In the pursuit and development of Canada’s next generation business leaders, global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson has selected 20 students to spend a day shadowing some of the country’s top CEOs. Designed to help the students gain insight into what it takes to foster a culture of collaboration and innovation and steer companies to success, the CEO x 1 Day program gives them the opportunity to learn from some of Canada’s best-performing executives.

“The CEO x 1 Day program is designed to uncover Canada’s most promising talent, and this year’s finalists are truly the cream of the crop,” said Rob Quinn, Partner at Odgers Berndtson. “From starting up businesses to participating in global volunteer initiatives, these students have shown that they are on the fast track to becoming remarkable business leaders of tomorrow. By participating in this program, they receive advice and leadership coaching from Canada’s top CEOs and gain a deeper understanding of their own strengths to help prepare them for future career opportunities.”

Gen Y talent want challenging work, opportunities for advancement and collaboration; less interested in working for a well-respected brand name or a high salary

For participating CEOs, this program is a valuable opportunity to learn what the younger generation is looking for in a job and career – especially as companies globally race to attract and retain the best millennial talent. This year’s CEO x 1 Day candidates ranked the top things they look for when choosing their first job, with stimulating work and opportunities for advancement coming out on top. Interestingly, companies offering incentive plans, autonomy, competitive salaries or even a recognizable brand were of less interest to students.

“Demand for talent is higher than ever and this is our chance to tap into what engages and drives the millennial generation in the workplace,” said Patrick Nangle, President and CEO, Purolator Inc. “Our involvement in CEO x 1 Day last year was mutually beneficial – the student finalist learned what it takes to drive a major multi-national to success, and through conversations with her I garnered insights and ideas about talent acquisition that we were able to act on. In fact, we hired last year’s CEO x 1 Day finalist and have since developed a new graduate job rotation program within Purolator to ensure a rewarding career path within our organization.”

What it takes to be a CEO x 1 Day

To evaluate their leadership potential, students went through a rigorous selection process that began last October and included an online leadership assessment from Hogan Assessment Systems and Performance Programs Inc. The selection process culminated with a half-day evaluation conducted by Odgers Berndtson partners and consultants that revealed desirable leadership qualities exhibited by each candidate, including strong interpersonal and communication skills, and high levels of creativity, ambition, resilience and self-confidence.

Participating CEOs and student finalists include:


Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Matched with: Dave Mowat, President and CEO, ATB Financial

SHELBY MACLEOD, MacEwan University 
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Matched with: Nancy Knowlton, Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nureva Inc.


AKAASH BALI, University of British Columbia 
Hometown: Richmond, British Columbia
Matched with: Launi Skinner, Chief Executive Officer, First West Credit Union

KASHMIR KAUR, University of British Columbia 
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Matched with: Laurent Potdevin, Chief Executive Officer, lululemon athletica Inc.

RYAN SMITH, Simon Fraser University
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Matched with: Chuck Jeannes, President & CEO, Goldcorp Inc.


ANDREA BARTLETT, Ryerson University 
Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario
Matched with: Tony Gaffney, Chief Executive Officer, Aon Hewitt Canada

BJORN DAWSON, University of Waterloo 
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Matched with: M. Elyse Allan, President and CEO, GE Canada

ROBERT GOLDFARB, Western University 
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Matched with: Aly Rahemtulla, President and Chief Executive Officer, BSM Wireless

DAVID LI, Western University 
Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario
Matched with: Dr. Barry McLellan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

CARA OTT, Queen's University 
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Matched with: Saäd Rafi, Chief Executive Officer, TORONTO 2015

RAVI PERSAUD, Ryerson University 
Hometown: Scarborough, Ontario
Matched with: Robert Courteau, Chief Executive Officer, Altus Group Limited

KOBISAN RASARATNAM, University of Waterloo 
Hometown: Markham, ON
Matched with: Ellis Jacob, President & CEO, Cineplex Entertainment

KAREN YU, Western University
Hometown: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Matched with: Lanita Layton, Managing Director, HUGO BOSS Canada

DANIA ZARGARAN, Queen's University
Hometown: Markham, Ontario
Matched with: Patrick Nangle, President and Chief Executive Officer, Purolator


JESSE CARMICHAEL, Concordia University 
Hometown: Montréal, Québec 
Matched with: Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer, VIA Rail Canada

ANTHONY ESPOSITO, Concordia University
Hometown: Montréal, Québec
Matched with: Alain Brunet, Chief Executive Officer, SAQ

ROBERT FORESTELL, McGill University 
Hometown: Fredericton, New Brunswick
Matched with: Thierry Vandal, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hydro-Québec

Hometown: Sainte-Martine, Québec
Matched with: Charles Guay, Executive Vice President, Institutional Markets and President and CEO, Manulife Quebec

Hometown: Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Québec
Matched with: Yannis Mallat, CEO, Ubisoft

Hometown: Montréal, Québec
Matched with: Manon Brouillette, President and Chief Executive Officer, Videotron

Additional information on the students and CEOs can be found at To follow their experiences check out Twitter @CEOx1Day and #ceox1day.



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