Student Success Centre

Presenter Bios

Western's Career Conference will feature a myriad of talented, experienced, and enthusiastic presenters. See below to learn more about each presenter.

Keynote Speakers


Jason Field

After living and working abroad, Jason returned to Canada with the goal of earning a leadership position for a product centric brand. While working with lululemon, he experienced the influence that the launch of and had on the physical retail space so he became determined to enhance his digital skill set and overall understanding of technology. He began learning the basics of web development and design but the intimate learning environment that he looked for did not exist. Addressing a personal pain point, Jason co-founded a school to focus on learning digital skills in Toronto, Canada.

BrainStation empowers working professionals, entrepreneurs and aspiring freelancers with the skills needed to solve meaningful problems with technology and the confidence needed to shape their future. BrainStation has allowed Jason to learn about various technologies from industry professionals while also building and scaling a business from a startup to a MNC.

BrainStation was acquired in 2014 by Konrad Group, where Jason continues to lead operations as CEO. He is excited to be a part of a team that has delivered technical solutions in use by over 50 million people in 50 countries around the globe, to brands such as Deloitte, McDonalds and MTV and closer to his goal of empowering 1 million people through BrainStation. Since acquisition, Jason has championed BrainStation's expansion beyond Toronto into Waterloo, Vancouver, Ottawa, Costa Rica and New York.

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self


Jonathan Hood

Jonathan Hood, a former linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL), has made a name for himself on and off the football field.

After graduating from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia with a Bachelor’s Degree with honours in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology from   Western University, Jonathan recognized the need for more intentional leadership for youth in many of the at-risk neighbourhoods today. In 2011, He launched The Ahead of the Game Youth Mentoring Program, an initiative that helps young people get "off the sidelines" and receive the guidance and support they need to dream big and reach their true potential. The program initially began with one school, but has since expanded into 20 plus schools and has changed and affected the lives of countless students.

Jonathan has recently returned to Western where he is pursuing a PhD in Leadership and Business Management. He also runs Ahead of the Game Training where he coaches business owners and executives to shift to a higher level of influential leadership by helping them actualize, broaden and accelerate their corporate and personal vision. His unique combination of humour, insight and passion has elevated him to be known as one of the next great motivational speakers of this generation.

There's no doubt Jonathan is a proven leader, trusted mentor and icon in the community, which has made him a sought after commodity in many media circles. In the past two years alone he's made over 100 media appearances on several well-known cable outlets including: CP24, City TV, Rogers TV and Breakfast Television. Jonathan was recently awarded the Distinguished Man of Honour award for excellence in the community this past March.

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self


Jaafer Haidar

Jaafer is a serial entrepreneur having been a founder or early team member of a number of companies, including Carbyn (acquired by Synacor), ScrapHD (acquired by Michael’s Stores Inc.), Statflo, and currently Co-Founder/CEO at Socialseek. He is also an advisor to early/growth stage tech companies, venture capital firms, and the Upside Foundation. Prior to his entrepreneurial adventures, Jaafer spent the earlier part of his career as a management consultant with Accenture working with global digital and telecom companies. Jaafer is a proud alumni of Western University with a BSc. Computer Science. When not at work, or spending time with his wife and kids, Jaafer can be found trying to burn off his love of baked goods and ice cream.

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self


Rozin Abbas

Rozin Abbas is currently the Director of Content Intelligence at Diply. Prior, he earned his Honors Specialization in English with a minor in Philosophy from Western University. Growing with Diply, he learned skills in social media analysis, content curation, and virality. He believes long walks on the beach are cliches that should be in every bio as well as maintaining a necessary level of cat pictures to really emphasize one's aesthetics. He currently resides in Old South with two cats, Thor and Fluffy. 

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self


Trina Foster

Trina Foster is a proven leader in the creation, management, and translation of research across a wide range of topics/areas. She has worked in a variety of environments and across sectors to demonstrate how research-based activities can inform and support relevant stakeholder communities. Her past roles all involved developing and leading multifaceted, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral teams that use research to address complex questions of importance to society. Most recently Trina was Director, Research & Global Academy at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) where she provided oversight and leadership to international research networks as well as led the strategic development and operationalization of CIFAR’s activities to support tomorrow’s research leaders.

Trina has considerable experience in the development and execution of evaluation and performance strategies for research-intensive organizations from across various sectors (eg, government funding agencies, ministries, biotech, think tanks). She brings over a decade of experience in stakeholder engagement (from both the consultation/development and the implementation side) and a demonstrated capacity to facilitate productive dialogues and outcomes. Her breadth of experience (eg, sectors, disciplines, stakeholder groups, jurisdictions) combined with educational and professional backgrounds provide a remarkable combination of big picture perspective and problem driven approaches to solutions development.

Born on the east coast of Canada, Trina has lived in 9 cities and 5 countries during her educational and professional careers. When not at work, she enjoys fostering that passion for new experiences in her two daughters as they seek out and explore new places. She volunteers on/with several not-for-profit boards/organizations; is an active advocate for women in science; and continues to advise/speak-on the importance of evidence-based policy decisions.

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self


Taylor Axford

Since graduating from Western with a Bachelor of Arts in 2011, Taylor has worked for nearly four years in the Examination Services department. Outside of Western, he is a member of Shut the Front Door, a not-for-profit improv comedy troupe based in London. This role has taken Taylor all around Southwestern Ontario to perform shows, teach classes, and grow the improv community. Highlights include performing alongside Colin Mochrie and Laura Hall from Whose Line Is It Anyway? Taylor also enjoys writing, traveling, and volunteering with Camp Quality Southern Ontario.

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self


Rachael Coffin

Rachael is dedicated to driving results through information management. She is currently a marketing project manager at Great-West LifeCo, an international financial services holding company. Through her project work, Rachael focuses on developing strategy for change leadership and training. Notable projects include new product launches and the re-design of national client-facing spaces.

With a strong commitment to continuing education, Rachael hasn’t ceased to be a student since completing her Masters of Library and Information Science at UWO in 2012. Professionally, she’s completed project management certifications and is currently working towards an Adult Education certification. Just for fun, she’s also taking classes for a tea sommelier program.

Presenting: Western Talks: Career Advice to My University Self

Concurrent Session Presenters


Andie Camolese, CHRP

Andie Camolese is a dynamic human resources professional eager to understand the needs of her organization and provide solutions to achieve business success. With six years of communications experience in the non-profit sector and after graduating in 2014 from Western’s BMOS program, Andie has quickly progressed her HR career and is currently the Human Resources Manager at Diebold Nixdorf, located in London, On.

At Diebold Nixdorf, Andie has supported the software line of business (formerly Phoenix Interactive Design) through two business integrations over the last year and half. She is very excited to see the new developments come out of Diebold Nixdorf as she supports the alignment of the London office to this new, 25,000 employee company.

Outside of work, Andie is entrenched in the local HR community, volunteering with Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) on their executive board as the Director of Mentoring & Workshops. You can often spot her at the volunteer-led HRPA events throughout London & district.

Attending: Employer Mix & Mingle


Rachel Hardman

Rachel is the HR Coordinator at Diply, a top 50 online property and the biggest social media entertainment company in Canada. She started off her career working in the Visual Arts Department at Western and made her way into a recruitment heavy position at an internet powerhouse company.

Attending: Employer Mix & Mingle 


Craig Ingram

Craig Ingram is a believer in the power of relationships, authenticity and embracing one’s passions and interests to develop a career that allows for maximal happiness and fulfillment. Career Services Officer & Industry Liaison for the Master of Management of Applied Science (MMASc) program at Western.  Prior to his current role at Western, Craig worked at the Ivey Business School for more than 10 years, serving as the Associate Director and a Career Advisor within Ivey's Career Management department. Before working at Western, Craig spent more than eight years in the corporate world carrying out recruitment, training & development, communications and public relations-oriented activities within the technology & consumer goods sectors.

Much of Craig's career has involved helping connect people and organizations and he has had the fortune of serving as both the President and Member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE). Craig holds an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University is a Certified Executive Coach (CEC) and Personal Brand Strategist (PBS) and a member of the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario (HRPAO). Alongside of his passion for personal development, Craig is a health & wellness enthusiast, an avid audiophile & he enjoys dancing (whether anyone is watching or not!).

Presenting: How can I best connect with others if "networking" isn't my thing?


Meredith Edwards

Meredith Edwards is a Career Program Coordinator at the Student Success Centre at Western University. Meredith has always had a passion for helping others and began her career journey with an undergrad at Western in psychology. Shortly after, she completed a Bachelor of Education followed by a Masters of Education in the Faculty of Education. Her education provided her with many opportunities to gain experience in counselling roles and she quickly realized that she wanted to help university students achieve their goals and feel confident in their academic/career path. Since then Meredith went on to graduate from the Career Development Practitioner program where she completed her internship at the Student Success Centre. Meredith has been a Career Program Coordinator here ever since and she is honored to be able to support students on their career journeys.

Presenting: What’s Next? Applying your degree to the real world


Snježana Linkeš

Snježana Linkeš is a Career Counsellor at The Student Success Centre that provides professional services at a Master of Education (Counselling Psychology) level. She is registered psychotherapist, and Certified Career Counsellor, registered with Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She has over 30 years of experience working in the education, social and health field and in the last 10 years has been providing support to Western students in their career development needs.  Through individual and group counselling, Snježana assists students with career decision-making, career planning, goal setting, and overcoming barriers to employment. She facilitates a variety of career development workshops and presentations, taught a career course and is presently teaching career classes in different courses and programs.

Presenting: What’s Next? Applying your degree to the real world


Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is the Associate Director of Employer Relations at Western University and Organizer of the hirewesternu campaign. Prior to Western he worked in career services at a private college and served as a recruiting, hiring and training Manager for Famous Players and Blockbuster Video. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, a Hospitality and Tourism Management Diploma and a Professional Certificate in Leadership. Jeff started his career working at Walt Disney World as a Cultural Representative for Canada at the Epcot Centre. While at Walt Disney World, he earned his Mouster’s Degree which included study of Guest Service, Leadership and Marketing. The true prize of working at Disney was meeting a girl named Debbie from England who would later become his wife. The two live in London, Ontario with their two boys, Jack & Charlie.

Presenting: Information Interview your way to a Job


Karla Pacheco, CHRL

Karla is an accomplished senior level human resources professional with an extensive background in HR service delivery in a fast-paced and multi-dimensional environment. Skilled in program development, conflict management and functional levels of human resources management, she has built and developed an HR framework for one of the biggest student governments' in Canada.

Karla is a graduate of Western University with a BA of Administrative and Commercial Studies and a CHRL designation as well as a professional certificate in alternative dispute resolution and conflict management. She has worked in labour relations and recruitment at the City of London and currently works as a Senior Manager, Human Resources at the University Students' Council at Western University. She leads an HR department in a unionized environment and has created many successful student leadership and development programs on campus.

As an advocate for experiential learning in the university environment, Karla has worked in collaboration with the best and brightest student leaders to build new and innovative opportunities for students to gain valuable experience to supplement their degrees. This includes paid internships, dynamic volunteer opportunities, development programs and mentorship and job shadowing. Karla is a busy mom and life-long learner with a passion for fitness and long-distance running.

Co-presenting: Co-Presenting: How do I get experience without having any?


Jeff Armour

Jeff Armour is the Chief Operating Officer for the University Students' Council (USC) at Western University. Jeff graduated with a B.Sc. from Western University and after a few years of service overseeing the Wave and Spoke on campus the USC encouraged Jeff to enroll in the Project Management program through continuing studies. Jeff was subsequently promoted to higher-level leadership positions in the organization until ultimately landing at the COO role he currently holds.

Jeff has an extensive background in strategic planning, project management, operations restructuring and realignment, change management and financial strategy.

Jeff is married to Mindy and has three children, Kennedee, Ben and Brad. Born in BC but grew up in Peterborough, Jeff moved to London for school at Western and never left.

Co-presenting: Co-Presenting: How do I get experience without having any?


Sarah Saska

Sarah has 12 years of professional experience in entrepreneurship, research, policy, and consulting within the start-up, government, corporate, non-profit, philanthropic, and academic sectors. In every area, she contributes her expertise in the areas of gender equality, innovation, and entrepreneurship. 

Sarah's interest in how innovation can be leveraged to advance gender equality began in academia when completing her undergraduate degree at Queen’s University, her masters at the University of Ottawa, and her Ph.D. at Western University.  She paused her Ph.D. research for a year to dive into a fellowship at MaRS Discovery District to put her research into practice. It was during her time at MaRS that she was able to learn the kinds of entrepreneurial skills that would serve her well as she launched her company, a consulting firm, Feminuity.  Feminuity has quickly become a global leader at the intersection of gender and innovation, with clients in North America, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

In 2015, Sarah was recognized as a 2015 WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner and Queen’s University acknowledged Sarah by presenting her with an award for her advancement of knowledge and contribution to society.  Sarah was featured in The Financial Post, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Western News, Tabaret Magazine, and The Embassy, and she pitched a start-up concept to the King and Queen of The Netherlands. 

Sarah frequently speaks on the future of gender equality (including areas such as gender bias, gender-balancing, and gender literacy), innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Co-presenting: Create your own Job: Entrepreneurial Careers for Graduate Students


Steven Nazarian

Steven Nazarian is a graduate of the Microbiology and Immunology doctoral program at Western University. He worked at a small London biotech firm for several years in the field of drug development and manufacturing. During this time his taste for beer changed and he began to brew his own beer at home. What started as a small hobby, quickly changed into a consuming hobby. Until the three friends that brewed together decided to try their hands at being the three partners of Forked River Brewing. The business has grown to employ 13 staff in just a few short years.

Co-presenting: Create your own Job: Entrepreneurial Careers for Graduate Students


Harman Malhi

Harman Malhi is a Business Engagement and Data Specialist at TechAlliance – the Regional Innovation Centre for London and the surrounding area. He works with his team to develop and run programs for the TechAlliance client base and is responsible for tracking and reporting internal metrics to the government.

Previous to his current role, Harman worked as a Life Science Business Analyst where he supported client companies in their growth with business advisory services. Harman completed an undergraduate degree in genetics followed by a Master’s in Management of Applied Science – all at Western University.

Co-presenting: How do I translate my graduate degree into my industry job


Mike Buma

Mike Buma is an Application Development Manager at Info-Tech Research Group, where he manages a cross-functional Agile software development team. He is a certified Project Manager and Scrum Product Owner, and in prior roles at Info-Tech has established a Project Management Office for the organization and created eight successful Diagnostic programs for IT Security and Project Portfolio Management professionals. Mike is also a founding co-editor of the online journal The Allrounder, which explores the ways in which sports shape communities and culture. Prior to joining Info-Tech Mike taught in the English Department and School of Kinesiology at Western University, where he published a book and eight academic articles, spoke regularly at academic conferences, and won two teaching awards. He completed his PhD at Western in 2008, with a doctoral dissertation examining the cultural work of Canadian hockey novels.

Co-presenting: How do I translate my graduate degree into my industry job


Anica Vasic

Anica is currently a Project Manager for Magnet, at Ryerson University. Magnet is an inventive, not-for-profit technology hub. It was created to address unemployment and underemployment for diverse groups of Canadians, including youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and newcomers to Canada. Magnet now serves all Canadians and utilizes an advanced blind recruitment model that can effectively, and efficiently job match people with opportunities reflecting their skills, preferences and talent. As of today the Magnet network includes over 80,000 individuals, 28 educational institutions, 170+ labour- and community-based organizations and over 8,000 employers. Prior to joining Magnet, Anica worked as a Career Consultant at Ryerson University where she had hands on experience coaching hundreds of students in their school to work transition. She has an expertise in the ability to translate applied skills to real-labour market needs, helping graduates launch their careers. Anica holds a Bachelors of Commerce from Ryerson University and a Master of Industrial Relations and Human Resources from the University of Toronto.

Co-presenting: Presenting: Float your resume to the top of the applicant pool session


Erik Reed

Erik is an energetic HR professional, who recruits top students to join KPMG offices in Ontario (outside of the GTA) and Atlantic Canada.

After graduating from Brock University’s Sport Management program, Erik focused on a career in human resources by completing a graduate certificate at Conestoga College. He then gained his first professional experience as a member of the campus recruitment team at Target Canada. You may have seen Erik on-campus in the past, as he has previously hosted several career workshops at Western related to interview skills and preparation.

In his spare time, Erik enjoys following the stock market, growing all sorts of vegetables, and listening to his favourite podcasts. He also enjoys a great pun, so don’t hesitate to introduce yourself with some great wordplay!

Presenting: Presenting: Is my bachelor degree enough?