2017 Leadership Conference

Evidence-Based Decision Making 

About the Conference

Data is woven into every sector and function of our global economy; however, few organizations are using an Evidence-Based Leadership approach. During times of economic turmoil, sustaining your competitive advantage and maximizing your resources is paramount. To be a leader in your industry, you must utilize and implement data into your strategic decisions, making data-driven decisions part of your organization’s strategy using evidence-based leadership.

When organizations learn to employ facts while managing big data, it allows them to perform most efficiently. Learn what information you should be collecting, how to collect and analyze it and how to use what you learn to support your organization at the 2017 Leadership Conference held May 18, 2017 in Saskatoon, SK.


Join us Thursday, May 18, 2017 for a day of collaboration with evidence-based practitioners who represent various industries such as business, health, technology, sports, and education. The conference will provide attendees with tools and best practices to implement into your organization, allowing you to make better, more strategic decisions.

  • Darren Dutchyshen

    Leadership Conference-Darren DutchyshenDarren Dutchyshen co-hosts the evening edition of SportsCentre, Canada's most watched sports news and information show. He is also the host of the popular weekly boxing show, In This Corner with Russ Anber, and provides updates and highlights during NHL on TSN telecasts.

    A TSN veteran, he is one of the network’s most popular personalities. He began his TSN career in 1995, hosting weekend editions of SportsCentre and hosting CFL Live. His engaging and unique personality, smooth delivery and sports knowledge have made him a fan favourite.

    Before joining TSN, the native of Porcupine Plain, SK, spent seven years as the host of ITV's Sports Night, a 30-minute sports news program in Edmonton. While in Edmonton, he also hosted a daily radio sportscast on 630 CHED for more than two years.

    His first job as a sportscaster was with STV in Saskatoon for one year, followed by a stint with IMTV in Dauphin, MB.

  • Kristina McElheran

    Leadership Conference-Kristina McElheranKristina McElheran is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Toronto, which she joined in 2014. Kristina’s research centers on the use of information technology and data by firms, with an emphasis on strategy, organizational design, and process innovation. Her current focus is on data-driven decision making and how firms and individuals can use data to improve their performance.

    Kristina’s experience includes five years on the Harvard Business School faculty and an ongoing appointment at MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. She currently splits her time between Rotman, MIT, and the University of Toronto, Scarborough, where she teaches corporate and international strategy. Prior to her academic career, Kristina worked for two early-stage technology ventures in Silicon Valley, improvising in a variety of roles and developing a passion for digitally-driven innovation.

    Kristina’s PhD (2009) in Managerial Economics and Strategy comes from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She also holds a Diploma in Economics (1999) from the London School of Economics, as well as a Master's degree (1994) in International Development Policy and a Bachelor's degree (1993) in Political Science from Stanford University. Her work has been featured in Management Science, the American Economic Review, the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, the Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Rotman Magazine, and Communications of the ACM.

  • Gregg Sauter

    Leadership Conference-Gregg SauterGregg Sauter is Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Gregg leads brand development, marketing, ticketing, communications and all things digital, including mobile, social media, web content and data management. Prior to the Riders, Gregg spent eight years with Nokia Mobile Phones in Vancouver where he was Global Director of Media Partnership Development and Marketing, driving mobile content adoption and consumer promotions with some of the world’s largest media brands. Prior to Nokia, Gregg served as Director of Consumer Products with the National Football League in New York. Gregg’s accomplishments also include launching the LEGO Toy Group’s Media division in North America, where he led marketing, brand and retail sales through mass merchant retailers.

    In recent years, the Roughriders have been ranked among the top sports brand in Canada and despite recent on-field performance challenges, the team ranks #1 in league attendance and TV ratings, as well as digital and social engagement. The Roughriders will move into a new $278M state of the art football stadium in 2017.

  • David Finch

    Leadership Conference-David FinchDavid Finch's professional background reflects a commitment to the convergence of theory and practice. David possesses a PhD in management and is an active educator, scholar and practitioner. Dr Finch holds several academic appointments including Associate Professor at Mount Royal University's Bissett School of Business and is a Visiting Fellow at both Ohio University and the Henley Business School in the United Kingdom. David also teaches Executive Education at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.

    David's research interests focus on exploring the empirical link between stakeholders and organizational performance. Based on his research and breadth of experience, Dr Finch is the Director of the Business School Research Network (BSRN) - a network of senior researchers from 15 North American business schools focused on examining the empirical performance of business schools. In the past five years, David has authored over 50 scholarly papers and published in journals such as the Journal of Business Ethics, Academy of Management Learning & Education, Journal of Marketing Management, Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, Higher Education, the Journal of Marketing Education, the Corporate Reputation Review and the International Journal of Management Education.

    Prior to joining academia, Dr Finch held progressively senior corporate and agency roles including being a founding partner at the T1 Agency, Canada's largest sports and sponsorship marketing agency. This professional background includes supporting brands such as Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Esso, Harris Corporation, Hudson's Bay, BC Ferries, The Calgary Stampede and Yellow Pages.

  • Vanesa Vanstone

    Leadership Conference Speaker - Vanesa VanstoneVanesa is a leadership and quality improvement specialist for the Saskatoon Health Region and owner of Leadership and Business Management Consulting. She has been coaching others to lead change at an individual, organizational, and provincial level throughout her career. Vanesa was the lead SHR quality improvement specialist for the leadership team that led the initial development and launch of the provincial prototype for the Safety Alert System.

  • Jacqueline Cook

    Leadership Conference Speaker - Jacqueline CookJacqueline Cook is the VP of Growth at Vendasta Technologies, one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50™ fastest growing technology companies in Canada and ranked No. 42 on Canada’s 2016 PROFIT 500. She is responsible for driving a growth mindset throughout Vendasta through alignment, focus and execution cross-functionally in Engineering, Design, Product Management, Operations, Marketing, Sales, Support and Success. She leads Vendasta’s internationalization efforts and gathers key organizational data and customer insights to drive product strategy and ensure the company is achieving its long-term goals.

    Jacqueline is an alumnus of The Next 36 Entrepreneurial Institute, Canada’s premier entrepreneurial leadership initiative. During the program, she co-founded and was CEO of Triumf Mobile Rewards: a tablet and Smartphone-based platform for small and medium-sized businesses to customize their own loyalty rewards programs. She has been a speaker at events such as TEDx UofS and WE DAY 2015, and has represented Canada at the 2010 G8 and G20 Summits, the 2010 APEC Summit in Japan, and at the 2011 G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit in France.

    Jacqueline has been a recipient of CBC Saskatchewan's Future 40 under 40 and a YWCA Women of Distinction Award. She currently resides in Saskatoon, Canada with her fiance Jeff.

  • Keith Martell

    Leadership Conference Speaker - Keith MartellMr. Martell is the Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Bank of Canada.

    He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1985 with a B.Comm. He worked with the Chartered Accounting firm KPMG for 10 years. From 1995 to 2000, he served the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (“FSIN”) as the Executive Director of Finance and Fiscal Relations. He was instrumental in the creation of the First Nations Bank of Canada. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) and a Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM).

    He is also a Director of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., Dechen GP Corporation and River Cree Enterprises GP Ltd. He is a trustee on the Primrose Lake Settlement Trust. He was a recipient of the “Top 40 Under 40 in Canada Award” in 2001 and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Saskatchewan in 2016.

    Originally from the Waterhen Lake First Nation in northwest Saskatchewan, Mr. Martell now resides in Saskatoon.

  • Deniece Kennedy
    Leadership Conference - Speaker ImageDeniece Kennedy is a chartered accountant with seventeen years of progressive management experience focused on accounting, finance, tax and corporate strategy. Deniece is currently the Senior Director, Business Intelligence and Special Projects with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation where she is responsible for financial modelling, strategic analysis and special projects such as CalgaryNext. Previously, Deniece was employed by Deloitte, the Government of Alberta, and BDO Dunwoody where her focus was corporate income tax in the energy sector.
  • Neil McMillan

    Leadership Conference - Speaker ImageNeil McMillan is the former president and CEO of Claude Resources Inc., a Saskatchewan-based gold mining company. Neil previously served on the board of Atomic Energy Canada Ltd., a Canadian government nuclear reactor production and services company and currently serves on the board of Shore Gold Inc.

    Neil holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan, and is a former member of the Saskatchewan legislature. Neil’s CEO experience gives the board access to a ground level view of many of the daily mining risks and opportunities faced by Cameco. His background as an investment adviser and legislator, and his knowledge of the political and business environment in Saskatchewan, are valuable when the board is reviewing investment opportunities. In addition to his extensive experience as a senior executive, he has served on the compensation and audit committees of other public company boards and served two years on Cameco’s human resources and compensation committee. Neil served as a director of Philom Bios Inc. from 1997 to 2003 and as a director of Claude Resources Inc. from 1995 to 2014.




Welcome: Master of Ceremonies, Neil McMillan to introduce Dr. Keith Willoughby, Dean, Edwards School of Business 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Keynote: Kristina McElheran, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto 9:00-10:00 a.m.
Break 10:00-10:15 a.m.

Keynote: Interview with Darren Dutchyshen, Canadian Sportscaster
Darren will be joined on stage by Gregg Sauter of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Deniece Kennedy of the Calgary Flames

10:15-11:45 a.m.
Grandey Leadership Luncheon - Honouring Keith Martell, CEO of First Nations Bank of Canada 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions:

1A: Dr. David Finch, Associate Professor, Mount Royal University
1B: Vanesa Vanstone, Leadership & Quality Improvement Specialist, Saskatoon Health Region 
1C: Jacqueline Cook, VP of Growth at Vendasta Technologies

1:30-2:45 p.m.
Break 2:45-3:00 p.m.
Closing Activity: Dr. Keith Willoughby, Dean, Edwards School of Business 3:00-3:30 p.m.

Keynote and Session Descriptions

  • Kristina McElheran - Data in Action: Big Data, Small Data, and Data-Driven Decision Making
    New possibilities for collecting and analyzing business data are dizzying. Precise, recent, and comprehensive information about the state of customer demand or internal operations can be a powerful tool for new product breakthroughs, best-in-class process execution, and long-term profitability. Savvy managers realize that this “big data” craze is not all smoke and mirrors. But how to turn this revolution in measurement into a revolution in management? Based on the latest research into how real firms use data today, this talk describes the key challenges facing managers in our increasingly digital age and where they are coming from. It highlights the top areas for managerial focus, many of which are overlooked by even the most data-savvy firms today. And it outlines concrete steps that firms at any point on the digital learning curve can take to productively and sustainably put data in any industry context.
  • David Finch - Are you Drowning in Data? Tips for becoming an Evidence-based Leader
    Every day there is another article about the emergence of so-called big data and its impact on decision-making. For many of us, the greatest challenge isn’t access to evidence, it’s the problem of drowning in evidence - what evidence is valuable and what isn’t?  But successful leadership is not only about making effective decisions, it’s also about asking better questions. As Einstein once said - “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 59 minutes thinking about the problem and one minute thinking about solutions.”  Identifying your real problems and their solutions is rooted in your ability to transform raw information into knowledge and evidence. This includes information on markets, clients, competition, and trends that affect the environment you work in. It’s also about how you can efficiently differentiate real evidence from questionable evidence (and the garbage). In this session, we explore the principles of evidence-based leadership. This includes examining the role of systems thinking and the techniques to becoming both an evidence-based leader and storyteller.
  • Vanesa Vanstone - Change Leadership: When Data Isn't Enough

    Data and analytics provide insight into operational efficiency and effectiveness. However, insight alone will not achieve results. What’s needed are effective leaders who can utilize data to mobilize others and create meaningful change. Change leadership is essential to capture the benefits of data insights and lead groups through the changes necessary to advance an organizational strategy.

    Using best practices, practical examples, and participants’ experiences, this interactive session will examine the essential leadership actions that support change efforts. Participants will also learn about how humans respond when confronted with change, and how supportive leadership actions can help to navigate through this emotional transition.

  • Jacqueline Cook - Using data to create intrinsic motivation and a growth mindset within your organization

    Getting the right people on board—and getting all to pull enthusiastically in the right direction—can be the difference between success and failure for any organization. As the Vice President of Growth at Vendasta Technologies, Jacqueline has played a pivotal role in the strategy, operations and organizational design impacting their exponential growth over the past three years. From business development and research, to ideation and prototyping, to marketing and capital raising, Jacqueline’s session on Using data to create intrinsic motivation and a growth mindset within your organization will provide a tactical breakdown of the tools, frameworks, and methodologies Vendasta used to grow from 50 employees in 2013 to over 220 in under 30 months. She’ll explain how the company has embedded data within their executive decision-making processes and how they’ve used metrics to create a culture of growth within a constantly evolving industry.

    Vendasta has recently been named one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 program as one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America, and is ranked nationally by the Profit 500 fastest growing companies in Canada for its over 1900% revenue growth over the past five years.


Registration is for the full day conference. The price includes all speakers, the Grandey Leadership Luncheon, and refreshment breaks.

Individual Corporate Table
Early Bird Registration
*Early Bird deadline is April 30, 2017
$349 $2,000
Regular Registration
*Final registration deadline is May 16, 2017
$395 $2,300
Register Now Register Now

Note: All fees are in Canadian dollars (CAD) and do not include GST. 5% GST will be added to your total on the registration page.

  • Cancellation Policy
    • Refunds will be provided for delegate registration cancelled in writing and received by May 5, 2017.
    • After May 5, 2017 all registration fees become non-refundable.
    • Corporate Table: a cancellation penalty of $300.00 CAD plus GST will apply. Substitutions can be made any time, but will require advance written notice.
    • Individual Ticket: a cancellation penalty of $75.00 CAD plus GST will apply. Substitutions can be made any time, but will require advance written notice.


If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the 2017 Leadership Conference, contact Avery Vold at 306.966.7965 or vold@edwards.usask.ca.

Learn more about sponsorship opportunities by downloading the Sponsorship Package.

Thank you to our 2017 sponsors:

Sponsors - Graham Construction Leadership Conference Sponsor - Saskatoon Chamber
Sponsors - Grandey Leadership Initiative Leadership Conference - EY Sponsor Logo
Leadership Conference - Moxie's Sponsor Logo Leadership Conference - FastPrint Sponsor Logo

Need More Information?

If you would like more information on the 2017 Leadership Conference, please contact us:

Edwards Executive Education
K W Nasser Centre

256-3rd Avenue South
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
S7K 1L9

Call Us 306-966-8686 Email Us Register Now