Instructor Bios

Ward Blatch, CPA, CA provides consulting and training services as a partner with K2E Canada throughout the United States and Canada. The professional development courses presented by Ward include cloud computing, business intelligence, security, technology updates, internal controls, paperless office, mobile office, Adobe Acrobat, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Ward obtained his CPA, CA designation while working at a Nova Scotia regional accounting firm before starting his own consulting and accounting practice. His practice provides accounting, tax, training, support, and network evaluations for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Jeff Christian, CPA, CA, CIM is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Scotia McLeod. He currently provides investment management, financial, tax and estate planning solutions for high net worth households, owner managed businesses and other charitable organizations. In addition to presenting various topics at CPA NS Jeff has been involved with the Atlantic School of Chartered Accountancy, the CICA Income Tax Practice Course and CPA Canada.

Blair Cook, CPA, CA, CPA (Ill) is a many-time and active financial executive, corporate director, author, speaker, and thought leader.  His educational videos of accounting and finance have million of views on YouTube. He has keynoted and spoken at national conferences from New York to Toronto. Along with Jen, he co-hosts CPA Canada’s podcast series “CPA Success Podcast.” He works with real businesses experimenting with theories and best practices to share his experiences and stories with others of what works, what doesn’t, and what was learned.  He is the author of The Illiterate Executive: An Executive’s Handbook for Mastering Financial Acumen.

Deirdre Evans, MBA, BA. Management consultant and academic with over 20 years’ experience in strategy development, new ventures, marketing and data analytics. Deirdre has worked as a consultant for many of Canada’s top companies. She has taught for Memorial and Dalhousie’s MBA programs, as well as Saint Mary’s Masters in Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Currently, she is a member of NSCC’s Waterfront Business Faculty where in-class she instructs aspiring Nova Scotian business students and entrepreneurs, as well as works on provincial initiatives to grow the local economy.

Ute Fiedler has travelled to 45 countries, learned 4 languages, and has been exposed to various academic disciplines including Economics, Business Administration, and Adult Education.  She has enjoyed running an international consultancy, teaching and working at universities, and dedicating time to immigrant settlement and career transition education. Almost 25 years ago, Ute learned to conceptualize cultural similarities and differences to bridge the gaps between people of diverse backgrounds.  Since then, Ute has shown businesses how to build strong international partnerships based on cultural understanding; she has taught students to increase their self-awareness and confidence through international education; and she has helped immigrants find meaningful employment and become culturally integrated.  Ute loves to share her passion for Lifelong Intercultural Learning. Long ago, when her high school teacher told her parents that Ute would never be able to speak a foreign language, she knew that mastering the seemingly impossible strongly motivates her.  Today, as a German born, Canadian citizen with a Mexican heart, she raises her bi-racial children in a multicultural environment. Ute is dedicated to fostering the Art of Living and Working Together in constructive harmony. Ute hold a Bachelor of Arts (Econ) from Heidelberg University in Germany, a Master in Business Administration from Dalhousie University, and is a candidate in the Master of Education (Lifelong Learning) program at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Maureen R Gillis, CPA, CA, facilitates adult learning in topics related to leadership, success, and human behaviour. With formal training in adult learning, professional training in human resources management, and with a designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant, Maureen brings a multi-disciplinary perspective to her interactive workshops. Her teaching and facilitation work began early in her career. She has taught for various universities and facilitated professional development courses for members of professional organizations. With decades of leadership experience, she brings professional insight to her courses, offering a variety of approaches to accommodate the different needs of learners. During her career, Maureen has also been active in volunteer roles as a coach and with organizations such as the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Public Sector Accounting Board, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia, Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia, the Financial Management Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, among others. She also served as a volunteer financial advisor for an NGO in Ghana, West Africa. Today, Maureen enjoys teaching and delivering courses to members of professional groups and associations on current topics of interest that support ongoing development and growth for leaders.

Mike Haley, M.Sc., is President of Landmark Decisions Inc., a Halifax-based niche consulting firm providing worldwide “performance alignment” facilitation, training, and implementation services.  Mike has over 25 years experience in consulting and developing/delivering professional training on strategic and operational planning, business process modeling, costing and performance management techniques which help organizations improve their business decision-making capacity. Mike has worked internationally with clients such as Kroger Foods, Maersk-Sealand, Nomura Group, Pfizer, Telekom Malaysia, University of Sydney, US Navy, and various New Zealand government departments. Domestic clients include Air Canada, Bell Aliant, Canadian Coast Guard, Health Canada, Transport Canada, and Veterans Affairs. Mike provides both on-line and workshop training on Effective Operational Planning and Costing through CPA Canada. Mike also serves on the Nova Scotia Chapter Board of the Financial Management Institute of Canada (FMI).

Judy Johnson has worked for 35 years as a facilitator and coaching consultant in experiential learning, leadership development and organizational effectiveness. She works with government, private and community-based organizations internationally and locally. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Masters of Adult Education. Judy is known for her insight and her ability to go into the depth of a subject in a light & entertaining way.  Judy is adept in process facilitation, team development, principled negotiation, conflict resolution, experiential education design and delivery, needs assessment and program evaluation. She uses a balance of reflective, creative and interactive activities to assist individuals and groups to use their natural wisdom, talents and inner power to create and sustain constructive forward momentum in their organizations.

Michael Kennedy, BSc, CAE, MEd, facilitates numerous seminars on leadership and communication to a wide audience throughout Canada. He presents several seminars through the SMU Executive Professional Development programme. A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the CAF, he served in numerous leadership positions working with military and civilian staff. Michael has had to navigate many large changes initiatives and challenging environments. He brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to his seminars.

Samuel Kiragu, CPA (K) ) started his accounting career with KPMG Kenya before transferring to KPMG Cayman Islands where he was involved in hedge funds audits. He also worked with UBS Funds Services Cayman and Mitsubishi UFJ Funds Services focusing on hedge fund accounting and regulatory compliance. He is the coordinator of Financial Services programs at Nova Scotia Community College (Ivany Campus). He is helping in developing and facilitating new financial services courses relating to risk, regulatory compliance and hedge funds accounting and administration. He facilitates Hedge Funds course at University of Cayman Islands as well. He also teaches Accounting and Finance courses on part-time basis at Mount Saint Vincent University. Sam is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS), Certified Cryptocurrency Investigator. He holds an MBA in Accounting and Finance from University of Liverpool (UK) and holds Canadian Securities Course (CSC) Certificate. He has facilitated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) trainings for financial institutions, accounting firms, federal agencies and professional associations in Canada, Cayman Islands, and Eastern Africa. He has presented to law enforcements in Canada on various topics that included Cryptocurrencies ecosystem, their legitimate use and how they are used in financial crime.

Arun Mathur, FCPA, FCA is Partner at Gerald Duthie & Co. LLP, where he provides professional services to a diverse group of clients. Arun is also Owner and Lead Instructor at UltimQuest Knowledge Inc., offering corporate training on improving governance, ethics, internal control, performance measurement and related topics. He provides live and online training through CPA bodies across Canada and Bermuda. Arun served for several years on the Board for HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency and was also Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee there and for the Trillium Gift of Life Network. He has served on the CMA Ontario's Review Committee prior to the merger as well. More info can be found at:

Jennifer Nicholson, CPA, CA is a dynamic financial professional with over 25 years of experience in public practice, academia, government and industry.  Jen is currently serving on the Board of the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board. Jen is the co-host of CPA Canada’s podcast series “CPA Success Podcast.” Jen brings to the classroom a broad skill set and experience in all key facets of an organization including operations management, strategic planning, business development, finance, accounting, investor relations, human resources, and project management. Jen has a passion for making finance more attainable, whether it’s working to articulate strategy in a financial context, bringing clarity to financial communication or teaching accounting to university students.  Jen’s career epitomizes the diverse experiences and roles that CPAs play in industry – from financial to operational leadership. 

Jamie O'Neill is an experienced organizational and business consultant and Partner of Uprise Consulting.  With over 20 years of business consulting and training experience, she is known as an energetic self-starter with excellent team development and leadership skills.  A graduate of the Business Administration Degree from Acadia University and Leadership Management Graduate Degree from Royal Roads University, Jamie has the unique ability to provide innovative and insightful solutions for leaders within organizations, connecting ideas and actions in order to deliver measurable results.  Outside the office, Jamie is an active recreational hockey player, a basketball coach for young girls and loves spending time with her two young children, Jordyn and Nate.

Eileen Pease, M.Ed., CHRP, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) works with people to develop their ability to enhance their full brain power at work so they can be fully engaged, measurably more productive, and happier.  As an expert on the brain at work, Eileen helps key people learn faster, remember longer, turn stress into opportunity, improve their relationships, and keep their brains in top condition.  Her book - Get More Power from Your Brain — shows readers how to tune-up their most powerful asset. Her website provides support to her clients who want to get the most power from their precious brains. 

Stephen Priddle, CPA, CA, CMA worked with KPMG for five years, then moved to industry and has worked for several businesses, including public and private companies. During this time, he has obtained a wide range of financial reporting, treasury management, merger & acquisition and other business experience. He is currently the VP, Finance and Corporate Secretary of SureWx Inc., as well as a member of the Board of Directors. Stephen has extensive experience in creating and teaching professional development and other courses for different provincial institutes and has taught at the University of Toronto and Carleton University, as well as in the CMA and CGA programs. He is also a prolific author of published cases.

Jeremy Scott, LLB is a Partner in BDO's Indirect Tax practice.  Jeremy advises clients in various sectors in the areas of the Federal Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax, and Provincial Sales Tax,Tobacco Taxes, Fuel Taxes, as well as Environmental Stewardship Levies. With over 15 years of indirect tax experience, and a particular focus on the Wholesale and Retail sectors, real estate transactions, mergers and acquistions and public sector bodies, Jeremy proactively advises clients and also assists them with audit defense. He has written articles for tax publications and has presented at a number of commodity tax conferences, seminars and professional development workshops.

Lisa Tilley is a Partner with Uprise Consulting. She is a graduate of Dalhousie University and has more than thirty years of experience working within the areas of Training and Development, Management and Leadership Coaching, Strategic Planning, Succession Planning and Talent Management. As a former award winning national and international elite athlete and coach, Lisa has been able to combine that insight and experience to drive performance success within the business world. As a certified coach and graduate of the Executive Leadership Training program with the University of Notre Dame, she applies her varied experience in organizational and business strategy to develop the leaders we need to support organizations who value their people development and performance.