Celebrating business success in Canada

The CanadianSME Business  awards is designed to recognize and applaud the contribution that small business owners provide for Canada’s economy.

January 28, 2020

Metro Toronto Convention Centre



The judges for the CanadianSME National Business Awards 2019 are listed below. 

SME Awards

Jackie King

Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

With over 20 years of experience, Jackie King is a proven business and people leader. Currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Canada’s largest and most influential business association – Jackie is responsible for leading the executive and management teams in the development and execution of the organization’s strategic plan; overseeing operational and financial performance; and strengthening relationships with key external stakeholders. 

Prior to joining the Chamber, Jackie spent 19 years with the country’s top-ranked public relations and public affairs consultancy – Hill + Knowlton Strategies (H+K).  She sat on the executive committee of the board of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, served as a member of the National Board of International Women’s Forum Canada (IWFC), currently sits on the executive committee of the Ottawa chapter of IWFC and on the community advisory committee of the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Center.

businesse expo

Sheri Somerville

Chief Executive Officer Atlantic Chamber of Commerce Inc.​

Sheri Somerville is Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Chamber of Commerce (ACC), the largest accredited business association in Atlantic Canada representing more than 16,000 businesses through its network of 93 chambers and 25 corporate partners. Sheri is a globally certified communications professional with more than 21-years of multi-sector business experience, and partners with her members to influence an environment in Atlantic Canada where business succeeds. A proud Atlantic Canadian, she is passionate about influencing growth and prosperity for business and people in the region.

A successful entrepreneur, leader and award-winning PR consultant to some of the nation’s leading companies, Sheri took the helm as CEO in 2017. Since then, she has created a chamber vision to serve the next generation of Atlantic Canadian businesses, cultivated new sources of revenue, spearheaded new programming, enhanced governance and operational productivity, levered strategic partnerships and collaborations, and elevated the Chamber’s corporate reputation and membership as she works to shape and support a strong and resilient chamber network for the future.

Cisco Canada

Lissaa Ricci

Vice President of small business solutions for Cisco Canada

Lissa Ricci is vice president of small business solutions for Cisco Canada. She is passionate about technology and how it can help growing businesses achieve their goals.

sme awards

Roi Ross

VP of Small Business Solutions, TELUS

Roi Ross is the vice president of Small Business Mobility Solutions at TELUS. In his role he’s responsible for leading strategy, marketing and sales functions focused on the Small Business sector.

With more than 15 years of strategy consulting and industry leadership across telecommunications and technology, Roi’s global experience spans North American and Asian markets.

Known for building and leading highly-engaged entrepreneurial teams that consistently drive market growth, Roi is also passionate about how small business owners use innovative technology solutions to differentiate and scale their business.

Most recently, he was the executive sponsor of the TELUS Pitch, Canada’s largest small business contest, which is a powerful customer engagement platform designed to celebrate small business owners while investing and engaging in their future growth.

Roi lives in Toronto, ON with his wife and two sons.

business awards

Shannon Lewis

President, Canadian Media Directors Council

An executive communications leader, with 18+ years of international experience in the advertising, media and communications industries. Passionate and driven. Shannon champions CMDC’s business objectives with sound strategy, inspired creativity, and humanity.

Her mission is to shape the new direction of CMDC. Shannon’s operating mandate is to bolster trust by delivering greater – and lasting – value to CMDC members and partners. Currently, CMDC member media agencies account for 80 per cent of the total annual advertising investment in Canada. CMDC actively operates to ensure a fair & progressive marketplace on behalf of its clients, agencies, and media partners.

CanadianSME Business Awards

Sarah Steele

Senior Director, Visa Small Business Products

Sarah is an award-winning financial professional, with over 15 years of experience leading complex projects, contributing to product strategy, and being a positive team member and problem solver. Her accomplishments and experiences are varied, spanning the consumer and institutional groups, front and back office, consulting and product management.

As a consultant at Visa, Sarah was focused on improving clients’ profitability and performance through deep specialization in product, marketing, tailored consulting, automated solutions and unique insights leveraging Visa payment-processing data that support the growth and performance of clients’ business.

Currently, as Senior Director of Small Business, Sarah is responsible for the development and roll-out of Visa’s products and platforms in the Canadian marketplace. She is passionate about supporting the evolving needs of entrepreneurs, who are a diverse and dynamic segment, and central to the Canadian economy.

Canada Business Awards

Bruce MacLellan

President & CEO – Proof

Bruce MacLellan is a veteran communications counsellor and entrepreneur, and was the founding President & CEO of the Proof organization over two decades ago. Bruce has provided counsel to leaders in business, government and not-for-profits and continues to apply his entrepreneurial thinking to opportunities with clients. Inside the company, Bruce is known for encouraging people to go outside their comfort zone and always look for ways to be better.

Prior to founding the Proof organization, Bruce was Executive Vice President at an international public relations agency, where he developed the firm’s first Code of Ethics. His commitment to the environment and corporate social responsibility resulted in Proof becoming the first North American marketing firm to be carbon neutral in 2008.  In 2010, the company was named the #1 workplace in Canada by the Great Places to Work Institute.

Arun Kumar

Head of Small Business Banking for Canada for BMO

Arun Kumar is Head of Small Business Banking for Canada for BMO. Arun and his team are responsible for the customer experience, segment strategy, channel strategy, business competitiveness and financial performance of the small business segment. The team’s mandate is to relentlessly pursue a great experience for our small business clients and meeting their evolving needs. Arun joined BMO in year 2000 and over the past 19 years has held client-facing roles in Retail Banking, Business Banking, the Contact Centre and the Corporate Finance Division as well as central strategy and implementation roles in P&C Customer Solutions.

CanadianSME Business Expo

Lori Darlington

Vice President, Small Business & Strategic Partnerships – RBC

Lori Darlington is the Vice President, Small Business & Strategic Partnerships. She is responsible for leading RBC’s Small Business segment and teams. In her role, Lori provides strategic oversight in delivering market-leading client experiences through innovative partnerships and differentiated, beyond banking solutions to help aspiring entrepreneurs and Canadian business owners start, manage and grow their ventures.  She also leads the strategy development for RBC’s Business Financial Services portfolio, including its client experience, CRM (client relationship management) and data analytics strategies. 

business awards

Charlie Regan

CEO of Nerds on Site

Charlie is the Capability Expansion Orchestrator at Nerds On Site Inc. Through his expertise and dedication, Nerds on Site is now one of Canada’s highest IT solutions company. The company has been expanding internationally and providing leading-edge IT solutions to the USA, Brazil, Australia, UK and South Africa just to name a few. Understanding that the technology industry is evolving at an increasingly fast rate, Charlie brings an innovative approach with his team to ensure that clients are getting the best IT solutions in the market. With years of experience in the tech industry, Charlie is ready to take on the world with Nerds on Site.

Business Awards

Silvia Pencak

​President of WBE Canada

President of WBE Canada – the leading organization certifying women-owned businesses and facilitating opportunities for them to do business with large corporate and government buyers. Silvia is a passionate advocate for women-owned businesses. She has a proven track record of trailblazing innovative ideas and turning them into powerful results.

Silvia has over 15 years of experience of managing teams, projects and building partnerships with community, businesses, government, and individual stakeholders. Her work has positively impacted over 100,000 individuals around the globe. She is a founder, former director and current chair of the Board at the nonprofit organization JONA in Slovakia and she is highly engaged in many communities in the GTA. She holds Master’s degree in Education and she is a certified consultant, coach, trainer and speaker.

Rick Moore

Founder-Group of One Executive Training Systems Inc.

Rick Moore is Canada’s Authority on Strategic Growth and Value Creation for Business Owners, working exclusively with Business Owners who want to sell their business for maximum value.

Rick brings over three decades of extensive experience in financing, advising, buying and selling businesses that are highly irresistible to buyers.

Rick is the author of the book  Scale-Up to Sell


business awards

Raghwa Gopal

President + CEO InnovateBC

A serial entrepreneur who has extensive experience starting, growing and selling numerous businesses, Gopal joined Innovate BC from Accelerate Okanagan (AO), where he was Chief Executive Officer. At AO, Gopal was instrumental in the creation and management of successful programs for technology

Companies at all stages of growth, and he has been a driving force in the development of the Okanagan’s tech sector into a $1.6 billion economic contributor. A graduate of New Zealand’s Central Institute of Technology in information technology, Raghwa has also received degrees in computer science from Australia’s Collier MacMillan School and the University of the South Pacific.

Business Awards

Miki Velemirovich

President – Cargo

Miki Velemirovich is the President of Cargo, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that specializes in helping big brands market to small businesses. Cargo is an expert in the Business to Small Business space coining the term B2SB Marketing®. Prior to joining Cargo, Miki spent 20 years with big brands like IBM and Mercedes-Benz, in a variety of sales and marketing roles so he knows how to build strategies that drive results and move the needle. And this same experience enables him to understand the pain points of big brands trying to market to small businesses: while leading marketing for the commercial vehicle division of Mercedes-Benz, he spent countless hours understanding the motivations, behaviours and the drivers of small business owners in order to reach them more successfully. Now, his quest persists – to continue to build the Business to Small Business Expertise and help big brands be more successful in reaching this highly emotional target. 

Elaine Kunda

Partner, Disruption Ventures

Elaine Kunda is the Managing Partner at Disruption Ventures. She served as Chief Executive Officer, President and Group Publisher of B5media, Inc. In this position, Ms. Kunda oversaw all aspects of the network’s properties including The Grindstone, Crushable, Mommyish, Blisstree, The Gloss and Every Joe. A serial entrepreneur and veteran in the online media space, she has successfully built teams and realigned business strategies for over 10 years. She served as Chief Executive Officer of ZipLocal Inc since September 28, 2006 and served as its President. Prior to B5Media, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Ziplocal which was sold to Canpages in 2009. She spent over six years at Toronto.com, Canada’s top online regional portal and started her online career in Business Development at Grey Interactive in 1998.

Business Awards

Anne Toner Fung

Executive Director,
Innovation Guelph

A lifelong champion of entrepreneurship and an engaged economic empowerment leader, Anne’s experience includes more than 20 years of business and organizational development in the private and not-for-profit sectors. A former business owner, management executive, co-founder and angel investor, Anne has experienced business and social enterprise from all sides.

Business Awards

Wayne S Roberts

President & CEO Blade Creative Branding Inc

Characterized by the Globe and Mail as “an ad industry provocateur,” Wayne brings more than 25 years of award-winning experience in strategic branding, creative advertising and innovative online solutions to Blade’s clients. 

He has “columned” for Canadian Business magazine, and been featured in the Globe and Mail, Marketing & Strategy magazines. He has been interviewed on Global TV and Radio Canada, commenting on modern branding issues.

As an educator and public speaker, Wayne has entertained and inspired audiences ranging from National Bank to McMaster University’s FORGE start-up incubator. His commitments to straight talk, creative collaborative and building friendly business relationships are the defining characteristic s of Blade Creative Branding, the agency he founded in 1991.

business awards

David Smith

CEO – Logia Consulting Inc

David has enjoyed over 25 years of organizational leadership experience in multiple industries connected with regional, national and international leaders. In his past corporate finance roles, he honed skills in business and financial models and their impacts on organizational cultures.

Wendy Mayhew

Wendy Mayhew

Instigator, Author, Seniorpreneur

Wendy Mayhew has been an entrepreneur for the past 40 years. Her company, Business Launch Solutions, helps first-time business people establish successful ventures.

Wendy has always found working with experienced entrepreneurs to be exceptionally rewarding. She recognized early on that people over the age of 50 comprise the fastest growing group of new entrepreneurs in the world. However, she also quickly realized that they are the most under-supported and under-served group of business owners.