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. His career path has included positions as director of the Soils and Crops Branch, Ontario Department of Agriculture; general manager of Stewart Seeds; vice-president of Ciba-Geigy’s agricultural division; and president of Novartis Animal Health. Byron has played key leadership roles in many of Canada’s professional agricultural associations. Since establishing his consulting firm in 2001, he has worked with governments as well as with local, national and international companies. Beeler Consulting Inc. offers an extended range of consulting advice to the Life Sciences industry.

Byron was made a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada (1995) and inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame (2005). McGill honoured him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and the E.P. Taylor Outstanding Service Award in 2010.

Best business advice Byron has received? Three things: “Autograph every job you do with excellence”; “select employees who are coachable”; “never lose your integrity”. I have been privileged to have many mentors in my life, all of whom helped me with my life’s journey. Mission and Vision became a focal point for me. 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 positive relationships and without positive 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 is a retired senior executive having experience in both the international pharmaceutical industry and in the creation of two Canadian start-up companies in the healthcare field. Following graduation as a pharmaceutical chemist (pharmacist), he spent over 15 years in various management roles with Eli Lilly & Co. in Canada and internationally. Returning to Canada, David, along with a partner, began two healthcare startups. The Canadian operation was purchased by Belgian=based Solvay Inc. and David remained as CEO of Solvay Pharmaceuticals Canada until his retirement in 1999. He has been associated with Avivagen Inc., a Canadian Biotechnology firm, since its inception, and is currently Vice Chairman of the Board. David and his wife Linda are both musical and enjoy participating in several amateur music groups. They love spending time with their 7 wonderful grandchildren whenever they can.

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 is counsel to Stewart McKelvey, a leading Atlantic Canada law firm. He is engaged in business start-up and funding providing capital and mentorship to early stage businesses. He is a director of several companies including Halibut PEI, ScreenScape, and Handyman Labs, and provides mentorship to emerging companies like Somru Bioscience, Pfera Inc., and Nutracelle.

Ron volunteers with a number of institutional and not-for profit entities. He is a governor of the University of Prince Edward Island and chairs its finance and audit committee. He also chairs Synapse Inc., the technology transfer entity at UPEI. He is a director of Genome Atlantic and the PEI BioAlliance. He is a board member of the Holland College Foundation and the Chair of Communities 13 Inc.

Ron is the former CEO and President of Diagnostic Chemicals Inc. and BioVectra Inc. He has chaired the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, Maritime Electric limited (a Fortis subsidiary) and the PEI BioAlliance. He has been a director of the Bank of Canada, BIOTECanada  and many other entities.

He has received numerous personal and business awards including a gold leaf award from BIOTECanada for contribution to biotechnology in Canada; Volunteer of the year award from the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce for contribution to the advancement of the PEI economy; and a Top 50 CEO from Atlantic Canada. He has a business degree from UPEI; a law degree and MBA from Dalhousie and a CPA, CA designation. He also has a corporate director designation (ICD.D) from the Institute of Corporate Directors of Canada.

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.

Robert Kincaide May 2017


Robert has over 40 years of new product and strategic brand development experience.  After starting his career at Procter & Gamble in brand management, Bob held roles in corporate marketing, advertising and new venture management. Recognizing a unmet need for new products consulting, Bob launched  an NPD consulting firm in the early 1980’s that went on to serve Fortune 500 global companies in both developed and emerging markets. Projects included all major consumer product/service categories as well as B to B work in the IT, financial and agricultural categories. After selling the firm in the early 2000’s to a USA consulting group, Bob created Growth Strategy/ Innovation to continue to consult on  new products and  brand strategies.

Bob has mentored MBA students and their subsequent new ventures, and has led brand strategy workshops throughout the USA for the American Marketing Association. Bob is Vice-Chair of the  Board of Regents of Victoria University ( University of Toronto).

Best business advice Robert has received? Never ask for financing when you really need  the money”, was told to me by a senior banker. Build your financial relationships in the good, optimistic times so when you need the money, it’s more likely there waiting for you.

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.


Dr. Rotondo is a veterinarian, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur who  collaborates with a variety of groups and organizations to increase business and personal performance.

Ken 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. Ken served on the Advisory Council to the Veterinary College at Cornell University, 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. Currently he serves on the board of directors of several not-for profit organizations in areas that include philanthropy, innovation, mentoring and entrepreneurship.

Ken has lectured extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He 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 has presented to a variety of audiences including the annual automotive Thought Leadership Summit. In 2016 Dr. Rotondo was selected by IBM to present at the “IBM World of Watson Conference” and is currently collaborating with IBM to integrate machine learning and cognitive business applications into the Mind Genomics methodologies.

Dr Rotondo holds a DVM degree from Cornell University and MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 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 and aB.S. degree in Business Administration (1991) from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL. In 1975, he was a member of the process development team that developed commercially viable manufacturing processes for new drugs under development at G.D. Searle, Inc. in Skokie, IL. After working on the commercial process for aspartame, in 1982, he joined The NutraSweet Division of G.D Searle, (acquired by Monsanto in 1985) in University Park, IL as Operations Manager, overseeing the commercial production of Nutrasweet.  In 1992, Dale was appointed Manager, New Business Development where he worked in conjunction with partners such as Kraft- General Foods and Pepsico developing new products for these key clients.

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.

Dale is currently a director of the Regis Duffy Bioscience Fund, and a Director of Houston based Oncolix, Inc (ONCX), a publicly traded company developing new cancer treatment drugs for Ovarian cancer.

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.