Top Employers 2023
Best Benefits, Pensions, and Institutional Investment
Professionals in Canada | Hot List 2023

Investing in the future

Benefits and Pensions Monitor’s inaugural Hot List of 2023 recognizes exceptional leaders who have shaped and continue to shape the benefits, pensions, and institutional investment industry, from innovative trailblazers to game-changers sparking business growth.

This year’s Hot List highlights 43 of Canada’s best professionals in the benefits, pension, and institutional investment space whose vision, positive influence, and passion for the industry are charting new courses.

Their outstanding contributions are all the more praiseworthy in what, admittedly, has been a turbulent fiscal year of 2022–2023. Across BPM’s award categories, the Hot List honorees shine brightly for:

  • Service providers: establishing a comprehensive compliance program focused on quality and accuracy and ensuring that core pension operations adhere to plan rules, legislation, regulation, and standards

  • Retirement plan specialists: spearheading the concept of the personal pension plan, marking the first innovation in plan design for small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada

  • Group benefit/insurance: driving transformation through a revolutionary digital health and benefits system that provides plan members with easy access to health services and a convenient benefits claims submission process

  • Consultants: pioneering a unique research-driven strategy firm that focuses on enhancing retirement outcomes for Canadians

For two of the top finance industry professionals on the premier Hot List, their high performance is backed by expertise, a forward-thinking vision, and a desire to define the future era of finance.

Hot List 2023


Gregory Hourigan: revving up Canadian institutional sales

Unsurprisingly, people who know Hourigan refer to his strong sense of urgency as a driving factor behind his extraordinary accomplishments in the asset management space. Something similar could also be said about his achievements outside of the office. After all, he’s managed multiple podium finishes as a competitive race car driver.

Within just six months of joining Mackenzie Investments, Hourigan was appointed head of Canadian institutional sales, underscoring his vision and commitment to expanding the firm’s Canadian institutional business.

“A colleague once told me that my unique ‘superpower’ was a relentless sense of urgency,” Hourigan says. “I’m always striving to outpace, outmaneuver, and overdeliver when it comes to the client experience or whatever the project or initiative is.”

Some of his recent and notable achievements include:

  • securing over $500 million in institutional and sub-advisory deals over the past year

  • earning the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) designation, in addition to multiple other industry licenses and accreditations

  • holding various executive sales roles across the Canadian retail, national accounts, and institutional investment sectors 


Drawing from over a decade of experience with a $2 trillion global asset manager, Hourigan hit the ground running at Mackenzie Investments, one of Canada’s largest investment firms.

While Mackenzie’s predominantly retail asset base sometimes poses challenges in showcasing its institutional prowess, Hourigan highlights the advantages of their nearly $200 billion AUM, emphasizing the robustness it grants in compliance, operations, risk management, talent retention, and overall firm resources.

“It offers important reassurances to clients that our alpha goes beyond just our investment strategies,” he says. “We’re fully equipped to go toe to toe with any institutional-only manager out there. I aim to reposition some of these perceived negatives as genuine competitive strengths and differentiators.”

Throughout his journey, Hourigan credits working under exceptional leaders as pivotal to his success.

“I took every opportunity to absorb their knowledge, ask for feedback, and be responsive to their coaching,” he says. “These people genuinely rooted my growth and got me to where I am today.”

Hourigan also champions continual growth and highlights the significance of both internal and external networking for those eager to shine in the investment world. Embodying the spirit of “paying it forward,” he dedicates time to mentoring those on a similar path.

“It’s amazing how keen industry leaders often are to engage with and guide you,” he says. “All you need to do is ask.”

Gregory Hourigan
“I’ve always strived to maximize my performance in everything I do in my personal life, hobbies, and career”
Gregory HouriganMackenzie Investments


Dawn Jia: leading the way in institutional investment

UBC Investment Management’s CEO and president Jia understands how much performance matters when managing assets on behalf of a university and its pensioners. Despite the challenging investment climate, she has successfully positioned the organization’s endowment fund and staff pension plan to withstand recent market fluctuations, achieving the following as of March 31, 2023:

  • 4.99% one-year value added to the main endowment pool

  • 6.38% one-year excess return on the pension plan 


Jia strives to do her best while also being mindful of her limits.

“I always strive to keep an open mind in business, listen to all perspectives, and know when to ask for help or advice,” she says.

Jia’s notable accomplishments include:

  • spearheading investments of over $200 million in climate-oriented funds managed by some of the world’s leading investment managers; by year-end, the endowment fund’s carbon footprint had been reduced by 50%, with its carbon intensity 46% lower than 2019 baseline levels

  • being recognized as the recipient of the 2023 Leadership Excellence Award by the Leader Circle, acknowledging her industry achievements and her dedicated efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, with a particular focus on visible minorities, women, and immigrants

  • achieving a total AUM of $5.8 billion in 2023


Her profound understanding of the institutional investment management field has enabled her to excel as a new Canadian and a female executive, where she serves as a role model in the industry while setting the highest standards for her team and organization.



At UBC Investment Management, Jia’s transformative leadership is evident across three key priorities:

  • people

  • processes and systems

  • portfolio 

“We always keep a top-down view, and by focusing on these three areas, the performance and investment return part is a result of what we do on those pieces,” she says.

With a background in quantitative analysis, Jia navigates not only what she considers the most significant industry challenge but also the greatest opportunity: investor herding behaviour. She and her team overcome this hurdle by building models that either avoid or exploit behavioral bias to achieve returns.

“We encourage an open-minded culture on our team. It doesn’t matter whether it’s right or wrong as long as it’s genuine and original and there’s solid analysis; let’s put everything on the table,” she says.

Drawing inspiration from her father, a university professor who learned a new language when he was 50 years old, Jia embraces lifelong learning to stay ahead.

While strong analytical skills and reacting quickly to trading opportunities are the cornerstones of success, Jia acquired insight into the importance of soft skills and the ability to connect with people, motivate a team, and work together to achieve big-picture goals.

“If you want to make a bigger impact in the industry, cultivate your people skills alongside your technical skills,” she says.

Dawn Jia
“It’s important to be hardworking, and perseverance and resilience are paramount for advancing in the financial industry”
Dawn JiaUBC Investment Management


Best Financial Advisors and Professionals in Canada |
Hot List 2023

  • Aaron Walker-Duncan
    Vice President, Board and Communication Services
    BC Pension Corporation
  • Alistair Almeida
    Executive Director, Business Development and Segment Lead, Asset Owners
    CIBC Mellon
  • Andrea Hansen
    Sutton Benefits & Pension
  • Andrew Kitchen
    Partner and Investment Solutions Leader, Canada
  • Barbara Zvan
    Chief Executive Officer and President
    University Pension Plan Ontario
  • Benoit Durocher
    Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Strategist
    Addenda Capital
  • Brent Wilkins
    Senior Vice President and Head of Institutional Sales, Canada
    CC&L Financial Group
  • Christopher DeSantis
    Senior Vice President, Institutional Investment Services
    Hillsdale Investment Management
  • Cindy Marques
    Director, Financial Planning and Education Specialist
    Open Access
  • Daniel Brosseau
    Letko Brosseau
  • Darlene Claes-McKinnon
    Executive Director, Relationship Management
    CIBC Mellon
  • Frederick Henes
    Associate Director – Health and Group Benefits
  • Jean Pierre Laporte
    Chief Executive Officer
    INTEGRIS Pension Management
  • Jeff Alcock
    Vice President, Group Benefit Claim
    Equitable Life of Canada
  • Jeff Anderson
    Vice President, Commercial Risk and Health Solutions
  • Jeff Kinch
    Vice President, TPA Business Development, Group Insurance, Ontario, West and Atlantic
  • Jeff Sommers
    Blake, Cassels & Graydon
  • Joy Savage
    Founding Partner
  • JP Girard
    Executive Vice President and Head, GreenShield Insurance
  • Julien Ranger
    Partner, Pensions and Benefits
    Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt
  • Karen Adams
    Chief Executive Officer and President
  • Kevin Martino
    Vice President
    Capital Group
  • Kevin O'Connor
    Director, Federal and Private Healthcare
    Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine
  • Laura Nashman
    Chief Executive Officer
    BC Pension Corporation
  • Marie-France Amyot
    Senior Vice President Group Benefits and Retirement Savings
  • Maxime Menard
    Chief Executive Officer and President
    Jarislowsky Fraser
  • Michael Perry
    Senior Vice President, Group Solutions
    Empire Life
  • Patrick Sullivan, CFA
    Director, Product, Institutional and Retail
    Picton Mahoney Asset Management
  • Paula McDonald
    Chief Executive Officer
    Teachers’ Pension Plan of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Ramy Rayes
    Executive Vice President, Investment Strategy and Risk
  • Richard Hughes
    Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
  • Rick Holinshead
  • Shannan Corey
    Executive Director
    Saskatchewan Pension Plan
  • Sue McNamara
    Senior Vice President, Fixed Income and Head of Responsible Investing
    Beutel, Goodman & Company
  • Sylvain Boulé
    Chief Executive Officer and President
    Montrusco Bolton Investments
  • Tracey Wong
    Vice President, Sales and Consultant Relations
    Fidelity Canada
  • Tracy Zimak
    Director, Institutional Asset Management
    Cidel Asset Management
  • Walter Viguiliouk
    Managing Director, Sustainable Investing and Private Markets
    Manulife Investment Management
  • Warren Stoddart
    Chief Executive Officer and President
    Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group
  • Wayne Murphy
    Chief Privacy Officer and Senior Manager, Corporate Services
    The PBAS Group
  • Zahid Salman
    Chief Executive Officer and President


In July 2023, Benefits and Pensions Monitor invited industry professionals from across the country to nominate their most exceptional leaders for the inaugural Hot List. Nominees had to have been in the industry for at least 10 years.

After receiving hundreds of nominations, BPM narrowed the list down to 43 movers and shakers whose contributions have helped shape the benefits, pension, and institutional investment space over the past 12 months.

From innovators at the forefront of change to leaders who are transforming the way the industry does business, this year’s Hot List represents the best the industry has to offer.