Ascend Canada Annual Conference

September 21st - 23rd, 2021

Building an Inclusive Tomorrow

Get ready for the Ascend Canada Annual Conference!

With our theme this year – Building an inclusive tomorrow – we are bringing together our signature mix of leaders to bring insights on a variety of topics ranging from lessons from the pandemic, allyship, technology, and more. We’ll also have exclusive networking opportunities throughout the three-day conference.

For a second year, we will be presenting the conference in a virtual format given there’s still such uncertainty surrounding large public events.

Our line-up of speakers over this 3-day professional development conference will inspire you to be a greater leader. Here’s a few who will be dropping by:

• Betsey Chung, Chief Marketing Officer, TD

• Cheesan Chew, Chief Operating Officer, RBC Ventures

• Mark Bowden, Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author

• Cameron Fowler, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO

• Nicki Sabapathy, Global Talent Executive, Shopify

• Rahul Joshi, Chief Operations Officer, Manulife

• Sayuri Ohno, Chief Audit Executive, Electronic Arts

Click the image to view it larger

Betsey Chung
Executive Vice President, Global Chief Marketing Officer at TD Bank Group

Betsey spent most of her time at the University of Toronto not really knowing what she wanted to do after graduation. Her first job out of school turned out to be in accounting, after which she left the country to work as a consultant in the United Kingdom.

Before returning to Canada Betsey got her Masters of Business Administration from the London School of Business. She returned and entered the corporate world, working in executive roles with American Express and BMO before joining TD.

Betsey says she had to find her voice in the corporate world, and believes in cultivating an open and trusting environment within her team, where all voices are heard.

Cameron Fowler
Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, BMO Financial Group

Cameron (Cam) Fowler is a global leader recognized for delivering impact at the intersection of financial services, technology and ESG.  Cam currently serves as BMO Financial Group’s Chief Strategy and Operations Officer, leading a broad enterprise transformation focused on accelerating BMO’s shift to a digitally enabled, future-ready bank driven by Purpose, brand, and culture.

Before joining BMO, Cam was a leader at Barclays based in London, serving markets throughout the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa. He led both digital and discretionary wealth businesses including Barclays Wealth International and the European Private Bank. 

Cam, who was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, has a BA (Honours) from Queen’s University and received his MBA from the London Business School at the University of London (U.K.).

Cheesan Chew
Chief Operating Officer, RBC Ventures

Cheesan has built her career on not losing sight of the forest for the trees. As the Chief Operations Officer at RBC Ventures—a portfolio of ‘beyond banking’ businesses that help clients thrive and communities prosper—she is focused on making the RBC Ventures vision a reality. Cheesan leads a cross-functional team of strategic operations, analytics and marketing professionals, driving a culture of innovation grounded in empathy.

Prior to joining RBC, Cheesan co-founded and served as Chief Customer Experience Officer at Idea Couture, building it into a global innovation leader. She is a seasoned business leader and innovator with extensive experience achieving growth through market opportunity, exceptional client experiences and operational efficiency. Cheesan earned an MBA from Western University’s Ivey Business School and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. She lives in Toronto with her family and spends her free time volunteering and traveling.

Mark Bowden
World-renowned body language expert, keynote speaker, and bestselling author

Voted the #1 Body Language Professional in the world for two years running, Mark Bowden is passionate about giving your audience the most influential and persuasive communication techniques to stand out, win trust, and gain credibility every time they speak. Inspiring, energetic, engaging, and entirely entertaining, Mark’s memorable talks and training programs not only educate but have proven life-changing in helping people and organizations grow across all industries and sectors.

Mark’s work is consistently invaluable to sales and leadership teams, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and prime ministers of G7 powers. His highly acclaimed TEDx talk has reached millions of people, and he has presented to many of the biggest, coolest, and most innovative organizations in the world, including Shopify, Dell, Viacom, RBC, Fidelity, Amex, Unilever, Daimler, Microsoft, Toyota, VW, Samsung, KPMG, GSK, Walmart, Nestle, and even Real Madrid.

Nicki Sabapathy
Global Talent Executive, Shopify

Recently named on the Global 100 Executives list in HR by HRD magazine for 2021 and recognized on the Globe and Mails top 10 executives in HR in Canada for 2020, Nicki is an accomplished global Human Resources executive with 20 years’ experience the field.

She is a trusted Business Partner and Servant Leader with broad experience in all aspects of Human Resources & Organizational Development. Her industry experience in various sectors, including- High Tech, Communications, Automotive, Manufacturing & Distribution makes her an agile, highly motivated leader with a proven track record of success both at a strategic and operational level.

Rahul Joshi
Chief Operations Officer, Manulife

Rahul Joshi is Chief Operations Officer at Manulife. In this role, Mr. Joshi oversees the Company’s global operations and global procurement organizations. He is a member of the Company’s Executive Leadership Team. Prior to joining Manulife, Rahul was the Senior Vice President of Customer Care for Walmart’s US eCommerce organization, which included responsibility for contact centers, fraud operations and the customer returns experience. Under his leadership, the business significantly expanded customer contact channels through innovation, improved fraud loss performance, and enhanced the returns experience for online purchases, all during a period of high growth.

Previously, he held a range of large operating, customer experience and digital transformation roles with Citi across several geographies. Rahul served as Chief Operations Officer for the company’s Asia/EMEA Consumer bank located in Singapore, and prior to that was Chief Operations Officer for the US Consumer and Commercial bank. Rahul holds a Master of Science in Management from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pune, India.

Sayuri Ohno
Chief Audit Executive, Electronic Arts

Sayuri has been EA’s Chief Audit Executive since 2012, prior to it, she held several positions within EA finance, including Head of Global EA Royalty Accounting, Director of Finance and Ops, FP&A, Management reporting, Close and Consolidation, and International Accounting. During her 27 years tenure at EA, she had the opportunity to work in different EA offices in Japan, Brazil, and the US. Prior to joining EA, Sayuri worked at KPMG in São Paulo and Tokyo offices. Sayuri is passionate about Inclusion and Diversity and participates on multiple ERGs at EA.

Stephanie Braid
Director of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity, KPMG

Stephanie Braid (she/her/hers) is the Director of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity with KPMG in Canada. She leads the inclusion, diversity and mental health strategy and portfolio for the company, contributing at both a national and global level.

A passionate advocate for the advancement of equity-seeking groups, Stephanie’s purpose in life has always been centered around people. She is passionate about removing barriers and creating the right environment for everyone to reach their full potential – specifically those who have historically been excluded in society, the workplace and in leadership roles.

Stephanie sits on KPMG Global’s Inclusion & Diversity Steering Group. She is a part of the KPMG Foundation, Ascend Canada’s Chief Inclusion Officer Forum, and ACCES Employment Board of Advisors for their Human Resources bridging program for Newcomers to Canada. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with her partner and her fur baby.

Becoming an Inclusive Leader

Sponsored by: PwC
Workshop Speaker: Kim Vander Aerschot

Workshop Description
Inclusive leadership means being aware of your own biases and preferences, seeking out different views and perspectives to inform better decision-making, and making space for belonging.
In this workshop session, we will explore what it means to be an inclusive leader, provide practical techniques on how to create a psychologically safe workplace, and use perspectives from behavioural science to empower participants to lead inclusively.

Speaker Bio
Kim is a Partner in PwC’s Financial Services Consulting practice based in Toronto where she specializes in People & Organization. She has been consulting with leading Financial Institutions in Canada and the U.S. for 20+ years.  She has extensive experience in the areas of business transformation, change management, operating model design, delivering talent and organizational design solutions. Kim has a track record of successfully leading major change management efforts in support of organizational transformations and helping FIs respond to complex change.



Solving Complex Problems

Workshop Speaker: Dr. Wissam Al-Hussaini

Workshop Description
Learn how leaders deal with complexity in the uncertain environments. Define complex problems and discover effective tools to solve them.

Speaker Bio
Wissam AlHussaini, a professor with the Schulich School of Business, holds a PhD in Business Administration from John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. Over the years, Wissam has designed and delivered numerous training programs for major companies all over the world, including the United Nations, Telus Mobile-Mastercom, Johnson & Johnson, Manitoba Government, Chevron-Philips, Mastercard and Shell Petro-chemicals among others


Leading with Curiosity & Authenticity

Sponsored by: Bell Canada
Workshop Speaker: Angie Harrop

Workshop Description:
Come enjoy a fireside chat with Angie Harrop on her journey to confidence, authenticity and inclusive leadership and how individuals, leaders and organizations can advance inclusion in the workplace.

Speaker Bio:
Angie Harrop is Director, Talent Management & Engagement at Bell Canada who is passionate about human resource and business strategy. She has lead many broad reaching change initiatives throughout her career in Mergers & Acquisitions, business transformation, employee experience, diversity & inclusion, and talent & career development. Angie’s skill in building connection between strategy, organizational design & operational execution, cultivates employee engagement and maximizes business results. Angie volunteers as a speaker and mentor with community service groups supporting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth in Toronto.


RootWork: Setting Inclusive Goals

Workshop Speaker: Toks Ayinla

Workshop Description:
Join Toks Ayinla as she walks you through a 4 part RootWork Goal Setting Technique for inclusivity. At the end of the hour you will develop a trackable action plan on how you can live and work inclusively.

Speaker Bio:
Toks Ayinla is a best-selling author, speaker, coach and course creator. Her work is centred around empowering youth, millennials and corporate employees with a focus on promoting diversity and inclusion, through creative, practical and culturally relatable methods. Toks also consults with organizations to develop policy and strategies from an equity lens. 


Career changes – Mindset shifts across industry and consulting

Sponsored by: Deloitte
Workshop Speaker: Raman Rai

Workshop Description:
Learn insider tips on how to navigate career opportunities transitioning between industry and consulting.

Speaker Bio:
Raman is a Global Lead Client Service Partner at Deloitte and leads the Global Commercial Banking network, leveraging Deloitte’s global capabilities to meet the needs of leading Commercial Banks around the world.  Passionate about entrepreneurship and global trade, Raman has established herself as a globally recognized leader in Financial Services having spent the last 20 years in the industry.  Prior to joining Deloitte in 2017, Raman was with the HSBC Group as a Senior Commercial Banking Executive.  


New Ways of Working on Global Team

Sponsored by: Manulife
Workshop Speaker: Kary Kwok & Mamta Sethi

Workshop Description
Get the latest tips on how Manulife is fostering employee engagement in a flexible model and preparing people leaders to manage their teams spread globally across Canada, US, and Asia.

Speaker Bio
Kary Kwok is a member of Manulife’s Group Functions Technology and Global Data team. She is responsible for delivery performance in a portfolio of cross-functional initiatives, overseeing strategic IT planning aligned with Manulife’s goals, and increasing operational excellence across 130+ applications supported by technology suppliers.

Mamta Sethi is the Vice President, Global Technology Strategy & Transformation at Manulife. In her role, Mamta is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Global Technology function for Manulife, working across geographies, and collaborating with Segment CIOs and Enterprise Strategy team to deliver on Manulife’s financial and operational plans.  Outside of work, Mamta participates on many boards, actively involved in over 10 charities, has a strong passion for running and spending time with her two children and family.


Mergers and Acquistions – Considerations around Artificial Intelligence

Sponsored by: KPMG
Workshop Speaker: Aditya Narasimha

Workshop Description
Aditya Narasimha (Manager, Technology M&A in KPMG Canada) will be presenting an overview of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the considerations around AI in Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A). Join the workshop to learn more about the following topics!

Speaker Bio
Aditya is a Manager in KPMG’s Deal Advisory practice. He specializes in generating value through Information Technology (IT) in mergers and acquisitions, with experience in diligence, as well as integrations and separations. Aditya has an extensive background in IT, having advised clients across multiple industries, including Manufacturing, Aerospace, Healthcare, Technology, Energy and Utilities in Canada, US, Singapore and India.

Aditya has an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University with a combined focus on Finance and Operations and an MS in Electrical Engineering from State University of New York.


How to Ask Better Questions

Sponsored by: Scotiabank / Tangerine
Workshop Speaker: Nancy Lau

Workshop Description

Come join in on this workshop to understand:

  1. The implications of asking a good question the wrong way.
  2. How to recognize and respond to a question that feels wrong
  3. How to ask better questions

Speaker Bio
Nancy Lau is a Director of Internal Audit at Scotiabank responsible for engagements related to risk culture, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and non-financial risk areas. She is also a committee member/volunteer/mentor for several women in leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the Bank.

Prior to joining Scotiabank, she held various roles at BMO Financial Group and Deloitte in areas including internal audit, operational risk, ethics, sustainability, and tax. Nancy is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto. She loves to travel, snowboard and cook.

  • How to set up Webex?
    • Webex links and access to Socio Event Platform will be provided to registered attendees starting week of September 14.
  • How to Register?
    • Registration through EventBrite – Link.
  • What is included in my registration?
    • Registration includes full access to all programs offered.
  • Can I invite my friends (non-members) to the event?
    • Yes, the Ascend Annual Conference is open to everyone.
  • My company is a Ascend Sponsor, do I get a discount?
    • Yes, please ask your Ascend company representative for your Promo Code.
  • Why is there a fee?
    • Ticket sales support all conference activities such as speaker fees and web support services.
  • What is the cancellation policy?
    • Consistent with Ascend’s Canada policy. There will be no refunds offered for cancellations.
  • Due to company security policies, I can’t join a virtual platform using my computer. How do I participate?
    • Please consider joining the session through your personal devices, be it your phone, tablet, or non-work computer.
  • Is the Conference eligible for CPE?
    • Certificates of completion for CPE credit verification for CPA and certain other designation holders, upon request. For more information please email
  • How do I log into a virtual event on the day of the event?
    • Event links will be sent by September 18. On the day of the event, click the link to log into the event. You may be asked to input your name and email address to generate the attendee account.
  • Will the Ascend Annual Conference 2021 be recorded?
    • Access to recordings will be provided through the Socio Platform
  • What is the recommended attire for the Ascend Annual Conference?
    • Ascend Canada recommends dressing Business Casual for the event
  • I can’t attend the entire Ascent Annual Conference. Can I attend individual sessions?
    • Yes, your ticket provides full access to all programs. Feel free to attend any sessions that works for your schedule.
  • What do I need to do before the event?
    • Register for the event through EventBrite.
    • Sign in to the Webex Event session through the individual event or through the Socio Event Platform
  • I have questions about the Ascend Annual Conference 2020 that aren’t answered here. Who can I contact?
  • Do I need a Webex account to access a Webex event?
    • No, a Webex account is not required. Sign in with your email directly through the Webex Event link provided
  • I am having problems logging into or setting up an account with Socio

    • Some company firewalls may block access to the Socio Event Platform. You may need to use your personal computer or mobile device to access the event platform.
      For general support in regards to the Ascend Conference, please contact
  • What do I need in order to access a Webex event?
    • Webex Events supports PC and iOS operating systems
  • What tablets and mobile devices can I use for Webex events?
    • You can join the Ascend Canada Annual Conference on your mobile or tablet. A browser login will be opened once you click on the link provided.

Virtual Conference on Socio Events Platform supported by Cisco WebEx Events


Tuesday, September 21, 2021 to Thursday September 23, 2021


12:00pm – 5:00pm EDT