Welcome to the 39th McMaster World Congress!
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.
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.
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 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.
Professor, Niagara College & Former Canadian Olympian
Nicole is a recent Ph.D. graduate in sports psychology from Michigan State University, a mental performance consultant, and a professor at Niagara College in Sport Management. She specializes in the achievement of high performance, including understanding the psychosocial factors separating good performers from great performers.
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.
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.
President, Toronto FC
Manning, 50, joins Toronto FC after spending the previous eight seasons as president of both Real Salt Lake (RSL) and Rio Tinto Stadium. During his time with RSL, Manning transformed the club into a winner, leading the organization to a 2009 MLS Cup championship, as well as a model franchise off the pitch where both season tickets and sponsorships more than tripled. The club also won the Eastern Conference title (2009), Western Conference title (2013) and were MLS Cup runners-up (2013) and CONCACAF Champions League runners-up (2011). Manning was the recipient of the Major League Soccer Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year award in both 2012 and 2014. In addition, he helped establish, open and sold naming rights to Rio Tinto Stadium, home to Real Salt Lake.
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 sites 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.