Past Award Winners

Past Above and Beyond Award Winners

Lester LafondMr. Lafond has served the First Nation Governments in the field of property taxation by helping them build and maintain fair and efficient First Nation property tax regimes to ensure the First Nations communities and their taxpayers receive the maximum benefit from those systems.

As past Chairman of the FSIN, Mr. Lafond reviewed and recommended funding strategic and planning proposals by First Nations and tribal councils throughout the Saskatchewan Region.

In 2006, Mr. Lafond was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit for contributing to the social, cultural and economic well-being of the province and its residents.  The award recognizes individuals who have made their mark in such areas as business and industry, community leadership, public service, research, and volunteer service.

As former TLE Coordinator, Mr. Lafond provided services to TLE activities for Muskeg Lake.  He provided direction and negotiations for the services, infrastructure financing and development for Aspen Developments, a wholly owned company of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. Mr. Lafond assisted in obtaining financing for Muskeg Lake and the Saskatoon Tribal Council for their three office complexes.  He also coordinated and negotiated the development of the Petro Canada Service Station and successfully negotiated leases to commercial office buildings into the Industrial Park.

Mr. Lafond has served on several organizations, he is:

Past/Chairperson - Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) Aboriginal Committee
To promote new aboriginal business enterprises into Saskatoon area. Also, to promote Aboriginal training programs to meet the needs of the business community.

Past-President - Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
A member of their Aboriginal Committee, Chairperson of the Aboriginal Committee. Board & Executive Member of the Chamber organization.

Former Board Member - Indian Taxation Advisory Board
A board member for three-year term 1990-93

Chairperson FSIN/INAC - PRC Committee

- Review and recommend for funding strategic & planning proposals by First Nations and tribal Councils throughout the Saskatchewan Region.

Former Board member - Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority

As a Board Member to promote new business to locate in
the Saskatoon Business area. Sat on board for 8 years

Silvia Martini

Silvia L. Martini, C.Dir. EBAC, BAC
Silvia is the Principal of Martini Consulting, wherein her services are sought by those seeking expertise in strategy, governance, executive mentorship and leadership. Her company specializes in a select group of clienteles to whom she dedicates her expertise, and who are ready to embrace positive change
and/or growth.

She is a Charter Director with The Directors College (2017), through the DeGroote School of Business (McMaster University) and the Conference Board of Canada. She also holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Board Governance (2014) with the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto). She is a member in good standing of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Silvia passionately focuses on efficiently and effectively aligning strategy to successful outcomes and toward effective and meaningful governance, for her businesses, her clients, as well as a diverse volunteer community.

Following almost four decades of success and commitment, Silvia’s extensive knowledge, experience and
successful outcomes in business and leadership have been recognized with awards such as the Raj Manek
Mentorship Above & Beyond Award (2016), the Dr. Brooke Dobni Excellence Award for “Most Distinguished
EBAC Graduate” (2014); the Chamber of Commerce “President’s Award for Outstanding Work” (2013), and
induction in The International Golden Key Honour Society. Recognized as a Trail Blazer, she was featured in the June 2019 issue of “Refined” Magazine and is a past finalist for the ATHENA Award.

Among her many accomplishments over the years Silvia includes her appointment by the Government of
Saskatchewan for its Crown, SaskWater Corporation. This follows her one-year appointment as its Vice-Chair of the Board, her two-year Board appointed Chair position of its Governance Committee, her appointment as Chair of the Committee on Business Development Review, and Chair of ToR Committee Review and Update.

She is past President of the Board for The Word On The Street Saskatoon and was co-Chair of the 2017 Word On The Street Festival, leading a restructuring and new platform for the organization and its festival.

She has served the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce as a Director of the Board and Chair of the
Governance Committee. She was Chair of the Governance Policies’ Development Committee and led the Board
through the transition phase of adoption and integration. She was also Board appointed Chair of its Brand
Assessment Committee.

She is a charter Director of the Board for The Princess Shop and led the development as Chair of its Governance
Development Committee. She is Past President of this Board and assisted the organization in its platform
development for long-term success, and in its strategic planning. The organization continues to thrive amidst
increasing competition.

She is a past Board member and long-time business mentor with the Raj Manek Mentorship Program, and a roster mentor with the Betty Ann Heggie Womentorship Program at the University of Saskatchewan. An entrepreneur and market developer, Silvia’s career spans over 35 years with successful market development initiatives provincially, nationally and internationally. As a passionate business professional, she is best known for her work in strategy, of challenging status quo, and of having and supporting decisions with integrity, robust consideration and discussions. She sets the bar with quality expectations and within innovative frameworks. Her
work is transformational, recognized by her academic and community recognition and by the success of her clients. She has enjoyed celebrating many great accomplishments with her teams, appreciating that leadership is about creating and supporting the environment for greatness to unfold.

She is also the Vice President of Interlink Research Inc., which she founded in 1993 with her husband and business partner, Rick Olmstead. IRI has outperformed the market since 1993. Their commitment to customer service, target focus, quality deliverables and product are a testament to Silvia’s often-quoted adage: Success = Quality Effort over Dedicated Time.

As a serial entrepreneur, Silvia continued her journey in Saskatoon from a thriving career in national event planning in her home city of Toronto, Ontario. She joined her business partner and husband Rick in 1982. Together they were instrumental in the product development and market positioning of a new industry and revolutionary product, the vanEE Heat Recovery Ventilators. Recognized for their export success, CES, Inc.,
was the proud recipient of the Government of Saskatchewan Tough Enough Export Award, and finalist for the ABEX Awards. Their company, Conservation Energy Systems, Inc. (CES, Inc.) was sold in 1993, and its trademark and brand continue to be respected today.

She is a member in good standing of the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, and Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan. She is married to her business partner and the proud mother of two daughters, Nicole and the late Alison Martini-Olmstead.

Silvia can be conveniently contacted at: martini.interlink@sasktel.net. 306.281-9019, or found on LinkedIn.

Please see her LinkedIn profile here for recommendations and testimonials.

 

Doug Gillespie

Saskatoon and Saskatchewan lost a special person last year with the passing of Doug Gillespie. Doug was a long-time supporter of the Raj Manek program. He served his community and this organization as a board director of 4 years, a donor, a mentor, and a lifelong learner.

Wherever he went or whatever he did, he epitomized the pay-it-forward mentality. He quietly lent a hand where needed, donating more printing, prizes, time and money than a firm his size should have. He offered a thoughtful word of support at just the right moment, if one may have been hurting. His smile often brought a ray of sunshine to one’s day.

However, it was in the world of business that most of us came to know Doug. His magnetic personality made him a remarkable salesperson – first in the printing business in Regina, then in the advertising agency business and finally, as owner of his own enterprise in Saskatoon, FastPrint. His contribution to the local business community was even recognized as he was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 2012.

He also had an insatiable appetite to learn, participating as an active member of business peer groups in Saskatoon and internationally. Equalling his desire to improve himself was the desire to help others improve. He shared his knowledge as a mentor to four different protégés, while promoting the ideals of entrepreneurship and the role of the entrepreneur in building a better, more vibrant community.

His concern for others was further evidenced by his willingness to remain on the Board of Directors of Saskatoon’s FastPrint after its sale. Despite his progressing illness, he wanted to assure a smooth transition for the employees, clients and new owners.

Saskatchewan lost a bright light when Doug passed away last September, but his spirit lives among us all as businesspeople, as protégés and as a community.

We are proud to salute a truly outstanding legacy by honoring Doug Gillespie’s memory with the Raj Manek Above and Beyond Award.

Ken Achs

Ken is the President and CEO of the Mid-West Group of Companies, with business interests in western Canada and western U.S. Ken is a self-starter who learned valuable lessons along the way. Ken has willingly shared his vast knowledge and insight with many others he’s worked with. Over that time he’s become a business titan in Saskatoon, earning the respect and appreciation of those around him.

With his reputation in business, Ken has been invited to attend Western Canadian Elite Businessleaders’ summits, has been recognized in national business publications, and in Peter Newman’s best seller, Titans (a selective “who’s who” of the new Canadian business establishment). Ken’s opinion on real estate development and business are frequently sought by government and the media. Dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, he is proud to be involved in the Raj Manek Business Mentorship Program, Ken has mentored 7 different protégés through this Program, some of them for more than one year, and one of whom is now a mentor.

Despite being one to shy away from the limelight, Ken has been a deserving recipient of a number of prestigious honors and awards.

  • 2008 - Fraser-Gatrell Memorial Award for distinguished contribution to planning by the Association of Professional Community Planners of Saskatchewan (APCPS);
  • 2010 - Ken was personally honored with the prestigious Saskatchewan Architectural Heritage Society’s President’s Award, an honor rarely bestowed in the long history of the organization.
  • 2011 - Saskatchewan’s new found reputation as the place to do business in Canada, Ken Achs was asked to chair the inaugural Saskatchewan Real Estate Forum attended by the most prominent people in western Canadian real estate.
  • 2012 - In recognition of his overall achievement in business excellence, Ken Achs was inducted to the SABEX Business Hall of Fame.

Marion Ghiglione

Marion Ghiglione received her B.Sc from the University of Saskatchewan and later founded Handy Group of Companies. Marion and her husband have continued to expand their business to new ventures through property development in Saskatchewan.

She has been a board member for 6 years (2003-2009) for the Greater Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. She was the Co-Chair for Canadian Chamber AGM, team leader for Tourism Saskatchewan "Conventions Saskatoon!", and currently a board member for Meewasin Valley Authority.

She was one of the first women to be awarded the Athena Award under the BPW helm as well as the Young Athena award to Saskatoon.

Monica Kreuger

Monica Kreuger is the founder, President and CEO of Global Infobrokers Inc., a firm dedicated to education, entrepreneurship, the environment and global citizenry and all within a socially responsible framework. She and her husband/business partner Brent, along with a team of entrepreneurs, have assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs launch their companies in Saskatchewan and Alberta through their post secondary institute, the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship. In 2010 they opened a representative office in China where they serve entrepreneurs who wish to establish operations in Saskatchewan.

She spearheaded, designed, lobbied for, and received support from educational and private sponsors to launch Saskatchewan’s first investment based business plan competition, Venture Forward $100K Business Plan Competition, a province wide initiative to help post secondary youth launch companies. In the 5 years it ran, over 30 companies were launched. She also co-founded Praxis International Institute in the Craik eco-village, a private alternative school for young people dedicated to entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability.

Monica has been very involved in the community through her volunteer board positions with several organizations and is currently on the board of the Saskatchewan Chamber and Co-Chair of the Human Resources Committee. She has been privileged to receive numerous recognitions locally, provincially and nationally, and is grateful for the opportunity to serve her community.

Proud mother, grandmother and married to her life and business partner for almost 37 years, Monica continues to follow her passion of helping people pursue theirs through entrepreneurship.

Her company’s motto: Entrepreneurs helping Entrepreneurs.

Gavin Semple

Gavin Semple presides over Brandt Industries and the Brandt Group, a diversified manufacturing and industrial equipment distribution company.

He started his career with the Brandt Group of Companies in 1972, first as a sales representative; then as a sales manager; and finally as president in 1976.

Mr. Semple played director roles for several institutions and organizations. Being co-chair of Luther College Sprit Campaign, director of Canada Post, and Board Member for the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. He was awarded Saskatchewan Business of the Year and also Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies awards.

John V. Cross

John Cross trained as a chemical engineer, joining the Food Research and Development Department of John Labbatt, Ltd., in London, Ontario, in 1965. His work centered on the development and commercialization of new product in the fermentation, food, beverage, dairy and animal feed industries.

In 1975 was the founding Executive Director of POS Pilot Plant Corporation and subsequently CEO/chairman of Philom Bios, Inc. This Saskatoon based company, now Novozymes, focuses on high value inoculates increasing yields and profits for farmers in an environmental manner.

Further, John has served on the Board of the National Research Council of Canada, the Advanced Technology Training Center at Kelsey Institute, the Royal University Hospital Foundation, and as Chair of SREDA. He is currently Chair of POS Bio-Sciences and a Board member of several bioscience enterprises. He was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2013 and was recently inducted in the SABEX Hall of Fame.

 

Ray Ahenikew

Mr. Ahenikew became president of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) and has emerged leading spokespersons for Saskatchewan’s and Canada’s First Nations’ business community. As CEO of MLTC he played vital role in successful enterprises and joint ventures.

Further, Mr. Ahenakew served as co-chair of the National Labor Training Market Board, Director of Peace Hills Trust, and as President of the Saskatchewan Indian Institutes of Technologies (SIIT).

Kent Smith-Windsor

Kent Smith-Windsor was born and raised in Saskatoon and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. Following several years of experience in the retail and commercial banking sectors, Mr. Smith-Windsor assumed the leadership of the Saskatoon Downtown Business Improvement District and assisted downtown revitalization efforts for ten years. In 1996, he was appointed Executive Director of The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is Saskatchewan's largest business organization. The Chamber is building up the best business climate in Canada, thereby creating a city of opportunity.

Mr. Smith-Windsor has served as Chair or Member of the following organizations: the Saskatchewan Institute on the Prevention of Handicaps, the North Saskatchewan International Children's Festival; the Saskatchewan Architectural Heritage Society; the Downtown Youth Centre and the International Downtown Association. He is past President of the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Canada and a past Director of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. Mr. Smith-Windsor was appointed to the Council of Excellence for the Canadian Chamber Executives of Canada in 2011. Mr. Smith-Windsor is married with four sons and three daughters-in-law.

 

At the time of the award, Mrs. Ryan was the member of the Combined Business Group; and of the Air Services Committee; she was one of the founding members of the Saskatchewan Business Council; and a member of the New Market Development Committee.

She has also served on the Board of the Saskatoon Airport Authority and has sat on numerous other business group committees in Saskatoon. She was nominated to the Judicial Advisory Committee of Saskatchewan, and was appointed by Saskatoon City Council as one of the city’s 100 Citizens’ Centennial Committee.

Mrs. Ryan was also guest of honor at two memorable fundraising roasts—one for Junior Achievement and a second for the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST).

Past Ravi Maithel Find-A-Way Award Winners

Kendal Netmaker is one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs and speakers, from Sweetgrass First Nation, SK. He was raised by a single mother who cared for Kendal and his three younger sisters while growing up in poverty and few chances for opportunity.

In grade 5, Kendal’s life changed forever when his best friend from South Africa helped him to play soccer by paying for his soccer fees and driving him to games/practices. This act of kindness opened up a whole other world for him that he would have never otherwise experienced. The incredible generosity of his childhood friend’s family inspired Kendal to give back when he launched his company, Neechie Gear® – a lifestyle apparel brand that empowers youth through sports. A percentage of all Neechie Gear® profits go toward funding underprivileged youth to take part in sports.

To date, Kendal has founded and invested in 5 businesses, the author of Driven to Succeed and won over 25 business awards, including runner-up at the YBI Global Entrepreneur of the Year & one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40®. Kendal speaks professionally to thousands of people each year on resilience, leadership and the power of telling your story.

He lives with his wife and two children in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he continues to run his company and provide executive leadership coaching to organizations across the country.

Katherine RegnierKatherine Regnier is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Coconut Software. In 2011, she quit her job at 3-months pregnant to solely focus on Coconut. In late 2016, after 5 years of bootstrapping the company to over a million in sales everything changed.

Katherine attended a month-long mentorship program in Silicon Valley led by Neal Dempsey. Once completed she decided to seek venture capital. Fast-forward to 2018, Katherine has successfully raised $4.9M and has grown her team to over a staff of 50. She believes in continuous learning and surrounding yourself with bright mentors and who have been there and done that.

In addition to running her business, she is passionate about giving back to Canada and wants to help pave the way for future entrepreneurs. Katherine is a founding board member of Co.Labs, Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator and hosted the very first Prairie Investment Forum (PIF), which was a celebration of technology and investment in the Prairies.

A strong advocate for women in tech, she regularly speaks at events, and is happy to share her experience and learnings at events such as WomeninTech, TechTO, City Hall (Toronto), Women Entrepreneurs, and at the University of Washington.

As a shining star in the Canadian tech scene, Katherine was awarded the 2018 CIX Top 20 Innovative Companies, the 2018 Find-A-Way Raj Manek Award, as well as the 2018 Women Entrepreneur of the Year – Prairie Region. Her passion and commitment have inspired a community of future risk takers and she hopes to be a symbol for women in the technology and STEM fields. Ms. Regnier’s success has helped put Canada on the map with investors across North America.

Past Kent Smith-Windsor Leadership Award Winners

Andrea HansenAndrea Hansen is a recognized Educator, Writer, Speaker and Benefits Advisor, whom you may have seen in her recurring feature in The Business Advisor Magazine sharing “Stories You Should Know” about local entrepreneurs. With almost 20 years of experience, she helps build and manage customized, compelling employee benefit and pension strategies for growing businesses, helping them find the right combination of benefits to protect, support and optimize their employees’ health and wellbeing.

Andrea is the creator the Sutton Employee Engagement Wheel™ and she authored and facilitates Sutton's Maximize your Talent Strategy & Drive Performance workshops to educate employers about the essential components of a total rewards strategy. She is passionate about helping employers effectively allocate their resources, time and money into the right elements of their total rewards program and has helped hundreds of employers maximize and leverage their results.

Andrea is a partner of Sutton Benefits & Pension, and has been recognized for her community leadership as a past recipient of the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, the SYPE Young Professional of the Year Award and a two-time YWCA Women of Distinction nominee. Most recently, Andrea received the Kent Smith-Windsor Leadership Award which recognizes exemplary extraordinary commitment, creativity and effort to promote entrepreneurship in Saskatchewan. One of her many accomplishments is being the co-founder and host of Seeds for Dreams, which offers woman-owned Saskatchewan businesses seed capital through a unique pitch and vote event.

Originally from Raymore, Saskatchewan, Andrea graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction) from the University of Saskatchewan, and she holds a specialty designation focused on group benefits design and management (Group Benefits Associate), in addition to a Certified Financial Planner certification.

When Andrea is not working, she appreciates being a hockey mom, staying active and socializing with family and friends in all-seasons. Her husband, Tim, is also a partner of the firm. Together they have two children, Victoria and Broderick. Andrea enjoys watching her daughter play Comets hockey and train with Saskatoon Track and Field Club, and watching her son play hockey in the Redwing Zone and play guitar. She cherishes the time she spends together with her family at their cabin at Fishing Lake.

Greg SuttonGreg Sutton, Co-Founder and CEO of TinyEYE Therapy Services,

TinyEYE is the first company in the world to provide speech language pathology services online. Greg and his sister/co-founder, Marnee Brick, have taken their company from being a small start-up to emerging as a world leader in online speech therapy - providing services in 12 countries and 5 languages. It is TinyEYE’s vision to be the number one advocate in the world for children finding their voice.

Previous to TinyEYE, Greg spent 5 years as the Executive Director for the Saskatchewan Advanced Technology Association. During the dot com boom of the late 90’s, Greg was part of the Management Team for a start-up web based travel guide company in South East Asia. When the tech bubble burst, the company was ‘dot gone’, Greg moved on to South America where he wrote travel guides for the Amazon region.

Greg is an active member of the business community and an avid learner, sitting on numerous boards including Co.Labs, Raj Manek Mentorship, Kijenga, and other various start ups. He also attends various webinars, seminars and conferences to connect with like minded people and soak up as much knowledge as he can to bring back to TinyEYE. Additionally, Greg and TinyEYE Therapy Services have won many awards such as CETAC West Entrepreneur of the Year, The Greater Saskatoon Chamber SABEX Award for Customer Service and the National Ingenious Award for Innovation from the Canadian Advanced Technology Association, to name a few.

Greg has a bachelor's of commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan, is a windsurfing and kiteboarding fanatic, plays hockey year round, and resides in Saskatoon with his lovely wife Michelle and their two foster children.