WHO WE ARE

HART HILLMAN

Founder & CEO

With over 25 years experience in Technology, Consumer Electronics, Publishing-Media, and Executive Search, Hart has carried out presidential, senior sales and marketing roles in Canada’s leading Fortune 500 companies. In 2014, Hart and co-founder Laura Palandra embarked on a new challenge, which was to launch the Bigwin Group. Built on the promise to change how companies manage and search for talent, Hart has assembled a team of purpose driven, seasoned individuals, who together are turning talent strategy on its head.

With tenured experience at the “big three” executive search firms - as Partner and Global Practice Leader for Technology at the Bedford Group, Managing Partner at Kinley Connelly, and Manager of the Canadian Technology practice at Heidrick & Struggles - Hart came to executive search with fifteen years of experience in Technology and Publishing & Media. He worked in senior sales and marketing roles at both Compaq and Apple, and served as General Manager for a national retail chain of consumer electronics outlets. Hart served on the Board of Directors for the University of Toronto Press and sits on the advisory counsel for the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance. He holds an Honours B.A. from York University in Psychology and English and graduated from the Rotman School EMBA program.

[Click here to learn about I’m Not Sven]


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LAURA PALANDRA

Co-founder & Principal

Laura Palandra is a Principal and Co-Founder at the Bigwin Group, an innovative talent strategy firm that challenges the status quo to positively impact clients’ organizations. Before launching Bigwin Group, Laura served as a Research Consultant with the Bedford Group, working primarily in the technology sector. Prior to Bedford, Laura worked at Macquarie Capital Markets Canada in institutional sales and trading. Upon graduation, she was one of 12 individuals selected out of more than 3000 applicants nationwide to join AB InBev as a Management Trainee in a rotational program. Laura graduated with an International Bachelor of Business Administration (iBBA) from the Schulich School of Business.

Besides working with the Loran Scholarship Foundation, Laura also works with Emily’s House, the first Paediatric Palliative Care Hospice in Toronto, and 6th in Canada.


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STEPHEN BEBIS

Partner

Stephen has risen through the ranks of retail management since he first entered the field in the early 1970’s. Stephen has held executive offices at both Sears and Home Depot before he headed north of the border to found and become CEO of Aikenhead’s Improvement Warehouse. He built the company from an idea to over $1 billion in sales in just three years before he and his fellow investors sold 75 per cent of the company to Home Depot in 1994. He was also a founder of Reno Depot, a home improvement warehouse retailer in Quebec and served on the parent company board of Group Van Royal. In 1998, Mr. Bebis founded Golf Town, a company he ran as President and CEO until Dec 2011, taking the company public in 2004. After Golf Town, Stephen took over the President and CEO role of Brookstone, located in Nashua, NH.

He served as CEO until May 2013 when he left to take the President and CEO role of Liquor Stores N.A. Throughout his career Stephen has served on many charitable boards including the Moffit Cancer Centre in Tampa, Outward Bound Canada and was the Chairman of Prostate Cancer Canada. In 2005, Stephen won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was elected to the Retail Hall of Fame in Canada in 2007.


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RON HULSE

Partner

A builder of organizations, and an entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the technology sector, Ron was the first sales rep hired by Compaq Computer Corporation in Canada in 1984. As an executive and leader at Compaq, Ron helped to the company from $25M to more than $2B in 2001. Ron also orchestrated the integration of Compaq’s two largest acquisitions, Tandem and Digital Equipment, and led the amalgamated sales and services organization until his departure in 2000. 

Ron spent three years in Silicon Valley as part of the dot-com boom before leading two other startups, based in Tel Aviv and Edmonton. In 2007, Ron joined Samsung Canada as the VP of the IT Division, before taking on Mobility. In 2009, Ron was announced as the Chief Convergence Officer and was designated to become the first local President of the subsidiary. His career has thrived on his ability to attract, coach, motivate and develop future leaders who can deliver. There is no better explanation for the “Why” behind joining Bigwin Group, than to understand Ron’s passion for helping talented, driven individuals make important career and life decisions. Ron’s own career is a reflection of that. 


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DEB VOORHEIS

Partner

A Senior Executive with leadership experience across a broad range of industries, Deb Voorheis joined the Bigwin Group with a passion for empowering people and identifying and working with high impact teams. As Partner, Deb a key role in the Bigwin Group’s innovative and creative work to help organizations grow and develop. A successful builder of high impact teams, Deb’s background includes Professional Services, luxury goods retail management and Not-for-Profit fundraising. In addition, she has done business development consulting in the arts sector.  Deb is a talented, results driven strategist who will work to build revenues through relationships.

Deb has been an integral part of developing and growing the revenues of many organizations. Her retail background includes the Sporting Life, Harry Rosen, Bowring and the Hudson Bay Company. As Interim CEO of Curtis Engineering Associates Ltd., Deb led a team of senior engineers, developed strategic plans and increased overall company profitability. Deb has always believed in giving back, and in the last eight years has helped raise over $750,000 for Porridge for Parkinsons, which funds scientists working to find the cause of, and a cure for, Parkinson Disease.


NANDA NANDANAKUMAR

Consultant

Nanda has quickly climbed the rungs at the Bigwin Group, first heading up the Business Development & Marketing Department where she was responsible for organizing the company’s Sharpen Your Axe events. Inspired by the stories and careers of the executives she met, Nanda was compelled to train as consultant, where she now finds passion in helping talented individuals make important career decisions in their life.

Nanda graduated from the University of Toronto with an HBSc. in Neuroscience and Mental Health Studies and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in International Business Management from Centennial College. She has been involved in research, community development and engagement, program planning, group facilitation, and social work. She participated in a Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experience program to Gujarat, India, where she worked alongside locals to build a safe house for women and children in Rapar, a rural village in the Kutch desert. Nanda’s volunteer pursuits stem from her greater interest in the community and its people, including her former role as President, Board of Director, at the Tamil Cooperative Homes.


MARGARITA RAMOS

Project Coordinator & Executive Assistant

Margarita graduated from Centennial College’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program in 2004. Her passion for providing excellent customer service has led her to work in hotels across Canada; from Banff, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2012, Margarita joined the pre-opening team of the Shangri-La hotel, Toronto, where she often bumped shoulders with local and international celebrities. She is a member of the prestigious international concierge association, Les Clefs d’Or Canada.

After more than a decade in the hospitality industry, she was ready for a new challenge. She recently joined the Bigwin Group, a global Talent Strategy firm. Her focus with Bigwin is to initiate, energize, maintain, and optimize relationships, while ensuring that innovation and creativity underpin every single project. As a Certified Yoga Teacher, Margarita is inspired daily by the connection of breath to the physical body to balance the mind and to calm the soul.


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MAX HILLMAN

Chief Happiness Officer

While we take our work seriously, Max reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. He is our daily reminder to laugh, have fun and celebrate the process.

He’s also pretty cute, too.