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Alumni Spotlight


Jackie Rafter, BEd, RHN, MBA ‘98

Jackie is an entrepreneur and business builder with two decades of experience in the professional services industry, and possesses a natural inclination to reinvent stagnant businesses. Having worked in five countries, she has started several successful executive search firms including The Quaderra Group, Roxi Capital (Canada’s first publicly traded company with an all-female Board of Directors, subsequently purchased by Plastifab Corp. on the TSX).  She was a co-founder of Anorak Capital (now trading as Total Energy Services on the TSX).  

In 2014 she founded Higher Landing Inc., where she remains President and CEO. Higher Landing is a career transformation company offering transition, branding and marketing services to professionals and athletes. The company has taken career search to a new level by strategically aligning identity and purpose to career opportunities. Jackie achieves results by enabling people to tap into their potential while guiding them to reinvent, brand and package themselves.

“Landing a great opportunity is more art, than science. It requires a commitment to intimately knowing and believing in yourself. It is having a clear vision, strategy and courage to share “you” with the world.”

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and holds two degrees from the University of Calgary, an MBA and Bachelor of Education (French).  A native Calgarian, Jackie is passionate about helping people live healthy and authentic lives.  In her spare time, she enjoys travel and long distance running.

Jane Depraitere, LLB, CGA, MBA’05

Jane started her career as a lawyer in Toronto as the first auditor of the Law Society of Upper Canada.  Subsequent roles with PwC and the Ontario Hospital Association Pension Plan led her to Calgary, where she completed her Executive MBA in 2005.

Jane has more than 20 years founding, growing and running successful businesses in the investment industry.  A lawyer and accountant, she has held roles as CFO and COO of OHA Investment Management Ltd, Director of Operations at Bissett Asset Management, Chief Administrative Officer for Mawer Investment Management, and COO and CFO of EnerVest, which later became Canoe Financial.

A professed oenophile, Jane also knew she wanted to launch a business related to wine. To this end, she used new knowledge gained through her MBA  with her experience in monetary wealth management to enrich the lifestyle experience of the wine enthusiast.  Shortly after graduation, Jane decided to follow her passion and founded Bonvida Corporation, a global wine importer and distributor.  As President and CEO, Jane is dedicated to improving the world through innovative change management strategies.  She is committed to healthy and sustainable living through personal and corporate growth.

Other interests include architecture, urban planning, modern art, travel, cycling, hiking, and yoga.

Darren Driscoll, BComm’92

Darren is the Chief Financial Officer of Alaris Royalty Corp. and has served in the role since the company’s inception in 2004. Before joining Alaris, Darren was the Chief Financial Officer of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the industry association for the upstream oil and natural gas industry in Canada. Darren is a Chartered Accountant, a designation he obtained in 1995 while working with KPMG LLP in Calgary.

Darren has been instrumental in the development of Alaris. He plays an essential role in the screening of potential investments, the due diligence process, and the financial monitoring of current private company partners. Darren’s work ethic, attention to detail, and genuine knack for relationship building are key to the company’s success.  

A fan of basketball, Darren has been actively involved in the Calgary sports community for years. For 12 years he has been involved in the Calgary Minor Basketball Association as a member of the sportsmanship committee, coach, and Treasurer for Cal-West. Darren has previously served 10 years as a Board Member for Calgary Senior Men’s Basketball Association.

Sport is a family affair in the Driscoll household. All three of Darren’s boys are avid athletes and Darren and his wife, Sally, are long-time KidSport supporters - a national not-for-profit organization that provides financial assistance to kids to play sports.

Steve King, BComm’92 (Finance)

Steve is the President and CEO of Alaris Royalty Corp. and has served in that role since he co-founded the company in 2004.  Prior to creating Alaris, he spent 12 years in the investment banking industry as a Senior Officer in both Toronto and Calgary, giving capital markets and merger and acquisition advice to corporate clients in both public and private company startups. He is a qualified Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and was an Ernst & Young 2013 Prairies Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Present day, he sits on the panel of judges at the event.

Steve is involved in every facet of the investment process at Alaris and is an integral part of the relationships that are created with each of the companies’ partners. Steve hails from a family of entrepreneurs and has built Alaris around a strong belief in driven private business owners.

In his spare time, Steve is an avid sports fan, player and coach. In 2014, he became majority owner of the Cardiff Devils, a Welsh team in the British Elite Ice Hockey League. Steve’s main focus remains to be his wife, Kim, and their three busy kids.

William Cao, MBA’06, LLB’06, BComm’00 (Finance)

William began his career as an investment banker at UBS Warburg. He then moved on to serve as Corporate Counsel with Tim Hortons for Western Canada.

His most recent posting was as Head Corporate Counsel for FYidoctors. During his 2-year tenure, William was responsible for overseeing acquisitions, leases and litigation, and helping the company nearly double in size by opening over 190 clinics across Canada, plus an additional 100 franchised locations. He also spearheaded the acquisition of an Aeroplan customer loyalty program and helped to develop a joint venture with Vision Service Plan (VSP), the largest eye health benefits provider in the USA.

William is married to Mimi Tran, Haskayne alumni MBA’11. Mimi is currently in her last year of medical school at the University of Calgary.

When William is not busy being a husband and father, he is actively involved in the community, volunteering his time with Student Legal Assistance and advising start-up companies on legal and financial matters.

Kasia Szewczyk (BComm’10 - International Business)

Szewczyk recently finished her tenure as the Executive Director of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Professions of the Northeast (CCIPNE). She worked closely with the chamber’s largest foreign donors helping to grow the country’s commercial partnerships. She is currently involved in a number of activities to attract new foreign business opportunities in agri-business and organic farming for Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  

Szewczyk’s success is the result of her dedication and perseverance.  During her time as an undergraduate student, she was working as a language assistant at the University of Calgary’s French Centre as well as a student assistant for the Operations and Management Studies faculties. She also completed an internship with the Quebec Labour Ministry, organized a solo cycling-fundraiser across Europe, spent time volunteering on organic farms and was the Public Relations (PR) Officer at the international audiobook company, Audioteka.

In her spare time, Szewczyk can be found practicing Awakening Coaching, dance, guitar, or enjoying a relaxing afternoon in the Caribbean.

Szewczyk speaks Polish, English, French, Spanish and Haitian Creole fluently.

Learn more about Szewczyk’s expedition here.

Ginelle Polini (BComm’10)

Polini is a Marketing Coordinator at the Western Hockey League. She is responsible for marketing and promotion 22 Hockey Clubs across Western Canada and North-Western USA. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for imagiNation150, engaging Canadians in preparation for Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.
Polini also enjoys volunteer opportunities that utilize her soccer coaching skills. She recently returned from a volunteer trip to Saint Lucia where she worked on skill improvement with children across the island.

Emma Hoover (BComm'10)

Hoover is a Risk Management Insurance & Finance (RMIF) graduate who holds both the CRM and CIP designations. She has been recognized for her work in the field and was the recipient of the C.J. Campbell Memorial Award (2013), RSA Kendra Monck Memorial Award (2014), and Rogers Insurance Diversity of Careers Award (2014) from the Insurance Institute of Canada.

Hoover is an insurance analyst with Gibson Energy Inc. In addition to her corporate day job, she participates in the Finance Committee with SARIMS and is a member of the Local Organizing Committee for the 2016 RIMS Canada Calgary Conference.

In her spare time, Hoover can be found on the running path, on the Frisbee field, in the mountains, or relaxing with her dog Clover and other assorted pets.

Mark Purdy (BHRM’01)

Mark is Vice President and Investment Manager for Grosvenor Americas. He is responsible for pursuing investment opportunities of various property types in Calgary, Seattle and Vancouver.  He is also the General Manager of the Grosvenor Calgary office.  Mark is a member of several real estate organizations, including the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the Real Estate Council of Alberta and is on the Advisory Board of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies in Calgary. Mark is also a Board Member of the Calgary Downtown Association (CDA).

Learn more about Mark’s career here.

Lynette Lefsrud (MBA’13)

Lynette is the President and Founder of GridStone Marketing Inc. Celebrated as one of 12 Rising Stars, she was awarded with the 2013 Oilweek Rising Stars Award. This award honours leaders for excellence in their careers and outstanding contributions to their communities.

Learn more about the Oilweek Rising Stars Award here.

Lynette’s success is the result of her dedication and perseverance.  During her time as an eMBA student, Lynette juggled many roles:  a mother of two, Director of Marketing, Research, and Communications for Packers Plus Energy Services Inc., and competing as a member of the Hilti Mobile App competition in Liechtenstein, where the Haskayne MBA team placed second.  As an alumna, Lynette remains actively engaged.  She currently serves as President of the University of Calgary eMBA Alumni Alliance.  Just for kicks, Lynette is coaching Pee Wee hockey this year.