About the Speakers

Monday, October 18, 2021 – 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

David Grant
The past decade has seen incredible strides in the tech and innovation ecosystem of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have witnessed record level investments in companies like Sequence Bio, Mysa, Colab Software, and of course, the largest VC deal in Canadian history with Verafin receiving more than $500M USD. We are experiencing a rapidly growing ocean tech sector with incredible investments from the Ocean Supercluster into projects that involved companies like Kraken Robotics and Pangeo Subsea. The med-tech and health-tech sector is making huge strides with companies like BreathSuite having received FDA approval (the youngest Canadian founder ever to have done so), and Bounce Health Innovation now having 40 partner companies. The ecosystem supports are world class, with the Genesis Centre nearing 30 clients, and Memorial’s Centre for Entrepreneurship engaging with hundreds of students each year. And we have seen major global acquisitions like Zorbit’s Math of Clockwork Fox, Lemur Vehicle Monitors, Camouflage Software, InspectAR, and of course, the largest private acquisition in Canadian history – NASDAQ buying Verafin for more than $2.7M USD. All of this is setting the stage for a generation of serial entrepreneurs, availability of new risk capital, and senior leaders with levels of business and technical acumen never seen before in this province.

David Grant, Chief Commercial Officer, Nasuni, has helped lead several massive scale-up initiatives at software companies in the US from start-ups to multibillion-dollar operations at VMware and Veeam software. He has pulled together the expertise, capital, go to market strategy, and market connections needed to accelerate growth and impact. Through his experiences, he has numerous insights in how to position a company for growth, the pitfalls to avoid, and strategies to leverage opportunities. Our ecosystem is teaming with potential – David will provide insight in how we can spark the next generation of hyper growth companies.

David Grant, is responsible for overseeing the go-to-market strategy for Nasuni including sales, marketing, and business development. Nasuni is a Boston-based, $100m ARR SaaS company that has raised $170m in capital. David is a veteran B2B software professional with 20 years experience in leadership roles – from startups to multibillion-dollar operations. He joined Nasuni from Veeam Software, where he was the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing. Prior to Veeam, he served as the Vice President of Marketing at VMware. David also served as the CMO at two startups. Desktone, acquired by VMware, and Watchfire, acquired by IBM.

David has a MBA in Finance from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Saint Mary’s University. More importantly, David is a proud Newfoundlander, a Dad, and a Boston sports fan. You can follow him on Twitter at @dgrant4 or linkedin.com/in/dgrant4/

Neil Desai
Neil has had the opportunity to dive deep into business and policy supports that can either hinder, or propel, an industry’s growth trajectory. Drawing on his experience with the Centre for international Governance Innovation, the Canadian Council of Innovators, his work at the Public Policy Forum, and his time growing tech companies, Neil will provide his practical assessment of the Canadian innovation ecosystem, and what changes we can make locally to ensure we are poised for growth and scale.

Neil Desai is an executive with Magnet Forensics (TSE:MAGT), a Canadian cybersecurity company that develops digital investigation solutions used by over 4000 police, national security and other public and private organizations in over 90 countries to investigate crimes such as human trafficking, terrorism, child exploitation, IP theft and ransomware. He also is a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and an entrepreneur-in-residence with the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst at Ryerson University. Neil serves on the board of directors of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, Innovation Asset Collective, Public Policy Forum, ClearRisk Inc. and is a former board member of YMCA Canada. Neil is a contributor to the Globe and Mail’s editorial page and Policy Options magazine. He previously served in the Government of Canada in senior roles at Global Affairs Canada and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Jess Chapman

Through a facilitated session, participants will reflect on the messages heard during the morning, coming up with practical ideas on how we can throw jet fuel onto our innovation ecosystem to better support our existing and new tech companies.

Jess is the owner of ethree Consulting, an organizational effectiveness consultancy that specializes in helping organisations handle the ‘tough people stuff’ like developing strategy and culture, leading change, increasing engagement levels, driving workforce performance, improving leadership skills and more.    In 2019 Jess started a second business, ethree Online that develops and delivers custom online and virtual training for all sizes of organization.  

With a background in HR, organizational performance, learning and development and training in neuroscience; and, over a decade of experience working in different countries, a variety of industries, and with some of the largest organizations in the world,  Jess has a unique combination of skills and experience that is hard to beat. 

Jess leads the ethree team helping companies engage, enable and empower their people. Known for her ability to “read minds”, deliver creative yet practical solutions, and “just get it”, working with Jess and ethree is an all-round “phenomenal experience” according to their clients.

Hailing from Great Britain, Jess moved to Canada in 2005 and settled in Newfoundland in 2007.  She lives in Torbay with her partner, Mike, two stepchildren, Liam and Logan and dog, Molly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 – 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Carol Leaman
Carol has successfully scaled and sold several tech companies throughout her career and continues her journey as a serial entrepreneur. She will discuss her experiences with startups, the barriers faced, how to recognize and take advantage of opportunities, and will provide insight into what other tech companies need to do to help them grow and scale. While the situation is unique for each company, there are critical decisions, models, and leading processes companies can leverage to provide a guidance on the path to growth.

Carol Leaman is the co-founder and CEO of Axonify Inc., the world’s most effective learning solution for frontline workforces.  Carol is a serial entrepreneur having led 3 previous tech startups and exited all of them, the last one to Google in 2011.  Carol is a Chartered Professional Accountant, an author and speaker, and a board member with both for-profit and not for profit organizations. 

Lesley Galgay

To truly close the gender gap in under-represented sectors, we need to engage in a cultural mindset shift and that requires participation of everyone – regardless of gender or level.  This cultural mindset shift cannot happen overnight, nor can it happen through one-off training sessions.  Real change happens through a series of nudges, self-education and, most importantly, self-awareness.

In this session participants will learn what it takes to move from belief to action – what it means to be an active ally in the workplace and how sponsorship is ‘the ticket’ to gender equity.

Lesley Galgay is a passionate advocate for gender equity – in the workplace and beyond.  She has spent the past 20+ years working in traditionally male-dominated industries – from Finance to Oil & Gas to Tech and has experienced first-hand the impacts of harassment, bias, allyship and sponsorship.  Her lived experience fuels the work that she does today.

Lesley is a firm believer that to truly close the gender gap in under-represented sectors we need a cultural mindset shift.  We need participation from everyone.  Inequity is not a women issue, nor is it a men issue.  We must learn side-by-side in partnership.  It is not a zero-sum game.

Panel Discussion
Lesley will continue the discussion by moderating a panel and shaping its conversation to highlight ways that will increase awareness and develop tools to help us all be better on this.

Caron Hawco

Caron Hawco is a business consultant specializing in international business development, communication strategy, and the commercialization of innovation. As President of the Caron Hawco Group, she offers deep industry and supply chain knowledge, business strategy and regulations, along with a strong global network to open doors to new markets, partnerships, and international investment opportunities.

Recent projects have focused on ocean technology, mining, Indigenous engagement, supplier development, sustainability and international business opportunities. She has contributed to numerous economic development studies relating to cleantech, the blue economy and new markets access, including Guyana, Mexico, USA and Norway. From 2008-2015, Caron held a variety of management roles with Norwegian oil company, Statoil (now Equinor): serving as a member of its Offshore Canada leadership team.

A designated corporate director (ICD.D), Caron has served on over 15 boards of directors, including as Chair of NOIA and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Oil and Gas Recovery Taskforce. Caron is a Lab2Market faculty member as part of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster Ocean Startup Project supporting the commercialization of Canadian ocean research. She currently serves as a board member of TechNL, NOIA and Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce.

Both as a volunteer and professionally, Caron has been a diversity and inclusion advocate, providing guidance to businesses and associations regarding the growth of female businesses, relating to technology, natural resources and supply chain.

Dan Brake

Dan is a senior executive and has been building teams and technology for over 20 years. He has architected and developed integrated applications for multiple industries including environmental sensing, advertising and media distribution, biotechnology, aerospace, genomics and life sciences. He constantly develops his leadership practice and keeps on top of the latest technology to stay abreast of trends, new thoughts and ideas to build great products.

Dan is currently the Executive Vice President of Operations at Sequence Bio. A startup based in St John’s Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). Prior to joining Sequence Bio, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of EMSAT, a clean technology software integration company. Dan is the Chair of techNL, the industry organization for technology in NL and past chair and director of the NL Environmental Industry Association (NEIA).

Dan volunteers his time mentoring new entrants into the technology sector. You will often find him at hackathons (HackingHealth, HackFrost) or speaking to students about career options and opportunities and turning ideas into innovation. Dan has lived and worked in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia.

When not working, Dan likes to immerse in nature, read and play guitar around campfires. He lives in St John’s with his wife, son and several fur-baby rescues.

Josh Greene

Josh is the CEO of Mysa which he founded as Empowered Homes in 2014 right after completing his mechanical engineering degree at Dalhousie University. Josh and his cofounder/brother, Zach, has led the team at Mysa to bring to market the Mysa Smart Thermostat for baseboard heating which has now shipped over 150k devices across Canada and the US.


Lesley Chard

Lesley Chard is a software engineer, designer and product manager from St. John’s. Since graduating from Memorial University in 2015 with a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Geography, she has contributed her skills to many businesses at the forefront of our local technology sector. After experiencing the gender discrepancy in technology firsthand, she started volunteering with Canada Learning Code in 2017, where she helped organize and deliver digital skills workshops for women and girls in the metro region. This year, Lesley founded a not-for-profit organization, Digital Waves NL, which is delivering exciting and accessible learning opportunities to NL girls and gender-diverse youth province-wide.

Cathy Bennett

An award-winning former CEO and seasoned entrepreneur, Cathy’s focus today is growth. With over 30 years of business leadership, her own company Bennett Group of Companies grew from a small group of service businesses to operations in commercial and industrial construction, industrial manufacturing, human resource support, service, retail, industrial supply, and real estate investments and operations.

She has served on numerous private and public corporate boards with interests in real estate, natural resources, manufacturing, industrial construction, technology, and business services. She is currently an Independent Board Director with Vigilant Management, Kraken Robotics, Marathon Gold and the Business Development Bank of Canada, as well as SheEO.

Focused on supporting start-ups Cathy is an associate fellow with the Creative Destruction Lab, and a board member with Propel, Atlantic Canada’s Virtual Accelerator, a member of the advisory board for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH).

She is also one of the founders and General Partners of Sandpiper Ventures, a venture capital fund created and launched to invest in women and women’s innovation as a proactive and profitable business decision. Sandpiper was one of the first venture funds in Canada investing in women-led companies at the seed stage, and the first on the east coast.

She has served as a Member of the Newfoundland & Labrador House of Assembly serving in Cabinet as Minister of Finance, President of Treasury Board, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, and the Office of the Chief Information Officer.