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Lazaridis Institute




Growth Through People is designed to provide practical training and best practices from the world’s leading Human Resources and People Operations experts for Ontario-based companies.


Develop People Operations Skills and Incorporate Human Resources Best Practices 

Growth Through People helps company founders, owners, executives, and human resources professionals develop skills and incorporate best practices into daily people operations activities, including recruiting and hiring, employee engagement and retention, employee learning and development, employee growth & productivity, diversity and inclusion, compensation, and internal communications.

Learn from experts who have led people operations at companies like ecobee, Eventbrite, Google, OMERS, EY, Twitter, Yelp, and more.



“The discussion was very inspiring and made me really assess what type of leader I want to be and what type of leaders our company has.”

Program structure

Growth Through People provides a multi-dimensional learning experience for company executives, founders, owners of small and medium-sized businesses, Human Resources leaders and People Operations professionals. We combine best practices and frameworks with real-world examples and expert support to assist participants in kickstarting new initiatives, optimizing existing processes and fueling people-led growth.

Expert-led sessions with world-class people operations experTS

Speakers will provide proven best practices developed at the world’s top companies to consistently lead their industries in employee engagement, career development, and job satisfaction. Learn how people operations can impact and improve financial performance and growth. 

Small-group workshops

Weekly workshops will focus on discussions and practical exercises in a peer-group format under the guidance of an experienced people operations mentor. Attendees will learn how to apply frameworks to their own companies and situations.

One-on-one mentoring

Participants who complete all course requirements will have the opportunity to receive a limited amount of free 1:1 mentoring with exclusive network of Lazaridis Institute experts who provide advice on seizing growth opportunities and overcoming obstacles.


Details and dates

Cost: Free to qualified applicants
Platform: Virtual Course

Speaker Sessions 
Dates: February 11, 18, 25, March 4
Times: 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET 

Working Groups
Dates: February 16, 23, March 2 
Times: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. ET 

Capacity: ~50 (Limited to two employees per company)
Attendees: Ontario residents or employees of companies registered in Ontario. 

We have reached maximum capacity for this offering of Growth Through People and cannot accept any new participants. Please join the waitlist to be notified if additional space becomes available and to be the first to hear about future course offerings. Thanks for your interest! 

Past and planned sessions and speakers, subject to schedule and availability, include:


Session 1


Leadership and Design

  • Role of people leaders

  • Building HR for your organization

  • Design and plan your organization for future growth


Session 2

Finding and Rewarding Talent

  • Total rewards

  • Interview workshop

  • Talent acquisition

  • Hiring for success: Design your own hiring process playbook


Session 3

Effectiveness, Diversity, Growth

  • Organizational effectiveness

  • Diversity as a growth strategy

  • Fueling rapid growth through people

  • Create your performance management playbook


Session 4

Engagement and Communications

  • Employment law and HR legal basics

  • Employee engagement and communications


Jami Zakem

Former VP, Global Success, Eventbrite; 

Former VP, Customer Success, Yelp

Jami has been building teams and helping individuals reach their highest potential for more than 20 years. As a global VP at places like Yelp and Eventbrite, she’s grown teams from one to hundreds, guiding them through high-growth, reorganizations, acquisitions, and IPOs. Jami is insightful, honest and direct. She brings out the best in people by tapping into their core strengths.

Speakers and Mentors


Chris Shaw

Head of Talent Acquisition at Apollo; Former Strategic Sourcing Leader, Twitter

Chris has been helping companies acquire top talent in the Bay Area since 1997. He began his career on the agency side, founded an engineering recruiting agency and proceeded to work in-house for Riverbed, Google and Twitter. Next was an Andreessen Horowitz start-up called Illumio where he was the first recruiter in the door and built their recruiting program from the ground up.

CHRO, ecobee

With 15+ years in the tech sector, Penny is passionate about taking a new approach to HR and talent.  She credits having grown up on a farm for her lifelong appreciation of the power of community. In Toronto, she’s built HR departments from the ground up for FreshBooks and VarageSale.  Now at ecobee, her community encompasses the people and culture that built the world’s first wifi enabled thermostat.

Penny Farinha


Jeff Hauswirth

Vice-Chair, Ferguson Partners, Search; Vice-Chair, Second Harvest  

Over decades, Jeff has helped organizations find value by providing C-Suite and senior executive talent solutions that align with business strategy. Jeff has been featured on BNN, The Globe & Mail, Research Money, The Times of India, the (China), and The Australian CEO Forum. He is a thought leader on executive leadership and succession, recruiting in a global talent pool, onboarding, and the value of board service.


Dr. Vince Molinaro

Author & Expert on People Leadership

Vince is the author of Accountable Leaders, and The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.  Vince has spent 25 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.  Vince and his team help companies improve business performance by creating strong leadership cultures where leaders at all levels step up and demonstrate accountability.


Darryl Wright

Talent and Future of Work Lead - People Advisory Services, Ernst & Young

Darryl is an accomplished senior executive with extensive international experience in human capital strategy, talent management, organization effectiveness and leadership development. Darryl partners with boards and senior leadership teams to deliver on key strategic priorities. He’s an energized, culturally adaptable leader who’s built high performing and engaged teams across some of the world’s biggest organizations, from banking to consumer goods, retail, and food & beverage.


Michelle Banik

Michelle is committed to making people & culture a competitive advantage. She focuses on people strategies that move organizations forward through periods of growth, culture change or business transformation.  She is an authentic, inclusive leader who builds high performance teams, connecting people to purpose and vision. As a seasoned global executive, she is a culture carrier, a trusted strategic partner to the C-suite, and a thoughtful advisor to the board.


Sean Fitzpatrick

The founder of an employee survey and technology services firm, Sean has broad experience in all aspects of online employee surveys, on-site focus groups and reporting/presenting research results to senior executive teams. He has direct experience with a range of industries, including technology, health care, government, financial services, retail, professional service firms, energy and manufacturing.




James is a Partner at BLG where he has a multi-faceted humane resources law practice, handling day-to-day litigation and corporate transactions mandates for clients in both pension and benefits and labour and employment matters.


James regularly appears before Ontario courts, tribunals and regulatory authorities on a variety of matters, including pension disputes and wrongful dismissal actions. He has also acted in more than 160 corporate transactions and has written numerous articles related to labour and employment and pensions and benefits. 


Amy Vernetti


Amy has been recruiting technology executives in Silicon Valley for 25+ years.  During that time, she cultivated one of the most powerful networks of underrepresented talent in the tech industry.  Amy brought this network to bear on the Moonshots and Bets at Alphabet where she built the leadership recruiting capability from scratch starting in 2016.  Over the course of 3.5 years at Alphabet, Amy and her team recruited 60 leaders to 10 different companies in a variety of fields. In the final year at Alphabet, 77 per cent of the talent recruited to lead the Moonshots and Bets came from underrepresented groups.  While working at the X Lab in Mt. View, Amy wrote Equality is the Ultimate Moonshot as a primer for companies that are truly committed to building representative teams.




Head of HR at Signifyd

Born and raised in the heart of Silicon Valley, Emily has worked in HR and people operations roles at Google and SurveyMonkey, which doubled in size during her tenure. She is currently VP of People Operations at Signifyd, overseeing HR and Talent Acquisition globally, as the company has grown more than 8x revenue.

As a people operations leader, she prioritizes constant improvement of every element of the employee lifecycle and being a true partner to the business, supporting and advising on every human-related facet of her company’s strategic priorities.  



Rich is the CEO of Altus Assessments, an edtech company he helped found in 2015. Rich is an engineer by training, a sales person by temperament and loves building and scaling effective teams. Altus Assessments assesses applicants to higher education programs for people skills and other non-academic traits. In 2019 they assessed 100,000 applicants in Canada, Australia and the US, including 80 per cent of all Canadian and US medical school applicants.