Meet Our Mentors

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-9-42-10-amBetsy Bascom
Betsy Bascom, M.B.A., is President & CEO, Global Connectworks Ltd. Strong track record including a broad scope of experience in business development, negotiations, management, board governance, marketing, product development, business communications and strategy, lobbying, conference and event management. Superior leadership, project management and organization skills; results and detail oriented, strategic thinker, innovative, resourceful, credible, problem solver and multi-tasker with excellent interpersonal skills.

Best business advice Betsy has received? Focus, focus, focus. When I formed my own business, I was advised to focus on what I knew and what would differentiate my business from others. Understand what you provide that makes your product or service distinct from others and stay true to it. Secondly, anticipate the impact of what you do on all aspects of our business and understand the impact this will have on your resources –  human, financial and physical. There is a tendency for small companies to try to do too many things too soon and stretch their resources too thin.

byron-beeler-photoByron Beeler
As company founder and president of Beeler Consulting Inc., Byron brings his broad management and consulting experience to the table. With degrees in Agriculture from McGill University and the University of Toronto, his career path has included positions as director of the Soils and Crops Branch of the Ontario Department of Agriculture, general manager of Stewart Seeds, vice-president of Ciba-Geigy’s agricultural division and president of Novartis Animal Health. A fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Byron has played a key leadership role in many of Canada’s professional agricultural associations.  Since establishing his consulting firm in 2001, he has worked with government and with local, national and international companies. Beeler Consulting Inc. brings together a group of outstanding professionals who offer an extended range of consulting advice to the Life Sciences industry. In 2005 Byron was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. McGill honoured him with a Macdonald Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and the E.P. Taylor Outstanding Service Award in 2010.

Best business advice Byron has received? There is, in my experience, no such thing as a self-made man. Or woman. I have been privileged to have many mentors in my life, all of whom helped me in my life’s journey. Along that path of growing and becoming, Mission and Vision became a focal point for me – best described in these words of Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here,” asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where  – – -“ said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. In addition to the importance of a mission and vision, I have learned if you don’t have integrity, you don’t have trust. Without trust you do not have relationships and without relationships you cannot grow a business.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-9-47-41-amRegis Duffy
Regis Duffy is the former Dean of Science and Chairman of the Chemistry Department, University of Prince Edward Island. In 1970, he founded Diagnostic Chemicals Limited. Regis was awarded Atlantic Canada’s Innovator of the Year, 1986, Atlantic Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year – Manufacturing in 1994 and appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 1995. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement PEI Business Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2007, he became Chair Emeritus, University of Prince Edward Island. In 2008, he was the recipient, PEI Region Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian Award.

Best business advice Regis has received? Know your costs. We were in the manufacturing business and slowly developed a cost formula. You need to run it by your accountants and develop a standard cost model. Most startup companies struggle with this formula and tend to estimate them and usually they are low because they don’t contain overhead, depreciation and other issues that enter into the formula and are not obvious. Costs tend to change over time as organizations grow and develop and make sure your estimates are current and reflect your new growth patterns.

wayne-picture-4-1Wayne Fisher
Wayne has over 30 years’ experience in the North American healthcare industry working with leading multinational organizations in the pharmaceutical and consumer health markets as well early stage companies in the e-health and dot.com health technology markets. He has held senior management positions in sales, marketing and general management including President of Novartis Consumer Health, VP Marketing and Sales MedcomSoft, VP Marketing, Mediconsult.

In 2001 he co-founded Plexus 360, where he created an innovative web-based marketing supply chain solution for the Canadian Healthcare market with the Plexus Promotion Gateway; an innovative web-based platform for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing and sales campaigns.

To help promote a healthy business environment for the Canadian self-care industry and be involved in outreach educational programs, Wayne served on the Boards of the Consumer Health Products Association (Chair 1996-97) and the Council of Drug Abuse.

Throughout his career he has successfully grown his businesses through a combination of organic growth, acquisitions, licensing and mergers. Wayne’s experience working with large multinationals as well as early stage companies provides him with a good perspective on the needs of companies at each stage of the corporate life cycle. Wayne holds a Bachelor of Business Management (Dean’s List) from Ryerson University and has participated in Babson University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and Harvard’s Senior Executive International Leadership and Management Program.

Best business advice Wayne has received? Even with the best strategy, planning and creative, a great launch or campaign can be compromised unless it is executed with greater speed, flexibility and efficiency than the competition. In developing strategy, it is important to breakthrough information overload. The mantra we followed was “Get the Facts, Get the Strategy, Get there Fast.” Continually challenging strategy against the facts improved our marketing success.  Secondly, I have seen great strategies fail because of the disconnect between marketing strategy and marketing logistics. Understanding, simplifying and untangling the marketing supply chain is critical in supporting strategy. Creativity and strategy development is the fun part of marketing, marketing logistics is the grunt work. In highly competitive markets both have to execute exceedingly well to achieve success.

hankinson-photoDavid Hankinson
David Hankinson recently retired as CEO at Avivagen Animal Health. Growing up, he always remembers being surrounded by animals. He grew up on a small farm with two cows, two pigs, sheep, dogs, cats and chickens. After graduating as a pharmacist, he spent the bulk of his career in the health care industry including an international assignment and work in Canada in various management roles. Following nine years as the CEO of a major Canadian pharmaceutical company he retired. When the opportunity arose to join Avivagen and be part of an exciting venture to bring a new type of product to the animal health market he gladly joined the management team. In his spare time, he enjoys tending to his lawn and gardens. He and his wife are both musical and enjoy participating in several local amateur musical groups. He loves spending time with their seven wonderful grandchildren.

Best business advice David has received? As I progressed through management with both lateral and vertical moves, I tried to apply the good management skills I saw and tried to avoid the management styles that I felt were not motivating. Early in my management career, I was fortunate to find a senior manager who took an interest and became my mentor. Many of his comments have been merged into my management philosophy which is to surround myself with people with diversified backgrounds who are comfortable discussing alternate ways to approach a challenge and do not believe that I have all the answers. My role is to be a visionary laying out the expectations and boundaries and taking away as many roadblocks as possible so employees can succeed. I expect employees to ask for assistance when necessary but will not micromanage. I give credit to those who find solutions and will not take credit for successes of the team. I communicate progress or lack of as much as possible keeping in mind some confidential necessities.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-10-01-34-amRon Keefe
Ron Keefe has a B.B.A. degree from University of Prince Edward Island along with an LL.B. and MBA degrees from Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. He is a Chartered Accountant and Partner with the Atlantic Canada law firm, Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales. He is Past President of the United Way of PEI, currently serves on the campaign cabinet. President of Communities 13, Inc., a non-profit organization. Ron is Past Director of the Bank of Canada, Director of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. Ron was appointed President & Chief Executive Officer of BioVectra in 2004 and Chief Executive Officer from 2011 until 2015. The company has received numerous awards over the years including being named as one of the Top 101 Companies in Atlantic Canada.

Keefe is now the CEO of the Regis Duffy BioScience Fund Inc., a private venture fund targeting science based businesses. He is a past Director and Chairman of the Maritime Electric Company Limited, a subsidiary of Fortis Inc. and a current member and past Chairman of the Board of the PEI BioAlliance Inc., a company dedicated to the advancement of the bioscience sector of Prince Edward Island’s economy.  He is also a past Chairman of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, an independent think-tank dedicated to economic progress in Atlantic Canada. He is a member of the BIOTECanada Board of Directors and a member of the board of governors of UPEI.  He is a member of the council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (PEI). He was recently named one of the Top 50 CEO’s in Atlantic Canada.

Keefe is President of Communities 13 Inc., a non-profit organization which owns and operates a multipurpose recreational complex serving the needs of 12,000 residents in 13 communities. He is Past-President of the United Way of Prince Edward Island, a former Director of the Bank of Canada and a volunteer with Canada Games 2009. He holds several other board chair/member positions.

Best business advice Ron has received? “Revenue is vanity; Profit is sanity; Cash is reality” or stated even more simply “Cash is king”.  Frequently I have heard entrepreneurs lament the lack of cash to expand operations (or in more desperate situations – survive); never have I heard an entrepreneur complain about having too much cash. You can cover a lot of mistakes with cash and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. I am consistently amazed by the prevailing thought that revenue is the only way to generate more cash or that revenue somehow equals value. Increasing revenue might work (if you keep your spend constant or proportionally less); decreasing spend while maintaining constant revenue also works. But value is always created by cash generation.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-10-05-16-amDon Ridley
Dr. Ridley received B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of Guelph. After completing a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Industrial Fellowship with CIBA-GEIGY, he joined this Swiss multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company as a research scientist. Dr. Ridley held executive positions in research and development, marketing, sales and general management during his 23-year career with CIBA. In 1995 he left his position as Senior Vice-President in Canada to become the Managing Director of CIBA South East Asia based in Singapore. He held this position until the merger of CIBA and Sandoz to form Novartis. Dr. Ridley returned to North America and joined CanTox US in New Jersey as Managing Director and Senior Scientific Consultant. In 2008 he joined Nautilus Biosciences Canada as part-time VP Business Development. Dr. Ridley has served on the Boards of Ciba Corning, Ciba Dyes, Mettler-Toledo, BioVectra DCL, PEI Institute of Human Health Research, and Genome Atlantic.

Best business advice Don has received? In the development of bio-active-based products, regulatory requirements are often seen as a pain and too often left until the end of product research and development. A regulatory plan is a living document and should be initiated as soon as one has a product idea. It is an integral part of a company’s business plan and a key determinant and driver of one’s business. Developing a detailed regulatory plan is not fun and may seem more like a headache, but it can be used to strategic advantage. An effective regulatory strategy and its implementation results in concrete benefits: faster time to market, earlier cash flow, reduction in costs by doing the right thing at the right time, longer market lifetime under patent, and barrier to entry for competitors.

KEN ROTONDO CROPPED (1).jpgKenneth Rotondo
Dr. Rotondo is a veterinarian, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur who has collaborated with a variety of groups and organizations to increase business and personal performance. Dr. Rotondo holds a DVM degree from Cornell University and MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Rotondo has been recognized as an expert in practice management and the dynamics associated with successful practices and businesses. He specializes in effective client communication, customer experience engineering, and consumer insights.  He has owned and operated 5 veterinary hospitals in New York and has served on numerous boards within local, state and national veterinary organizations.  He served on the Advisory Council to the Veterinary College at Cornell University and was selected as President of the New York State Veterinary Society during its centennial year and was honored as the New York State Veterinarian of the Year.  He held advisory roles for several veterinary pharmaceutical companies, reference laboratories and veterinary corporate ownership groups.  He has represented New York State to the AVMA House of Delegates.

Ken has lectured extensively throughout the United States, Canada and the Europe.  Dr. Rotondo has recently collaborated and partnered with Dr. Howard Moskowitz, author of the business text “Selling Blue Elephants” (Wharton Press). Together they have created Mind Genomics Advisors, an actionable research organization focusing on empirical consumer insights, whose mission is dedicated to delivering specific, targeted messaging to clients, patients, donors, and consumers. Dr. Rotondo lectures annually at the Wharton Business School and other universities. He resides in historic Saratoga Springs, NY with his wife Jill and their two dogs Lucy and Greta.

Best business advice Ken has received?  The best business advice I have ever received came from my Dad, who was not a businessman but a NYC Policeman. He volunteered for WWII at the age of 16 and educationally only attained a high school “equivalency” diploma however he was well read, never believed in excuses, and believed in giving your very best effort no matter the task at hand. His memorable business advice to me was a paraphrased admonition from Mark Twain: “Always do the right thing. It will please a few people and astonish the rest.” At an early age this advice taught me the importance of integrity and being true to your core values.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-10-17-26-amDale Zajicek
Dale has a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering (1976) from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL; B.S. degree in Business Administration (1991) from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL. In 1975, he became Chief Chemical Operator at G.D. Searle, Inc. in Skokie, IL. In 1985, he joined NutraSweet Division in Deerfield as Operations Manager, and was appointed Manager, New Business in 1992. Dale joined BioVectra in 1995 as Engineering & Biochemical Operations Manager and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer & Vice President, Business Development in 1998 and later to President from 2011 until he retired in 2015. He is currently a director of the Regis Duffy Bioscience Fund.

Best business advice Dale has received? Make sure you know how you will finance big opportunities as they arise. Foster these sources ahead of time so you know the money is there when opportunity knocks.