Conference Speakers

Morning Keynote Speaker – 9:30 a.m College Theatre


Ryan Blais, a 1997 graduate from St. Joes in Grande Prairie, achieved notoriety as one of the world’s top Freestyle Aerial skiers.   Over a 13 year career on the World Cup circuit, Ryan had two victories and a total of eight top 3 placings.

Towards the end of his skiing career, Ryan  began to embrace the emerging field of Social Media and eventually transitioned into a full-time consultant with his company GoSocial Media.  In 2012, he joined Nine10 Inc. a local branding and digital media company.

Ryan is a passionate advocate for local athletes.  Shortly after retiring from competitive skiing, he established the Come Fly With Me Foundation – a fund which supports budding Peace Country athletes pursuing their sporting dreams.

Ryan’s talk, Transitioning from a Life Lived Upside Down – A Few Insights,  will focus on this year’s Conference theme of Imagine, Innovate, and Inspire.


Afternoon Keynote Speaker – 1:30 p.m. College Theatre

mikeMike Reeve grew up in Grande Prairie, graduating from the Composite High School in June 2003.  He attended GPRC part-time (3 courses per term) from 2003-2005, eventually earning a Business Administration Certificate. Along the way, Mike also took a summer course in Action Sports Film Making from the University of Southern California.

During his last semester at GPRC, Mike took the Small Business Management course where he authored a business plan for Velocity Video – his own company which he founded in 2005. Over the past 12 years, Mike has grown Velocity into a highly successful venture producing hundreds of short motion pictures shot all over the world for a variety of clients.  Mike is one of the top action sports videographers on the planet, particularly in the fields of snowmobiling and jet boating.

Mike’s talk,  Following Your Dream … for Fun and Profit, will recount his life’s journey from growing up in the Peace Country to travelling the world in search of the ultimate action sports shot.


 Breakout Session Speakers (as of March 19)   

Breakout Session Schedule (click here)

In addition to the Keynote Speakers, we’ve lined up a host of accomplished local speakers who will present on the following topics:

Qamar Ahmed,  TD Bank – Navigating a career path in Business and Finance as a new graduate

Deciding on a career path can be overwhelming. This  presentation will highlight Qamar’s experience in Commercial Banking and the various ways to manage one’s passions and skills with the expectations of the job market.

Danielle Commandeur, Commandeur Mechanical – Bumpy Road to Success

Danielle Commandeur, owner of Commandeur Mechanical and Business Admin graduate, will be discussing the ins and outs of starting your own business and making it a success..

Bill Given, City of Grande Prairie – From Coachman Village to City Hall … Really Fast! 

Mayor Bill Given is one of the youngest-ever persons in Alberta to be elected elected to city council and to the mayor’s chair in a major city.  He will trace his meteoric rise from recent college grad to big city politician which happened very quickly.

Amber Knudsen, HUB Insurance – The Insurance Industry and You 

Amber Knudsen, CAIB, is a Marketing Underwriter Advisor with  HUB Insurance. She will be taking about how to begin your career in the insurance industry and take a look at the day-to-day operations of the various positions available

Office Administration Advisory Committee – Success in the Workplace

A panel of several local Office Administration graduates will share tips for surviving and thriving in today’s workplace.  The session will run in an interactive “speed dating” format.  Note – This session is open to Office Administration students only.

Mike O’Connor, Investors Group – Growing and Thriving in Grande Prairie

With over 40 years in business,  discover what Mike O’Connor has learned through operating seven business ventures. Discover why goal setting, implementation, volunteerism, enthusiasm and passion are the keys to success.  Learn about why Mike has not retired and is starting another exciting new career.

Brandon Sperling, MNP Accounting – So I got my Accounting Degree.  Now What?

Brandon Sperling, a recently completed CPA who works with MNP, will discuss the options for accounting articling students at pursuing a career in public practice.

Yuri  Smith and Taj Johnson, Fuse Realty – Technology and Real Estate Marketing

Technologies such as social media and drone photography have radically changed how real estate brokers market property,  Taj and Yuri, both GPRC Business alums, will present a number of real life examples of how these technologies can be used effectively in their business.

Bonny Syndmiller, Shawcor – Accounting Careers in the Patch

Not all accountants work in public practice.  Bonny Syndmiller from Shawcor, the world’s largest integrated energy services company,  will describe what it takes to work in accounting for a large “patch” company.

Emily Theissen, Competitive Edge Business Solutions  – Technology and the Changing Drives of Business

Emily Theissen, a GPRC business grad and former GPRC SA President, will talk about how information technology is making life more interesting, and challenging, in today’s business world.

Leanne Tulk, Great Northern Casino  – Getting from the Bottom to the Top

Leanne Tulk, General Manager of the Great Northern Casino, will share her thoughts about how to survive and thrive in today’s local economy.  Employees in 2017 need to much sharper than employees of a few years ago.

Jody Walker, Alberta Health Services –  Tough enough to “Talk About It”    Slides are linked hereGPRC-IOB_Wkpl_Supporting_MentalHealth_March2017

Mental health issues have been getting more attention lately, and rightfully so.  Jody Walker, from Alberta Health Services, will talk about some of these issues and their impact on the community and you.

Brenda Yamkowy, United Way –  Impacting Your Local Community

Brenda Yamakoyvi will talk about the important role that the not-for-profit sector and the United Way play in our local community.