Our Executives-in-Residence

Josh Cairns

Josh is an Executive in Residence with Accelerate Okanagan. He has a passion for all things marketing and believes if marketing is done right, it should lead the growth function of all organizations. His passion has enabled him to work alongside companies like Microsoft and Rogers and a number of small and mid-sized organizations across Canada. As a partner and leader with CREW Marketing, Josh’s focus is on growing and scaling SME’s through strategy and results based execution (aka marketing).

Since moving to the Okanagan in 2014, Josh has developed a deep passion for the community and currently holds a seat as a board member of the Journey Home Society. On a personal side, he loves spending time with his wife and 2 kids at the beach, hiking, running and snowboarding.

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Brodie Desimone

Brodie Desimone is an Executive-in-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Brodie has a passion for digital disruption in niche markets and leveraging tech solutions to accelerate growth at the seed stage. He was the founder of three successful startups before he joined Microsoft Canada and spent the next 10 years developing technology strategy in mining, forestry, retail, and telecommunications. In addition to Brodie’s passion for developing businesses, he also is also an active investor. In 2012 Brodie became a partner of Anrias Capital Corp. Anrias is a boutique investment firm with investments in several hospitalities, technology, and financial business.

Brodie currently sits on multiple boards and is also extremely active in mentoring and supporting early-stage companies. Brodie has been an Investor in Residence for The Next Big Thing. He is active in youth entrepreneurship and is supporting the growth of angel network. Brodie is an avid experience seeker and can be found on caving expeditions, sailing trips, scuba diving, and long-distance motorcycle adventures.

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Sheldon Gardiner

Sheldon Gardiner is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. He is an experienced entrepreneur who has started and grown several companies (including 2 exits) over the past 20+ years. His most recent technology start up is still in development. Sheldon has a background in business development, sales, venture capital and private equity and is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs achieve their potential.

Sheldon is very active in the Kelowna non profit community, has a keen interest for social enterprise and impact investing. His best start up was the startup of his family and is the proud father of 2 girls with his wife Shauna. Sheldon calls Kelowna home.

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Crystal Henrickson

Crystal Henrickson is an Executive-In-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Crystal is a Certified Leadership and Career Coach and an employee experience consultant, working with technology-driven companies to build thriving cultures.

Having spent more than a decade working in the new economy, some of Crystal’s experiences include rolling out employee engagement strategies on shoestring budgets, developing distributed/remote teams, managing internal crisis and conflict communication and building values aligned hiring processes. Previous to co-founding her leadership and career coaching practice, Talent Collective, Crystal managed functions such as community management, people operations, marketing, PR and sales for a robust mixture of startups and small businesses ranging from brick and mortar beauty businesses to software and hardware. She is credited with driving the market expansion for Yelp into Canada and has had opportunities to work with local economies from across North America and as far away as Belgrade, Serbia. A year or so ago, she took a big leap of faith and moved from an apartment in downtown Vancouver to an acre in Penticton to spend her offline time hiking and homesteading.

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Robin Jones

Robin Jones is an Executive-in-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Robin has a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University, and an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston. Robin is a career marketing executive with over 20 years’ experience building and leading marketing teams in global technology companies. She has been instrumental in moving startup and mid-size organizations through rapid growth stages, and has managed more than 20 strategic acquisitions and partnerships, as well as 2 IPOs.

Robin enjoys wake surfing, snowmobiling, and home design and renovation, as well as entertaining friends and family.

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Andrew Klingel

Andrew is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan and a Professor at the Okanagan School of Business. Prior to joining Okanagan College, Andrew consulted for major corporations such as Telus, TD and General Motors—but his real passion is entrepreneurship. He has been involved with many new ventures as an operator, investor and advisor. He also developed and launched a line of consumer products that are now sold in over 10,000 retail locations across North America.

Andrew is most proud of co-founding the Framework Foundation, a non-profit which has raised over 200,000 volunteer hours while investing $1 million in local artists. Andrew supports entrepreneurs in the North Okanagan through the Enterprize Challenge and Shuswap Launch-a-preneur programs.

When not teaching or working with entrepreneurs, Andrew enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and three daughters.

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Michele Leeners

Michele Leeners is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. She has over 25 years of experience building and leading finance and operational teams. Her diverse industry experience includes start-ups to large corporations, both private and public. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in leading businesses through significant growth, new initiatives
and organizational change.

Michele is a graduate of the University of Calgary’s Bachelor of Commerce program and has the Chartered Professional Accountant, Chartered Accountant designation (CPA, CA).

In her spare time, Michele enjoys golfing, biking, swimming, entertaining family and friends, and tending to her extensive vegetable garden.

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Scott MacFarlane

Scott is an Executive in Residence with Accelerate Okanagan. He is a business leader with experience building and managing software products and teams from small startups to large enterprises spanning healthcare, semiconductor, and defence industries. As a co-founder of a successful software startup, Scott has expertise in business process improvement and software product development from concept through to nation-wide deployment. He enjoys bridging the gaps between people, process, technology, and business.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Electrical Engineering from UBC. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis, biking, skiing, and playing celtic guitar and jazz piano.

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Sandra Oldfield

Sandra Oldfield is an Executive-in-residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Sandra brings over 30 years of strategy, marketing and human resource knowledge in her CEO role from production, sales and customer experience in the BC wine industry. Sandra founded Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in 1994 and grew it from a 1,000 case production to over 40,000 cases before its sale in 2017. Innovative packaging and marketing initiatives including becoming the only carbon neutral winery in Canada and the only winery to include its employees as an integral part of its sustainability program are just some of the ways Sandra drove innovation. Sandra was recently awarded Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in the Trendsetters and Trailblazers category and now enjoys coaching dynamic companies with incorporating employee engagement into their strategic plan.

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Rocky Ozaki

Rocky Ozaki is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan and the visionary behind NoW of Work Inc. Having held executive roles in both large enterprise and startup tech, Rocky is a rare talent who truly understands the challenges companies face today.

Rocky is deeply entrenched in the Canadian tech-sector having previously held the role of Vice-President Community & Head of Corporate Innovation for the BC Tech Association. He is being called upon all over North America to help companies build resilient businesses because of the impact of COVID-19.

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Alison Ruks

Alison Ruks is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Alison brings over 15 years of experience specializing as an entrepreneur, consultant, and executive leader in consumer packaged goods, natural health, cannabis, and education. She oversees multiple companies including Murdoch & Ruks in the growth strategy consulting category; and, Mobobaby in the eco-friendly and sustainable baby accessories category.

Alison’s passion for health and early foresight into the rising trends of natural health led her to begin her career studying natural medicine in 2001. After starting her first business in her early 20s, she pursued a business degree – graduating with honours – from the University of British Columbia. With a combined passion for health, wellness, and business, she shortly thereafter became certified as a Chartered Human Resources Professional with a goal of fostering positive, healthy, and productive workplaces.

She has demonstrated success in companies across multiple industries and in public, private and non-profit sectors via her passion and history of providing elevated leadership, promoting people-and-culture-focused human resources programs, shaping strategic plans, effectively executing projects, developing and distributing products at a global scale, and facilitating optimal brand identity and communication. She has engaged in the development of multiple brands, business models, and the associated investor relations and communications that resulted in sales and fundraising results in the multi-millions.

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Gary Smith

Gary Smith is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Gary is an accomplished CEO with a track record of fast and effective situation analysis and strategy development in turnaround and business development situations. He graduated in engineering and has held senior roles in five verticals (sports media, telecommunications, utilities, information technology and construction). His roles have covered three continents (North America, Europe and Asia) in businesses of all sizes from start-ups to multi-nationals.

Gary’s career journey led to Canada in 2004 when he took over Bell Canada’s television businesses (ExpressVu satellite and Fibe IPTV). He has since been back to school for an MBA from Ivey Business School and became a Chartered Director through the Director’s College at McMaster. Gary is insatiably curious and has a passion for helping businesses succeed. He moved to the Okanagan in 2020 and is an enthusiastic cyclist, Nordic skier, motorcyclist and is currently on a mission to learn to play the piano.

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Larry Smith

Larry is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. He has led several technology companies from an early stage, through rapid growth, to become market leaders. These companies were recognized (several times by Profit, Deloitte, Branham and others) as leading growth companies, became respected in their markets, and ultimately attracted the attention of acquiring companies. This growth was built on a robust understanding of the market, careful positioning, and capitalizing on best opportunities through marketing, sales and strategic acquisitions. He has rounded out his leadership experience by advising a number of technology companies—assisting them to navigate challenges, turnarounds, and rapid growth while supporting and mentoring their leadership team.

Larry focuses on achieving traction and growth through good strategy, focus, leadership, marketing, sales, operations and overall execution. He works to understand and build commitment to the focus that allows a technology company to grow to the next stage and increase value. His experience selling companies helps him prepare companies to maximize their long-term value.

Larry has a degree in Information Science, an M.B.A and has earned the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation. In his spare time, Larry enjoys sports and the outdoors with his family.

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Ty Summach

Ty is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. He has a passion for all things entrepreneurship and believes that right now, with a little luck, brains and timing, anyone with a computer can spark a revolution.

In the early days of his career, he was instrumental in shaping the Marketing, Brand and Mobile strategies for Disney Interactive. There he focused on building safe and responsible online communities for titles such as Disney’s Club Penguin, which was the #1 Virtual World for Kids and sold in 2007 for $700M.

After his time at Disney Interactive, Ty jumped in to the start-up world by founding his own company within the e-learning and social space. Known as a “triple threat” amongst peers, Ty has held the role of Chief Operating Officer, Chief Product Officer and Chief Marketing officer all while navigation teams from the private markets to the public markets and through various mergers and acquisitions.

Ty holds a BBA from the University of British Columbia majoring in International Marketing and Finance and an MBA from Royal Roads University majoring in Executive Management. In his spare time, Ty is a big supporter of the Okanagan’s education network. Whether it be UBC’s Entrepreneurship Program or School District 23’s Online Learning Initiatives, Ty is passionate about supporting the local leaders of tomorrow.

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Renée Warren

Renée Warren is an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Renée is an award-winning entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author, and founder of We Wild Women—a platform that helps entrepreneurs start and scale their own businesses. She’s also the host of the celebrated podcast Into the Wild.

Renée firmly believes that the best advice comes from someone who has successfully done it before. Her approach to coaching comes from over 22 years of experience as an entrepreneur and unapologetic risk-taker.

When she’s not coaching or podcasting, Renée can be found spending time with her family. She also enjoys working out, reading business books, and refining her drumming skills.

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