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  • Career planning and assessment
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  • Networking training and events
  • Interview preparation

Our Team

Mike Bacchus, BSc, MBA
Chief Executive Officer

780.432.5490 ext. 4424

Professionalism, integrity, culture and spark! These are the traits that attracted Mike Bacchus to Optimum Talent. Mike offers over 20 years of experience at the senior management level, including over 18 years within the professional search and HR advisory space.

Mike is a graduate of the University of Alberta and Athabasca University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree, an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Management, and a Masters of Business Administration. After 10 years in the health care industry with major Fortune 500 companies such as Baxter Corporation and Merck & Co., he joined the David Aplin Group in 1998. As President of the organization, Mike was part of a team that achieved tremendous success. Mike then joined Conroy Ross Partners in 2009, soon to become CEO until their recent sale to Optimum Talent Inc. in 2017.

Mike believes that surrounding oneself with exceptional people leads to personal and professional growth. His career has focused on attracting leading talent and harnessing that energy to produce outstanding results. His accomplishments include being recognized with awards such as one of “Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies” in 2007 and again in 2008, in addition to recognition as a Canadian Profit 100 firm. Mike was recognized by Business in Edmonton Magazine as a 2014 Leader of Tomorrow, and most recently, Optimum Talent was recognized by the Canadian HR Reporter Readers’ Choice Awards as one of Canada’s Best Talent Management Consulting Companies in 2017.

Corporate social responsibility is a cornerstone at Optimum Talent and a key component of our culture. Mike is a true believer in giving back as displayed through his recent professional and community involvements, including:

  • Director, Americas of IIC Partners
  • Director of World Health Fitness
  • Board Trustee on the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation
  • Norquest College Community Foundation
  • WPO Alberta Mentorship Chair
  • Director of Enerbuilt Technologies
  • Director of The Young President’s Organization (YPO)
  • Director with Junior Achievement Northern Alberta
  • Director of The Support Network
  • Director of The Royal Glenora
  • President and Director of the Entrepreneurs Organization
  • EO Global Mentorship Chair
  • Founding Friend of Little Warriors
  • Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation
Diane Wheatley
Chief Administrative Officer

780.432.5490 ext. 4431

Diane first joined the firm in 2012 as a Principal on the Executive Search team after twenty years with a major financial institution. In 2014, she decided to take on a new challenge within the firm and transitioned to a leadership position on the corporate services team. In her current role as Chief Administration Officer, Diane is responsible for overseeing and managing all corporate functions and team members to ensure the successful achievement of the firm’s annual strategic plan. Her previous leadership roles in the areas of finance, strategic planning, sales and change management allow her to see the spectrum in each corporate function.

Diane is the epitome of a team player. She is always willing to lend a hand, provide strategic guidance and participate on any project or initiative whether it is large scale IT implementations or a social event in the office.

Dedicated to her community, Diane sits on the University Hospital Foundation Festival of Trees Committee.

Tricia Mullen
National Practice Leader

780.432.5490 ext. 4426

In her role as National Practice Leader, Search, Tricia is focused on driving quality and consistency through our search model nationwide. She also leads the public-sector Executive Search team in our Edmonton office, responsible for filling key leadership positions across the government, academia and not-for-profit sectors. Tricia’s authenticity, values and strong intuition enable her to build lasting partnerships with both her clients and candidates.

Prior to joining Conroy Ross Partners in 2010, Tricia spent more than eleven years with one of Canada’s largest privately held professional recruitment firms. While in the position of Vice President of Corporate Services, the firm was named one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies and one of Canada’s Profit 100 firms. Additionally, as a Senior Consultant on the Information Technology team, Tricia’s accomplishments were recognized with admission to the “Top Performers” group at the Platinum level in consecutive years.

Tricia is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Commerce program, where she established relationships that she continues to uphold today. She is honored to volunteer her time with Little Warriors, the Stollery Women’s Network and is actively involved in her community league. As a proud hockey and dance Mom, you will often find Tricia spending time with her kids or cheering them on in their various activities.

Gord Syme
Managing Director

780.432.5490 ext. 4439

Gord has 30 years business experience, gained with a major financial institution and a big four accounting firm.  During his career, he has worked in the areas of operations, sales, marketing, finance, human resources and business development.  His work has taken him to a number of cities and regions of Canada, giving him a broad understanding of the Canadian economy.   For the last nine years, he has primarily worked with mid to large size privately owned businesses and their owners to help them achieve their goals.

The firm’s commitment to leadership, growth and community were the main reasons Gord chose to join the firm.  Gord is active in the community, currently Chair of the Sorrentino’s Compassion House Capital Campaign and as Past Chair of the Telus World of Science Edmonton.  He has previously acted as Chair or Board member of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Stollery Children’s Health Foundation, Golden Bear Football Alumni, TMAC Edmonton, and the Aspen Gardens Community League.

Gord is married to Marcie, a teacher with Edmonton Public Schools, and they have one daughter.

René Tardif

780.432.5490 ext. 4430

René is a Partner with Optimum Talent and is responsible for leading the private sector Executive Search practice in Edmonton. René is passionate about the recruitment industry and is actively involved in every aspect of the search process, including business development, research, interviewing, candidate assessments, and client management.

Prior to joining Optimum Talent, René spent several years gathering experience in the areas of client relations, project and account management, and business development within the Oil & Gas and Pharmaceutical industries. He discovered his true passion for the executive search industry in his former role at a local recruitment firm.

Since joining Optimum Talent, René has placed top executives for leading organizations in a variety of industries with a focus on the industrial services market in Northern Alberta. René believes in the value of his client partnerships and strives to ensure that every client experience is a positive and memorable one.

René holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Psychology major from the University of Alberta. He currently sits on the Alberta Forward and Edmonton Ski Club Board of Directors, and is the past Vice Chair of Kids Up Front Edmonton. He donates his time to youth leadership initiatives in his community. When weather permits, you can find René relaxing at the lake and spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Michael Hladun
Vice President

780.432.5490 ext. 4435

Michael is Vice President, Talent Management Services for Optimum Talent, a leading provider of Talent Management services in Canada. In his role, Michael is responsible for delivering Optimum Talent’s quality consulting practice services to the Edmonton market.

For over 30 years, Michael has developed strategic marketing programs and lead business unit operations for a number of Canada’s most recognized consumer and business to business brands. His career started in consumer packaged goods marketing with Molson Breweries and evolved to directing national agency accounts for DDB, before moving on to over 15 years at Intuit where he lead the consumer and professional tax business unit in Canada (TurboTax). Throughout his career, Michael’s considerable focus with aligning leadership and organizational development efforts to business strategy has accelerated growth results for companies and brands in a number of the most challenging and competitive market categories. His engaging and collaborative approach to solving complex business challenges has proven to be an effective platform for developing leaders and teaching them how to drive team performance.

Michael holds a Diploma in Business Administration, Marketing and has taught Marketing Management certificate programs for the Canadian Institute of Management. He has served on a number of charity and no-profit boards in Northern Alberta.

Megan Schwann
Director, Corporate Services

780.432.5490 ext. 4421

Megan joined Optimum Talent in 2008, enthusiastic about delivering consulting services in Edmonton’s business advisory practice. There she spent several years working with our clients with a focus on strategic planning, change management and post-merger integration projects. As the firm evolved, Megan joined the Corporate Services team to shift her focus internally to corporate development and growth initiatives. She has been an integral resource in expanding our operations across the nation, both organically and through acquisition. She has served as the Controller, responsible for all aspects of finance and accounting. In her current role as Director, Corporate Services, she is focused on supporting the firm’s continued growth efforts across all corporate functions, including Marketing & Communications and Human Resources.

Committed to serving her community, Megan is an active member of the Stollery Women’s Network Fundraising & Donor Recognition Committee. She has also proudly served as President of the Junior League of Edmonton and Treasurer of Edmonton’s YWCA. Passionate about health and wellness, Megan is also a Motivator at YEG Cycle and an Ambassador for Kit and Ace.  Megan holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, along with a Certified Managerial Accounting designation.

Tracy Presisniuk

780.432.5490 ext. 4402

Tracy has been part of  Optimum Talent since 2003.  As a Search Manager, Tracy provides full cycle recruitment services, at both the executive and professional level, sourcing the best candidates to fit the needs of our clients.  She has placed candidates in a variety of organizations in both the public and private sectors.

Prior to her current role, Tracy utilized her strong organizational skills to support the day to day operations of the Edmonton office as Office Manager. Tracy brings over 20 years of executive administrative experience to Optimum Talent. Before joining Optimum Talent, Tracy spent 14 years at a global accounting firm, providing extensive senior support to partners in practice areas such as management consulting, executive search, insolvency, and audit & advisory services.

Tracy is a graduate of Grant MacEwan University.


Braden Norman

780.432.5490 ext. 4433

Braden joined Optimum Talent as a Manager on the Public Interest Executive Search team in 2017. He was drawn to the organization by its reputation for professionalism, integrity and commitment to the betterment of their clientele. Braden is a voracious learner and enthusiastic individual with extensive experience in search.

Braden grew up on a cattle ranch near Cochrane, Alberta and moved to Edmonton in 2005 to attend the University of Alberta. He completed a BA in Psychology there and followed that up with a certificate in Human Resource Management from which he graduated with honours. For the next 6 years Braden performed successfully as a Resource Manager/Recruiter in the information technology sector within the Edmonton market.

Braden has an extensive history coaching and organizing youth sports. He has also been regularly involved in charity events for STARS Air Ambulance. Braden is an avid golfer, sports fan and film buff who loves to travel whenever possible.

John Walker

780.432.5490 ext. 4434

John was attracted to the Optimum Talent’s team due to the firm’s professionalism, reputation and commitment to client excellence. John’s enthusiasm and outgoing personality align well with the values that Conroy Ross Partners upholds. A holder of the CMA designation, John is a recruitment specialist in Finance and Accounting roles from the professional to executive level.

After obtaining his CMA designation in 1995 in public practice, John moved to the private industry sector where he spent the next 14 years as a Controller for various organizations in the Edmonton area. His experience includes working within the service, manufacturing, publishing and wholesale industries. Prior to joining Optimum Talent, John started an accounting and consulting business where he provided professional services to several local clients.

As an active member of the Sherwood Park community, John has spent the last 10 years coaching various sports, including competitive soccer. He continues to stay active in the CMA Association, the finance and accounting industry, and within the community. He is excited to bring his expertise and industry knowledge to Optimum Talent clients and candidates.

Jonathan Verhesen, BPE, MCoach
Research Coordinator

780.432.5490 ext. 4438

Jonathan joined Optimum Talent in 2017 as a Research Assistant with the Private Sector Executive Search team.  Passionate about all things athletics, he has held various leadership roles at the competitive level and is excited to integrate his experience in recruiting, instructing and developing winning teams into his work at Optimum Talent.  Jonathan looks forward to supporting the team in connecting great candidates to our client organizations and seeing their partnership thrive.

Jonathan graduated with a Masters of Coaching and Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Alberta.  Prior to working with Optimum Talent, Jonathan held various basketball coaching roles with the University of Alberta, MacEwan University and Grande Prairie Regional College.  When Jonathan is not in the gym coaching, he can be found spending time with his wife and their two young kids.

Stephanie Walden

780.432.5490 ext. 4405

Stephanie joined Optimum Talent in 2015 as Director of First Impressions in the Calgary office. Since then, Stephanie has worked in both the Executive and Professional practices with involvement in a variety of leadership positions.

As a Consultant, Stephanie strives to establish exceptional candidate and client rapport with honest, dedicated, and genuine communication that extends beyond the duration of an engagement. Stephanie is a continuous learner, fueled by curiosity in learning the intricacies of our clients’ operations.

Stephanie graduated from Grant MacEwan University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is an avid adventure seeker and enjoys spending her free time in the Edmonton river valley, mountains, or dog park with her Goldendoodle, Murphy.

Veronica Odynski

780.432.5490 ext. 4410

Seeking a new challenge, Veronica joined Optimum Talent as a Research Assistant in late 2015 providing support to both the Professional and Executive Search teams in the Edmonton office. Veronica continues to be amazed and impressed by the values, energy and culture fostered by the Edmonton team.

As a Search Consultant, Veronica is a part of the Professional Search team in the Edmonton office working with her team to provide full cycle recruitment services to source the best candidate to fit the needs of our clients. She is very excited about the opportunity to continue to learn and grow with Optimum Talent.

Veronica graduated from the University of Toronto in 2013 with a degree in Art History. She is a harpist and passionate about supporting the arts in all forms in the community.

Bea Bohm Meyer
Executive Coach


Bea is a certified leadership coach. She is trained by CTA in Colorado, USA (member of the International Coaching Federation). Her caring and direct style help leaders understand where they need to go and feel supported in the process of development.

Bea previously sat on the advisory committee for the University of Alberta Corporate and Governmental Affairs. Currently she sits on the Advisory Committee for the University of Alberta Executive HR program, is a founding Mentor for the University of Alberta Venture Mentoring services program and is a speaker’s committee member for the Synergy Network. Bea is also Chair of the Winnifred Stewart Association Board of Directors, supporting individuals with developmental disabilities. Bea also takes pride in being a big sister in the Big Brothers and Big Sister organization. In 2014 she was recognized as one of the top 100 Women in Business. In 2015 Bea was nominated for the Alberta Entrepreneur Award. Bea has participated in various events supporting youth success and hopes to continue that journey. Her personal dream is to create a movement of leaders who understand the potential of leading culture with intent.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts special degree in International Political Science from the University of Alberta, Canada and is certified as a Patient Safety Executive by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston, MA, USA. Bea has participated in high profile leadership and client service delivery programs including The North American Customer Management and Leadership Forum and The Canadian Management Centre.

Bea also prides herself as being one of Edmonton’s Fab 5 and a founding member of the Amazing Ladies. Ask her about both groups if you get a chance.


Margot Ross Graham, CHRP, CPCC
Executive Coach


Margot Ross Graham is an experienced senior executive with extensive background in leadership coaching, change management, and organizational development.

Margot provides coaching, consulting and facilitation services in areas such as:

  • strategic planning,
  • leadership development
  • succession planning
  • change and transition
  • team effectiveness

She has led numerous acquisition initiatives from the people aspect of the transaction and is known for big picture thinking while never losing sight of important details. She is recognized for providing fully customized, practical solutions for and in partnership with her clients.

Margot is an instructor with the Alberta School of Business Executive Education and is featured every Tuesday as the Workplace Columnist for CBC Radio’s Edmonton morning show.

Margot holds her Certified Human Resource designation (CHRP), is a Certified Professional Coach (CPCC) and is a Meyers Briggs facilitator.

Vicky Walker, BSc, ACC, CEC
Executive Coach


Vicky Walker’s work as a senior consultant and certified coach brings a broad range of expertise to her work from 35 years of experience in industrial and academic business environments from both a corporate and personal perspective.

Through explorative and reflective dialogue, Vicky engages her clients with fortitude and authenticity. She partners with them to provide the space to discover their own questions and empower them to chart the path to their own, innovative solutions.   In her consultant role, Vicky quickly adapts her insight and knowledge to act with a results oriented approach for her client’s best interest.

Vicky’s consulting expertise includes teaching, training, mentoring, and coaching for business. She has several sales training certifications, including Professional Selling Skills and Miller Heiman. Her interaction extends from executives at a multi-national corporate level to those who are working independently.

Vicky has a long history of volunteerism and believes strongly in giving back to the community in which she is involved. She is also very involved with her virtual communities and business networks.

Kirsty Ross
Executive Coach


Kirsty is a Certified Executive Coach (CEC) and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC).

Kirsty uses coaching to develop and train leaders, create high performance teams, and empower people to succeed. Her coaching expertise focuses on executive coaching, leadership development, change/transition management, building effective teams, team coaching and organizational design.

In Kirsty’s career, she has ascended from the front line to senior management. As one of the first women District Agriculturists in Alberta, she knows what it is like to be a woman in a leadership position and a woman in a male dominated field. She has been through countless organizational changes, endured budget cuts, led various teams of differing personalities, and had numerous bosses.

As an Executive Coach, she can assist coachees to get through these changing times by working with them (or their team) to set goals, identify outcomes, manage personal change and determine actions to implement immediately.

Kirsty wants to be able to empower others to be great leaders. Whether it is one on one or group/team coaching, she will help discover how to become a better leader by assisting coachees to be more self-aware, learning how to communicate better, and increasing their emotional intelligence.

Academic & Industry Accreditation

  • Certified Executive Coach from Royal Roads University
  • Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation
  • Certified with MBTI, EQ-I, SDI
  • Well versed in Strengths Finder
Maxine Clark
Executive Coach


Maxine specializes in creating meaningful learning experiences for individuals and organizations. With a coaching style that is focused, fun, and designed for breakthrough results, Maxine loves helping clients exceed their own expectations.

Maxine has blended operations management and psychology throughout her 15 years of business experience in consulting and in leadership roles within corporate and post-secondary environments. This has included designing award-winning leadership development programs recognized at the provincial and national levels, recruiting and coaching leaders in senior positions, and leading operational and project teams in transforming the way they work. Maxine has worked with clients from all over the world, and consulted in France, China, and the USA, in addition to her home country, Canada.

Maxine’s education includes a Bachelor of Commerce, Certificate in Executive Coaching, and a Master of Science in Organizational Development as well as professional certifications in coaching and project management. Always curious about the development journey of others, her thesis investigated the pivotal career experiences, social influences, and mindset of executive leaders.

Maxine loves getting engaged in her community through volunteering and has served on many boards of directors and as a facilitator of governance workshops for non-profit organizations in recent years.