August 31, 2020

Adventure of a Lifetime – The Ampersand September 2020

Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage,

that they force us to think.”

– Jawaharlal Nehru

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On the morning of Sunday August 16th, and shortly after dropping two of my kids, Sammy (16) and Chloe (19), at the trailhead of Heiko’s Trail for their Fernie summer bucket list two night back-country adventure, I returned to the cabin, a.k.a. P&Co. Global HQ, and started writing the September 1 Ampersand.

Battling a severe case of mid-summer writer’s block, I made it this far before retreating to the couch for a nap:

As summer fades, fall approaches like a hard conversation.

Summer has felt like a great night’s sleep. The fatigue and fear of spring interrupted by a solid 8 hours, or 8 weeks as it were. It felt to me at least – conceding that relative to most, I write from a place of great privilege – that we all worked extra hard at not working extra hard this summer. We’ve not only come to accept our current predicament, but I dare say we collectively did our very best to make the very best of it.  

But, with the return of fall comes the return to school and to work and to the new new normal. Though the chaos of the world is impossible to ignore and the uncertainty of what lies ahead weighs on us, summer – particularly this summer – has offered for most of us the rare opportunity to recharge, recalibrate, reprioritize and rethink a lot of stuff.

I then found this quote which I pasted at the bottom of the preceding 156 words thinking it would be a nice segue at some point into a description of all the innovative and exciting pivots and plans we have undertaken during our 8 week respite, moves designed to transform us from plumbers to window washers (working title for October Ampersand), that will set us up for continued success on the back side of this pandemic:

Many a false step was made by standing still.”

– Tim Ferriss

That quote would turn out to be rather prescient.  But that’s as far as I got.

The plan was to read a bit, grab a nap and then peck out 1000 more words and be done.  I lay there, seeking a suitable metaphor that would capture the gist of the piece – navigating and pivoting in a COVID era of crisis.  Eyes heavy, reading an article on Emergence Leadership “…emergence leaders are better prepared to take on disruption…” when something terribly disruptive, actually terrifying, happened.  With one ‘ping’ on my phone, I no longer grasped for a metaphorical figure of speech to apply, for the moment was no longer metaphorical, but entirely literal. And in the ensuing five hours I would pivot from the pivot I had planned to pen and instead live a real-life metaphor, as if in some house of mirrors, I’d never imagined writing about.

A ping from the InReach device we’d given the kids, a satellite text-enabled communication tool to be used only in case of emergency, rather cryptically letting me know that Chloe had fallen and hurt her foot and could we (my wife and I) please come help. Now.

A bit of background.  Sammy and Chloe are both experienced hikers and outdoorspeople; Chloe in particular. In 2018 she canoed 40 days down the Mackenzie River and has led several back country hiking expeditions as a counsellor at Camp Chief Hector. Her younger brother, 16, is strong like a bull and carries himself with the poise and maturity of a true leader, an emergent one, rather than an emergence one, perhaps. And though even a cursory review of the Tourism Fernie description of the hike – a double black diamond, extremely difficult 24km grunt over two mountain passes – would normally give pause, we weren’t worried. They were responsible, prepared and had done the hike before; sections of it many times, including the section where the fall took place. Quite arguably, the worst possible section of the entire expedition to endure such a tumble.

Adventure of a Lifetime - The Ampersand September 2020 • Image 1 scaled

As with life pre-COVID, that ‘ping’ radically changed the day’s events. Prior to the ping, the cadence of that Sunday afternoon was like so many before it. After the ping, it was a heart-pounding series of events, not dissimilar to those which followed exactly five months earlier when, to use an over-used and now entirely inappropriate metaphor, the world fell off a cliff.

Just as the mid-March COVID ping jarringly forced us to spring into crisis mode, so too did the events of August 16th.  First thing was not to panic, but to think. We called our neighbour, let him know what happened and asked if he could bring his Jeep to the trailhead, saving us the added 3km walk to a more accessible logging road where I dropped the kids about three hours earlier. Of course he could because that’s what neighbours do – especially this neighbour — in times of crisis. Knowing we’d be out of cell range we gave him a very rough approximation of when we should be back at the bottom, assuming a safe retrieval and descent and all other things being equal, which they were not.  The COVID allegory? Don’t let your pride get in the way. Ask for help. I seem to recall a wise man, or at least a grey haired one, giving similar advice in the earliest days of COVID.

There were other very hurried but measured decisions that needed to be made before we started the 40 minute journey up the logging road to the steep trail head. Notify others, pack appropriate provisions, gas up the car, fill up water bottles, make a plan to pick up our third kid at the golf course. Darned third children! We planned with purpose and urgency. While there was worry, there was no panic. My wife and I were a team in this endeavour, privately proportionately concerned by what lay ahead but laser focused on the here and now, taking the steps in this moment that wouldn’t make the situation worse down the road.

Eerily similar to the decisive steps we took at the firm in the days that followed the mid-March shutdown. Taking immediate steps to preserve cash, transition to a remote work environment, reduce expenses, investigate government programs, reach out to clients, candidates and suppliers to offer, and to accept, help. Again, those steps we took early on, laser focused in that moment, served us well in the long months ahead as we cautiously stepped our way along an uncertain path, ‘bum-scooching’ our way to quarter end, then year-end and now, two months into fiscal ’21, bumped and bruised, a bit scratched and occasionally scared, but still in one piece.

And so as we ascended the steep climb, we found ourselves in the April of our journey. Head down, one foot before the other, isolated and contemplating all the things that could go wrong, how we were going to get out and how did we get here in the first place.  Ah, ‘How did we get here?’ is a question we’ve all been asking these days isn’t it?  We received infrequent word from descending hikers we passed as to the kids’ whereabouts and condition. In the eyes of each passerby was reflected a mix of relief to know the parents were on the way up, mixed with palpable concern about how exactly we were going to descend down a steep trail, with ladders, drop-offs, fallen logs and slippery switch-backs with the injured kid they’d seen, that we hadn’t yet reached.  With each hurried step we took up (for we’d done that section of the hike to a lookout called Bisaro Cave many times), I supressed the image of our return voyage. Only once during the climb up was I overheard to have said, ‘there’s no way we’re making it down this mountain with an injured kid,’ which, I should point out, is exactly one more time than I’ve ever expressed a similar sentiment about the prospects of our firm surviving the current journey we’re on.

Of the many quirky family customs we have, one of the more useful is a call and answer refrain loosely resembling the chorus of Coldplay’s, rather appropriately named song, Adventure of a Lifetime. When skiing in the trees or just singing in the car, one of us sings Woo Hoo and the other repeats, a key or two lower, Woo Hoo.  At my earliest opportunity, still a couple kilometers from where they were supposed to be and despite the din of the waterfall I normally notice, I yelled my first of many Woo Hoo’s, this one punctuated, I expect, with more of a question mark than exclamation point. Nothing.  Again.  Nothing. A few minutes later, another one, this time echoed back and we knew we were close.

Again we passed more hikers descending. This time, a group of typically fit Fernie moms and their fit young kids. One of the moms told me she gave Chloe some Advil, speculated it was a metatarsal fracture of the left foot and wished us well. In life, as in business, in times of crisis you need to count on the kindness of your community; a community often comprised of complete strangers.  As our firm has navigated these last several months, it has done so on the strength of our relationships, the deep reservoir of goodwill and good karma accumulated over years of doing the right thing for friends and strangers alike.

Adventure of a Lifetime - The Ampersand September 2020 • Image 5 rotated

The journey down was precarious. The neighbour with the Jeep who I’d asked to come to the trailhead, predictably, did more than that. Soon after receiving my text, he picked up my third kid at the golf course, brought him home, then raced up the mountain, parked at the trailhead and hoofed it up the mountain himself. No small feat for a big man. With each of the two kids hauling a 50 pound pack, the added muscle came in handy. Sammy, an unsung hero in this drama, stayed steady, calm and appropriately humorous throughout.  Though, for I am a dad joke Black Belt, nothing topped my response to Sammy on the way down when, thinking about what lay ahead, he asked me “how the hell are we going to get her across the [narrow, sketchy] bridge near the bottom?”  “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”  Right?!

Another COVID allegory?  Why didn’t we call Search and Rescue? Firstly, because Chloe is tough, proud and stubborn. Secondly, because we were concerned about being a drag on the system; what if someone, somewhere was in more dire straits than us? And isn’t that just the winning formula to see us all through to the other side of our current predicament? A blend of toughness and stubbornness tempered with a selflessness and caring for others; keeping them safe by the actions we take individually?

The next day I received a text from the mom on the trail who had the wherewithal to ask the kids for my cell number. Here’s our exchange:

Adventure of a Lifetime - The Ampersand September 2020 • Image 9

Neighbour helping neighbour; stranger helping stranger. In business as in life.

Chloe’s now on the mend, as is the business. Uncertainty and recovery lie ahead. A few final summer adventures have been shelved or postponed, like countless other pursuits in the COVID era. But as with so many facets of life during this pandemic, it’s all about perspective. It’s all about what might have been and what could have happened. Though we tend to dwell only the good things we’re missing out on, I submit that we may wish to save a thought for how much worse things could have been.


Did COVID prepare me for the events of the day or did the events of the day prepare me for what lies ahead?

The answer is yes.



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.