Board of Directors
Tom AstleChair, Corporate Director & Partner, Longevity Funds
Stephanie RatzaVice Chair
Chair, Corporate Director & Partner, Longevity Funds
Tom has worked in the Capital Markets and Technology sectors for over 30 years with a front row seat at some of the major economic and technology cycles of the 20th and 21st centuries. He sits on several boards of technology and media companies that range from early stage start-ups to publicly listed ones.
For the last five years, he has helped manage the Difference Capital VC/PE portfolio focused on late stage private technology and media investments as well as act as the CFO and Chief Investment Officer of this publically listed asset manager.
Prior to this, he gained over 20 years’ experience as a top ranked Wall Street and Bay Street equity analyst, covering some of the largest technology companies for some of the largest investment banks in the world. During this time he worked for Merrill Lynch, but also National Bank Financial and other Canadian firms. This work culminated in several years’ experience as head of large equity research departments which covered all major sectors.
Tom holds his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and ICD.D designation and has an Engineering Physics degree from Queen’s University and is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng).Next Team Member
Ms. Ratza brings more than 20 years of finance experience with public and private technology companies. From August 2016 to May 2017, Ms. Ratza served as CFO of BlueCat Networks Inc., a private enterprise DNS company which was sold to MDP Private Equity in March 2017. From June 2015 to June 2016 Ms. Ratza served as CFO of Resolver Inc., a private Governance Risk and Compliance software company. From April 2007 to May 2014, Ms. Ratza had served as CFO of The Descartes Systems Group. During her tenure, she demonstrated the ability to streamline financial operations and leverage technology to drive growth, increase visibility and efficiency and ultimately bottom-line performance. M&A activity has been a significant part of the growth strategy where culture is combined with technology to build a unique value proposition in the market. From November 2005 to April 2007, Ms. Ratza had served as CFO of IPICO Inc., a Burlington, Ontario-based company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions. Her other public company finance experience includes over 6 years at Waterloo, Ontario-based MKS Inc., serving as Vice-President, Finance for 5 years and as Director of Finance for 1 year, and as Controller for more than 3 years at Open Text Corporation where she lead the IPO process. Ms. Ratza is currently advising and sitting on the board of directors of Good Life Network Inc. Ms. Ratza has volunteered as an active participant on the Audit & Compliance Committee of the Laurier Board of Governors in 2014-2015 and since 2015 has been the Chair of the Audit & Compliance Committee. Since 2017 she is also a member of the compensation committee. Ms. Ratza had volunteers with Waterloo Minor Hockey, Soccer and Baseball, and with St. Mary’s Hospital on the Mission and Governance Committee and is currently on the Resource Planning and Utilization Committee of St/ Mary’s Hospital. A Laurier alumna with a BSc (’89), she has served on the Laurier Dean of Science Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2014. Ms. Ratza is a Chartered Professional Accountant of Ontario and in June 2016, she achieved her Institute of Corporate Directorship Designation (ICD.D).Next Team Member
Robert BartonDistinguished Systems Engineer, Cisco
Kim ButlerCorporate Director, Business and Financial Advisory
Tom BurseyCFO & Vice President, Council of Canadian Academies
Keith De AbreuRegional Director Canada, Enterprise, Juniper Networks
Julia ElvidgeHigh Tech Advisor, Investor, Corporate Director
Sacha GeraPresident, IT and Cyber Solutions – Calian Group | Co-founder, Kandy.io
Rafik GoubranVP & Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University
Al HurrenEVP, Engineering and Operations, Mitel
Sunil KhareDirector – 5G Services, TELUS
Norm PetersVice President, Engineering, Ribbon Communications
Michelle SimmsPresident and CEO, Genesis
Shawn SparlingVice President Enterprise and Public Sector, Nokia
Jill TippingCEO, BC Tech
Distinguished Systems Engineer, Cisco
Rob Barton, P. Eng, is a Distinguished Engineer working in Cisco’s Digital Transformation and Innovation group, where he has the role of Chief Architect for Cisco Canada and Cisco’s global IoT sales organization. Rob has worked in the IT industry for over 23 years, the last 20 of which have been at Cisco. Rob Graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Engineering Physics. Rob is a published author, with titles on the subjects of Network QoS, Wireless, IoT, Machine Learning and Data Analytics. Rob has also contributed to many academic papers, and leads Cisco’s university research partnership program. Rob also holds many patents in the areas of wireless communications, segment routing, and Machine Learning. Rob’s current areas of work include wireless communications, Industrial Networking, IoT, and AI/ML in networking systems.Next Team Member
Corporate Director, Business and Financial Advisory
Kim Butler, CPA, CMA, ICD.D. With more than 30 years of executive financial and operational experience with Canadian and multinational organizations, Kim has demonstrated extensive accomplishments in areas of financial and risk management, corporate financing, strategic planning, operational effectiveness, M&A, and investor relations. She has held position as Head of Finance and integration at Ericsson Service Assurance (through acquisition of CENX), she has served as CFO and interim CEO at both CENX and Benbria, an enterprise software company. In her role as SVP Finance and CFO at Bridgewater Systems, a global leader in mobile policy solutions, Kim led the company’s initial public offering in 2007, and delivered shareholder value with the successful sale of Bridgewater to Amdocs in 2011. Prior to Bridgewater, Kim held senior finance roles at Asea Brown Boveri, and Mitel Corporation.
Kim is a member of the board of directors of Hydro Ottawa, member of the Audit Committee and Strategic Initiatives committee. She also serves as a member of the board of directors of Canada Health Infoway, a member of the Human Resources Committee and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. In addition, she is a member of the Executive Committee of the Ottawa Chapter of the Institute of Corporate Directors, and Regional Ambassador for Women Get on Board. She has previously served as Board member and Chair of the Finance Committee for the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation, and is a past member of the Industry Advisory Committee for Entrepreneurship at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Currently, Kim is a volunteer coach and mentor for SheBoot, a program in conjunction with Invest Ottawa, supporting and empowering female technology entrepreneurs.Next Team Member
CFO & Vice President, Council of Canadian Academies
Tom is Board Chair of Ontario’s Public Service Health & Safety Association and Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. He served as Director of private company CODE Inc., C. CORE and LOOKNorth, a National Centre of Excellence.
Tom is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario and holds the designation of Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA). He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, and is an Institute-Certified Director (ICD.D).
Tom received the designation of Chartered Director (C.Dir.) from the Directors College and two specialized governance certifications: Audit Committee Certified (ACC) and Human Resources and Compensation Committee Certified (HRCC). He also co-led the creation and launch of the Human Resources Compensation Committee Certified Program at the Directors College.
Tom is an Honorary Life Member and past Board Director of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) and is a two-time recipient of the Vision Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Human Resources Profession.
Tom received his Honours Bachelor of Commerce (B. Comm. Hons.) and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees from Memorial University. He is the Founder and past Chair of the Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Ottawa Dinner and received the J.D. Eaton Alumni Award in recognition of his outstanding service to Memorial University.
Prior to joining the Council of Canadian Academies, Tom was Vice President with Right Management and Managing Director with Alan Davis & Associates. He has held several senior leadership positions within the ATCO Group. Prior to his work with the ATCO Group, he worked at Bell Aliant (NewTel Enterprises). Tom was also a Senior Fellow with the Centre on Governance, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa.Next Team Member
Keith De Abreu
Regional Director Canada, Enterprise, Juniper Networks
Experienced Sales Leader, with a successful history of adapting to an ever-changing landscape – listening, learning and applying. Focused on building and developing teams, addressing broad market segments as well as large, strategic opportunities. Managing all aspects of a successful sales cycle: lead development, create preference, agreements, successful joint outcome.
Skilled in Collaboration, Advanced Communications, Software as a Service (SaaS), Forecasting, Business Development, Business Alliances, Training, Coaching, Motivating.
High Tech Advisor, Investor, Corporate Director
Julia Elvidge BSc, BASc, ICD.D brings 30 years of high technology business experience to her work as an advisor, board member and investor. She is the co-founder of SheBoot, a bootcamp for women entrepreneurs getting ready for the investment phase of their business. In addition, Julia works as an advisor at Invest Ottawa, is a Director for Capital Angel Network’s (CAN) Board and a member of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI) VentureLAB Advisory Board.
Educated as an electrical engineer, Julia designed microchip circuits and analyzed semiconductors before moving into the business side of technology. As co-founder and President, Julia helped build Chipworks into an industry leader – delivering patent analytics and technology intelligence products and services to IP and R&D groups in electronics companies across Asia, North America and Europe. Key business experience includes scaling a business with a focus on strategic planning, execution, leadership development and culture along with shifting the business focus from services to SaaS products. Chipworks was sold to Techinsights in June 2016 and Julia exited the business in 2017.
Julia has been recognized as one of the world’s most foremost IP strategists by Intellectual Property Magazine (IAM). Winner of the Trailblazer of the Year Award in 2008 by Canadian Women in Communications and winner of the Sara Kirke award for women entrepreneurship by CATA WIT (Women in Technology) in 2007.Next Team Member
President, IT and Cyber Solutions – Calian Group | Co-founder, Kandy.io
A recipient of the 2019 Forty Under 40 award by the OBJ & Ottawa Board of Trade. One part CTO, one part COO, and one part Entrepreneur – Mr. Gera’s eminence is in leading SaaS innovators toward achieving escape velocity, recurring revenue growth, and a path to profitability. Mr. Gera holds an MBA from the Ivey School of Business and a Bachelor of Computer-Systems Engineering from Carleton University – he has held a variety of leadership and technology roles ranging from Software Developer to Management Consultant to head of Product Management and R&D to General Manager. A self-proclaimed SaaS evangelist and a regular keynote speaker at various industry conferences including Perspectives, Enterprise Connect, SaaS North and the Gartner Summit. Outside of work Sacha is an investor, assistant hockey coach, husband and the father of eleven-year-old triplets.Next Team Member
VP & Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University
Rafik Goubran received the B.Sc. degree in electronics and communications engineering and the M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from Cairo University, Egypt, in 1978 and 1981, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada, in 1987.
Dr. Goubran is now Vice-President (Research and International) and a Chancellor’s Professor at Carleton University. He was involved in several research projects with industry and government organizations in the areas of sensors, data analytics, signal processing, biomedical engineering and the design of smart homes for the independent living of seniors. Dr. Goubran co-supervised 89 Master’s and PhD students at Carleton, and co-authored over 320 international publications and 10 patents.
Dr. Goubran served as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton from 2006 to 2016 and as Chair of the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering from 1997 to 2006. He was the Founding Director of the Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Biomedical Engineering from 2006 to 2009. Dr. Goubran is a fellow of the IEEE, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, and an affiliate investigator with the Bruyère Research Institute.Next Team Member
EVP, Engineering and Operations, Mitel
As Executive Vice President, Engineering and Operations, Al provides leadership, vision and operational discipline for Mitel’s R&D strategy and investment across the company’s global product portfolio. With over two decades of leadership in the R&D function, Al brings a wealth of experience to the Mitel team.
Since joining Mitel, Al has led the Mitel technology team through multiple acquisitions and product introductions that have firmly established Mitel as a global market leader in helping businesses connect and collaborate.
Prior to joining Mitel, Al enjoyed over a decade at Nortel Networks where he held various leadership positions within product development and the CTO organization.
Al graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Management.Next Team Member
Director – 5G Services, TELUS
Sunil leads a team in the TELUS Chief Technology Office whose goal is to ensure alignment between technology initiatives and profitable business outcomes. Sunil’s early professional experience was software development for network applications, which progressed into the architecture and design of communication service provider networks both mobile and fixed, and more recently has been about how technology can best serve business objectives and customer experiences. Sunil holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Ottawa University.Next Team Member
Vice President, Engineering, Ribbon Communications
As Vice President of Engineering, Norm Peters is responsible for leading several R&D teams within Ribbon’s Cloud & Edge business unit. His teams are responsible for delivering market-leading security (SBC), call routing (PSX) and robocall mitigation (Call Trust) cloud-native solutions that are designed to address the growing demands of today’s consumers and businesses for anywhere, anytime access to secure, real-time communications.
Since joining Nortel Networks in 1997, Norm has held a variety of management roles in customer support, product verification, software architecture and product development. In 2010 GENBAND acquired Nortel’s Voice over IP (VoIP) assets and subsequently merged with Sonus Networks in 2017 to form Ribbon Communications. Norm has served as Vice President of Engineering, leading global R&D teams responsible for Platform, Common Engineering, Management, VoIP Call Control and SBC product lines.
Norm received an Electrical Engineering degree from McMaster University.Next Team Member
President and CEO, Genesis
Michelle joined the Genesis Centre in 2002 as a business analyst and was promoted to vice president in 2015. She assumed the role of President and CEO in August of 2016. With more than 17 years of experience advising technology companies, Michelle is passionate about entrepreneurs and advancing the technology sector of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Michelle’s passion for technology has led to her involvement with several national organizations. She is a member of the board of directors for Oceans Advance and for two years was the Newfoundland Chapter Lead of Ladies Learning Code, a national non-profit established to teach technical skills to women. She has served on the board of directors for the Canadian Digital Media Network, the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, and is the St. John’s hub lead for the Genesis Centre’s Women in Technology Peer Group and CEO Peer Group. Michelle participates in many Memorial University advisory groups as well. She is a member of the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, the Memorial University Innovation Steering Committee, the Memorial University Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences Industry Advisory Council and the Cold Ocean and arctic science, technology and society (COASTS) advisory board.
Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Memorial University. She has completed the Queen’s Executive Leadership program, holds a certificate in Business Incubator Management from iNBIA and she has obtained her ICD.D designation by completing the Director’s Education Program at Saint Mary’s University.
Vice President Enterprise and Public Sector, Nokia
Shawn Sparling has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, half of which he held international positions in Europe, China and South East Asia, across Operations, R&D, Sales and Marketing. Shawn returned to Canada in 2011 after serving as President for Alcatel-Lucent Malaysia.
Mr. Sparling currently Heads Nokia’s Enterprise and Public Sector team in Canada to bring Nokia’s mission critical network capabilities to industries and public sector agencies.
Mr. Sparling is a graduate of Queen’s University, Ontario with a B.Sc. Honors in Engineering.Next Team Member
CEO, BC Tech
Jill Tipping is a passionate advocate for BC and BC’s tech-enabled future. Having spent her career working in the tech sector, including a decade in the solar industry, she’s no stranger to the opportunities technology provides. As BC Tech’s CEO, she is determined to make BC a place where tech companies are supported not only to startup but to grow, export and scaleup; and where BC technology is deployed to build resiliency and growth in every industry sector. Jill’s focus is strengthening connections through collaboration and partnership, she is dedicated to building a strong home team of BC anchor companies and is unapologetically ambitious for BC and for Canada.Next Team Member