Meet our featured speakers

Hear directly from the experts about the disruptive technologies that are reshaping business, government, and society at unprecedented speeds.

Industry luminaries

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Francis Bilodeau

Associate Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Francis Bilodeau was appointed Associate Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in January 2022.  Bilodeau is the 2023 Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) National Chair.

Prior to his appointment, he held various executive positions across the public service, including chief information officer of the Government of Canada, assistant secretary of Digital Policy and Services at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and founding assistant deputy minister for the Privy Council Office's Results and Delivery Unit.

Bilodeau holds a master's degree in business administration and a degree in mechanical engineering.

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Bruce Flatt

CEO, Brookfield Asset Management

Bruce Flatt is the Chief Executive Officer of Brookfield, a global investment firm focused on alternative asset management, wealth solutions, and its operating businesses, with nearly $1 trillion in assets under management. 

Mr. Flatt joined Brookfield in 1990 and became CEO in 2002. Under his leadership, Brookfield has developed a global operating presence in more than 30 countries. 

Prior to his current role, Mr. Flatt ran Brookfield’s real estate and investment operations and has served on numerous public company boards over the past three decades. 

Mr. Flatt is Canadian and has a business degree from the University of Manitoba. 

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Nicole Janssen

Co-Founder and Co-CEO, AltaML

Nicole Janssen is an established entrepreneur and recognized leader in artificial intelligence. As the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of AltaML, she plays a crucial role in the company's success. Her extensive experience spans agriculture, financial services, health, and energy, driving AltaML’s growth. Dedicated to promoting global education on responsible AI, Janssen has earned recognition from the RAI Institute. Her expertise is sought by governments for input on AI innovation in Canada. In 2023, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Woman in AI of the Year and was named one of North America’s Top 25 Women of Influence. This acclaim led to her participation in high-profile AI discussions. She also co-founded Janalta Interactive Inc. and Stratus Holdings Inc., and serves as a member of the Future of AI Council.

Rex Lee

CITO, Canadian Tire Corporation

Jodie Wallis

Global Chief Analytics Officer, Manulife

Leading experts

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Dr. Joël Blit

Chair, Council on Innovation Policy
Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

Dr. Joël Blit's main research interests are in the economics of innovation and innovation policy. He studies, among other things, the diffusion of disruptive technologies and their impact on productivity and jobs.

Blit regularly advises policymakers on innovation policy. As part of an expert roundtable, he advised the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Canada’s optimal position on intellectual property for USMCA trade negotiations. On the topic of automation and the future of work, he has briefed the G7 Representatives and has been an invited speaker at a number of venues including the OECD Global Forum on Productivity.

Prior to joining Waterloo, Blit was an Assistant Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the George Washington University, and a business consultant to financial services firms in Asia, Australia, and North America. His consulting engagements included reorganizing the activities of a major bank and formulating the strategy for a $US 100M startup.

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Dr. Vivek Goel

President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo

Dr. Vivek Goel is the University of Waterloo's President and Vice-Chancellor. He has held a number of senior leadership roles at the University of Toronto including as Vice-President and Provost and most recently as Vice-President Research and Innovation.

He served as founding President and CEO of Public Health Ontario from 2008 until 2014 and also as a founding scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). Goel has served as Chief Academic Strategist with Coursera, a global platform that connects universities and learners with online courses.

Goel obtained his medical degree from McGill University and completed post-graduate medical training in Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Goel obtained a master’s degree (MSc) in Community Health from U of T and a master’s degree (MS) in Biostatistics from Harvard University School of Public Health.

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Dr. Jimmy Lin

Cheriton Chair, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science
Co-director, Waterloo AI Institute
CTO, Primal

Dr. Jimmy Lin's area of research lies at the intersection between natural language processing and information retrieval. In addition to being one of the most cited artificial intelligence scholars in the world, he has been frequently and deeply engaged with both the private and public sectors throughout his career, including an extended sabbatical at Twitter and visiting positions at the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

He presently serves as the Chief Technology Officer of Primal, a Waterloo-based AI company focused on creating meaning that computers can understand. Lin holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT and is a fellow of the ACM.

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Dr. Bessma Momani

Professor, Political Science
Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

Dr. Bessma Momani is Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and Governor on the board of the International Development Research Centre. She previously served as both Assistant and Associate Vice-President in the university’s Office of Research.

Dr. Momani has worked as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, both in the communications office and the Independent Evaluation Office. She has also been a Visiting Scholar in Global Affairs Canada (GAC) in its International Assistance Research and Knowledge Division and served as an inaugural member of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group at Public Safety Canada. Dr. Momani has authored more than twelve books and 80 peer-reviewed academic articles and is also a frequent media and political analyst with editorials in The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Time, the Washington Post, the National Post and the Toronto Star.

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Dr. J. Mark Weber

Special Advisor to the Provost on Leadership Strategy and Development

Dr. Mark Weber is the Eyton Director of the Conrad School and Professor of Management and Organizations. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Waterloo, Weber served on faculty and taught courses on leadership, negotiations and organizational behavior to students at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, INSEAD and at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

Weber's research focuses on leadership, cooperation, negotiations, decision-making, and trust. He consults extensively and has provided training to executives and professionals in the automotive, education, healthcare, pharmaceutical, broadcast media, entertainment, telecommunications, professional services, and financial services industries, and in government at all levels.