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Thursday, October 29, 2020 — 1:00 PM EDT


Converting Crisis to Opportunity

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." -Rahm Emanuel

The ongoing pandemic is the one in a 100-years crisis that has shaken both our economy and our society to its very foundation. But the good news and the bad news is that nothing lasts forever. In this online session of the Alumni Speaker Series, seasoned Waterloo engineers and battle-scarred entrepreneurs share their compelling stories of how they recognized - and seized - opportunities during various economic upheavals and the lessons they learned during these crises.

The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panel of experts.

A Zoom link will be sent to those who register for this session. 

Watch the full recording of the session:


Chris Holt

Christopher Holt, Associate Director, Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, University of Waterloo

Christopher Holt is a former consultant and entrepreneur with experience in the technology, media and finance industries. He completed a PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto where his research focused on entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial identity construction among students. His consulting clients include the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association and the Global Absolute Return Congress, both educational organizations focusing on global finance and economics. In addition to several Fortune 500 clients, Chris has also consulted to the World Economic Forum, World Bank and Earth Council Institute, an NGO in San Jose, Costa Rica. He supervises the MBET Corporate Innovation Project and teaches entrepreneurship, management consulting, and organizational behaviour courses to undergraduate and graduate students.

Panel Speakers:

Andrew D'Souza

Andrew D'Souza (BASc 2008, Systems Design Engineering)
Co-Founder and CEO, Clearbanc

Andrew D'Souza is the co-founder & CEO of Clearbanc, the biggest ecommerce investor in the world. Clearbanc has invested $1 billion into 2,800+ ecommerce and software companies using data science to identify high-growth funding opportunities in less than 24 hours. This data-driven approach takes the bias out of decision making and helped fund 8x more female founders than traditional VC. Andrew has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital and is an adviser and investor to companies such as WealthSimple, Properly, and Tulip Retail. Prior to Clearbanc, Andrew was the president of Nymi, a wearable platform focussed on identity and security and the COO of education startup, TopHat. Andrew began his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company after receiving his degree in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Paul Maiero

Paul Maiero (MBET 2010, Business, Entreprenership and Technology)
Business Agility Leader, Deloitte Canada

Paul Maiero is a practice leader in Deloitte's Agile Transformation Advisory practice out of Toronto, Canada. He is experienced in acting as a change agent in large agile transformations than span the business, technology and areas of organizations not commonly thought about during the agile journey - think controls, design, injecting lean startup thinking into product, and portfolio management. Paul has provided advisory and implementation services with a strong focus on agile frameworks improve development capabilities and delivery across organizations with a focus on the customer and value-oriented delivery.

Prior to joining Deloitte, Paul launched a start-up focused on connecting Canadian consumers with brands and retailers through mobile platforms while heavily focusing on lean start up and lean product development principles to enable his small team to capture market share in an rapidly changing, innovative and dynamic marketplace. He holds a Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Windsor.

Nina sodhi

Nina Sodhi (BASc 1999, Electrical Engineering)
Founder and Managing Partner, Nackina LLC

Nina Sodhi is a seasoned startup executive who has built and scaled several early-stage companies. She currently runs Nackina LLC, a consulting firm advising startups, corporate incubators and VC firms. Prior to Nackina, Nina was the COO of MediQuire, COO of Spatial Systems, CEO and Founder of Blu Trumpet (acquired by Breaktime Studios), and COO of BumpTop (acquired by Google). Nina was also an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in their technology group where she worked on a number of tech IPOs and M&A transactions.  

Nina holds a B.A.Sc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Other Sessions of the ALUMNI SPEAKER SERIES:

Engineering Our Way Through a Pandemic: How Waterloo Engineers are Finding Solutions

Date: August 13, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm

Moderator: Mary A. Wells, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Waterloo


  • Marc Aucoin (BASc 2000, Chemical Engineering; MASc 2003, Chemical Engineering), PhD, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Ryan Denomme (BASc 2010, Nanotechnology; MASc 2012, Mechanical), Founder and CEO, Nicoya Lifesciences
  • Sheldon Fernandez (BASc 2001, Computer Engineering), CEO, DarwinAI


Post-COVID-19 Economy: Economic Outlook for Canada Post-Covid-19

Date: September 26, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm

Speaker: Larry Smith (BA 1968, MA 1975), Professor, Economics 


Rise of the Robots in a Post-Pandemic World

Date: November 24, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm

Moderator: William Melek, Professor, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering

  • Kerstin Dautenhahn, Professor and Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Joel Blit (MASc 1999, Computer Engineering), Professor, Department of Economics
  • Pablo Molina (BASc 2011, Mechatronics Engineering), Chairman, CTO, VP of Product & Co-founder, Avidbots