iF’s team of experts hail from a diverse range of professional roles and industries, but all share a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, and Hamilton!
David Carter – Executive Director
Prior to joining iF, David was CTO and Co-founder of Awareness Inc. His company raised 20 million in venture capital and worked with brands like New York Times, Major League Baseball, Sony Pictures and McDonalds.
David will tell you his sweet spot is where technology, sales, and marketing intersect. He is quick to warn that technology alone does not ever solve the problem. During the 90s David worked for Microsoft and saw the arrival of graphical computing, smart phones, tablets and the Internet. He left Microsoft in 2001 to begin his first start-up.
Bernard Lim – Executive-in-Residence
Bernard founded a medical device company which he grew and led to a highly successful acquisition by a global pharmaceutical. As CEO, Board Chair and Director, he has led the growth of both start-ups and corporate multinationals spanning diverse industry sectors including biotechnology, diagnostics, medical devices, electronics and high technology across US, Canada and Europe. Bernard is a mentor to multiple university spin-out companies and is our resident Health and Life Sciences EIR.
John Holland – Executive-in-Residence
Prior to establishing Plutus Consulting Group (www.plutuscg.com), John spent over 25 years as a senior executive and CEO in the multinational Food and CPG industries. He successfully launched many recognized new products on three continents, achieving their branding and sales goals. He now guides businesses in monetization of product innovation, business strategy, change management, organizational effectiveness, brand/product positioning, and retail customer development.
Tom Turchet – Executive-in-Residence
Tom Turchet is currently consulting technology companies on Business Strategy, Sales Execution and Routes to Market Structure. His 35-year knowledge of the technology marketplace in North America includes working knowledge of the hardware, software and services environment. He was previously IBM Vice President, Software for the General Business marketplace in North America, and before that Vice President, General Business for IBM Canada. As well, Tom is a sessional lecturer at McMaster’s School of Engineering, working with students in the Masters of Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.
Rick McCutcheon – Executive-in-Residence
Rick is an expert in the areas of Sales Productivity and CRM. He has been involved with the technology industry since 1991 as a Company Founder, Senior Executive, Board Member, Educator, Consultant and Professional Speaker. He currently leads a Sales and CRM Consultancy Practice, speaks at industry events and writes for the Microsoft Dynamics Community Website.
Marie Wiese – Executive-in-Residence
Marie Wiese is a true Marketing CoPilot. As president of the digital marketing consulting practice by the same name, Marie helps business owners find customers and keep customers using the power of content marketing. Marie is a 25+ year veteran of strategic marketing, past Chair of technology association, TechConnex and a workshop facilitator who teaches early stage companies how to turn their websites into their best sales tool. Marie has written several workbooks and delivered 100+workshops ranging from keyword strategy development to content marketing execution. Marie has spoken at industry events for the Canadian Marketing Association and Marketing Sherpa in the United States. She can be found online here or check out the Marketing CoPilot blog.
Ron Kaczorowski – Executive-in-Residence
Ron Kaczorowski is President of Prism Alliance Group (IBO) and a 30-year corporate entrepreneur in the information technology, biomedical and healthcare markets. Having held senior executive and board roles, he brings his experience and expertise in strategic business development, sales and operational efficiencies to the Innovation Factory. With a solid background in established and emerging technologies, combined with proven business acumen, Ron has been able to consistently build and grow a diverse range of organizations from large multi-nationals to pre-commercialization organizations in a number of different industries that has created lasting value for customers, employees and shareholders.
Shann McGrail – Executive-in-Residence
Shann McGrail has worked in the technology industry for 20+ years, gaining senior leadership experience in Sales, Professional Services, Change Management, Communications and Operations. Her company, Devreve Inc., specializes in developing and implementing strategic programs for communications, women in technology and building partnerships for growth. Prior to starting her own company, she was the National Director of Education for Microsoft Canada.
Stephen Pankratz – Executive-in-Residence
Stephen previously built a medtech company that was successfully acquired by a global medical device company. Prior to that, he helped build the surgical division of a company and the launch of several medical devices in Canada. Stephen has experience raising capital, investment due diligence, negotiations with and on behalf of multinational companies and with hospital procurement groups, surgical sales and management, business development, and medical device development.
Emily Gallomazzei – Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Emily is a communications professional passionate about making a difference. As a McMaster graduate and proud Hamiltonian, she is thrilled to be part of a team that supports economic development in the city. Emily brings experience from a variety of marketing, media, and research-based roles. When not in the office, she volunteers within the Hamilton theatre community and enjoys being a tourist in her own city.
Alex Lee – Senior Client Services Manager
Alex Lee is a graduate of Conestoga’s Health Informatics Management program. Over the last several years has has traveled across Canada participating in various hackathons and health innovation events. Alex is CEO and co-founder of eHealthCareers and is part of the Hacking Health team. Prior to joining the iF team, he led an eclectic career in automated manufacturing, health technology and motorsports. Alex is passionate about health innovation, entrepreneurship and helping startups succeed.
Elizabeth Thorsen – Program Manager
Elizabeth is a graduate of the McMaster University Human Resources Management program, an alumni of Western University, and a proud Hamiltonian. For the past few years, she has used her background in Recruitment to help companies succeed by finding the right talent to grow their teams. She firmly believes that no matter the industry – healthcare, finance, manufacturing, etc. – the key to success starts with the right people working toward a common goal.
Shannon Graszat – Client Services Coordinator
Shannon is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in Political Science and French. Having grown up in Hamilton, Shannon is excited to be part of a team where she can help people start and grow their businesses right here at home. Shannon has experience working with students, in the culture and tourism sector, as well as moderating several large online forums. Outside of the office, Shannon likes to keep busy seeing new places or at the gym preparing for her next powerlifting meet.
Monika Yazdanian – Director, Student & Youth Entrepreneurship
Prior to joining The Forge, Monika was a Program Director for a group of 40+ solar cell researchers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Toronto, where she raised funds, promoted technology development, managed IP and commercialization strategies, and managed relationships with government, startups, and multi-national companies. Before that, Monika worked at a startup company providing legal and regulatory assistance to companies in the junior mining sector, and taught the occasional physics course at the University of Guelph. She obtained her Ph.D. in Nanoscience from Cornell University, and a Bachelor of Laws from Western University.
Jessica Rudden – Program Coordinator, The Forge
Jessica comes to The Forge with a strong background in sales, client relations and event coordination, predominantly within the hospitality and retail industries. She graduated with Honours from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and has worked in both Canada and the United States. With a passion for travel and entertainment, she is always up for an adventure.
Heather Brunt – Interim Program Coordinator, The Forge
Heather comes to The Forge with a background in operations and video production in the media industry. She graduated from Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts program, and started up her own production company, which she successfully ran for two years. Torstar Media Group Television then asked for her help in starting up ShopTV Canada, an infomercial TV channel, where she eventually became Director of Operations. She’s excited to be part of this innovative team at The Forge where she can put her career skills to good use! Heather loves spending time with her crazy but wonderful family, and is amazed by the things her children teach her, every day. She has recently taken up knitting socks.
Jonathan Boulanger – Business Development Manager
Jonathan comes to The Forge with the goal of helping great technology and investment meet. He completed a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics at McMaster University in 2013. Work conducted during this period led to the foundation of Nanotec Solar, where he worked as a Senior Research and Development Engineer to bring new silicon-based solar concentrator technology to market.
During this time, Jonathan became increasingly involved and interested in the influences of financial forces on technology, motivating him to write and pass the CFA Level I examination with the ultimate goal of helping bridge the worlds of technology and finance in new and powerful ways. He now works with the McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO) and The Forge commercializing the latest technological innovations produced by the McMaster and Hamilton community.
Vanessa Cheng – Communications Executive
Vanessa comes to The Forge with a background in PR and corporate communications. Previously, she was at The Mint Agency in Toronto and Tomorrow’s Company in London, UK working with a variety of lifestyle, entertainment, finance, business, food and beverage, auto, and fashion clients. Born and raised in Toronto, Vanessa has resided in Hong Kong, London and Montreal. Having lived a nomadic lifestyle for many years, she is proud to once again call Canada home. She graduated with her HBA in International Relations and European Studies at the University of Toronto – Trinity College and her MSc in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.