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Carman Allison

Carman Allison serves as VP of Consumer Insights for Nielsen Canada.  Carman has his finger on the pulse of the CPG landscape and is relied on by manufacturers and retailers to provide them with the consumer insights they need to make strategic and impactful business decisions. With 25 years of experience he shares his insights on consumer shopping, industry trends and buying and media consumption behaviours and attitudes through thought leadership reports, industry presentations and his two monthly columns in Canadian Grocer and Grocery Business magazine.


Tom Barlow


Tom took over as President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) in June 2013.

Prior to joining CFIG Tom spent over 35 years in the beverage industry including roles in Sales, Marketing and Operations.  He began his career in Vancouver Canada in 1977 with Canada Dry Bottling.

Between 1978 and 1986 Tom worked for Canada Dry Bottling in their Ontario Market.

In 1986 Tom relocated to Edmonton and was promoted to Vice President and General Manager for Canada Dry’s Western Canada business.  In 1989 Tom was promoted to Area Vice President for Coca-Cola and relocated to Calgary in 1993.

In 1999 Tom went to Southern California where he lead the Sales and Marketing functions for Coca-Cola.

In January 2001, Tom returned to Canada where he was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer for Coca-Cola’s Canadian bottling operations.

Tom relocated to Atlanta in April of 2007 and was appointed North American Vice President of On-Premise Sales and Service for Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.  Between October 2008 and October 2010 Tom lead strategy development and execution for Coca-Cola Enterprises. Tom was appointed Senior Vice President of the Vending and Wholesale business  for Coca-Cola Refreshments in October of 2010, a job he held until he retired from Coca-Cola in May 2013.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mr. Barlow is a graduate of the University of Alberta and has a Masters in Business Administration from Athabasca University. Tom is a past board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, the Canadian American Business Council, the Canadian Soft Drink Association and the North American Vending Association. Tom is currently the chair of Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Mark Baum
Mark Baum currently serves as Senior Vice President of Industry Relations and Chief Collaboration Officer for the Food Marketing Institute. In this role, Baum engages retailer, manufacturer, supplier, and service provider CEOs to further trading partner collaboration, leading to operational improvements and growth opportunities across all segments of the food retail supply chain. Prior to joining FMI, Baum was a Managing Partner of MARCAT Group, LLC a consulting/advisory firm specializing in business, market, channel, and customer development.

Baum is known for his intricate knowledge of every aspect of the food, beverage and related businesses, and is recognized among the foremost experts in the design, management, and execution of strategy, sales, marketing, and merchandising activities throughout the industry.

Previously, Baum was a Partner & Managing Director of the CPG/Retail Practice at Diamond Management & Technology Consultants (NASDAQ: DTPI), now owned by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP (PwC). Prior to that, he was Executive Vice President of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). Formerly, Baum was the President & CEO of the Association of Sales & Marketing Companies (ASMC). He joined GMA in 2001 after leading the merger with ASMC.

Earlier in his career, Baum served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Retail Insights, a division of Maclean Hunter Media/Progressive Grocer Associates – producers of Supermarket Insights, Convenience Store Insights and Restaurant Insights – and prior to that, held significant management positions at Food Distributors International.

Baum’s career in the food, beverage, and CPG industry spans over 30 years and began at Paragon, a snack food/candy distributor in New York.


Avinash Chidambaram
Avinash Chidambaram
As Vice President, New Platform and Product Development at Interac, Avinash develops innovative offerings that enable payments through emerging mobile products, services and new platforms, which taps his passion for using technology to build solutions that deliver business value, while simplifying and improving consumers’ lives. Prior to joining the organization, he was at BlackBerry and led several key mobile initiatives. He is a seasoned product management professional with over 10 years experience developing strategies and bringing complex products to market. Avinash holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Systems Engineering from Carleton University.


Hannah Donoghue
Hannah Donoghue
Hannah is the Director of Advisory at RetailNet Group, leading RNG’s Advisory practice, specializing in global retail strategy, ecommerce, and planning.Through her advisory work, Hannah supports global retailers, manufacturers and service providers on custom projects, presentations, and immersion programs focused on the future of retail, retailer growth initiatives and supplier capabilities. She also supports and presents at RNG’s Executive Education programs, which provide strategy and leadership courses through partnerships with leading universities.

She began her career at RNG as an analyst, leading RNG’s research and forecasts for the Latin America region.

Hannah also leads RNG’s college graduate recruitment program, supporting the growth and development of RNG’s analyst team.


Chris Jones
Chris Jones
Chris Jones is the Director of Marketing, North America for Maplehurst Bakeries, a business unit of Weston Foods. He leads marketing and insights efforts to identify key trends in consumer behavior, in order to connect retail partners with their consumers, identify unmet needs, and provide appropriate growth and engagement solutions. For more than 16 years, he has been involved in marketing, insights and consumer goods, while working for retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers within the industry. Jones holds an MBA from Colorado State University and a BS from Wheaton College.


Robert Graybill,
Robert Graybill
Robert Graybill, CPA, joined FMS in 2000, and has over 20 years of experience in the retail grocery industry. Currently, Robert leads the FMS team in meeting their goal of helping retailers to succeed through benchmarking, best practices, and decision support.

Robert spent 9 years working with A&P serving in various positions including, Director of Pricing, Group Accounting Manager, Inventory Control Manager and store operations. Prior to joining A&P, he worked for a local independent grocer in the Baltimore market. He has authored the FMS/N.G.A. Independent Grocers Survey and FMI’s Annual Financial Review. He has also served as a speaker at the N.G.A. Financial Symposium, N.G.A.’s annual conferences, FMI’s International Food Show, The MIDA show as part of the Puerto Rican Grocers Association and various state association and wholesale food shows. In addition, he has taught at the IGA Coca-Cola Institutes Supermarket Management Program, which serves both domestic and international retailers. Robert holds an MBA from the Executive Program at Loyola University Maryland and has completed the N.G.A. Executive Management Program at Cornell University. He recently served on the Accounting Advisory Board at the University of Baltimore. Robert was recently named a finalist in the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014. For a short time, Robert spent time with United Rentals integrating acquisitions and served as an officer and on the board of a Defense Cyber Security Company. However, most of his career has been spent within the industry that is his true passion, retail grocery.


Steve Horwood
Steve Horwood
Steve Horwood has been active in all aspects of the Site & Facility Maintenance and Operations and Construction industry for over 30 years. Since 2008, much of Steve’s activity has been working with facility owners, developers and municipalities in assessing the opportunities and challenges associated with deploying renewable and sustainable options such as solar photo voltaic and Carbon Dioxide refrigeration.

Clients have benefited from Steve’s strengths in Strategic Planning. All of his solution designs and projects are presented in a manner that aligns with the Clients’ financial long term goals and objectives while balancing their objectives in sustainability and resilient design.

Steve also takes a very active role in the internal and external development of other professionals in the construction and service industry. Viewed by his peers across North America as a mentor and leader in client design solutions, since 1997 he has been involved with one of the industry’s leading associations – The Mechanical Service Contractors Association (MSCA). Steve is the first and only Canadian to be active at the committee level and currently sits on the Training & Education Committee and is the visionary and contributor for the Sales Institute. In addition to his role with MSCA Steve has also sat on the Board of Governors for the Mechanical Service Contractors of Canada.


Sam Lazuric
Sam Lazuric
Samantha Lazuric has a long career as Chef and owner of Delish Dish Catering. She began her career at an early age studying classic cuisine and modern European fare. She has worked extensively in recipe development for such companies as Loblaw and Bevsupport. She now brings her skill and talent to the kitchen of Maple Leaf Foods where she continues to refine her craft as Chef of Recipe Development. Chef Samantha is passionate about food and the art of fine cuisine.


Harold C. Lloyd
Harold C. Lloyd
Not many businesses survive for 25 years. Harold Lloyd Presents has. And according to Harold, it seems just like yesterday when he flew to Memphis, Tennessee for his first presentation.

Harold’s passion for teaching permeates his presentations. Over the years, he has created 30 top rated seminars and written two ‘5 Star’ rated books; Am I the Leader I Need to Be? and It’s About Time. He has been a featured presenter at the food industry’s most prestigious convention for two decades.

Harold is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA with honors from the University of Chicago. He has been the president of a company with 1000 employees and 14 stores and was a franchisee of a 3-unit, award-winning family restaurant group. Harold is a proud father of 3 and lives in Virginia Beach, VA with his wife, Deanna.

Harold has said, “I’d rather see the audience taking notes than to hear their applause.” This remark speaks to his intense desire to make a meaningful connection with his audience, which is his ultimate objective.


Evanka Osmak


Evanka brings fans from coast-to-coast a healthy serving of fun, humour and insight as the co-anchor of Sportsnet Central alongside Ken Reid. Highlights of her career so far include hosting at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as well sideline reporting at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

One of the most recognizable sportscasters in Canada, Evanka’s path to success has been anything but orthodox. She graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Civil Engineering. After working for a couple of years for an engineering consulting firm, Evanka experienced the realization it wasn’t what she wanted to be doing in her life, and made a change. It turned out to be the defining moment in her career.

After enrolling in a broadcasting program she found her true calling and traded in the hard hat for a microphone. Evanka started out learning the ropes at a morning show in Yuma, Arizona before having a chance encounter with Sportscaster Jamie Campbell. Building up the courage to spark conversation with him paid off and six months later she started her career in sports media.

John Pecman
John Pecman

John Pecman was appointed Commissioner of Competition on June 12, 2013, for a five-year term.

Mr. Pecman is an economist with an M.A. from McMaster University and has worked at the Competition Bureau as an investigator, manager and executive for more than 30 years. He has worked in every enforcement branch at the Bureau, and has held increasingly senior positions since joining the organization in 1984.

Under Mr. Pecman’s leadership, the Bureau’s enforcement actions have preserved competition in a variety of major areas of the Canadian economy, including the automotive, manufacturing, e-commerce, telecommunications and retail sectors. The results of these actions include criminal charges of rigging bids for the supply of water services to municipalities in Quebec; record customer refunds for mobile phone users deceived by false or misleading representations in advertisements for premium text message services; precedent-setting remedies to protect competition in Ontario’s water heater industry, including the first administrative monetary penalty for an offense under the abuse of dominance provision of the Competition Act; record fines imposed under the bid-rigging provisions of the Act against suppliers of motor vehicle components; as well as consent agreements requiring significant divestitures in the Transcontinental/Quebecor newspaper acquisition, the Loblaw/Shoppers Drug Mart merger, the Sobeys/SafewayCanada merger and the Bell/Astral merger, which together preserved competition in the sale of advertising in community newspapers, in the retail grocery and pharmacy industries, and in the supply of pay and specialty television programming services.

Suthamie Poologasingham
Suthamie Poologasingham

Suthamie is a Director of Research and Senior Advisor of E-commerce at J.C. Williams Group. She leads J.C. Williams Group’s RetailWATCH, which provides syndicated research on Canadian consumer shopping behavior, retail tends and global best-in- class, case studies.  Suthamie has advised and conducted research on e-commerce for the Ministry of Agriculture in British Columbia, Industry Canada and Canada Post on e-commerce in Canada Post. She has also authored chapters for the Retail Council of Canada and the EBELTOFT Group.

Suthamie has a practical understanding of the online world as she manages implementation of e-commerce stores and advises on digital marketing. Her awareness of the challenges clients face and her market knowledge has provided numerous clients with the business strategies required to invest wisely in e-commerce, cut costs and increase ROI.

Suthamie earned a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and a Master of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

Robert Serapiglia
Robert Serapiglia

With 25 years of experience in further processing and global business development, Robert brings a comprehensive and thorough understanding of the supply chain dynamics and environment required to merchandise and launch a value-added beef product in the global marketplace. Fueled by a passion for success, a commitment to quality, service and confidentiality Robert works with clients globally, assisting in the development, coordination and implementation of branded Canadian beef and veal products. Robert leads business development initiatives in both the domestic and emerging market sectors for Canada Beef using Canadian branding and product innovation to differentiate and create a niche market environment for Canadian beef and veal products.

Shane Schick


Shane Schick tells stories that help people create value with information technology. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine, published by Rogers Media. Shane was previously Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a former technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and founding editor of

Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, where he also serves as a judge. As a content marketing consultant, Shane has helped everyone from startups to some of the world’s most recognized technology brands tell more authentic and engaging stories.  Follow Shane on Twitter: @shaneschick

Jeff Swearingen

Swearingen-2015-webJeff has a broad range of marketing and sales experience, including Senior Vice President, Portfolio Marketing and Group Vice President of National Sales and Marketing, both for Frito Lay, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Frito-Lay Canada, Vice President of Marketing for Quaker Snacks, and Marketing Director for iconic brands like Doritos.  He is a 21-year veteran of PepsiCo, having joined the Company in 1994.

Prior to Frito-Lay and business school, Jeff spent four years in Corporate Banking, with Hibernia National Bank in New Orleans, Louisiana.

As Senior Vice President of PepsiCo North America’s Demand Xcelerator, his team is responsible for Shopper Insights, Shopper Marketing, Category Leadership and Space Transformation across PepsiCo’s U.S. businesses.  

Jeff is a frequent speaker at industry and academic events, including a presentation at TED-X.  He also frequently contributes to industry publications. Jeff has a Finance degree from the University of Oklahoma, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


Abe van Melle
Abe van MelleAbe van Melle has been in the Retail Meat Trade for over 40 years, first developing his skills in a butcher shop in Saskatchewan breaking down sides of beef and learning the trade from the ground floor. Prior to coming to Canada Beef Abe worked as the lead instructor at The Southern Institute of Technology in the Butchery Program, helping to develop and evolve the butchery program into a program that included butchery and charcuterie. At the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence, Abe helps to develop and deliver customized beef programs to Canadian Beef clients in both the domestic and foreign markets. The Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence allows Canada Beef to connect with clients and showcase a world class product produced without compromise by the 68,500.00 producers across Canada.


Ken Wong

headshot2-webKen Wong is an award-winning professor and one of Canada’s most frequently cited marketing authorities. He is The Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University a Managing Partner, Knowledge Development of Level 5 Brand Consulting, and sometime columnist for Strategy, Marketing magazine, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Canadian Grocer and Meetings and Incentive Travel.  His writing and videos can also be found on the websites of Teva, MSN, the Globe and Mail and Microsoft.

Ken was the principal architect of the first MBA program to operate completely outside of government subsidy: a program named by Business Week as the number one MBA outside the US. He has also taught in programs at Cornell, Carleton, Dalhousie, Radcliffe College, University of Alberta and Harvard’s Continuing Education Program and various executive programs. In addition, he sits on numerous Boards of Directors and Advisory Councils.

Ken has received numerous teaching and professional awards. He was named a 2006 Inductee into Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends for his contributions to the practice and teaching of marketing.  In 1998 Ken received a lifetime achievement award as a “Leader in Management Education” from the Financial Post.

Wong has addressed groups around the world and has worked with hundreds of organizations, from multinationals like Microsoft and GE to small start-ups and public agencies. His message is simple: organizations underperform because they lose sight of the things that matter most. Ken helps organizations build consensus and commitment by identifying the key factors shaping performance in all industries and relating them to their particular circumstances. His message is strategic and tactical, factual and motivational, serious and light-hearted.

Wong has built a virtual cult following for business elite who have learned his unique terminology and ways of illustrating biggest threats to healthy bottom-line results. Bringing the “culprits” alive in his content-dense, yet fun-filled presentations sheds new light on business realities for his many clients.

Chris Yli-LuomaChris Yli-Luoma

The power of produce in the shopper’s basket is key to success. Fresh consultant Yli-Luoma first pushed fuzzy kiwis in the 80s and discovered the produce biz. She focuses on promotions and marketing for retailers and consumers. What works? Solid in-store merchandising and promotions, social media and marketing campaigns integrated with sales across multiple levels. Working with distributors, wholesalers, grocers, and marketing agencies she knows the best ideas come from the ground up. Find her @freshguru



Chris YuChris-Yu_Profile-Photo

Chris Yu is a category manager at Canada’s leading Korean grocery chain, Galleria Supermarket. As category manager, Chris is constantly keeping up with the latest food trends in Asia to bring to North America. With a background in convention and trade show marketing, Chris brings  digital and marketing expertise having worked at Korea’s leading professional e-service company and trade show organizer.



For more information, contact Nancy Kwon,; 1-800-661-2344; 416-492-1804

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