Emerging Leaders Program Winter 2023 Speakers

Rita Achrekar headshot

Rita Achrekar

Executive in Residence

Rita Achrekar is an accomplished financial services leader with nearly 30 years of experience in global capital markets, risk management, governance, and business transformation.

Ms. Achrekar held several senior executive positions at Scotiabank. As Senior Vice President – Compliance Transformation, she spearheaded an enterprise-wide program to modernize compliance risk management across four business lines and 30 countries.

As Senior Vice President – Corporate Credit, she was responsible for a USD 300 billion credit portfolio covering public and private companies and was involved in several M&A transactions globally. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, she was appointed Senior Vice President – Trade Floor Risk Management, and executed a mandate to strengthen the governance and market risk oversight of Global Capital Markets businesses across North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Prior to joining Scotiabank in 2000, she held senior treasury and trading roles with American Express Bank and ING Bank in Mumbai, India.

Ms. Achrekar has significant governance experience through her work with Scotiabank’s board and Scotiabank subsidiaries across 50 countries.

In 2015, Ms. Achrekar was appointed to the board of Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and served on the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. In 2018, she was appointed to the board of Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) where she serves on the Industry Risk Committee and the Governance, Nominating & HR Committee. Ms. Achrekar was a board director of Scotia Commodities Inc.

Ms. Achrekar is a passionate advocate for diversity & inclusion and for over 15 years has contributed to related committees at Scotiabank. Her community involvement includes United Way, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, Shaughnessy School Association and serving as an adjunct professor at a business school.

Ms. Achrekar holds Bachelor of Technology (Electrical Engineering) from Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai; MBA (Finance) from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, Mumbai University and Advanced Management Program (AMP) from Wharton Business School. She was awarded the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation by the Global Association of Risk Professionals.

Suzanne Akers - Guest Speaker Calgary

Chief Risk Officer and Chief Compliance Officer, Alberta Investment Management Corporation

Suzanne Akers joined Alberta Investment Management Corporation in April 2022 as Chief Risk Officer and Chief Compliance Officer. In these roles, Suzanne oversees the Investment Risk, Enterprise Risk and Compliance functions. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the AIMCo Foundation for Financial Education and a co-Executive Sponsor of the Black Employee Resource Group.

Prior to joining AIMCo, Ms. Akers served as Co-Head of Franklin Templeton’s Investment Risk Management Group, responsible for FT Equity, Balanced, and Fixed Income strategies globally. 

Ms. Akers holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, and an MBA from Stanford University where she was an Arjay Miller scholar. She holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a Certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM).

Sonia Baxendale, President and Chief Executive Officer, Global Risk Insititute

Sonia Baxendale

President and Chief Executive Officer

Sonia Baxendale is a highly respected executive who has more than 20 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services industry. Ms. Baxendale serves on the Board of Directors for a number of Canadian and international corporate and not-for-profit organizations. As the President and CEO of GRI, Ms. Baxendale leads the premier risk management organization for the financial services industry globally.

In this role, Ms. Baxendale brings together leaders from industry, academia and government to focus on emerging risk management issues. The global pandemic has brought to the forefront a confluence of domestic and global concerns – geopolitical tensions, climate change, systemic racism, social and economic disparities. Under Ms. Baxendale’s leadership, GRI has stepped up to develop strategic research and education. She has brought together experts from across the country and the globe to focus on long-term, sustainable solutions for Canada’s economic recovery.

In addition to her role with GRI, Ms. Baxendale is a Director on the Board of Laurentian Bank, Foresters Financial, RSA Group PLC, and The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited. She is Chair of the Board of SickKids Foundation and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Hospital for Sick Children.

Prior to joining GRI, Ms. Baxendale was President of CIBC Retail Markets where she led Retail and Wealth Management businesses. Ms. Baxendale played a key role in developing strategy and direction for CIBC and held various leadership roles including Senior Executive Vice-President, CIBC Wealth Management, Executive Vice-President, Asset Management, Card Products and Collections, and Executive Vice-President of Global Private Banking and Investment Management Services. Prior to CIBC, Ms. Baxendale held various positions with American Express Canada and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Ms. Baxendale is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she was named University of Toronto, Victoria College Alumni of Distinction in 2017. She was named one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada” for three years in a row and then joined the ranks of the Top 100 Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2000, she was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

Ashlea Mask - Guest Speaker Toronto

VP, Risk Oversight Reporting in GRM, Scotiabank

Ashlea Mask is currently the VP, Risk Oversight Reporting in GRM at Scotiabank. Her mandate includes the Enterprise Risk Reporting to the Risk Committee and the Board of Directors. Ashlea has 16 years of experience in the Financial Industry, working at OSFI, Deloitte, HSBC & Scotiabank, holding roles across all lines of defence. She’s an empathetic leader who builds trust through open and transparent communication. She takes a team approach to leadership, fostering collaboration across Business Lines and Functions.

Hugh O'Reilly headshot

Hugh O'Reilly

Executive in Residence

Hugh O’Reilly is an experienced business leader with excellent strategic skills and has strong knowledge of human resource best practices for the development of an inclusive workplace culture. As the former President and Chief Executive Officer of OPTrust, he oversaw all aspects of operations including the investment of its assets and the administration of pension benefits for the 92,000 members and retirees.

Currently, he’s a Senior Fellow with the C.D. Howe Institute and on the Boards for Vancity Community Investment Bank and Namerind, a not for profit aboriginal housing corporation. In the past he has served on the Boards of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society, the Regent Park Community Health Centre and the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (“CCGG”). Hugh was also a member of both the Audit and Finance and Governance Committees of the CCGG Board and was Chief of Staff to an Ontario Provincial Government Cabinet Minister.

Having practiced law prior to his assuming the role of President and CEO of OPTrust, he was recognized by his peers as one of Canada’s foremost legal experts in pension law. Hugh previously was a Partner at Torys, a leading corporate law firm, and at Cavalluzzo, a leading labour law firm. Hugh has an in-depth understanding of investments across all asset classes.

Hugh holds a B.A. (Great Distinction) from the University of Regina and an LLB from the University of Calgary where he was the Silver Medalist in his law class. As well, he has been awarded the Industry Leadership Award from Benefits Canada and the Pension Defender Crystal Globe Award.


Michael Stramaglia headshot

Michael Stramaglia

Executive in Residence

Michael Stramaglia was appointed as the Global Risk Institute’s first Executive in Residence in January 2014. He is the President and Founder of Matrisc Advisory Group Inc. (a risk management consulting firm) and serves as Program Director for the SEEC Centre of Excellence in Governance, Risk Management and Control at the Schulich School of Business.

He is currently an independent corporate director for the Equitable Bank, the Economical Insurance Group, Foresters Financial and Munich Re Canada. He also serves as an independent member of the Province of Ontario Internal Audit Committee.

Mr. Stramaglia has over 30 years of professional and leadership experience, including over 10 years with Sun Life Financial (SLF) where he served as a member of the International Executive Team and led the development of one of the insurance industry’s leading ERM practices as Executive Vice-President and Chief Risk Officer for SLF’s global operations. He joined SLF in 2002 following its acquisition of Clarica, where Mr. Stramaglia held the position of Executive Vice-President and Chief Investment Officer and was also head of the International Reinsurance Business. Prior to joining Clarica, Mr. Stramaglia worked for over 13 years with the Canadian operations of the worldwide Zurich Financial Services Group, where he held a number of senior executive positions including Chief Actuary, CFO and President & CEO of the Zurich Life Insurance Company of Canada.

He has also provided interim senior executive services, and his mandates in this area have included serving as Co-Interim President & CEO of an international life insurance and asset management organization and an extended consulting assignment serving as the acting Chief Risk Officer for one of Canada’s largest credit unions.

Mr. Stramaglia is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst. He holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and an Honours Bachelor of Mathematics Degree from the University of Waterloo.

Lois Tullo headshot

Lois Tullo

Executive in Residence

Lois Tullo has been an Executive in Residence since January 2017. She is a Canadian expert in the research and management of non-financial risk. She is CRO & CCO at Novera Capital Inc. Novera Capital is a Virtual Currency capital firm focusing in the area of providing liquidity to the market through synthetic derivatives. She has been teaching risk management and financial services at the Schulich School of Business for the past 22 years at the executive, MBA, and undergraduate level.

She is the author of “Back to the Future: 2007 to 2030”, “The Global Risks and Trends Framework” and “Risk Management – Canadian Best Practices, How did they get there?” Schulich has awarded her the John Peace Prize for outstanding contribution to teaching.

Ms. Tullo was previously CRO & CCO at Smart Contracts Capital Inc. and BlockMine Development Inc. SSC/BMD was developing a blockchain platform to issue Regulated Security Tokens (STO’s). She was CFO at CIBC Finance Inc, responsible for Finance, Treasury, HR and interim risk management. Director of HR, Finance and Business Process Redesign at Unitel Communications. She was a management consultant at Nolan, Norton Canada/KPMG where she consulted on the link between business strategy and information technology architecture. Ms. Tullo worked in Ethiopia with Food for the Hungry, a relief and development organization. At TCPL, she provided systems design and data analysis.

Ms. Tullo is a CPA, C.A. and she articled with Clarkson Gordon Toronto (E&Y) and PWC in Calgary, she has an EMBA from Ivey School of Business, a B.Comm from the University of Saskatchewan, and holds her C.C.O and ICD.D designations. Ms. Tullo is currently the Chair of Urban Promise, JLT & Associates, vice chair of The Richview Residence Foundation, and a former board director for Jameson Bank, The Boulevard Club, and the Girl Guides of Canada.