Speakers (2018)

39th McMaster World Congress Speakers



Kautilya Jamadagni

McMaster Student Representative, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

Kautilya Jamadagni is the McMaster CPA Student Representative for the 2017-2018 Board of Ambassadors. He is a 4th-year student who recently completed a year-long internship at Sanofi Pasteur as a financial analyst. His role is to discuss and promote the CPA profession along with its merits, earning potential and limitless career options. Kautilya is passionate about cars and travelling. After graduation he will be starting an exciting career at Restaurants Brands International in Oakville, Ontario.





Karun Tangri

McMaster Student Representative, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

Karun is a third year DeGroote student who is interested in public accounting and achieving his CPA designation in the near future, while Kautilya is a fifth-year commerce student returning from a one-year internship. He will be presenting with Kautilya to discuss and promote the CPA profession along with its merits, earning potential and limitless career options.



Twitterlinkedin_logo_initialsPaul Mercante

President and Co-Founder, GeneBlueprint

Paul Mercante is the President and Co-Founder of Gene Blueprint and a graduate of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Business. Paul has chosen to make a difference through the commercialization of technology in medical science. He has worked in the biotechnology industry introducing game-changing technology in healthcare. Paul played a significant role in introducing surgical robotics, the first knotless suture, real-time visualization of tissue perfusion and direct to implant breast reconstruction with human cadaveric tissue in Canada.  GeneBlueprint is his latest venture and his startup is disrupting the commercial genetic industry.  A patented method for calculating Genetic Prediction Scores for fitness and nutrition allows clients to personalized their fitness and nutrition regimes.



David Clanachan

Commissioner, Canadian Premier League

David Clanachan was appointed Commissioner of the CPL (Canadian Premier League) – Canada’s newest domestic men’s professional soccer league on January 12, 2018.  The league is set to launch in Spring of 2019 with several clubs from coast to coast.  Clanachan is also the Chairman of Restaurant Brands International, Canada.  Having spent his whole professional career at Tim Hortons, Clanachan was named President and Chief Operating Officer of Tim Hortons Canada in 2014, and has more than 35 years with the brand.  Clanachan was a key member of the leadership team that grew Tim Hortons into the iconic Canadian brand that it is today.  The Burlington, Ontario native has also been a champion of Tim Hortons’ popular Timbits Minor Sports Program – a grassroots community program sponsored by Tim Hortons Restaurant Owners across the country, which has provided millions of Canadian children with the opportunity to play house-league sports. This includes more than 300,000 Canadian children who play Timbits Soccer every year.  A passionate soccer enthusiast, Clanachan has played competitive and recreational soccer his entire life. Known for his “aggressive defending”, Clanachan still takes the pitch every week playing in the Burlington Soccer League. 



Twitterlinkedin_logo_initialsJohn Lashway

President, Lashway Consulting Group

John Lashway combines more than 30 years of communications, community engagement, and business experience with today’s current best practices to serve clients across North America in sports, recreation, business, real estate development, entertainment, healthcare, higher education, the performing arts, and not-for-profits. He has earned a reputation as one of the leading strategic communications executives in Canada, and is a “go to” expert in crisis communications, issues management, and brand enhancement and protection.

John began his career on the athletic department staff of his alma mater, the University of Oregon, before being hired by the Portland Trail Blazers as the second-youngest communications director in the NBA. He was recruited to Toronto to help create and launch the expansion Toronto Raptors, and was instrumental in the formation of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. As Senior Vice President he led seven departments for communications, community development, and two charitable foundations while accountable to marketing and corporate initiatives focused on fan engagement, website/social media, ticketing, corporate partnerships, new business, people development, special events, and venue management and operations.

John’s career includes 22 seasons in the NBA, 10 in the NHL, and one consulting to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He opened his consulting firm in 2008 to expand his talents to other fields and markets. He is one of five trainers with “Everything Is On The Record”, one of North America’s most in-demand media coaching agencies, educating high profile personalities from business, entertainment, and sports on how to manage the traditional and social media landscapes. He earned his accreditation in Social Media Applications from the International Association of Business Communicators in 2013.



unnamedTwitterlinkedin_logo_initialsMeghan Chayka

Director of Research, Stathletes

Meghan Chayka is a Co-Founder of Stathletes—a sports data and analytics company. Having grown at a rapid rate since 2010, Meghan has won many awards for Stathletes including: Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Cardinal Challenge Winner, and Innovation Factory Business Plan Competition.

Prior to Stathletes, Meghan was an Analyst at John Deere and a Financial Analyst at the Ministry of Transportation.  Meghan is a graduate of McMaster University and co-founded Stathletes while in school.

She was named ESPN top 12 under 40 in hockey and Yahoo Canada Sports unsung heroes of 2015. Meghan also won an award in Rogers: Next Big Idea in Sport competition. Stathletes has appeared in many media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, BNN and the Globe & Mail.





Glen Grunwald

Director, Athletics & Recreation at McMaster University

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Glen Grunwald was a high school All-American basketball player, who went on to play at Indiana University under legendary coach Bobby Knight.  He was the team captain on the Hoosiers’ 1981 NCAA championship team.  Drafted by the Boston Celtics of the NBA, he did not pursue professional basketball and instead completed a law degree at Northwestern University and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Indiana.

Working as a corporate attorney, Grunwald returned to his basketball roots in 1989 as VP and General Counsel of the NBA Denver Nuggets.  He joined the Toronto Raptors’ organization in 1994 and assumed the role of General Manager from 1997 to 2004.

Upon leaving the Raptors, Grunwald became the President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, the largest local business organization in Canada.  He maintained involvement with numerous civic organizations and was a board member at George Brown College and Canada Basketball. In 1999, Grunwald became a Canadian citizen.  He is also co-founded HoopDome, Canada’s first multi-court basketball-only facility located in Toronto’s Downsview Park in 2005 and currently serves as its Chair.

Grunwald returned to the NBA in 2006 with the New York Knicks and became the team’s General Manager in 2011. Moving on from the Knicks in 2014, he returned to university athletics, which has been a life-long passion of his, when he was hired to assume the position of Director of Athletics and Recreation at McMaster in August of 2014.  Grunwald also serves as the Chair of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2016 and 2017 Vanier Cup played at Tim Horton’s Field in Canada.



Zoila Rossi Ricciardone

Co-President, McMaster Esports

Zoila Rossi Ricciardone is a second-year student at McMaster University in the Honours Medical & Biological Physics program.

During her first year of undergraduate studies, she became apart of McMaster Esports as a manager for McMaster’s competitive League of Legends team. In October 2017, Zoila became one of two co-presidents for the club. She intends to utilize her new position as a president to legitimize Esports within McMaster University.

She will be doing a presentation in collaboration with Martin Kyorkis, founder and former president of McMaster Esports. Together, they will be discussing the development of Esports and its impacts on the business world, as well as the history and challenges of managing a competitive esports team.




Martin Kyorkis

Founder & Former President, McMaster Esports

Martin Kyorkis is a 4th-year computer science student at McMaster University. He founded the McMaster Esports club in September 2013 and played for McMaster’s competitive League of Legends team for two years – placing 2nd in the grand finals of the Collegiate Star League tournament hosted at Dreamhack in Austin, Texas. He also helped develop DeGroote’s back-end systems for the MBA recruitment team. He has since passed on leadership of the club to a new generation in hopes of providing other McMaster students with the challenge of legitimizing Esports at McMaster University.

He will be presenting with Zoila Rossi Ricciardone about the development of Esports and how it impacts business and the collegiate scene.




Jared Daley

Rocket League Team Manager, McMaster Esports

Jared Daley is a second-year Master’s student at McMaster University in Mechanical Engineering. In September, he joined the McMaster Esports organization as the first Rocket League team manager. Since then, he has led his team to a top 10 finish in the Collegiate Rocket League open bracket tournament. He will be performing a live demonstration of Rocket League with the two teams that he manages to showcase the teamwork and mechanical ability that is required to play Rocket League at a competitive level.




Darren Arnold

Senior Director of Ticketing, Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club

Darren was born and raised in nearby Stoney Creek and quickly established a passion for sports after playing baseball and hockey locally in Hamilton.

Darren’s career in professional sports began after graduation from Brock University’s Sports Management program in 2004.  He started in ticket sales with Blue Jays in 2004 seeing multiple promotions over his five seasons with the team and growing into a leadership capacity focusing on strategy.  In 2009, Darren joined Atlanta, Georgia-based The Aspire Group, a global sports sales and marketing firm that focused on third-party sales and strategy execution.

From 2009 through 2014, Darren rose to oversee all Canadian partnerships for The Aspire Group which include ticket sales operations with the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), Ottawa 67’s and Sarnia Sting (OHL) and Vancouver Giants (WHL).  In this role, Darren would oversee strategy advisement, staffing, training and administration for all Canadian business practices.  In 2014, Darren seized the opportunity to join The Aspire Group’s head office in Atlanta where he would oversee all remote-sales partnerships across the United States.  In a role he held for 2 years, he would be responsible for sales growth with partners such as the NFL Pro Bowl, US Open Tennis, NCAA Championships, NCAA collegiate athletics and non-sport initiatives across the United States.  In 2016, Darren joined the American Hockey League (AHL) in Springfield, Massachusetts as an Executive Consultant overseeing the Team Business Services division with the league.  Here he would provide consultation to senior team leadership and ownership on strategy, structure, and staffing for all 30 AHL clubs.  In June of this year, Darren proudly took the opportunity to come home and joined the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs to oversee their ticketing and sales initiatives.

The greatest reward the sports industry has provided Darren has been the opportunity to mentor many future and current sport industry leaders in Canada, the United States and Australia.



Gihan Fonseka 

Founder, Athelink

Gihan Fonseka is a McMaster Alumni who completed his studies with an Honours Bachelor of Economics. He then continued his education at the DeGroote School of Business completing an MBA in Strategic Marketing.

He was able to turn his hobby of Web Design into an entrepreneurial venture. After leaving DeGroote, he worked as an Intrapreneur at First Canadian Title and moved on to running his company called Athelink – a Social Network for Sports – connecting parents and players to their Sport’s Leagues in real-time.


Nicole W. Forrester, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor, Ryerson University & Canadian Olympian 

Nicole is a recent Ph.D. graduate in sports psychology from Michigan State University, a mental performance consultant, and an assistant professor at the Sport Media program in the RTA School of Media at FCAD. Her research interests include the athlete’s perspective and narrative, the relationship between media and the psychosocial factors associated with high performance, and understanding how athletes make the shift from good to great.  

Recently retired, Nicole is also an Olympian, and an 8-Time Canadian Champion who has represented Canada on 20 national teams.  She is a Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medalist, a Pan American Games and Francophone Games silver and bronze medalist, as well as a World University Games silver medalist.  

She is passionate about improving the culture of sport in Canada and to this end is an athlete ambassador for various organizations.  Additionally, she was the Vice-Chair of the Pan/Para Pan American Games Athlete’s Advisory Council, and currently serves on the Canadian Olympic Committee, Athletes’ Commission and on the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Games Canada. Prior to joining Ryerson University, Dr. Forrester was a founding professor in the Sport Management program at Niagara College. 


TwitterChris Shewfelt linkedin_logo_initials

Sr Director, Business Operations Toronto FC, Global Partnerships, MLSE

Chris is a passionate sports executive who goes to work every day dreaming about bringing championships to the city of Toronto. Chris was born and raised just outside the city of Hamilton in Copetown, a small community with a big heart where sports was at the center of activity and conversation.  Fastpitch softball was the sport of choice as Chris went on to play at the highest level of competition capturing 5 National Championships, a Canada Games gold medal, and a Pan Am bronze medal representing Canada in 2006. 

Sports continued as a trend for Chris as he graduated from Brock University with a degree in Sports Management, and in 2001 he was hired by MLSE starting his career in sport. Over his 16 seasons at MLSE, Chris has worked in virtually all disciplines within the sales and marketing groups having leadership responsibility across partnerships, ticketing, marketing, community sport partnerships, and service.  To date, Chris cites the launch of Toronto FC in 2007 as his most memorable and fulfilling career highlight; for the first time seeing the stands full and come alive for a soccer match at BMO Field is a moment he will never forget.

Putting it all into perspective, Chris believes sports has the ability to make true impact on people and community, and it often times has the ability to transcend everything else that happens across the globe in everyday life. Working every day in this industry is a privilege that Chris holds close to his heart.

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