Where Vision Meets Action – The Ampersand March 2021 • jill 400x400 1
March 1, 2021

Where Vision Meets Action – The Ampersand March 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Well, it’s March. Again. Yay. Our ‘one year ago this day’ photo memories are about to start looking really familiar. “Oh, ya, I remember that! That’s me. Sitting at my kitchen table. In my sweats. In my house.” And yet, memories notwithstanding, so so much has changed. COVID has been the CTRL-ALT-DEL of our time; a complete reboot of how we think, behave and interact.  And also, how we lead.

Everything we thought we knew about leadership requires a fresh look. Everything we thought we knew about everything, for that matter.

The team you brought into this pandemic may not be the team that gets you out of it. Structure, predictability and hierarchy have given way to agility, uncertainty and empathy.

The style you brought into this pandemic may not be the style that gets you of it. Top down, command and control bed checks and drive-by’s have given way to bottom up innovation, individual accountability, and inclusion.

The ideas you brought into this pandemic, or developed during it, may not be the ideas that get you through to the other side.

I read recently in the New York Times that ‘Pandemic Puppies’ have become a serious concern. “People who got puppies during the pandemic are struggling. Limited interaction with other dogs has made it hard to socialize puppies. And some dogs have become so attached to their owners that they show distress and anxiety when left alone. Dog trainers are in demand thanks to a boom in adoptions from shelters and sales from breeders, spurred last spring by widespread work-from-home policies and profound social isolation.”

Short term fixes borne of necessity and designed to bring immediate gratification must be weighed against longer term implications. What makes sense today, may cause problems tomorrow. We need X-ray vision to see around the next corner.

We are Doc Brown and Marty McFly building the DeLorean.  We’re standing at the precipice, about to spend thousands of dollars hard-wiring our entertainment room only to see everything go wireless; we’re at a trade show about to plunk down huge sums on the latest video conferencing equipment for our corporate boardrooms, only to see Zoom Unlimited emerge for $20/month.

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We are Peter Chiarelli, then General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, about to sign a stone-handed lumbering Milan Lucic to a seven year $42 million dollar contract just before the NHL goes small, skilled and speedy. We’re on the phone with our broker selling our under-performing Amazon stock and redeploying the proceeds into a can’t-miss Blockbuster Video franchise. We are there now. Staring into the future as it unfolds, both slowly and quickly, before us.

So what are you going to do about it?  Buy or sell? Lead or follow? Innovate or Depreciate? I’ll tell you what we’re going to do about it and how, just maybe, we can help you answer the questions.

Last year, soon after the pandemic hit and our new reality set it, we commissioned a consultant, Dr. Jill Birch, to explore its implications on leadership. Since then, Jill has talked to countless leaders across Alberta – and Canada – asking them how the pandemic, our changing economy and equity, diversity and inclusion will change the future of leadership.

Leaders were clear on two points. First, they told us the heart of Alberta leadership rests in entrepreneurial leadership. They believe, and we agree with them, that it’s our resilience, inventiveness and pragmaticism that got us here. As one leader said, “Balancing the tension between evidence and action-taking will be the key to future success.”

Second, leaders imparted advice that has stayed with us: “Don’t leave behind entrepreneurialism but enhance it.” We were urged to identify new capabilities to help leaders see through the eyes of others, understand change, connect the dots, become better collaborators and most importantly, support them to develop and engage future leaders. Leaders said, “Help us shape the attributes that will help us get there.”

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As a result of this research, and an immediate connection with Jill, both in style and substance, we decided to go a step further and form an alliance with Jill and her firm, BirchGrove Leadership Inc., a national leadership consultancy whose philosophy of leadership reflects our own.

Together, our vision is to help organizations achieve their goals by developing entrepreneurial leadership that is innovative, change driven and committed to equity. Our mission is to deliver services that propel mission-critical learning, drive performance and align with strategy. Together, we’re introducing a suite of leadership advisory services that holistically address our clients’ human capital needs.

Where Vision Meets Action – The Ampersand March 2021 • Image 8And we’ll do so in our firm’s unique way. We’ll partner with you; we won’t preach at you. We will be responsive and service oriented and candid. Our Retreat Facilitation will bring out the very best in the room; Our certified roster of Executive Coaches will be tailored to suit your particular needs; Our Unconscious Bias and EDI training will be leading edge and come from an Alberta perspective.

We’re not trying to out McKinsey McKinsey. Rather, we are bringing our unique brand and voice and ethic to an underserved market. Our Total Assessment Experiences and our Mission Critical 100 will ensure we don’t just transact on our searches and be gone but ensure all are set up for long-term success. We’ve done the research and we know these are essential components of a successful search, not simply accessories, the proverbial fuzzy dice and neon underglow of a search process.

Where Vision Meets Action – The Ampersand March 2021 • Image 9In short, BirchGrove has pioneered a framework in relational leadership embedding the entrepreneurial spirit with renewed energy and commitment. These are the virtues and values that form the foundation of our firm’s zeitgeist.

Our team, under Jill’s tutelage and leadership, will formalize what we have informally been doing for years – serving as trusted advisors to our clients and community; as Leader Whisperers to organizations large and small; as caring, thoughtful and practical deliverers of excellence.

Our eight new leadership advisory services deliver custom leadership development to your organization where Alberta leaders told us they need it the most: fostering deeper self-awareness, driving growth during disruptive times and harnessing diversity to become more innovative.

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While broadening offerings to our client community, these services pave the way in ensuring we are on top of the latest trends and issues affecting the many sectors and industries we serve. The more we have the opportunity to support your leadership needs, the better able we will be to provide counsel in the critical areas of succession planning, talent development and growing mutual team accountability.

We recently sat down with Jill to chat about leadership and how our firm can leverage our existing 12-year track record as trusted advisors in the executive search space into this leadership sector.

Jill, welcome to the team. What is it about COVID-19, Alberta, Leadership and P&Co. that led you to join forces with our team?

Thanks Adam, I’m thrilled to be joining P&Co. at this critical moment in leadership.  For the past 18 months or so, I’ve been focused on the ways that COVID, the rise of social justice movements and environmental concerns will impact our leaders. As I interviewed your clients, it became clear that these three forces are already transforming Alberta, shifting the leadership landscape. As I became more deeply entrenched in this project, my commitment grew to serving Albertans in their quest to reset, rethink and redesign leadership. In looking at the team, your reputation and the amazing goodwill you’ve developed, I saw an opportunity for us to truly make a difference in bringing a new lens to leaders and their organizations as they contemplated their plans to emerge successfully from the pandemic.

We wouldn’t be the first executive search firm to pivot into leadership development; we might actually be the last! Why do you think this can work?

Adam, I think between your energy and commitment to leadership and my experience and background we will become a new dynamic duo: one that’s based on substance and not flash. When I was interviewing Alberta leaders, they told me they wanted to work with a true partner, not an organization politely forcing “formulaic prescriptions.”  I’ve been that partner, co-creating customized programs that drive results.

Your clients also shared they wanted to work with someone who has “been there.” I know their pressures: I’ve been a CEO and member of several C-Suites in the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. And I also bring a passion to design and facilitation from my work at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, where I helped strengthen ties between their Executive Search and Leadership practices.

Organizations are also looking for diverse sector experience and this is another area I bring to your clients. While I was with the Schulich School of Business, I worked collaboratively with companies from American Express and the Commonwealth of Nations to Bell Canada to Atomic Energy of Canada and the government of Singapore. There’s nothing that energizes me more than fusing a company’s strategy to the growth of their leaders. P&Co.’s unique contributions to sourcing talent coupled with the goodwill you bring will allow us to deliver a superb leadership development offering.

What is it about spring 2021 that makes this leadership piece more relevant than spring 2020?

Spring of 2020 will go down as one of the pandemic’s most challenging periods and leadership’s biggest opportunities. That April, I participated in a forum to get a grip on how the world’s natural eco-systems could help our broken spirits and organizations. There were 90 of us, facilitated by an expert in eco- system thinking, Kathleen Allen, who used examples of how honey bees, forests and ancient tree bridges could teach us a thing or two about how we might overcome adversity and foster change.

As the session came to an end, Kathleen made a comment that has stayed with me ever since. She talked about the gift of the moment when we recognize a new paradigm is about to replace an old one. You’ll know it, she said, when you observe an unrelenting ferocity to hold on to old ways. As spring melted in summer, we saw this up close: deep divisions sprang up, politically, generationally and environmentally. Imagine people taking the risk and ignoring social distancing to protest during a pandemic! As I watched events unfold, I became convinced that we were witnessing one paradigm giving away to another. Adam, our struggles to shift the paradigm will go on for some time but what intrigued me was how the core of my research in relational leadership so resonated with the kind of behaviour we need to see not just today, but in the years to come.

Remembering that moment, helped me reflect more deeply about not just what’s happening around the world, but specifically what I had learned as I worked on this assignment for P&Co. Let’s face it, it’s hard to let go. People become nostalgic as they reminisce about booms and busts, about hell and high water, about Eddie the Eagle. These were moments when incredible adversity was overcome. These were also moments of brave exploration, times where inspiration arrived just when it was most needed. And that’s the spirit we want to recapture as we work with Albertan leaders.

For the past fifty years Albertan leaders have risen to heights that likely even surprised them. They’ve overcome adversity, been resilient and have battled through very tough times. You’d think that if leaders just applied more grit, more determination  that it would be enough. It sounds like you think something’s missing.

Based on what your clients shared with me, this time it’s different. You know as they were talking to me about surviving a bust to get to the next boom, they talked about the importance of teaching and learning together to better  adapt, innovate, become more agile and, in many cases, how to just plain survive. It’s funny, I hadn’t heard anyone use the term “learning organization” for a while, but as I spoke to leaders, many said that for any meaningful paradigm shift to occur in Alberta we need to change how we lead and how we develop leaders. Old ways of leading will not bring about new ways to make a living.

Can you elaborate on that?

Sure. Over the next generation, a significant paradigm shift will be realized. It feels like we’re at the beginning of it. Like all change efforts, some people will work incredibly hard to create change, others will wait it out. And as we’ve seen, some leaders will cling more tightly than ever to the power, position and authority they have worked so hard to amass. After all, they haven’t been adversely affected. For them, resisting change is easier: they’ve become comfortable, maybe even complacent, with existing structures and systems.  But for people at forefront of movements it will demand a whole new kind of resilience and grit. Standing up to make change will be some of the hardest work we’ll be asking our leadership to do. It will mean creating the New West.

Don’t you mean the new New West? Doesn’t seem that long ago that Prime Minister Harper was touting the power of the New West and the Alberta Advantage.  Seems odd now to think of it that way, doesn’t it?

Yes, it sure does! I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled upon a book that now seems anachronistic as I was conducting my research. It was Gordon Pitts’ 2008 book Stampede: The Rise of the West and Canada’s New Power Elite. In his book, Pitts chronicled what he saw as Alberta’s impending domination of the Canadian economy. It was in his assessment of Alberta business and its leaders, combined with the voices of Alberta leaders that led me to think about a framework that embodied the entrepreneurial heart of leadership with new ways of leading. I was really drawn to this particular insight of his:

“To understand how the West will evolve, you could do no worse that study its business leaders, who are like no other in Canada – straight forward, no nonsense, pragmatic, just like the hard- nosed grinders they admire in hockey. Edmonton’s greatest hockey player may have been smooth, cerebral Wayne Gretzky, but it was sharp elbowed, dangerous Mark Messier who best reflected the blue-collar business ethos.

These images matter because leadership styles matter. A region’s business leaders set the tone for the entire community…the West has always been about business, first and foremost and business leadership is even more important now…The western business class is growing up. Unlike its counterparts in the East, it is still largely first- or second – generation money, not the inherited wealth of several generations…Because they are new to business and have built their own companies, they tend to be more entrepreneurial than their Eastern counterparts – even those who are hired-hand professional managers rather than owners.”

It was through this insight, combined with the research and dozens of interviews I conducted with some of P&Co.’s – and Alberta’s – most respected leaders, that a hypothesis emerged to better understand how P&Co. might serve the leadership needs of Alberta.

And, are you going to tell us??

You bet. My hunch is Alberta leaders are eager and ready to tap into a new kind of energy: entrepreneurial energy, that is. They recognize they are at the proverbial fork in the road. Look in one direction and there’s a “safe” path  – maintaining the status quo – but you and I know this is no longer safe. Ah, but look toward the second path, the one that contains the rough outlines of a future largely unknown, and that’s where I saw the glimmer in their eyes. Albertan leaders are ready to take on the immense, but exciting challenge of  shaping a new  diversified economy.

There’s a question and an issue rolled up in this hunch. The question is: “How are Alberta’s leaders identifying and developing the new entrepreneurial leadership capabilities needed to support them on this path?”  The issue is also in the form of a question: “How will Alberta leaders come together to collaborate to get up the curve faster and farther in anticipation of seizing advantage as the pandemic ends?”

The answer, I hope, is that they turn to us for any and all means of support, comradery, and community building.  For all of us, now is the time to ensure Alberta leadership is stronger and more supported than ever.

It will take all of the existing entrepreneurial capabilities and a whole new mindset to reimagine the New West. We are committed to accompany our clients on this journey towards a new path with a “Made In Alberta” response, one that the McKinseys or BCGs or Deloittes of this world simply can’t offer. One that  must be both entrepreneurial and embracing of the new, New West.

We need to embrace the fact that the world has changed. We need to stop trying to get back on track. What we need to do is forge a brand-new track.”

-Todd Hirsch, ATB, Chief Economist  



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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.