learner and spent the better part of a decade in post-secondary education. She holds a and a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. As part of her studies, she spent time living abroad in France, India, Italy, Israel and Hong Kong, and brings connections and friendships from all around the globe. Erin has also invested in continuous professional development, completing a Certificate in Executive Research from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), the international body that sets the standard for the executive search and leadership consulting profession. She is also part of the Humanis leadership development team, and is certified to administer and use Hogan Assessments, a leading series of psychometric assessments, in both the search selection and leadership development contexts.

Before Erin entered the professional world, she grew up on the family grain farm outside of Kindersley, Saskatchewan. To this day, picking rocks for hours on end on the back of her dad’s pickup truck remains the hardest “job” she has ever held. She takes that prairie work ethic into each search and leadership consulting mandate she takes on, leaving no stone unturned. Erin is an active member of her church community and has volunteered for many years as a Mentor for internationally trained lawyers with CRIEC, the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council. When Erin is not on the hunt for an organization’s next leader, she can be found spending time with friends and family, adventuring in the mountains, or researching the latest health study.


Rachel is a Research Associate with Humanis. She provides support throughout the search process by sourcing suitable candidates and researching revenant information from salary insights to market trends across a variety of industries. 

Joining in early 2024, Rachel brought three years of contingent recruitment experience with her. Working with both general contractors and owners, she successfully executed various searches in the civil construction sector. Prior to recruitment, Rachel also spent close to four years in logistics and supply chain working for a third-party company. 

Outside of work, Rachel volunteers with the Calgary Drop-In Center. Additionally, she has an interest in interior design. Rachel enjoys getting creative and exploring the elements that create beautiful and functional spaces.


For over 15 years, René has been trusted by countless private sector organizations with the task of overseeing full-cycle executive search mandates. He is passionate about the recruitment industry and is actively involved in every aspect of the search process, including business development, research, interviewing, candidate assessments, and client management. René has placed top executives for leading organizations in a variety of industries within the Western Canadian market. He believes in the value of his client partnerships and strives to ensure that every client experience is a positive and memorable one.

René holds a BA with a Psychology major from the University of Alberta. He most recently sat on the boards of Alberta Forward and the Edmonton Ski Club, and is the past Vice Chair of Kids Up Front Edmonton. He donates his time to youth leadership initiatives in his community, and outside of work can be found on a ski hill or relaxing at the lake and spending time with his wife and two daughters.


Max boasts over a decade of expertise and experience in executive recruitment, corporate sponsorship, and business and relationship development – during which he has amassed in-depth knowledge of North America’s corporate and sporting landscape.

As a former three sport varsity athlete, Max was able to bring the corporate and sporting worlds together through earning an MBA with an emphasis in sports management from Griffith University – which led to a position in Corporate Partnerships with the Edmonton Oilers.

Max then began his executive search career at Conroy Ross Partners with a focus in finance, sales, and marketing. After leading the Canadian operations of SRI, a global boutique recruitment firm focused on sports, media, and entertainment, Max co-founded the Toronto-based leadership development company Won for All.

In addition to sharing his passion for staying active with his daughters Stella and Ada, Max also sits on the board of Luge Canada.


Diane is a proven and genuine leader with over 30 years of leadership experience. As Managing Partner of Humanis, Edmonton Diane manages all corporate functions, including finance and accounting, marketing, IT, legal, and privacy, while overseeing the achievement of the firm’s annual strategic plan.

Before joining Humanis, Diane spent a decade as the Chief Administrative Officer for a national HR talent management firm, playing a strategic operational role that saw the organization grow and be successfully acquired during her tenure. She also spent 20 years in various senior management positions in lending and finance with one of the Top 5 Canadian banks.

Diane is closely involved with the Edmonton community and actively participates in numerous local causes. She previously served as the Chair of Fundraising for the Festival of Trees Foundation and is a longstanding member of the Medical Admission Review Group at the University of Alberta, where she conducts reviews and interviews for medical school admissions during the annual admission cycle.


A Partner with Humanis Edmonton, Raj brings over a decade of search related experience. He began his career in recruitment in 2012 working for a global firm specializing in the placement of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals on a project and interim basis.

Managing the consulting practice in Edmonton, Raj was able to provide companies with cost-effective project-based resource solutions and staff augmentation services to meet project needs in areas including accounting, finance, interim management, business systems, audit & compliance, taxation, treasury, and operations management. His experience extends to recruiting senior talent across corporate services and operations within oilfield services, financial services, manufacturing, real estate, construction, and non-profit.

Raj serves as a Board member for the Junior Achievement of Northern Alberta, YMCA of Edmonton, and Free Play for Kids.

Raj holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta with a Major in Accounting.

Outside of work, he spends most of his time with his wife Pam and their two boys, Arryn and Naiyan.


Nathan is a Research Coordinator at Humanis Advisory and a proud graduate of the University of Alberta. While obtaining his Bachelor of Commerce Degree, Nathan began working as a recruiter at a Canadian bank where he developed a passion for building relationships and growing his network.

You will often find Nathan enjoying all the thrills that Edmonton has to offer. Whether that be cheering on the Oilers or biking through the river valley, Nathan is an advocate for the city. His world revolves around sports, including hockey, golf, and football. He channels this competitive spirit through his work, as Nathan carries his values of teamwork, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of success in every project he takes on.


Meet Stephanie, your dedicated guide in the world of talent acquisition. With a passion for connecting great individuals and companies, she brings a wealth of experience as a registered professional recruiter. Stephanie has cultivated robust relationships with candidates and hiring managers across diverse fields, utilizing her expertise in sourcing, selection, behavioral interviewing, salary negotiations, onboarding, offboarding, and relationship management to turn our clients' corporate visions into reality.

Stephanie is a dynamic individual who understands the importance of weaving personal passions into her professional journey. She values the human side of the business, making the search process efficient and enjoyable.

Beyond the professional realm, Stephanie is a firm believer in the balance between work, family, and enjoyment. You'll find her unwinding in the great outdoors through camping, skiing, and hiking with family. Committed to making a positive impact, she dedicates her time to volunteering for the Canadian Diabetes Society and has served as the treasurer and fundraiser for sport clubs and served on many community initiatives.


Madison Bessette serves as a Research Coordinator at Humanis Advisory. Madison is currently studying in the Bachelor of Commerce program at the University of Alberta where she is majoring in accounting and minoring in finance. Her passion for learning and connecting with others is what has driven her towards the talent acquisition space, where she strives to broaden her knowledge on all things search.

In addition to her academic activities, Madison engages in a variety of extracurricular activities on campus. As the President of the Business Speaker Series Club and the Director of Marketing for the Venture Capital and Private Equity Club, Madison values the opportunity to connect with her peers and make meaningful connections. In her free time, Madison unwinds by participating in hot yoga and indulging in fantasy novels.


Jamie is a Research Associate at Humanis Talent Acquisition & Advisory. Her expertise is in mapping markets, developing and implementing candidate research and outreach strategies, building talent pools, and fostering relationships. She takes a special interest in curating positive candidate experiences and inclusive and accessible hiring practices.

With a BA in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, she brings to the firm nearly a decade of experience in global executive search in the international non-profit and humanitarian sector, including UN agencies, development banking, and environmental and sustainability organizations. For three years, she ran her own business coaching and guiding senior-level candidates through their job searches.

When she’s not at work, Jamie enjoys third-wave coffee, writing, gardening, and horror movies. In a previous life, she traveled to over 35 countries and lived and worked/volunteered in Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, and the United Kingdom.


Mr. Yanouk Poirier has over 25 years of professional experience and has successfully led numerous missions in executive recruitment, leadership consulting, and board member recruitment for SMEs, large national and international companies. Highly involved, Mr. Poirier sits on the boards of Penrhyn International, Club St-James in Montreal, and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation. He also serves as a mentor and Governor for the University of Sherbrooke. Yanouk describes himself as a family man, a father, an entrepreneur, and a connector. He deeply believes that we can change the world one leader at a time and that we have a responsibility to give back to society.

Holder of an MBA from the University of Sherbrooke, Yanouk also holds a post-MBA focusing on major global strategic issues. He is certified in executive coaching (ACC) by the International Coaching Federation.


For over 20 years, Cynthia Labonté has been assisting boards of directors, corporate executives and public organizations in the complete management of executive search processes. Previously, she led a team of senior managers and consultants at a major Canadian strategic consulting and executive search firm.

She has successfully completed over 350 executive search mandates for leading companies and firms in the manufacturing, industrial, distribution, retail, professional services and not-for-profit sectors. Her entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, rigor and analytical skills are essential attributes that enable her to recognize the unique culture and needs of organizations, and to analyze the leadership required to meet her clients' business challenges.

Ms. Labonté is a member of EntreChefs (a network of over 2,000 entrepreneurs in Quebec). Cynthia is very involved in Montreal's philanthropic community, actively participating on boards and in many local causes.

She holds a double MBA from Université Paris-Dauphine and from ESG-UQAM in Montreal.


Robin Ferré is an executive search consultant.

Prior to joining Humanis, Robin worked as a consultant and then as a director for a major player in executive search in Canada, where he worked in a variety of sectors including professional services, technology and manufacturing.

Prior to this, he worked in various organizations in Europe and Canada, in human resources and recruitment functions.

In his spare time, Robin is very involved in his community. He is a board member of the Société Économique de l’Ontario and the Alliance Française de Toronto.

He's also a big fan of combat sports, which he likes to practice or simply watch after a good dinner with his loved ones.

Robin Ferré holds a bachelor's degree in Law and a master's degree in Human Resources.


Maria Icaza is from Mexico City; she has more than 13 years of experience in executive search. She has collaborated with partners on senior management roles up to C-Suite positions in the manufacturing, consumer, retail, pharmaceutical, industrial and professional services industry. She has been working in Mexico and Canada, nevertheless she did some assignments in Latin-America, Europe, and in the United States.

She has strong interpersonal skills and naturally attracts high-caliber talents. Besides her love for connecting with people, she aims to learn new things every day. Committed and devoted to the firm, she understands the talent market and thrives from being part of a team.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Universidad del Valle de Mexico.  

Fluent in Spanish and English, and in French (in development).


Stéphanie has been working in communications and research for over 10 years. Always looking for the right word, she specialized in writing, translating, and proofreading. She has also worked on many search mandates. Her favourite topic remains human beings: exploring their potential fascinates her.

A true chameleon, she has worked within various industries and still deals equally with executive and artistic profiles. Her strength lies in her curiosity and her listening skills towards her collaborators.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Literature from Université de Lorraine (France) and attaches great importance to improving her linguistic and literary knowledge. Sensitive to art in all its forms and creative, she draws inspiration from those who dare to stand out.

A mother to two young children, education and openness to the world remain at the heart of her priorities. During her free time, nothing pleases her more than to welcome at her table people who are authentic and have a great sense of humour. 


Richard Bélanger is a senior consultant who has extensive experience in high-level management which has allowed him to support several types of businesses in different industries and sectors, mainly in executive search but also in their succession planning process.

His experience of more than 25 years in the field of executive recruitment was acquired within his own firm as well as with a major Canadian strategic consulting and executive search firm.

Richard was President of a subsidiary of a key retailer and distributor of consumer products and catalog sales in Canada.

He serves on different Boards of Administration and has developed an enviable network based on his personal values which are authenticity, rigor, and a sense of ethics. His people skills and his ability to actively listen combined with his managerial courage allow him to ensure that the needs of his customers are understood.
Richard Bélanger


Mackenzie Boessenkool is a Research Coordinator at Humanis Advisory and a graduate of the University of Alberta, where she studied Psychology and Economics. Combining her knowledge in these fields, Mackenzie dives into talent acquisition, focusing on the human aspect being the process.

Beyond her professional role, Mackenzie enjoys sports, live music events, exploring Edmonton’s various cultural offerings, and is always looking for a new experience to try. She finds joy in connecting with her community and has a genuine interest in people. Mackenzie is dedicated to fostering meaningful relationships and strives for success every step of the way.