Taking care of business in Edmonton.

Office of the Mayor Amarjeet Sohi
Mayor Sohi
Published in
12 min readOct 21, 2022


Introducing you to the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Business Growth and Opportunities.

Missing from photos: Marc de La Bruyere, Sam Jenkins, Amir Karim, Andre McDonald, Trent Oster, Shani Gwin and Paul Verhesen.

Edmonton’s business community is strong, diverse, and driven to create a city where we can all thrive. Over the past year, I have met with hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs and listened to their perspectives on growth opportunities for our wonderful city. These conversations have been incredibly valuable and have significantly shaped my decision making process.

My office wants to keep the momentum going and capitalize on the potential of Edmonton’s business sector to imagine a better future, but we can’t do this alone.

I am pleased to announce the launch of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Business Growth and Opportunities, a collective of business leaders who aim to provide advice to build and feed a vibrant, inclusive and prosperous business ecosystem in Edmonton, and to identify ways to improve our city today, and for the future. This esteemed group will advise me on matters associated with growing and sustaining business investment; and fostering collaborative, inclusive and local economic opportunities in the City of Edmonton.

Our first meeting was held on Thursday, October 20, 2022 and I am happy to introduce you to the members of the Advisory Council here. I will continue to update you on our progress as we work together to build an Edmonton for all of us.

Our current members are: Jalene Anderson-Baron, Sikander Atiq, Marc de la Bruyere, Supriya James, Sam Jenkins, Amir Karim, Rochelle Ignacio, Hubert Lau, William Lau, Marcela Mandeville, André McDonald, Ron Mills, Trent Oster, Paul Verhesen, Shani Gwin and Ron Wai.

Pictured: A candid from the first Mayor’s Advisory Council on Business Growth and Opportunities meeting, October 20, 2022

Meet the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Business Growth and Opportunities:

Jalene Anderson-Baron is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Future Fields. Winner of the 2022 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and recognized as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2021, Jalene champions women in biotechnology, working mothers, and Alberta’s innovation ecosystem.

As COO of Future Fields, Jalene oversees all operational aspects of a scaling Edmonton-based company, including logistics, talent and facility management, quality control, and regulatory compliance. Since co-founding Future Fields in 2018, Jalene led the growth of the company from three to 30 employees, established robust HR, safety, and quality management systems, and steered the transition of Future Fields to its current 14,000 sq. ft. lab and office headquarters.

To date, Future Fields has developed and launched three products that can grow cell culture lines in multiple markets with an 8,200 times smaller greenhouse gas footprint than existing bioreactor technology. Future Fields is proudly supported by marquee investors such YCombinator, Bee Partners, and Pioneer Fund. Highlighting the Edmonton bioeconomy for an international audience, Future Fields is dedicated to putting down roots in the city as it sets out to be Earth’s most sustainable biomanufacturing platform.

As President of Next Equities, Sikandar Atiq leads the sourcing and oversight of all new growth and venture capital investments. In this capacity, he’s also actively involved as President of several of Next’s portfolio companies, including Kepler Academy — Alberta’s fastest growing childcare company; The Press Gallery / CRDN — a tech-enabled textile cleaning company; MOST Oil — a leader in artificial lift wellhead equipment; and Northern Fresh Farms — the largest hydroponic vertical farm in Northern Alberta.

Sikandar has previously held positions in the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs, was a successful two-time entrepreneur, and started his career in the composites industry. He has been recognized for his professional accomplishments by numerous publications and industry bodies, most recently being named a Finalist for the 2022 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

In addition to his professional life, Sikandar serves as the Chair of the Mosquers Film Festival — the world’s largest film festival that aims to change the way people see Muslims — and is an avid hockey player, as well as an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

He received his B. Comm with Distinction from the University of Alberta, and his MBA from New York University, Stern School of Business where he was an InSITE Fellow and the President of the Stern Private Equity Club.

Marc de La Bruyere is the Principal and Managing Director of Maclab Development Group. His principal areas of expertise are in property development, investment, and board governance.

Following an early career as a management consultant, Marc joined Maclab in 1991. Since then he led the company’s return to the development businesses and the diversification into counter-cyclical investments.

With deep connections to Alberta, he is passionate about building the community; he is a proud supporter of the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta, the Loran Scholarships, the Citadel Theatre, the University of Alberta, the Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre and several other Albertan and Canadian institutions.

Marc was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He holds a B.A. from Williams College in Massachusetts and an MBA from INSEAD in France.

Supriya James has a passion for taking a purpose driven organization and developing best-in-class talent, to ensure that achieving business targets, is a natural and effortless result. Over her 25-year career, Supriya has lived and worked in four countries, and has led the People and Culture function in several industries, driving organic and acquisitive growth through the establishment of new business models, building high performing teams and coaching talent to be their best selves.

As the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for the Edmonton head-quartered CWB Financial Group, Supriya leads a team that is responsible for developing and implementing sustainable human resource strategies that align with, and support the business direction of the organization. This includes creating a people first culture, that facilitates strong relationships, inclusivity and diverse viewpoints, inspires collaboration and innovation and drives focussed performance, resulting in CWB being selected as number 20 on this year’s Best Workplaces™ in Canada.

Supriya is passionate about giving back to the community of Edmonton and has chaired the board of the YWCA and is currently a Governor on the Board for NorQuest College. Supriya enjoys working to advocate for empowering and supporting women in their lives and their careers. She is especially passionate about supporting immigrant women in their journey into the community.

Sam Jenkins is the Managing Partner of Punchcard, an innovation and software development

agency focused on transforming people, workplaces, and communities through technology. The breadth of this work stretches from working with entrepreneurs and startups, all the way to global enterprises.

Sam has always believed that enriching people’s whole selves serves as a cornerstone to creating a better community. That’s why his entrepreneurial journey started as Co-Founder and CEO of Wellnext, a software startup focused on building technology for workplace wellness, and later as one of the founding team members of Startup Edmonton (now a part of Edmonton Unlimited).

He has provided leadership and expertise to several organizations, including the boards of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Lieutenant Governors Arts Awards Foundation, and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. Currently, Sam serves as Vice Chair of the Winspear Centre for Music.

Sam’s commitment to his community has led him to be recognized in 2013 by the University of Alberta with the Horizon Award, as an outstanding young alumnus. In 2018, Sam was recognized as a leader in philanthropy and community development, by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 2021, Sam was a member of the Canadian delegation to the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance.

Amir Karim is the President and CEO of Les Industries Polykar, one of Canada’s leading manufacturers of sustainable, recyclable or compostable flexible packaging. Polykar is an industry leader known for its high-quality products, technical innovation and environmental practices.

Since 2001, Amir has led the corporate development and strategic planning of Polykar and quadrupling the size of the business. His personal knowledge capital now encompasses the processes integral to business transfer, growth financing, implementing ERP systems and automation, as well the development of human capital. Under Amir’s leadership, 2020 saw the expansion of Polykar to Edmonton with a second facility.

Amir serves on several Boards advancing industry, education and philanthropy — include Chairing the Board of Directors of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (2013–2015) and sitting as Canada Director on the Board of the ISSA -The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (2019-present). In July 2019, Amir co-founded The Polykar Foundation directing targeted philanthropic investments in arts and culture, communities, education, the environment, health care and international development.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto (1989) and an MBA from HEC Montreal (1992).

Rochelle Ignacio (she/her) is a safety and inclusion specialist who is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology from the University of Alberta with a major in Family Ecology and minor in Community Diversity.

As founding Managing Partner of Black Owned Market and founder of Black Owned Makers she oversees the management portfolio of both organizations. Black Owned Market provides a platform to showcase handmade and creative Black-owned businesses. Under Black Owned Makers a focus is made on supporting the development of Black-owned businesses and distributing their products into new retail environments. Her experience has provided her with knowledge of how systems of oppression continue to create barriers for Black entrepreneurs to realize economic success. This knowledge allows her to advocate for collective rights on behalf of the Black business community and contributes to a sense of belonging leading to positive outcomes and economic empowerment within the community. Her personal goal is to establish Edmonton as an known economic hub for Black-owned businesses,

Rochelle is the recipient of CIBWE’s Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada (2022), Edify Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 award (2021) as well as the African Caribbean Community Leader of the Year award (2020).

Hubert Lau is the President and CEO of TrustBIX (TSX V: TBIX) (OTCQB: TBIXF), a technology and services company providing Chain of Custody and Strategic Sourcing Solutions in supply chains and the Agri-Food Industry. TrustBIX Inc.’s focus is to create a world where we trust more, waste less, and reward sustainable behaviour by addressing consumer and agri-food business demands.

Hubert is a passionate Technology Entrepreneur who wants to make a difference for his customers, partners and the communities. He achieves these goals through “Collaborative Economics”. This means everyone works together to create successes socially and financially. The focus is always triple win. You win, I win and our communities win.

Hubert further supports Edmonton and region’s economic development and innovation ecosystems as: member of Edmonton Metro Region Economic Recovery Working Group; advisor to the NAIT Mawji Centre for New Venture and Entrepreneurship; and director and chair of Agriculture and Technology Subcommittee China Canada Business Association

Nothing makes William Lau happier than working with passionate people that choose to commit their time to do what’s right rather than what’s easy. Building Edmonton is one of those things.

William is passionate about issues of identity and community, and this is well evident through his service on the City of Edmonton’s Chinatown Economic Development Task Force and now the Chinatown Recovery Fund Advisory Committee. He has also held executive committee roles with the Edmonton Chinese Young Leaders’ Council, ASSIST Community Services Centre, National Congress of Chinese Canadians (Edmonton Chapter) and the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative.

William’s business interests span logistics, real estate, advertising, education and exports. However, he has a particular interest in the connection between community and business, and diversifying our economy by leveraging Edmonton’s cultural diversity to sell Canadian products to the world.

Marcela Mandeville has explored the world of business through a globally focused business undergraduate degree, designation as a Certified International Trade Professional and more than twenty years of global experience developing and implementing business strategies. A career highlight has been taking on leadership roles at Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) to support AWE’s goal to build stronger communities and economies through women’s participation in entrepreneurship.

Marcela believes strongly in continuous learning and contributing to the community. In addition to serving as Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada and past Chair of Explore Edmonton, she volunteers her time on the University of Alberta School of Business Advisory Committee, Works for Women Advisory Board, and the Edmonton Region Innovation Network Steering Committee.

André McDonald, PhD, BS Law, PEng, CEng, PE, FASM, FIMMM, FIMechE, is currently the Associate Vice President (Strategic Research Initiatives and Performance) and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta.

As Associate VP, he supports strategic, collaborative and emerging innovation and research initiatives; and stewards large-scale institutional research grant applications. As Professor of Mechanical Engineering, he has nearly twenty years of experience in the fabrication, development, and performance assessment of thermal- and cold-sprayed coatings.

Dr. McDonald has received numerous awards that recognize his achievements as a materials and mechanical engineering researcher and industry mentor including the Jules Stachiewicz Medal from the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering for Heat Transfer, the Mentorship Award from the Faculty of Engineering (University of Alberta), and the APEGA’s Early Accomplishment Award.

Dr. McDonald currently leads the Experiential Learning in Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (ELITE) Program for Black Youth — a funded university-government-industry-community collaboration to support hands-on learning and work-integrated training of Black Youth in STEM fields and in entrepreneurship.

Ron Mills is the CEO of Northernmost Medical Devices, designing new machines to preserve and transport donor kidneys. He was previously CEO of Tevosol, a University of Alberta spinout that manufactures the Ex-Vivo Organ Support System (EVOSS) for lungs. In the last two years both companies have secured global partnerships to commercialize products that will help increase the quantity and quality of organs for transplant.

Ron has considerable experience successfully turning around companies, mentoring entrepreneurs and applying his ecosystem knowledge from manufacturing hubs in Chicago and Houston. But he is quickly falling in love with Edmonton as an emerging life science hub in Canada and North America and doing his part to facilitate the creation of a specialty manufacturing ecosystem in Alberta that can compete globally.

Ron has been an active volunteer and mentor in the community and currently serves as a mentor in imYEG. He is also part of the Edmonton Unlimited’s Innovation Growth Council.

Trent Oster is a BAFTA Award-winning veteran of the games industry and is the CEO of Edmonton-based developer, Beamdog.

He was one of six original co-founders of BioWare; during his time there, worked as a Technical Artist, Programmer, and Project Director. Trent served in senior leadership roles at Bioware through two acquisitions, first in 2005 by Elevation Partners, a private equity firm and in 2007 by Electronic Arts. Trent left the Bioware in 2009 to co-found Beamdog. Under Trent’s leadership, Beamdog has grown to an 85 person studio and was recently acquired by Aspyr Media, part of the Embracer family of companies in 2022.

Trent is active in the local startup and video games community and is committed to helping local entrepreneurs and studios succeed. Trent has served on the board of the International Game Developers Association, serving a term as the chair of the board.

Paul Verhesen was the former President & CEO of Clark Builders, and helped grow the business to over $800MM in annualized revenues, with the company being recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies with a focus on commercial, light industrial, social infrastructure, and multi residential-type construction. Under Paul’s leadership, Clark Builders became one of Canada’s leading general contractors and part of the largest construction organization in North America, through its partnership with Turner Construction.

Paul’s strategic vision for the company fostered an environment of continuous improvement, sustainable growth, and collaboration with a focus on leveraging technical innovation in the areas of operational process improvement (Lean Construction), self-performed scopes of work, and Building Information Modelling (BIM) to name a few.

While he has stepped away from the day to day operations of Clark Builders, Paul is continuing to sustain his passion for advancing construction technology and innovation through collaboration with Builders VC as a Venture Partner and serving on Alpaca VC’s expert network

Since co-founding the Mint Health + Drugs community pharmacy brand in 2016, Ron Wai has focused on building a culture driven company with a strong social conscience. His work has included development of non-profit-public-private partnerships with some of Alberta’s most prominent organizations, improving the health of those in the communities they serve. Mint has become a provincial boutique provider of pharmacy services, ranging from provincial pandemic response teams, to various facilities supporting the most vulnerable. Ron has been instrumental in working with his co-founders to develop Mint Health + Drugs into the medium size enterprise it is today, which includes a provincial network of pharmacies, travel health clinics, a social enterprise, and a non-profit.

In addition to strong community partnership, he has played a strong role in cultivating the next generation of excellence, including mentoring several young pharmacy leaders to top industry awards. Mint Health + Drugs have also garnered 4 national awards, including a personal award to the Mint co-founders for community service from the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs in 2018, to the nationally recognized Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture Award. In 2020, Ron was selected as an Edify Edmonton Top 40 Under 40 alumni for his work as a passionate social serial entrepreneur.

Shani Gwin is the founder of Treaty 6-based and Indigenous-led communications agency pipikwan pehtakwan and has over 12 years of professional communications experience working for government, private and not-for-profit organizations. She is a sixth-generation Métis. She’s a member of the Cunningham Clan on her mother’s side and a descendant of the Michel First Nation and Ferguson Clan on her father’s side. Shani is a proud Métis woman and a Top 40 Under 40 alumni, with a passion for elevating Indigenous voices, projects and issues.

Please visit www.mayorsohi.ca and sign up for our newsletter here to stay updated!



Office of the Mayor Amarjeet Sohi
Mayor Sohi

Edmonton is a place where you can build something. Family. Business. Community. My success is an Edmonton story. And if you like that story, keep reading.