Jackie Bellerose

Executive Vice-President - People Services

Carey Management Inc.
Diversity describes Jackie Bellerose’s career. She started in the coal mining industry helped raised substantial funding for children’s hospitals in British Columbia and Alberta through the Mining for Miracles campaign. She worked with Cerebral Palsy of Alberta before joining Wallace & Carey, one of Canada's largest independent distributors. “The distribution industry was new to me, but after a short while, I knew that this was an industry that I loved,” says Bellerose. “I was able to build a team in our People Services department, which I am responsible for, and we support our teammates as well as support our customers.” Next year, she notes, Wallace & Carey, one of only a few Canadian companies that is family owned, will celebrate 100 years in business. Bellerose is the first woman named to the Wallace & Carey board and the first woman chair of the National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA). Now she is also the first woman co-chair of the newly formed Convenience Industry Council of Canada.

Bonnie Birollo

Vice-President, Operations

Circle K - Western Canada Division
In 2012, Bonnie Birollo was working as a director with RONA, the Canadian home improvement company, when a call came from a recruiter. Following that call—and a sit down with members of the leadership team at Circle K—Birollo found herself in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the role of regional director of operations and responsible for more than 100 convenience and fuel sites.  Today she is back in Western Canada and vice-president of operations with the convenience store chain. For Birollo, c-stores are much more than a place to pick up milk and lottery tickets. They are places where memories are made. “Who doesn’t remember that first taste of independence, when mom and dad finally gave you permission to ride your bike with your friends to the local store? Or the sweet/savoury treats that served as a reward for a game well played or a test well taken?” she says, noting that many people get their first job working in a c-store. “It can serve as a foundation to their future contributions and careers.”

Caroline Evans

Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications

JTI-Macdonald Corp.
As a teenager in Toronto, Caroline Evans’ first paid job was in a convenience store. She worked Sundays, which enabled the family who owned the business to spend the day together as a family­—for the first time. The job, says Evans, “gave me a firsthand understanding of what was involved in running a c-store.” That understanding has proven useful in her role as head of corporate affairs and communications with JTI-Macdonald Corp. Now responsible for government relations, community outreach and communications, Evans is actively involved with the c-store sector in addressing such critical issues as illegal tobacco, which accounts for one-third of all tobacco sold in the province. “That represents huge tax losses, and it is a real hit for convenience stores,” says Evans. On a more positive note is the ongoing interest in vaping, which offers adult smokers a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes. “The vaping market has exploded,” says Evans, and convenience stores are central to this growth. “One of the great strengths of [c-store] retailers has been demonstrating how seriously they abide by age-restricted products.”

Maryse Gagnon


Dépanneur Métabetchouan
To call Maryse Gagnon a multitasker is an understatement. For many years, she worked as a physiotherapist while also running Dépanneur Métabetchouan with her husband. Now, in addition to operating a convenience store, she has Production MiDo, a music production company that produces everything from albums to shows. Her entertainment bent extends online, where she stars in a number of lively marketing videos on the dépanneur’s Facebook site. Given that her 5,000-sq.-ft., two-level store is 30 minutes away from the nearest shopping centre, Gagnon is expanding the term dépanneur to meet local needs, opening several mini-boutiques in the store’s basement. With a passion for beer, Gagnon has also created an expansive craft beer section in her store that promotes regional brews. When she is not running her business, Gagnon is an active runner, who completed her second Ultramarathon Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean in June to raise funds for Leucan (an association for children with cancer). “If you want to drink beer, you have to run,” she says.

Marie-Helene Jauron

Director of Sales, Convenience & Gas

PepsiCo Inc.
Marie-Helene Jauron’s career started with Hershey Canada in the convenience channel. In 2016, after working almost 10 years in the grocery store arena, Jauron was offered the opportunity by PepsiCo to return to her c-store roots. “I’ve had a chance to experience the diverse elements of the convenience channels,” says Jauron, who is responsible for $300 million in retail sales annually and oversees a team of nine people. “I’m in this position today because I had really great leaders and coaches throughout my career. People who leveraged my strengths and helped me understand my areas of opportunity to reach my full potential.” Jauron wants to do the same for her employees. “My biggest achievement is the development and the success of my team,” she says. “I’m really proud when I can help develop and coach someone to grow and take on a new role.” That commitment to working well together extends to Jauron’s c-store clients. “Successful programs are everyone’s success,” she says. “Partnerships with customers should be a win-win. It’s about finding common ground.”

Wendy Kadlovski

Director of Operations

Nicholby’s Limited
When Wendy Kadlovski was 16 years old she worked in a Shell gas bar. Today, she is director of operations with Nicholby’s Limited in Unionville, Ont.  Before joining the convenience, souvenir and gift retail company in 2003, Kadlovski held numerous retail and related jobs with Shell, including running a large gas bar operation that had both a Wendy’s restaurant and Tim Hortons coffee shop. That experience, she notes, has given her an added advantage in the convenience store sector: credibility. “It is important to understand the grassroots of the industry. You need to understand the challenges of working in a store.” For Kadlovski, who oversees Nicholby’s operation across Canada, her goal as operations director is also her greatest accomplishment: growing the business. “You can’t stay in one spot,” she cautions. That insight applies to the industry as well as individual stores. Kadlovski has been actively involved with the Ontario Convenience Store Association and currently serves as treasurer. “It’s important to have a voice as an industry. Changes don’t happen overnight.”

Azra Khan


RanaCorp Inc. O/A Shell Canada
When opportunity knocks, Azra Khan answers the door. Her brother, a former c-store operator, let Khan know about a corporate Esso site looking for an owner. That was 13 years ago and the retailer has gone on to win numerous awards, including being the Esso outlet with the highest c-store and car wash sales and being recognized as the Top Performing Site several times. She switched to Shell about a year ago and continues to excel. But Khan’s proudest success: her children.  “They have been by my side since day one and have helped me achieve all my crazy goals and targets, whether it was washing the sidewalks at the site to working 14-hour days with me to creating fun, innovative ideas to increase sales and exceed targets.” That commitment to working well together extends to her employees. “I train my staff to not only give each customer the best service, but to work together as a team to keep our convenience store running fully stocked and cleaned,” says Khan. “You can't demand results if you don't work hard alongside your people and show them by example.”

Anne P. Kothawala

President & CEO

Convenience Industry Council of Canada

It’s been a big year for Anne Kothawala, with the launch of the new Convenience Industry Council of Canada. She is building the brand and raising its profile within the industry and at all levels of government. Kothawala is responsible for leading the organization’s vision, as well as all activities and advocacy during a time of massive change in convenience. Kothawala, however, is no stranger to being a trailblazer. In her early 30s, she became the first female president and CEO of the Canadian Newspaper Association and went on to build an exciting and varied career. She is an outstanding relationship builder with a reputation for helping build consensus and achieving results for the various industries she has represented, including convenience. Kothawala brings this passion and drive to all aspects of her life. She is the recipient of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, in recognition of her contributions as former chair of the Daily Bread Food Bank, chair of French for the Future and an executive committee member with ParticipACTION.

Sabiha Malik

Area Retail License Petro-Canada 

Calgary and Area
Sabiha Malik is a professional juggler. As manager of 10 Petro-Canada locations in Calgary, four of which have car washes, Malik manages more than 60 employees. She is also responsible for buying and managing the inventory for all the stores. Two keys to success, she says, are assigning tasks to the right people at the right place. Training staff to meet and exceed the Petro-Canada service standards is also essential. It’s a process that pays off. “Since I started my career as an area retail licensee, I have grown my sales year over year,” says Malik, who began working with Petro-Canada in 2006. Indeed, when promotions and contests come from the head office, Malik can be counted on to surpass targets. It’s not surprising she has won Associate of the Year honours five times and been nominated eight. Giving back is also part of what drives Malik. She has been working with numerous charities and actively helping to raise funds for Alberta Children’s Hospital, Food Banks Alberta and the CIBC Run for the Cure.

Jan McCallum

Business Development Manager

Ricola Canada
Growth has defined Jan McCallum’s work with Ricola Canada: she has taken the business from minimal presence in the channel to having distribution and related activity in multiple banners across the country.  “Ricola is a small brand, yet with perseverance, leveraging my network, and having a great story about what makes our brand different, we have had great support from our customers,” says McCallum, whose first experience in the c-store industry was as a sales rep in New Brunswick with Imperial Tobacco in 2006.  She held various roles with the tobacco company including district manager in Ontario and trade marketing manager at the head office. From there, McCallum moved to Hershey Canada and the role of key account manager where she led national C&G accounts. “I loved the opportunity to expand my knowledge and understanding, while actively contributing to the overall category growth of each of my customers.” Now, her category is cough drops—and 15% to 20% of these are purchased at convenience and grocery stores. “What’s great about this channel,” says McCallum, “is that personal business relationships still matter, and buyers are open and transparent about expectations.”

Kaitlin Minsky

Brand Manager – Protein Snacks

Conagra Brands Canada
There’s nothing Kaitlin Minsky likes more than to sink her teeth into a good snack. Among her favourites are Slim Jim and Duke's meat snacks and BIGS sunflower seeds. As Conagra Brands Canada’s brand manager in Toronto, Minsky has ample opportunity to indulge; she leads the protein snacks business in Canada. Her leadership skills are noteworthy. “Kaitlin has a strong focus for results, while using strategic thinking to help grow Conagra protein snacks within Canada,” notes Tebbie Chuchla, head of marketing at Conagra. A key member of the team that develops annual strategy plans, Minsky is focused on innovative and established ways to grow her brands within the convenience, gas and grocery channels. Indeed, the Ryerson University marketing graduate has successfully led programs across all of her brands, recommending efficient program elements and spends. “She has identified key customers and channel opportunities to drive growth for all brands and makes strategic recommendations on driving the business,” says Chuchla.

Charlène Néwashish

Majority Owner

Dépanneur Eneri
Charlène Néwashish has operated Dépanneur Eneri since 2012 and is considered an inspirational model for her Indigenous community, the Atikamekw Nation of Manawan in the Lanaudière region of Quebec. She’s in charge of everything from hiring and training to logistics—many shipments are sent to a warehouse 86 kilometres away from her remote community, which is reachable only by gravel forest road. She often makes 450-kilometre return trips to pick up goods vendors won’t ship.  In order to meet the needs of the community, the c-store goes beyond traditional offerings by filling propane tanks, hosting a video club, featuring ready-to-eat fare and stocking shelves with toys, as well as hunting and fishing equipment. Although it is often difficult for Indigenous people living on reserves to obtain bank financing, Néwashish has worked to build her business with support from the reserve, an Indigenous credit union and government. In 2017, she moved the dépanneur from a 400-sq.-ft. RV to a 2,000-sq.-ft. store. She would like to eventually expand and build on a full concrete foundation to better serve the community.

Kerry Ann Nicholson

Director, National Accounts

Core-Mark International, Inc.

Kerry Ann Nicholson joined the convenience store industry in 2002 as the

human resources director at Karrys Bros., Limited, a broad-line wholesale distributor. “Gaining a sound knowledge of the business allowed me to transition to a variety of operational, sales and leadership roles,” says Nicholson, who went on to become executive director of operations, overseeing the day-to-day business until Core-Mark acquired the assets of Karrys in 2015.  Nicholson was an important part of the transition from one company to another; she worked closely with the acquisition team through the due diligence process then continued in the company and the industry in a sales leadership role as director of national accounts. Yet her leading accomplishment is not primarily professional, it’s personal. “My greatest achievement is raising my nine-year old twin girls to be happy, confident and caring people who embrace learning and challenges while growing my own career,” says Nicholson. That career goes beyond any one company. “It is important to contribute positively to the convenience industry to be able to anticipate and meet the changing needs of our customers.”

Annè Nielsen

Director, Business Development

Pride, passion, drive and tenacity are just a few of the words used by clients to describe Annè Nielsen. She has built a reputation for ‘walking the walk’ and providing selling solutions that create opportunities and drive growth for all members, suppliers and vendors. “My passion and ongoing willingness to work 24/7, is most definitely fuelled by our ITWAL Members and our Suppliers,” says Nielsen. “We are all striving to increase sales and distribution in the convenience channel. Being ‘Committed to Performance’ and utilizing our ITWAL Insights platform to drill into this trade class is paramount to delivering the results.” Nielsen knows first hand how important it is to have those supports in place: She cut her convenience teeth at Hershey Canada where she held a variety of positions and is grateful for being “mentored by many wonderful people.” One of her proudest moments was being recognized as the Hershey National Sales Representative of the Year in 1990. Today, Nielsen is a respected and powerful industry leader, who is known for the creativity and energy she brings to the business every day.

Sophie Provencher

Vice-President, Operations, Quebec West

Couche-Tard Inc.
Sophie Provencher takes pride in the fact that she’s the first woman to head Couche-Tard’s operations in Quebec West since the business unit began 40 years ago. Since February 2018, she has led a multi-billion dollar business unit with a steering committee of 15 directors. She oversees 465 corporate stores and 500 affiliated Provi-Soir and Dépanneur 7 Jours stores in areas including, Montreal, Sherbrooke and Gatineau. “For me, it’s a great accomplishment,” she says. While Couche-Tard already has a predominant share of the Quebec market, she’s been tasked with the challenge of ensuring its “very aggressive” financial goals continue to grow. Starting in September, Provencher will be striving to meet those objectives while taking the McGill-HEC Montreal Executive MBA program, which she says will take her strategic skills to another level. Since last year, she has also served on the board of directors of the Dr. Clown Foundation, which provides therapy to improve the quality of life of hospitalized children and lonely seniors, and she is the honourary president of Moisson Laval (food bank). It’s very important to give back to the community when you’ve reached a top executive position, she says.

Élaine Roy


Overachieving is second nature to Élaine Roy. She opened her first convenience store when she was only 20 years old and today operates a network of 12 Petro-Canada stations in and around Quebec City. “Our 30 years of experience and the quality of our staff allows us to be a leader in Quebec,” says Roy, who learned much about running a successful retail company from her mother, who ran her own grocery store for almost 10 years. As owner, Roy is responsible for all aspects of the c-store business. She meets regularly with her 12 branch managers to discuss sales and opportunities for growth. She oversees hiring and training of new managers, and she manages the ongoing relationship with suppliers. Roy also works closely with Petro-Canada. That work is highly regarded. The national retailer has nominated Roy 11 times for its highest honour: the Associate of the Year award. For the Quebec c-store owner, the key to success comes down to customer service. “This,” she says, “is my priority.”

Vanessa Theoret

Director, Channel Delivery

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
Vanessa Theoret sees the forest and the trees. At the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation in Toronto, Theoret is responsible for all lottery accounts, which encompass more than 6,000 retail locations, including 4,000 regional and national convenience and gas partners. The convenience industry represents more than 78,000 jobs in Ontario alone, serving 2.7 million customers daily, and for many retailers, lottery is the number one traffic driver, notes Theoret. “My commitment is to preserve the integrity of the programs we offer to our convenience partners ensuring that there's mutual growth benefits and to maximize profitability.” “Partners” is a key word. Theoret is not content with the status quo, as demonstrated in OLG’s standing as a top partner by many convenience retailers. A focus on consumer-centric insights; evolving, adapting and optimizing programs; and empirically proving the strong return on investment in convenience retailers are key to this success, says Theoret. “This has translated into a consistent increase in investment and support, ultimately maximizing revenue for both convenience retail partners and OLG.”

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