Virtual Symposium West: Elevating the Industry IQ

Untitled Document

When: August 11 & 12, 2021

Where: Virtually—from home or anywhere


Symposium West is the premier professional development event for insurance professionals, designed for members of the Southwestern, Hamilton/Niagara, and Conestoga Chapters of the Insurance Institute of Ontario. Thought-provoking sessions bring together bright minds, idea-focused on a wide range of subjects. The shared goal is to foster learning, innovation, inspiration, and stimulate conversations that matter. As a virtual event, you can log in from wherever you are. We'll bring the learning and conversation to you.

"This was my 3rd time attending and every year I am impressed with the quality of this event"
- Symposium West Attendee


Register Now

Symposium West Schedule

Day 1: August 11
10:00 -11:15 a.m. EDT   Session A: Advancing Insurance: Optimizing technology utilization to drive the industry into the future
11:15 - 11:45 a.m. EDT Break
11:45 - 12:45 p.m. EDT Session B: Keynote: Marvin Ryder
12:45 - 1:15 p.m. EDT Break
1:15 - 2:30 p.m. EDT Session C: The art of resilience: It's not what we face, it's how we face it
Day 2: August 12
10:00 - 11:15 a.m. EDT Session D: Social Inflation: The biggest emerging risk you hadn’t heard about.”
11:15 - 11:45 a.m. EDT Break
11:45 - 12:45 p.m. EDT Session E:Keynote: Emm Gryner
12:45 - 1:15 p.m. EDT Break 
1:15 - 2:30 p.m. EDT Session F: Up close and personal: Leadership panel


Session A: August 11, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m. EDT

(A)dvancing (I)nsurance: Optimizing technology utilization to drive the industry into the future
Current events and the rise of consumer expectations has advanced projects designed to enhance and modernize the insurance industry. Projects focused on delivering faster service, on demand products, reducing costs, or managing risk more effectively to drive greater profitability are key priorities for leaders across the industry. At the forefront of the discussion is artificial intelligence (AI).

In this session, you’ll hear from industry leaders as they demystify AI and share their insights on its current use, impact on various stakeholders, its potential, and what the future of insurance may look like with more AI.


Black and white headshot of David Kerr against a blue background

David Kerr (Moderator) - Partner, Industry Solutions Consulting Practice, Deloitte Canada

Generic white silhouette against a blue background

Ron Mills - VP, Data Platforms and Engineering, Economical

Black and white headshot of Baiju Devani with a blue background

Baiju Devani - SVP and Chief Data Officer, Aviva Canada


Session B: August 11, 11:45 - 12:45

Keynote: Marvin Ryder
Marvin Ryder is Associate Professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. He has taught for 35 years and has mentored 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students. He has written sixty case studies illustrating marketing, entrepreneurship, and business strategy problems with companies like Porsche, Union Gas, Crayola, and Molson Breweries.

Black and white headshot of Marvin Ryder

Marvin Ryder - Associate Professor, Marketing & Entrepreneurship, Degroote School of Business, McMaster University


Session C: August 11, 1:15 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

The art of resilience: It's not what we face, it's how we face it
The industry has been faced with unprecedented challenges since the start of the pandemic, from the hardening of the market brewing long before the pandemic hit and the lag of technological advances to increased racial microaggression in the workplace. This concoction has developed into a perfect storm in exposing opportunities to acclimate, innovate, haste monumental leaps in technology and expose the dire need for anti-racism education in the workplace. Without the capacity to face adversity head-on in extraordinary times like these, survival can become threatened and develop into greater difficulties and setbacks.

Join us in this session as we dissect how resiliency benefits a plethora of positive outcomes to common challenges many of us are facing today and how these top performers establish grit in how we face these challenges.


Black and white headshot of Jeff McCann against a blue background

Jeff McCann (Moderator) - CEO, Apollo Insurance

Black and white headshot of Rhonda Reist against a blue background

Rhonda Reist - Broker Experience Director, Nova Mutual Insurance

Black and white headshot of Dionne Bowers against a blue background

Dionne Bowers - Owner, D.B. Solutions

Black and white headshot of Stephen Billyard against a blue background

Stephen Billyard - President, Billyard Insurance Group


Session D: August 12, 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. EDT

Social Inflation: The biggest emerging risk you need to know about
“Social Inflation” describes the trend of rising insurance costs due to increased litigation, plaintiff-friendly judgments, and higher jury awards. Traditionally, the Canadian insurance industry has been more sheltered, ‘peering over the fence’ in amazement at U.S. counterparts dealing with heavy-hitting litigation awards and the general inclination toward legal action. But times are changing and our shelter is under theat. If litigation costs in Canada are creeping up, what are the causes, what does this mean for the industry, and what should insurance professionals be considering now to succeed in the future?

Join our panel – bringing knowledge and expertise from the legal, claims, and broker perspectives – providing the very latest updates on the social inflation trend, and just how concerned stakeholders in the insurance industry should be. And as we grow our understanding of the issue, the panel will guide us through which industry segments will be most affected, as well as discussing potential risk mitigation strategies, in order to prepare for a more litigious future.


Black and white headshot of Christina O'Neil against a blue background

Christa O'Neil (Moderator) - Director of Operations – Commercial Lines, McFarlan Rowlands Insurance Brokers

Black and white headshot of Becky Cameron against a blue background

Becky Cameron - SVP, Head of Claims Canada, AIG Insurance Company of Canada

Black and white image of Kadey Schultz against a blue background

Kadey Schultz - Partner, Schultz Frost LLP

Black and white headshot of David J. Smagata against a blue background

David J. Smagata - Vice President Claims, Chief Legal Officer, DAS Legal Protection Inc.


Session E: August 12, 11:45 - 12:45 p.m. EDT

Keynote: Emm Gryner
Emm Gryner, a 25-year veteran of indie pop music and former singer with David Bowie, will speak about finding possibility and triumph in the wake of grief, divorce and music business highs and lows. Her talk incorporates singing, personal photographs and extraordinary videos such as her collaboration with Chris Hadfield "Space Oddity" which became the first music video ever shot in space. Through humour and storytelling, Emm exposes the incredible connection between finding your voice and living a fearless, joyful life.

About Emm Gryner: Emm Gryner is an acclaimed singer, songwriter, vocal coach and occasional CBC radio host. She has been nominated three times for a Juno Award, twice for Pop Album of The Year. Emm toured the world with David Bowie, and appears on the recordings "Bowie at The Beeb" and "Glastonbury 2000”. Emm is currently writing a book on singing and wellness for ECW Press.


Black and white image of Emm Gryner against a blue background

Emm Gryner - Acclaimed singer-songwriter and CBC host


Session F: August 12, 1:15 - 2:30 p.m. EDT

Up Close and Personal: Leadership Panel
Our popular leadership session brings you into the boardroom and offers a glimpse into how organizations rose to the challenges of the pandemic, lessons learned and an outlook for the future.


Black and white headshot of Andy Taylor against a blue background

Andy Taylor - CEO, Gore Mutual Insurance

Black and white headshot of Tracy McDonald against a blue background

Tracy McDonald - President & CEO, Trillium Mutual Insurance

Black and white headshot of Greg Smith against a blue background

Greg Smith - COO, Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc

Black and white image of Curtis Ingberg against a blue background

Curtis Inberg - VP Sales & Distribution, Foxquilt

Black and white headshot of Monica Kuzyk against a blue background

Monica Kuzyk (Moderator) - VP Claims, Curo Claims Services


Thank you to our sponsors


Event Sponsors

BCM Logo


The Cooperators Logo


Crawford and Company Logo


Curo Claims Services Logo


Economical Insurance Logo


Gore Mutual Logo




Lambton Mutual Logo


Ontario Mutuals Logo with tagline underneath: "we're in this together"


OTIP and RAEO Logo


South Easthope Mutual Insurance


   TW Insurance Brokers Logo

Session Sponsors:

Ayr Farmers Mutual Insurance Company Logo

Cognition+ Logo

Kent & Essex Mutual Insurance Logo

Middlesex Mutual Insurance Co. Logo

Nova Mutual Logo - Blue text with first U in mutual highlighted in blue

The Ostic Group Logo

Town and Country Mutual Insurance Logo

West Wawanosh Mutual Insurance Company Logo