Biographies - Farm Credit Canada

Backgrounder

James Laws

Mr. James Laws has an extensive background in agriculture with over 40 years of work experience. He has worked across Canada in a variety of senior agribusiness-related roles and has lived and worked overseas on international development projects as well as private-sector farm operations. His current employment as an Agricultural Consultant has led him to work overseas including in Suriname, Senegal, and Tanzania.

Prior to starting his consultation business, he served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Meat Council from 2004 to 2016 and was the Executive Director of the Canadian Farm Business Management Council from 1999 to 2003. He has also been serving on Farm Credit Canada’s Board of Directors since 2017.

Mr. Laws holds an Honours B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Guelph and a Professional Agrologist designation from the Ontario Institute of Agrologists. He is fluent in English and French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

Michele Hengen

With over 25 years of experience within the insurance, investment and pension consulting environments, Ms. Hengen has built a strong career as an actuarial professional. She has assumed roles with increasing professional responsibilities over the years, culminating in her role of Chief Risk Officer for a national multi-line insurance and investment group of companies.

Ms. Hengen is a seasoned consultant with proven success across multiple disciplines. She successfully ran an independent risk consulting and executive coaching practice where she served a variety of clients for five years before joining the team at People First to support an expanded clientele base. Ms. Hengen has also been serving on Farm Credit Canada’s Board of Directors since 2017.

Ms. Hengen received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Regina and attained the designations of Fellow and Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst from the Society of Actuaries. She has also achieved the Associate Certified Coach designation through the International Coaching Federation. 

Rita Achrekar 

Ms. Achrekar is an accomplished financial services  leader with over 25 years of experience in global capital markets, risk management, governance and innovation. Ms. Achrekar currently serves as an Executive in Residence at  the Global Risk Institute. Prior to that, she held various Senior Vice-President positions at a leading Canadian bank in market risk management, corporate credit, and compliance transformation.

Ms. Achrekar’s Board experience includes being a member of the Canadian Investor  Protection Fund’s (CIPF) Board of Directors since 2018 and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada’s (IIROC) Board of Directors from 2015 to 2019.

Ms. Achrekar holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. She has completed Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School, has a Master’s of Business Administration from Mumbai University’s Jamnalal Bajaj Institute and a Bachelor of Technology (Electrical Engineering) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. She was awarded the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation by the Global Association of Risk Professionals.

Sylvie Chagnon

Ms. Chagnon possesses extensive experience in the financial, environmental, and agricultural sectors.  During her successful career, she was President and CEO of the Quebec government’s Green Fund management board, Vice President Credit and Financial Products at Investissement Québec, Regional Vice President at National Bank of Canada, and General Manager – Operations at CIBC.

Ms. Chagnon is currently an external member of the Audit Committee of the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec.  She chaired La Financière Agricole du Québec’s board of directors and the Risk Management Association – Montreal Chapter.  She also was director of Quebec government’s Green Fund management board, Quebec Association of MBAs, Société Innovatech du Grand Montréal, Société Innovatech du Sud du Québec and Société Innovatech Régions ressources.

Ms. Chagnon holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Moncton.

The engaging leadership and vision for which Ms. Chagnon’s contribution of the financial sector is well known have been recognized by the Association des femmes en finance du Québec, Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec, Premières en affaires, and  Quebec’s Collège des administrateurs de sociétés.

Michael Tees

Mr. Michael Tees is an experienced financial services professional with over 25 years of experience in corporate banking and risk management. His strengths include deal origination, relationship management, risk identification and mitigation, credit structuring, financial analysis and underwriting the financing of complex public corporations and larger mid-market private company loan portfolios across a diverse set of industries, including primary agriculture and value added agri-business.

Mr. Tees has held several senior management and executive positions for major banks across Canada. This career path has led him to his current position serving as a Vice President in Western Canada for Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Mr. Tees holds a  Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto and Master's Degree in Business Administration from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, Seattle.

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Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
jean-sebastien.comeau@canada.ca
343-549-2326

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1-866-345-7972
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