Our Executives-in-Residence

Brodie Desimone

Brodie 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.


Sheldon Gardiner

Sheldon 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.


Crystal Henrickson

Crystal 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.


Robin Jones

Robin 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.


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.


Michele Leeners

Michele 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.


Sandra Oldfield

Sandra 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.


Rocky Ozaki

Rocky 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.


Alison Ruks

Alison 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.


Reza Sanaie

Reza is an Executive-in-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Reza was the co-founder and CTO at Beanworks, an accounts payable (AP) automation company. Founded in 2012, he built the infrastructure of this industry-agnostic software from the ground up, driving innovation and leveraging the latest technology solutions for businesses globally. His contribution led to Beanworks’ CAD $106 million acquisition by global giant, Quadient in 2021. The acquisition marks one of the largest tech exits for a Vancouver-based startup. He has also played a major role in promoting diversity and inclusion as an active policy at the company, further adding to its overall growth.

With over 20 years of experience in creating and managing industry-leading software solutions, Reza brings deep insight into a variety of fields including SaaS, fintech, software security, digital payments, and lean start-up methodology. Previously, he has worked in the bio-informatics industry at Genome Science Centre; and software security industry at Sophos. Reza has been recognized as BC’s top 40 under 40 for 2020 and the winner of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2021 Pacific program.


Gary Smith

Gary 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.


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.


Ty Summach

Ty is an Executive-in-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan. Passionate about supporting the local leaders of tomorrow, Ty officially joined Accelerate Okanagan in 2019 as an Executive in Residence (EiR). With extensive entrepreneurial experience, Ty continues to bring expertise and guidance to a long list of ventures within the Innovate BC landscape. In addition to 1:1 mentorship, his role includes facilitating training sessions ranging in topics from Lean Business Model Design, Customer Development, Market Analysis, Positioning, and Pitching.

Known as a “triple threat” amongst his peers, Ty has held the role of Chief Operating Officer, Chief Product Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, all while navigating teams from the private markets to the public markets and through various mergers and acquisitions.

Beyond spending time with his young family, Ty is the first Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) at UBCO and has recently founded his latest start-up within the Creator Economy.


Renée Warren

Renée 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.