Seven University Students Selected for a Job Interview like No Other

Odgers Berndtson launches CEO X 1 Day – matching top university talent with Canada’s pre-eminent CEOs

Toronto, January 29, 2014 - Odgers Berndtson, a leading global executive search firm, has identified 11 Canadian students with outstanding leadership potential to spend a day shadowing some of the country’s top senior executives. As a stepping-stone to their professional life, students will have the opportunity to ask, learn and understand the complexities of leading a top Canadian company. In turn, the participating CEOs will gain valuable insights into what drives the next generation of leaders. Exclusive to Odgers Berndtson globally for the last seven years, this program was launched in universities across Ontario and Quebec in October 2013. Seven finalists were selected in Ontario and four in Quebec.

“Our CEO x 1 Day program is designed to uncover Canada’s most promising future talent, and we’ve selected seven exceptional students from a field of high quality applicants across Ontario,” said Robert Quinn, Partner at Odgers Berndtson. “These individuals have demonstrated their outstanding academic and social leadership. The advantage of this program for the finalist, as well as everyone who went through the rigorous qualification rounds, is that they will have garnered a much deeper understanding of their leadership credentials, which will be valuable in their future careers. This is truly the next generation of top talent in Canada.”

A rigorous selection process designed to gauge student’s leadership potential began last October with the review of hundreds of applications. Students were initially screened based on their academic record, resume and a short essay about leadership. Last November, students selected to advance to the second phase were asked to complete an online Leadership Assessment from Hogan and Performance Programs Inc. The third phase involved telephone interviews in December. On January 13th, a total of 18 Toronto semi-finalists spent a half-day interacting with Odgers Berndston partners and consultants, participating in group exercises and one-on-one interviewing.

The seven finalists shared some similar characteristics and skill sets which made them stand out, including: strong academic placement, leadership on campus and within their community; experience working or studying globally; and winners of awards and fellowships. Finalists will spend a full day shadowing a CEO, learning about their background, career path and leadership approach.

2014 Participating CEOs and Toronto finalists include:


KAIZ ALARAKYIA, Western University

A native of Calgary

Program: 3rd year Bachelor of Engineering Science and Bachelor of Arts Degree               

Major: Chemical Engineering & Honours Business Administration

Notable Experience: In 2012, Kaiz co-founded a not-for-profit organization to help Calgary high school students reach their full business potential through case competitions and workshops.

Matched with: Nitin Kawale, President, Cisco Canada         



A native of Aurora/Toronto

Program: 4th year Bachelor of Arts Degree

Major: Honours Business Administration

Notable Experience: Through Michael’s involvement with London Life Young Leaders, a United Way program, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Child Reach, a non-profit in London Ontario.

Matched with:  Saäd Rafi, CEO, TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015)


CHARU JAISWAL, York University

A native of Toronto

Program: 4th year Bachelor of Science Degree

Major: Biology

Notable Experience: In 2013 Charu received a $5000 Fulbright Community Action Initiative Grant to produce a documentary in Alaska about young Native hunters and gatherers preserving and adapting their culture.

Matched with: M. Elyse Allan, President and CEO, GE Canada


JING WEN LUO, Brock University

A native of China, residing in St. Catherines

Program: 4th Year Bachelor of Business Administration Degree

Major: Supply Chain Management (Finance and Operations Management)

Notable Experience: After emigrating from China only 5 years ago, Jing Wen has built an impressive resume of work experience including internships at Henckel Corporation (in Germany), Hydro One, and Siemens Canada Ltd.

Matched with: Patrick Nangle, President and CEO, Purolator


SAMANTHA SIM, Ryerson University

A native of Pickering/Toronto

Program: 4th Year Bachelor of Journalism Degree

Major: Journalism

Notable Experience: Samantha volunteers with Ryerson’s Live2Lead Planning Committee and is a published writer whose work has appeared in, Metro Newspaper and TalentEgg, and t.o.night.

Matched with: Kirstine Stewart, Managing Director, Canada, Twitter


STEPHANIE SPAGNOLO, Queen’s University

A native of Ottawa

Program: 4th year Bachelor of Commerce Degree

Major:  Marketing

Notable Experience: In 2013, Stephanie co-founded the Queen’s Marketing and Advertising Association, a new initiative on campus to promote Marketing as a profession and enhance career prospects for students.

Matched with: Jim Gabel, President, adidas Group Canada


BRANDON SUN, York University

A native of Toronto

Program: 3rd year International Bachelor of Business Administration Degree

Major: Finance and Accounting

Notable Experience: Brandon maintains a 90% academic average while holding leadership positions including President of the Schulich Consulting Club, Vice-President, and External Affairs of the York Chinese Students’ Association. He is also a Teaching and Research Assistant at York University.

Matched with: Ellis Jacob, President & CEO, Cineplex Entertainment


About Odgers Berndtson

Odgers Berndtson is a global leader in executive search, committed to providing an integrated approach to talent management. The firm specializes in recruiting and assessing senior executives and board members in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors across Canada, and internationally. Through executive search, interim management and leadership assessment services, Odgers Berndtson helps its clients build world-class leadership teams. With a global reach of more than 200 partners spread across 30 countries, and a focus on industry and functional specialization, clients always get the best, most knowledgeable search professionals for their assignment.




For further information:

Jacqueline Foley, Chief Marketing Officer at Odgers Berndtson:  or 416-366-1990