The Inaugural Annual John D. Thompson Entrepreneurial Development Seminar

Hosted on January, 31st, 2014

The Panel

Michael M. Avedesian

Michael M. Avedesian, panelist.


Senior Associate and Advisor, Faculty Lecturer, McGill University, Montreal

Michael Avedesian obtained a bachelor’s degree with honors in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, and Ph.D. in engineering from Cambridge University. He worked 21 years at Noranda Inc. in several roles including technical, operations, business management and executive management, followed by 6 years with Domtar Corp. as Director, Corporate Development. He had three entrepreneurial start-ups, two of which were successful. He then served 5 years as the Director of the Office of Technology Transfer at McGill and currently teaches courses in strategic management, technological entrepreneurship and launching new enterprises at the MBA and graduate level. Michael is on the Board of Directors of TM4 and has an active consulting business. Michael is a member of Ordre des ingenieurs du Quebec, Professional Engineers of Ontario, the CSChE, Fellow of the CIC and in 1998 he was inducted as a Fellow in the Canadian Academy of Engineering.


Bruno Morency

Bruno Morency, panelist.


Director of Product Management, Return Path

Bruno Morency is the Founder of Context.IO, now part of Return Path. is an API that makes it easy and fast for developers to integrate email data in their applications. Bruno likes to think the numerous discussions he had with developers innovating on top of email with Context.IO gave him a unique perspective on what the future holds for this deeply ingrained communication medium, a perspective he enjoys sharing at conferences that are kind enough to accept him as a speaker. Bruno has been involved in startups since graduating from McGill Engineering in 2001 with his first web startup acquired in 2003. In 2009, he had a son and started DokDok, a Gmail extension to manage attachments. The work behind DokDok turned into Context.IO which came out of beta in December 2011, a mere four months after his daughter, and second child, was born.


Paul McRae

Paul McRae, panelist.


Founder and CEO of McRae Construction

Paul McRae has been a business owner in the construction industry for the past 30 years, with humble beginnings as a deck builder in his late teens. Now a high end renovator and project manager, he has gone from building decks to multimillion dollar homes. As a McGill graduate in Civil (structural) Engineering 1993, he has used his education throughout his career in building and project management. Paul also proudly serves on the facilities board at his church where he volunteers his time and knowledge. As a firm believer that it is better to give than to receive, Paul donates generously to several charities which include, but are not limited to, Asia’s Hope, Crossing Cambodia, LaCorde, West Island Mission, Saving Station, and Power to Change. Paul McRae, currently lives and conducts business out of his West Island home. With two children yet to put through university and a wife who has recently started a Professional Photography business, he has no plans to retire any time soon.


Stephen Hamelin

Stephen Hamelin panelist.


CEO and Founder of Vortex Aquatic Structures International

Stephen Hamelin graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. Since 1995 Mr. Hamelin has lead Vortex in becoming a global brand in the recreation and amusement industries. Vortex has developed several products and solutions that have revolutionized public parks, aquatic centers, amusement parks, hotels and resorts. Today, Vortex has completed over 5500 projects in over 25 countries and has established offices in the United States.


Olivier Gagnon-Gordillo

Olivier Gagnon-Gordillo panelist.


SAJE Business coach

Most of Olivier’s experience and expertise revolves around entrepreneurship, marketing, HR and sales. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and a Master’s degree in Organizational Development. He speaks fluently in French, English and Spanish and has also worked in the US and Latin America. He is passionate about helping people succeed and achieve their goals and has done so in both the business and fitness worlds. Olivier works at the SAJE accompagnateur d’entrepreneurs as a coach and trainer for entrepreneurs. A leader in its domain, SAJE exists to contribute to the business success of new entrepreneurs by providing advisory services, coaching and training. For over 25 years, the SAJE model has contributed to the start-up of 18,542 businesses, which have created almost 40,000 jobs and generated projected investments of more than $800 million.


Pierre Dubreuil
Pierre Dubreuil panelist.


Executive Vice President, Financing and Consulting The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Pierre Dubreuil was appointed Executive Vice President, Financing and Consulting at BDC in October 2012. In this role, he is responsible for financing, consulting and operations support across the bank. Mr. Dubreuil has over 30 years of commercial and general banking experience. Before joining BDC, he was Senior Vice President, International at the National Bank of Canada. During his 18 year tenure, he held executive positions in key functions such as syndication, credit, commercial lending, marketing and business solutions. Beginning his career with the Federal Business Development Bank, he also worked at Export Development Canada and as Vice-President, Business Development at the Industrial Bank of Japan in Toronto. Mr. Dubreuil holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Laval University and has completed various leadership and management programs.



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