Toronto CHRO Executive Summit

December 13, 2023 | Beanfield Centre

December 13, 2023
Beanfield Centre

Collaborate with your peers

Get together with Toronto's top CHROs to tackle shared business challenges and critical priorities facing your role today. Participate in this one-day, local program with peer-driven topics and interactive discussions with your true C-level peers.

Join your peers to discuss the most critical issues impacting CHROs today:

Developing leadership and change management capabilities to foster resilience

Increasing technological know-how to maintain a competitive advantage

Building a culture of engagement and continuous learning to flourish in the new world of work

Toronto CHRO Governing Body

The Governing Body Co-Chairs shape the summit agenda, ensuring that all content is driven by CHROs, for CHROs.

Governing Body Co-Chairs

Sonia Boyle

Gore Mutual Insurance Co.
Chief People Officer

Mohammed Chahdi

Global Vice President, Employee Experience

Barb Keenan

Liquor Control Board of Ontario
Chief People Officer

Marcia Mendes-d'Abreu

Foresters Financial
Global CHRO

Brigid Pelino

Definity Financial
Chief People and Culture Officer

Rashid Wasti

Weston Group of Companies
EVP & Chief Talent Officer

What to Expect

Interactive Sessions

Hear from CHRO practitioners and thought leaders on how they're solving critical challenges impacting your role today in Keynote sessions, and join smaller, interactive discussions with your peers in Breakout and Boardroom sessions.

Community Networking

Make new connections and catch up with old friends in casual conversations during dedicated time for networking designed to better acquaint you with your Toronto CHRO community.

Peer-to-Peer Meetings

Connect with like-minded peers in a private, one-on-one setting through Evanta's Peer-to-Peer Meetings. You will be matched with peers in your community based on your shared interests and priorities.


December 12, 2023

December 13, 2023

6:00pm - 8:30pm  Governing Body Welcome Reception

Governing Body Welcome Reception

Governing Body members host this dinner for attendees to launch the event with an evening of peer networking at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

7:45am - 8:30am  Registration & Breakfast

8:30am - 9:15am  Keynote

The AI Imperative in Recruiting Technology

Jackie Watrous headshot

Jackie Watrous

Senior Director, Recruitment Technology Analyst


Instilling artificial intelligence into your recruiting capabilities is no longer a “should-do” but a “must-do” to maintain a competitive advantage and elevate the entire recruiting life cycle. In this keynote, Gartner Analyst Jackie Watrous will help you identify the best approach to AI-enabled technology based on your strategic drivers, recruiting type and organizational risk tolerance.

This keynote will demonstrate how AI can:

  • Power an accurate, less-biased candidate selection process
  • Deliver a tailored candidate user experience
  • Make recruiting teams more effective and improve quality of hires

9:15am - 9:40am  Networking Break

9:40am - 10:25am  Breakout Session

Succession Planning as a Culture Enhancer

Elizabeth McSavaney headshot

Elizabeth McSavaney

VP, Head of Human Resources

Zurich Insurance

The role of succession planning is becoming increasingly important in identifying and retaining future leaders through disruption and uncertainty. CHROs can leverage the planning process to not only ensure long-term organizational stability, but also offer clear career pathways for employees and create a culture centered around talent development.

Join this session for a case study on:

  • Developing meaningful succession plans and adapting to changing priorities
  • Communicating transparently with potential successors and ensuring exposure to growth opportunities
  • Enhancing managerial competence to multiply talent at every level of the organization

9:40am - 10:25am  Executive Boardroom

Appreciation, Recognition and the Employee Experience

Sally Benn headshot

Sally Benn

SVP Group Customers

Venngo Inc

Brooke Ferguson headshot

Brooke Ferguson


Hudson's Bay Co

Barb Keenan headshot

Barb Keenan

Chief People Officer

Liquor Control Board of Ontario

Janine Pajot headshot

Janine Pajot

VP, Human Resources

Bayer Corporation

Recognizing what your employees do and appreciating who they are can make a positive impact on everything from recruitment and retention to wellness and performance. How can CHROs authentically integrate gratitude into the employee experience?

Join this session to explore ways to:

  • Shape an organizational culture of recognition and appreciation
  • Deliver tangible and intangible benefits through your total rewards program
  • Connect the dots between appreciation and recognition and overall business strategies

9:40am - 10:25am  Executive Boardroom

Leading Through Turmoil

Mary-Jo Hewat headshot

Mary-Jo Hewat

SVP, Human Resources & Facilities


Stephen Satchel headshot

Stephen Satchel

Chief People Officer

Coca-Cola Canada

When a crisis hits, CHROs are pulled in many directions. Between supporting employees, issuing statements and counseling leaders — the pressure to respond quickly yet thoughtfully becomes overwhelming. How can CHROs best prepare themselves and the organizations to navigate all of this effectively?

Join this session to discuss:

  • Tools to help organizational leaders respond to crises or political issues
  • Nuanced considerations when navigating hot-button topics
  • How to prepare the organization to stay resilient amid shocks

9:40am - 10:25am  Executive Boardroom

Adding Flexibility to Retain the Front Line

Scott Goodman headshot

Scott Goodman

Chief People Officer


Janet Joubran headshot

Janet Joubran

Chief People Officer


Geoff Smith headshot

Geoff Smith

SVP and Chief People & HSE Officer


Gartner finds that half of the top ten attractors to frontline roles are linked to some form of flexibility, making it a crucial focus as organizations work to retain talent and improve their employee experience. But how can CHROs add flexibility to roles that are traditionally tied to a set location, schedule or workload?

Join this session to discuss ways to:

  • Appeal to changing workforce expectations while meeting business needs
  • Increase employee autonomy over daily workflow without sacrificing productivity
  • Leverage technology to evaluate flexibility initiatives

10:25am - 11:00am  Networking Break

10:30am - 10:55am  Peer-to-Peer Meetings

Peer-to-Peer Meetings

Connect with like-minded peers in a one-on-one setting through Evanta’s Peer-to-Peer Meetings. You will be matched with peers in your community based on your shared interests and priorities.

11:00am - 11:45am  Breakout Session

The CHRO at the Center

Gordana Terkalas headshot

Gordana Terkalas

Senior Vice President, Human Resources


CHROs often operate at the intersection of many powerful stakeholders, requiring initiatives to be communicated with confidence as well as thorough preparation. This case study on executive compensation will demonstrate how to use storytelling to power up your presence in the boardroom and gain necessary buy-in.

This session will explore:

  • A real-time example of balancing internal and external stakeholder perspectives to develop an executive compensation plan
  • Ways to use storytelling and emotion to deliver compelling arguments
  • How to navigate conflicting priorities and facilitate compromise

11:00am - 11:45am  Executive Boardroom

Prioritizing Women’s Health for a Thriving Workforce

Dr. Joby McKenzie headshot

Dr. Joby McKenzie

Managing Director, Canada

Teladoc Inc

Nicole Desloges headshot

Nicole Desloges

SVP, People


Christine Greco headshot

Christine Greco



CHROs play a pivotal role in shaping a culture that empowers employees to reach their full potential and to do so must consider the unique health needs of women, where crucial gaps exist today. How can organizations support women through the key life stages they encounter throughout their careers?

Join this session to discuss how to:

  • Recognize the impact of women’s health challenges, including fertility, pregnancy and menopause
  • Prioritize comprehensive healthcare solutions and create environments that foster women’s holistic well-being
  • Intersect diversity, equity and inclusion strategies with health and wellness initiatives

11:00am - 11:45am  Executive Boardroom

Cultivate a Learning Culture

Tracey Brodie headshot

Tracey Brodie

Head of HR for Techtronic Industries Canada

Techtronic Industries, Inc.

Jo-Ann Giesbrecht headshot

Jo-Ann Giesbrecht

Vice President and Chief People Officer


In order to equip employees with future-ready skills, HR leaders need effective L&D infrastructure in place. However, even thoughtful learning and development strategies can suffer from low employee adoption without the right culture.

Join this session to discuss:

  • Creating an environment that encourages employees to proactively participate in learning and development
  • Barriers to fostering a learning culture
  • Tying L&D strategy to business skill needs while supporting individual employee development

11:00am - 11:45am  Executive Boardroom

Expanding Talent Pipelines Through the Power of Potential

Kavita Kara headshot

Kavita Kara

Head of HR Canada

Travelers Canada

Marcia Mendes-d'Abreu headshot

Marcia Mendes-d'Abreu

Global CHRO

Foresters Financial

Organizations have long discussed diversifying their talent pipelines, and recent technological and labor market disruptions are forcing some to take action now to meet skill needs. How can CHROs help democratize job access to prioritize potential over credentials?

Join this session to discuss:

  • Establishing inclusive and transparent recruitment practices
  • Looking past outdated qualification requirements when assessing candidates
  • Appealing to untapped talent pools, including workers from diverse industries and backgrounds

11:45am - 12:30pm  Lunch Service

12:30pm - 1:05pm  Keynote

Keeping Employees Healthy, Productive and Present

Paula Allen headshot

Paula Allen

Global Leader and Senior Vice President, Research and Client Insights

TELUS Health

Dr. Matthew Chow headshot

Dr. Matthew Chow

Chief Mental Health Officer

TELUS Health

Jeff Scott headshot

Jeff Scott

Managing Director and Global Head, Benefits and Wellness

Bank of Montreal

In a people-powered economy, health and wellbeing are essential components of sustainable business strategies and critical to success. Employers hold a unique responsibility in supporting an individual’s health and wellbeing, spanning physical, mental and financial health. How are leaders prioritizing their people to ensure the longevity of their organizations?

Join this session to learn about:  

  • Key issues impacting the total health and wellbeing of your workforce and how to address them
  • Striking a balance between employee expectations and economic and social factors
  • Diversifying, expanding and updating programs beyond the traditional view of wellness

1:05pm - 1:30pm  Break

1:30pm - 2:15pm  Breakout Session

Empowering a Culture of High Engagement and Performance

Brigid Pelino headshot

Brigid Pelino

Chief People and Culture Officer

Definity Financial

Marc Viola headshot

Marc Viola

Vice President, Talent & Culture

Definity Financial

Employee engagement is critical to weathering change, but that’s also when it's most at risk. In the leadup to an initial public offering, Definity Financial tapped into employee sentiment to increase connection and evolve culture – a playbook they've employed and doubled down on continuously through the pandemic, return to office initiatives and M&A activity.

This case study will deliver insights on:

  • Unlocking culture with a robust employee listening strategy
  • Highlighting the most meaningful actions that create the biggest impacts
  • The strongest "hooks" for sustaining performance

1:30pm - 2:15pm  Executive Boardroom

Cross-Functional Collaboration to Drive AI Success

Eugene Wen headshot

Eugene Wen

VP & Global Chief Data Scientist


As more organizations move past a “wait and see” approach to generative AI, it will take a deliberate strategy to manage the impacts to each area of the business. How can CHROs lean into cross-functional partnerships to leverage the full potential of AI, deliver value to their executive leadership team and keep people at the heart of the conversation?

Join this session with a Global Chief Data Scientist to discuss how to:

  • Use one another’s expertise to manage the broader impacts of emerging trends
  • Build a data-driven culture to support AI implementation
  • Develop, reskill and upskill leaders for the future of work

1:30pm - 2:15pm  Executive Boardroom

Uncovering Friction – Addressing Organizational Design with Intention

Cindy Bush headshot

Cindy Bush


TMX Group Ltd

Leanne Joffre headshot

Leanne Joffre

Vice President, People & Culture


Esther Zdolec headshot

Esther Zdolec

Senior Vice President, People and Culture

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

As the workforce evolves, CHROs are being called on to assess organizational design and move the needle forward on critical business priorities. That will require pinpointing design frictions employees face in the work environment to streamline their experience and increase productivity.

Join this session to discuss:

  • Exploring where there is friction within your organizational design structure
  • Understanding organizational design effectiveness beyond financial measurements
  • Working with stakeholders to implement meaningful changes

1:30pm - 2:15pm  Executive Boardroom

Building and Bolstering Better Managers

Erin Gordon headshot

Erin Gordon

Vice President HR

Lindt & Sprungli (Canada), Inc.

Greg Mackie headshot

Greg Mackie

General Manager, Talent Development

West Fraser

Managers are feeling the pressure as they balance business priorities with new employee expectations surrounding culture and flexibility. To top it off, managerial approaches that were successful in pre-pandemic times will no longer suffice. To ensure organizational success, CHROs must provide a clear roadmap for leaders from the frontline to the C-suite.

Join this session to discuss:

  • Increasing managerial competence and change management skills
  • Identifying and relieving pressure points within the organization
  • Clarifying managerial priorities to enable executives to focus on broader strategy

2:15pm - 3:00pm  Networking Break

2:20pm - 2:45pm  Peer-to-Peer Meetings

Peer-to-Peer Meetings

Connect with like-minded peers in a one-on-one setting through Evanta’s Peer-to-Peer Meetings. You will be matched with peers in your community based on your shared interests and priorities.

2:50pm - 3:25pm  Keynote

Unlocking Performance on Diverse Teams in Times of Uncertainty

Dr. Vijay Pendakur headshot

Dr. Vijay Pendakur

Talent & Culture Thought Leader and Agility Coach

Guest Speaker

In a time of extraordinary disruption and rapid change, extended periods of uncertainty can often lead to diminished team outcomes. But, skillful leaders can harness specific tools to enable their teams to flourish in complex times. This interactive workshop will focus on the science and skills of psychological safety and team connection, two proven drivers of team performance in moments of disruption.

Join this session with Dr. Vijay Pendakur to learn how to:

  • Leverage scientific evidence supporting the strong connection between diversity and business success
  • Upskill managers to lead psychologically safe teams
  • Harness the behavioral science of team connection to increase team resilience in extended periods of change

3:25pm - 4:00pm  Closing Reception & Prize Drawing

December 12, 2023

December 13, 2023

We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming in-person gathering

Evanta cares about the health and safety of our community. Please review the following recommendations prior to attending the gathering.


Venue & Accommodation

Beanfield Centre

Your Community Partners

CHRO Thought Leader
Key Partner
Program Partners

Community Program Manager

For inquiries related to this community, please reach out to your dedicated contact.

Neiland Fitzgerald

Community Program Manager