Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Mandy Rennehan is the CEO and Founder at Freshco Retail Maintenance. She is a sought-after speaker, multiple award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, and trade industry ambassador.
Mandy has made it her purpose to solve the skilled trade global shortage by encouraging youth to consider the trades with the same enthusiasm they consider white-collar careers.
Within industry, she is known as “the Blue Collar CEO” for her ability to navigate between the white- and blue collar worlds, and her respectfully candid, honest, and uncensored style.
She spent her childhood in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. By the age of 18, she moved to Halifax, where, within only one year, Mandy founded Freshco Retail Maintenance, which has its headquarters in Oakville, Ontario.
Today, Freshco is a Canadian full-service, reconstruction and retail maintenance provider, an operation servicing major clients in Canada and the eastern United States.
Mandy’s work has earned her many awards: Canada’s Most Admired CEO, the Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs, Canadian LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce - Business of the Year, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur “Momentum” Award, Top 25 Women of Influence, and WXN’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women – Hall of Fame.
She is self-taught and self-made, and a leading woman executive widely seen as a powerhouse who is changing the perception of skilled trades on the global stage.
Jamie McMillan is the founder of KickAss Careers along with being a talented ironworker and boilermaker by trade. She is a Canadian woman entrepreneur on a mission to engage, educate, and encourage youth to consider careers in the mechanical, industrial, technology, and construction (MITC) sectors and accomplishes this work through school and community outreach.
Jamie excelled in skilled trades high school classes but was not made aware of the skilled trades apprenticeships available until a classmate informed her of the opportunities. This led Jamie to construct her own impressive career in the skilled trades from apprenticeship to being the founder of KickAss Careers, a role that she holds today.
In 2002, Jamie started as an ironworker, when women represented 2% of the North American workforce. Determined to level the playing field, she thoroughly understands challenges women face in traditionally male-dominated skilled trades occupations.
Today, as part of KickAss Careers, she speaks to students, parents, educators, and employers across North America. She opens doors and minds to the rewarding and well-paid career possibilities within the skilled trades. She is a pathway maker including a focus for encouraging youth to join the under-represented occupations as an avenue for career development. Jamie is an active volunteer, contributing her expertise with Skills Ontario and the YWCA Equitable Pathways to Technical Fields.
Her goal is to support recruitment and retention within the workforce by promoting diversity, inclusion, and respect in the workplace and removing barriers to participation in skilled trades.
Matt Wayland is the Executive Assistant to the International Vice-President and Canadian Director of Government Relations for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Canada.
Matt's career in the IBEW began in 2001, as a construction and maintenance electrical apprentice in the Niagara Region. Quickly becoming involved in the local union apprenticeship program, he became an apprentice representative on the Local Joint Apprenticeship Council.
Shortly after becoming a licensed Red Seal construction and maintenance electrician, Matt was elected by his members to serve a three-year term on the Local Union Executive Board, and was later chosen as the recording secretary on the Executive Board. After one term as an executive board member, during which he raised the profile of the IBEW in the Niagara Region, Matt was successful in his 2010 election bid for the role of president of the local union.
In 2011, Matt became IBEW Canada's first full-time political action and media strategist. His role in this capacity was to provide training, education, and support to IBEW local union leaders and members across the country, building a national grassroots political program.
Today, Matt continues to motivate, educate, and engage IBEW members in political action that has an impact on their trade, training, safety, and careers. He is the IBEW's national point-person for its partnership with Helmets to Hardhats, a program that seeks to place Canadian veterans into second careers in the skilled trades.