The Story of Us - The Ampersand June 2024 • The Ampersand June 2024
June 3, 2024

The Story of Us – The Ampersand June 2024

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The Ampersand Chronicles Vol. 1 Stories of a Small but Mighty Business in a Rough and Tumble Town


My Grade 11 English report card included the following note from my very English English teacher, Mrs. Pennells: “Adam’s most unfortunate [ski] accident certainly contributed to the depression of his mark this term, but so also did his continuing lack of mastery of the basic skills of spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. Adam is an informed, perceptive student who has some interesting ideas to express. He simply must spend more time learning the details of the written language.” 


I’m pleased to report that some 40 years later, I appear to have gotten the hang of it. I was never a big reader as a kid, nor evidently was I much of a writer. This all changed when I started my own firm in 2009. In truth, it started before that, whilst I was still an employee, first at Robert Half International from 2001 to 2005, then back at the law firm where I initially started my career in 1996, for a return three-year stint from 2005 to 2008, and finally at Korn/Ferry International, the penultimate stop on my career journey. 

At each of those junctures, I frequently crafted clever or nuanced notes, typically directed to an internal audience, excitedly announcing new hires, diplomatically delivering tricky terminations, or other pertinent bulletins. Mastering the subtle art of telegraphing what really happened with the addition or deletion of a single word, slightly weighted emphasis on a certain phrase, conducting a literary symphony with a keystroke rather than a baton, where every word was a note, and every sentence a movement, orchestrating a narrative that danced between hard truth and preferred perception, revealing just enough to satisfy curiosity while veiling the full story to protect the innocent. What was it Mark Twain said? “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” 

The delicate nuance buried within It is with regret and It is with great regret or I write to inform versus Effective immediately. The well-placed Oxford comma (“With gratitude, I would like to thank my parents, Oprah Winfrey, and God.”) the difference between announcing a promotion and inadvertently suggesting an unexpected vacancy. One word, one comma, could make a world of difference between everyone getting back to work and hours of lost productivity amidst rampant speculation. I was often told my emails were funny. More graphically, it was suggested by a Partner of the law firm at which I worked twice, thus honing my skills before a very cynical, though discerning audience, that I “give good email.” 

But it wasn’t until my name was on the door of my own firm in 2009 that I started writing for an external audience. Okay, that, too, isn’t exactly true. For, I have always written for an audience of one: me. Like keeping a diary, but one I expect to be found and read by others. Just that under my own banner, and not that of a venerable and rather conservative law firm or search firm, I felt more liberated, the permission to write what I wanted, when I wanted, the licence for which was issued by me, and me alone. More practically, when I started my firm, I needed a way to communicate with my soon-to-be clients in a manner that differentiated me from the usual mass email top-10-wisdom-nugget drivel pumped out by many of my competitors. I knew that in an industry with absolutely no barriers to entry, where all you need in order to call yourself an Executive Search Professional, is a phone and the Internet, the single biggest, though by no means easiest, way to differentiate was in the quality of thought, the predictability of cadence, and the credibility with which ideas were posited. Amidst the din of so many eager contenders, distinction emerged like a quiet melody in a crowded room—subtle, yet unmistakable, requiring not grand gestures, but the delicate harmony of insightful thought, rhythmic cadence, and the gentle confidence of a whispered revelation. 

The pressure to produce consistently high-quality content follows me around to this day like a faithful shadow, a silent companion urging me to strive for excellence in every post. Every so often, the sun gets obscured, the shadow disappears, and I am reminded of the burden. Recently, in April 2024, as I was focusing most of my non-day-job-hours on completing the manuscript for this very book, I took a month off from writing the monthly newsletter, ending a streak of 11 consecutive posts and 19 of the past 20. Gratefully, my new colleagues as a result of our firm’s merger stepped in to cover for me and though they did their very best, the long-time Pekarsky & Co. readers are a discerning lot and have grown accustomed to the impossibly high standard we have set for ourselves. One long-time reader (whom I’ve never met) noted: “Every month I look forward to reading your thought-provoking piece. Typically, I forward it far and wide because you are commenting on our realities, complexities, idiosyncrasies and everyday shenanigans – with an Adam message neatly tucked in. You have a unique writing skill, and I will buy and read the book of 100 articles. I get corporate speak from most sources. I loathe to read them. But I muscle through looking for a nugget of value. Please help your peers/partners to be authentic and unique human writers. Teach them your secret sauce. Your friend and steady eddy fan club member.” 

Putting yourself out there ain’t for the faint of heart. The bar is high, and the critics are tough. Especially the rather touchy MAGA class. As you read through the book, particularly the comments I received after each post, you will swiftly grasp the depths of this reality. I thank Mrs. Pennells for hardening me to the criticism at a young age. While the quantity of replies often provided a bellwether as to how the post landed, the quality of those replies provided an even more telling glimpse as to whether ‘everyone else’ was thinking the same way I was on a given issue.

In certain cases, like Calgary’s decision not to host the Olympics (see An Olympic Sized Opportunity), it felt like I was giving voice to what so many around me (or at least, like me) were feeling. In others, I clearly misread the room. Two examples that pop to mind. I recall learning many weeks after publishing Once More, With Feeling, an article about our second (of three) attempt(s) to launch a Toronto office under the Pekarsky & Co. banner that some found it ‘caustic,’ a perceived drive-by at a previous employee (nothing could have been further from the truth). Also, any time I wrote about Trump, which I did on multiple occasions, I was reminded with all the subtlety of a chainsaw, that on that particular subject not everyone shared my views. 

In those early days, with no clients, a borrowed office from my pals at Deloitte, barely a domain to my name, The Pekarsky Group (as it then was) distribution list started small, the posts brief. In fact, they weren’t posts so much as press clippings. Forwarding along articles I’d read or been sent and thought to share with a few dozen, then a few hundred, then several thousand clients, friends, candidates, colleagues, and others. It wasn’t until April 2013 when a trusted mentor and client pulled me aside, having observed that my introductory preambles announcing the month’s articles were getting bolder and better in their tone and style, and advised me that I should cease being a clipping service and start being a Thought Leader. And so it was, my first ‘edgy’ post, entitled A Thought on Thought Leadership (in hindsight as tame as a kitten wearing mittens) led me to this: A Book. Comprising over 100 posts and spanning nearly 400 pages, this compendium isn’t arranged purely chronologically, but rather by themes that revealed themselves only after encountering the remarkable Rosalind Toews, who bravely accepted the challenge of bringing this audacious project to life.

Rosalind painstakingly read through each and every of the 178 posts dating back to 2009 and grouped the best of them under the following headings: Resilience & OptimismCOVID LessonsAnatomy of Search & Company CultureCareer Growth & Leadership LessonsTeachable MomentsCulture & Society; and Evolution & Growth. While this sounds more like the categories on a Jeopardy! game board, they accurately capture the recurring themes I’ve been transmitting for the better part of the last 15 years.

So, why write the book? Other than sticking it to Mrs. Pennells, whose tea sipping pinky finger would be aquiver at the very thought, it just felt like a nice way to capture the arc of one guy’s journey in building a small business in a city as well known for its boom and bust turbulence as for its entrepreneurial spirit, thus the title: The Ampersand Chronicles Vol. 1 – Stories of a Small but Mighty Business in a Rough and Tumble Town. 

I recall soon after starting the firm asking a mentor whether I should pursue an Executive MBA concurrent with launching the business. He said, “Why would you do that? You’re already getting one.” And so, as self-aggrandizing as this looks and self-conscious as this makes me feel, consider it your MBA without having to get one. You won’t agree with everything in the pages that follow. At least I certainly hope not. Yet, I trust you will come to appreciate the true grit required to launch a business in a fiercely competitive arena, where global and national giants loom large, and crisis lurks around every corner. Picture it as navigating the tumultuous terrain of a rugged country and western city – the Stampede City – with the ups and downs of a bull rider’s quest for eight seconds of glory stretched over a decade and a half.

The Readers’ Digest version of what follows goes like this: ‘guy starts a recruitment firm in his basement in the throes of a global financial crisis and 15 years, one flood, two oil downturns and a three-year global pandemic later wins the Small Business of the Year Award, merges his firm, and sells for an outrageous multiple.’ Okay, that last part hasn’t happened. Still, it has been such a wild ride with so many great memories and lessons learned that thankfully, like that diary with countless little entries slicing and dicing the journey, I have this wonderful archive and it seemed a waste not to memorialize it in the form of this book. 

With each month and each passing year, the posts piled up. And it wasn’t until I answered the call (many of the monthly newsletter readers had been suggesting it for a time), that I realized the book had pretty much written itself. What I didn’t realize, until Rosalind helped show me, was how I kept going to the well so often on those seven recurring themes. While each theme has several posts within, they were often written many years apart, which not only illustrates the timelessness of the ideas but the undeniable truth that Mrs. Pennells needed to be more patient – I got better. Though the economy or the firm’s evolution or the people on the team or the prevailing mood of the day may have ebbed and flowed, the through-lines persisted, and those ‘details of the written language’ steadily improved. 

In conclusion to this introduction, let me just acknowledge that while I penned most of the posts, it takes a village to keep publishing month after month after month (I am still writing monthly newsletters while trying to also publish this book). One of my most ruthless, and therefore best, editors is – ironically enough – Kate Spencer, a veteran member of our firm. Ironic because as a young lawyer I worked for her dad, David, also a long-time friend and supporter of the firm, who, like his daughter, possessed a very sharp wit and even sharper red pen. Another long-time member of the firm, Kiara Marika, is responsible for taking the monthly black and white letters on a page and turning them into something beautiful before they hit the readers’ inbox. Many others along the way provided great advice and counsel, proofreading the occasional post to either tone it down or spice it up. 

Foremost among the consigliere is my brother, Josh. Not only did I write about him in one of my articles – Taking the Long View– ironically enough about ignoring his advice, but I often ran ideas past him to take his temperature or have him cast his discerning English Major’s eye over a particularly problematic post or ambiguous grammatical interpretation.

My team at the firm deserves thanks, too. Partners Ranju Shergill and Cameron McDonald, who helped underwrite some of the cost of this production, but also willingly allowed me to publish so many pieces under the firm’s banner and binding their brand and reputation to my own, for better or worse. Thanks guys.

Finally, my wife, Sonia, and my kids, Chloe, Samuel, and Jacob. They don’t need a calendar to tell when the first of the month is approaching. The furrow of my brow, the slump of my shoulders, and the hour of the morning they would find me at the foot of the kitchen table pecking away told them all they needed to know. Enduring me, whether fighting a case of writer’s block like a weary wrestler escaping its hold or in a blissful groove where their lips are moving but words are muffled as though I’m submerged in a swimming pool of thought. They are a sounding board, an advisory council, and the unsung “Company” of Pekarsky & Co. 

A final, final thought. You’ll note the book is entitled “Volume 1.” I very much hope that in 15 years’ time, as I approach the ripe age of 70, there may indeed be a Volume 2. If the next 15 years are anything like the last 15, there will be no shortage of things to write about.

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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.