Leader to Watch Award Recipients

In 2023, we changed our previously named SAF Young Alumni Award to be the SAF Leader to Watch Award.

2023 Leader to Watch Award Winner:

Ian Weng (MAcc '13) | Co-founder and CEO, SPATULA

Ian Weng

Ian Weng is the Co-Founder and CEO of SPATULA Foods. SPATULA is a marketplace that curates and manufactures flash-frozen meals that are ready in less than 10 minutes with just a pan and a spatula. Previously, Weng was the Head of Strategy, Planning and Finance at Uber Eats Canada where he helped to drive exponential growth for the Canadian business. 

Weng obtained his MBA from the Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires (INSEAD), his MAcc from the University of Waterloo, and his CPA designation at KPMG. 

Weng regularly speaks about entrepreneurship at Waterloo and INSEAD events and enjoys working with students and aspiring founders to get their ideas off the ground. Outside of work, Weng enjoys travelling and spending time with his growing family. 

2022 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Matthew Roman, CPA (MTax '12) | Partner, KPMG

Matthew Roman

Matthew Roman is a Partner at KPMG LPP, serving as a trusted business advisor to privately owned businesses in the Region of Waterloo. Within KPMG, Matthew is the National Tax Learning & Development Leader where he and his team contribute to the creation and delivery of internal resources to improve the technical and professional skills of KPMG tax professionals. He is a recipient of the CPA Canada Gold Medal for achieving the highest standing in Ontario on the Common Final Examination (CFE) of the CPA Profession.

Matthew has extensive involvement in various groups that are shaping tax education in Canada. He is the Chair of the CPA Canada Income Tax Education Committee (ITEC), a member of the Board of Examiners for the CFE, and a member of CPA Canada’s Tax Learning & Development Advisory Group. He is an experienced university lecturer, and a co-author to the textbook, Canadian Income Taxation: Planning and Decision Making. Over the years, Matthew has made numerous contributions, including teaching and content development, within the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP),  CPA preparatory core courses (CPA PREP), and the In-Depth Tax Program.

2021 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Nilofer Ahmed (MAcc '12) | Business & Consumer Strategy, Motif Foodworks

Nilofer Ahmed

Nilofer Ahmed is the Senior Director of Business & Consumer Strategy at Motif FoodWorks, a food technology company focused on plant-based food solutions. Nilofer was previously a Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group, focused on the retail grocery industry across the globe. In 2015, Nilofer co-founded her own plant-based frozen food company, Fire Ox Foods, which operates in the Northeast US today. She is passionate about food trends & improving global food systems. Nilofer received her MBA from the Yale School of Management in 2016 and her BAFM and MAcc from the University of Waterloo in 2012.

Outside of work, Nilofer is a strong advocate & mentor for women in the workplace. She is a mentor with EverQuote’s leadership program & a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the latest trends in food & is excited to continue pursuing innovation in the food space.

2020 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Dinesh Balakrishnan, CPA, CA (MAcc '14), Manager, Operations (Finance), Calian Group Ltd.

face of dinesh

Dinesh Balakrishnan is the Manager, Operations (Finance) at Calian Group Ltd. where he is currently managing the Billing Operations team and driving process improvements. Prior to joining Calian, he was the Manager, Business Transformation at Softchoice in Toronto where he had a critical role in the first-time SAP implementation, specifically focusing on revenue recognition. Dinesh obtained his BAFM and MAcc from the University of Waterloo in 2014 and earned his CPA, CA through Deloitte.

Outside of work, as the VP of Young Alumni, Dinesh works closely with the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) Alumni Association to plan and promote events and initiatives. He is a regular guest speaker and presenter at the SAF on the topic of personal branding, interview preparation, and overall co-op readiness. He supports the SAF’s talented students through their co-op search, career coaching, and as a SAF Fellowship Honouree. Leveraging his experience as a former professional headhunter, Dinesh continues to assist recent immigrants and grads in their job search. Dinesh credits his achievements to the incredible and unrelenting support of his parents and his wife, an aspiring CPA herself, whom he serendipitously met at a networking event at CPA Ontario during his time as a professional recruiter.

2019 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Akash Kapoor, MAcc '14, CPA | Digital Marketing and Product Management, Innovision App and Web Development

Akash Kapoor

Akash Kapoor is presently pursuing his MBA at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management in Chicago, Illinois majoring in Strategy and Technology Management. Previously, Akash was a Manager at Strategy& specializing in corporate and customer strategies and digital transformations for clients in the Telecommunications, Media, and Technology sector. Prior to Strategy&, Akash helped launch and scale a risk analytics platform for PwC Canada’s audit practice and was recognized as an innovative leader. He was the recipient of the PwC Google Innovation Award and has presented to large audiences at several technology and analytics keynotes at PwC. Akash graduated Summa Cum Laude from the BAFM and MAcc program from the University of Waterloo in 2014 and was the National CPA Gold Medalist on the 2014 Uniform Final Evaluation.

Outside of work, Akash launched Canada’s first and only CPA exam preparation iOS, Android, and Web platform in partnership with PASS consultancy (https://www.passyourcpa.ca/app/). He has also continued to engage with his alma-mater as Lecturer in 2017 and more recently as the developer of a first-year accounting course for an online degree program. Akash aspires to continually engage, inspire, and imagine the unimagined as he takes on exciting endeavors in his professional journey.

2018 Young Alumni Award Winners:

Shubham Datta, BMath '13 | Corporate Development Manager, Shopify

Shubham Datta

Shubham Datta is the Corporate Development Manager at Shopify where he identifies disruptive commerce experiences and accelerates Shopify's product roadmap through acquisitions. Prior to Shopify, he helped fund, grow and exit technology companies, particularly those in the SaaS and commerce sectors as a Director at SurePath Capital Partners. Shubham enjoys helping founders and entrepreneurs reach their full potential. He obtained his BMath from the University of Waterloo in 2013 and earned his CPA through KPMG.

Outside of work, Shubham is an avid sports fan and likes to watch every sport especially basketball, hockey and cricket. In his spare time, he enjoys following the latest trends in consumer technology, and writing his thoughts on his blog (www.medium.com/@shubham). He also hosts the Backbone (www.thebackbone.co), a podcast exploring the journey inside the finances at a startup, where he interviews finance leaders at technology companies at various stages of the company. Shubham has also made appearances on BNN Bloomberg, sharing his thoughts on technology and venture capital landscape.

Nitish Sharma, BMath '14 | Associate, InstarAGF Asset Management Inc.

Nitish Sharma

Nitish Sharma (BMath ’14) is an investment professional at InstarAGF Asset Management Inc., a middle-market infrastructure private equity firm, where he is focused on making investments in high quality infrastructure in North America. Working as an investor, Nitish is passionate about providing capital to infrastructure businesses and opportunities to help see them grow and flourish. Previously, Nitish has worked as a Senior Consultant at Oliver Wyman, where he provided strategic advice to a number of the largest global financial services firms through developing novel credit modeling methodologies, as well as telecommunications and local not-for-profit firms. Nitish graduated from the BMath program from the University of Waterloo in 2014.

In his spare time, Nitish exemplifies leadership — serving as a Director and Chair of the International Affairs Committee of the World Parkinson’s Program (WPP), a charity focused on helping manage Parkinson’s disease. In this role, he has expanded WPP’s chapter footprint to over 25 sites globally and provided assistive devices and aids to over 100 patients in need in developing countries. Nitish is also currently engaged in a number of mentoring efforts through SAF’s Student Investment Fund and Junior Achievement.

2017 Young Alumni Award Winners:

Jane Chung, MAcc '07 | Founder & CEO, Perked!

Jane Chung

Jane Chung is the CEO of Perked!, a software company recently recognized as an ICT Emerging Rocket company in British Columbia in 2017. Jane was a Manager at KPMG in the Financial Services practice in Toronto prior to being appointed as a Senior Manager at the Canadian Public Accountability Board, supporting the expansion of their Western Canada team before moving over to Perked! Working in the technology industry, Jane is passionate about elevating the diversity and inclusion of Women in Tech.

She mentors, facilitates workshops, and supports fellow women in tech through Founders Network, a global network of peer entrepreneurs. Working in the technology industry, Jane is passionate about enhancing the diversity and inclusion of Women in Tech. She mentors, facilitates workshops, and supports fellow women in tech through Founders Network, a global network of peer entrepreneurs.

Megan Tong, MAcc '09 | Co-founder, Kanga and Manager of Business Development, Top Hat

Megan Tong

Megan Tong is currently the Senior Manager of Business Development at Top Hat. She co-founded Kanga, Toronto's first Australian-style meat pie shop. The idea for Kanga was conceived during a KPMG work secondment to Australia, and what started as an idea for a pop-up quickly grew into a successful chain of restaurants. Prior to founding Kanga, she worked at the MasterCard Foundation, managing partnerships with NGOs at the front lines of Education and Financial Inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. Megan has been an avid champion of entrepreneurship through her involvement with Junior Achievement and Futurpreneur.

Vikram Somasundaram, MAcc '11 | Chief of Staff, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

Vikram Somasundaram

Vikram directs thought leadership and works closely with CPA Ontario’s Executive Team on strategic planning and special projects. Previously, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of Edusight, an education technology startup serving over 300K students worldwide and acquired by Nelson earlier this year.

He also recently launched a micro-VC fund focused on making seed stage investments in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Vikram is passionate about good design, emerging technology and its impact on society, and the Toronto Raptors. 

2016 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Hamoon Ekhtiari, BMath '09, MAcc '09

Hamoon Ekhtiari

A lover of all things blueberry and/or avocado, Hamoon is currently the Director of Strategy and Innovation for the Executive Vice President at TELUS. Previously, he was the Founding Director of Studio [Y], a leadership and innovation academy at MaRS, Canada’s largest innovation hub. Hamoon has also founded a social enterprise which raised $1M in its first year, helped build Deloitte’s consulting business in the Caribbean, and taught as adjunct faculty. He is a member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, a Rothschild Fellow at University of Cambridge, a recipient of University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics Young Alumni Achievement Medal, and a Canada Millennium Scholar. Through his most recent venture, Audacious Futures, Hamoon works with leaders and innovators across sectors and around the world on breakthrough innovation, transformation, impact, and re-imagining the future.

2015 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Meng Wang, BAFM '12

Meng Wang

Since graduating in 2012, Meng has established a dynamic career path. Meng is currently an Operations and Logistics Manager for UberEATS, which she helped launch in May 2015. She spends most of her time designing menus and processes, building relationships with celebrity chefs, and testing meals from some of the best restaurants in Toronto.
Prior to Uber, Meng worked as an Investment Banking Analyst at TD Securities. Meng holds a Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Management (with Distinction) from the University of Waterloo. She was a Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation Scholarship winner and a School of Accounting and Finance Fellow. Despite her busy schedule, Meng has remained close to the School, dedicating her time to numerous student events including being a guest speaker for SAF Professional Women’s Network, facilitator of an Explore Your Career workshop, and mentoring students through the SAF Mentorship Program and Student Investment Fund. Meng leads by example and demonstrates what it is to be a proud SAF alumna.

2014 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Sharon Ng Hayes, MAcc '04, CPA, CA

Sharon Hayes

As significant as her contributions to the world of finance and accounting have been, Sharon is perhaps most notorious as the Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the fashion and retail website The Backseat Stylers (backseatstylers.com).

While being an accountant and fashion buyer by day, Sharon spends her evenings writing and editing timely and informative articles reporting on the latest fashion and retail news and events, celebrity red carpet fashions, street style, and shopping picks from Canada and around the world. Her vision and passion are inspirational to alumni as to what can be accomplished if you follow your dreams.

2013 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Jessica Chiu, MAcc '04

Jessica Chiu (MAcc ’04) is a finance senior manager, Canadian Banking Auto and Wealth, at the TD Bank Group.  She joined TD’s Chief Accountant’s department in 2008 working on accounting policy with a focus on the Bank’s IFRS transition.

After graduation and receiving her MAcc, Jessica has been an active supporter of the School of Accounting and Finance and continues to be a strong advocate for her alma mater.  Since 2006, she was the SAF Alumni Association Treasurer, and has regularly served in School events including fellowship interviews, CA convocation, and as a Fellowhip Honouree.

Jessica was a member of PwC’s United Way Steering committee.  She has helped to author part of a module for the ‘Valuations for Financial Reporting’ course offered by the CICBV and a chapter on Fairness Opinions of a text published by Carswell.

2012 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Elaine Lee, BA '03

Elaine is widely recognized for her leading role in CMA’s national advertising campaign entitled “Create Possibilities” which showcases exceptional CMAs throughout Canada. 

Upon graduation, Elaine embarked upon a dynamic career at the LCBO.  As the Supervisor of Financial Planning and Development, Elaine oversees the production of plans and reports and develops financial models to support and track strategic and corporate objectives. In addition, she works directly with LCBO's Regional Directors and District Managers in developing a participative budget for over 600 retail stores.

While at the LCBO, Elaine has continued to serve in various leadership capacities including Chair of LCBO’s Diversity Day Event day event and President of the LCBO Toastmasters Club, and has garnered numerous awards in competitive public speaking and leadership.  Elaine remains an active member of the School of Accounting and Finance where she was named as an Honouree of the Fellowship Program in 2006. 

In her spare time, Elaine also operates RSVP Photos, a professional photography business, and provides web design services for various mid-sized businesses and non-profit organizations. Elaine also holds an ARCT diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

2011 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Geoff Hayes, MAcc '04

Geoff is the SAF Alumni Association President, a role he assumed in 2006, two short years after graduating from the MAcc program. Upon completing his MAcc at Waterloo, Geoff joined Deloitte in their audit practice and Forensic & Dispute Services group before taking a position at Magna Entertainment. At Magna, he was able to apply the investigative skill set he had acquired at Deloitte in heading up their business assurance and controls practice.

In 2009 Geoff joined Barrick Gold as a member of their Business Planning team, responsible for the budgeting and forecasting processes at this gold industry leader. Geoff was recently asked to assume the planning and analysis function for Barrick's Capital Projects group, with a focus on ensuring that the next generation of Barrick gold mines will be successfully brought into production. Geoff serves as a Director on the Finance Committee for St. Michael's Cathedral, is Chair of the Finance Committee and a Board member for Camp Ekon, a not-for-profit summer camp in the Muskokas, and is the President of his Condominium Board.

2010 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Shikha Gandhi, MAcc '04

Shikha is a senior manager at Deloitte working for the firm's Global IFRS and Offering Services. Her career began when she started at Deloitte as a second year student on a co-op work-term. After graduating 2004, Shikha joined Deloitte full-time. However, she remains a strong supporter of the School, acting as the vice president of the Accounting and Finance Alumni Association. She regularly participates in the fellowship interviews, and was a key volunteer for the grand opening of the new building. An advocate of co-op education, Shikha has also taught an Introduction to Business in North America course at the School.

2009 Young Alumni Award Winner:

Amit Seth, MAcc '02

At 27, Amit Seth, Managing Director of Saisethsons Hospitality Group Inc., became one of the youngest franchisees in Tim Hortons' history. In 2008, he was honoured by the Ontario Hostelry Institute with a Top 30 Under 30 award. Amit exemplifies leadership, learned through his CA training, and his operational perspective provides vision and motivation to his management team. He also consults with small businesses, giving them tips to help retain employees, reduce turnover without sacrificing service and, in turn, achieve success in their business. The Saisethsons Group owns four Tim Hortons franchises in the greater Toronto area, while managing or consulting for 15 other restaurants in Ontario.