The judges

Caroline Ouellette

Director of Sales and Marketing at Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu

Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Marketing and International Relations from Hautes Études Commerciales.

Caroline joined the Fairmont family in 1999 as a member of the sales team where she evolved in a wide variety of markets. In 2007, she was promoted to Director International Sales for the corporate and association markets, and finally to Regional International Sales Director. As Sales and Marketing Director and member of the executive committee for Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu since 2017, her main role is to implement, manage and guide the hotel’s commercial strategy. 

Her passion: travel 

Career highlights: hosting the G7 Summit in 2018.

Karim Ikrimah

General Manager of Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu

Graduated from the University of Perpignan (Catalonia) with a Master’s degree in Economics and Management.

Karim has worked for almost 20 years for the Accor group, through the Mercure, Novotel, Sofitel and Fairmont brands.

Arrived in Canada 18 years ago, he is the lucky general manager of the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu and a lover of life in Charlevoix. He and his team work daily to showcase the Charlevoix savoir-être, le savoir-faire and savoir-vivre in this iconic 125-year-old building.

Christina Poon

General Manager at Hotel W New York - Union Square

After being the general manager of W Montreal for more than 4 years, Christina Poon undertakes in 2021 a new role as general manager of W New York Union Square. She completed her studies in hotel management at the ITHQ. With more than 15 years of experience in the hotel industry, holding various management positions in the city of Montreal, first as Director of Operations at Delta, then as General Manager of the Hilton Bonaventure as well as CEO of student residences EVO. Christina therefore joins the management team of the luxurious Hotel W located in the heart of the island of Montreal in addition to serving on the board of directors of Destination Center-Ville as vice-president.

It is her passion for the world of events, fashion and creativity that drives her career. From a young age, Christina was immersed in the hotel and restaurant industry, since her father had indeed been a chef in Montreal kitchens, notably in those of the famous Jardin Tiki.

Passionate about social engagement, she joined the circle of ITHQ ambassadors, the Montreal Fashion Foundation (before being named honorary spokesperson), the association of hotels in greater Montreal and the Terry Fox Foundation. Christina Poon is distinguished by her leadership, her love of the profession and her hospitality which contribute to the success of the industry and its teams.

Daniel Gallant

Vice President at Épik Collection | President at Iceberg Consultants

Throughout his 35-year career in the hotel industry, Daniel Gallant has held a number of administrative and management positions, including those of the general manager and regional director for several hotel brands, including Le Méridien and Starwood.

Today, as the owner and co-director of hospitality and food service consulting and training firm, he works closely with several international chains. Through his in-depth knowledge of varying hotel environments, he has developed a broad overview and knowledge of the hospitality industry.

He understands change in customer expectations and behaviors and his innovative customer experience programs have proven that people are more important than the product.  

Daniel’s success in the Advanced Studies in International Hotel Management Program at ITHQ is largely due to his ability to align, motivate and mobilize new generations to face the challenges of tomorrow through innovation and creative thinking.  In exchange, his students stimulate and motivate him to build brands that make a difference, that stand out, that are audacious.  

This is why he has surrounded himself with former students at Epik Collection and together, they make magic.

“MTLHC is an opportunity for students to work on a real project, and an opportunity for us to bring added value to a project that is altogether based on partnerships, exchange of ideas and innovative thinking.”

Épik Collection

David Connor

RVP – Eastern Canada Accor Hospitality | GM at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

He is a graduate of LaSalle College in Montreal and he has an MBA from Concordia University.

David Connor had the pleasure of working in Canada and the United States over my 35-year career.  Now back in Montreal with Accor as the RVP – Eastern Canada, he represent 6 fantastic hotels in Quebec, made up of  resorts, city center hotels, and iconic properties such as Fairmont The Chateau Frontenac and Fairmont Château Montebello. The most interesting thing is that, in almost every hotel, they have its own unique ownership group.  This diversity gives the opportunity to learn what is important to different types of investors while operating their world-class property.

Vincent Lafrenaye Lamontagne

Director of Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation at MT Lab

Vincent Lafrenaye Lamontagne has been active in the cultural sector for over 15 years and in the world of innovation for over 5 years. During his time in events management, he was often called upon to manage complex projects with limited resources. After studying for an intensive MBA at HEC Montréal, he combined his two interests in management and tourism, culture and entertainment as Director of Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation at MT Lab.

Ghani Kolli

Partner & Strategic Designer at Credo

A change agent and an insatiable entrepreneur, Ghani Kolli understands that creativity and innovation are essential in creating sustainable and innovative business models. Sales Director, General Manager and then CEO in companies in North Africa as well as in Canada, he is recognized for his managerial qualities and his strategic design skills. Certified by Strategyzer / HEC Montréal in innovation by business models, he is also recognized for his mastery of innovative methodologies Blue Ocean strategy, Design a Better Business, Design Thinking , Lean Startup, Customer Development, Business Model Generation. He recently added Regenerative economy design to his skills.


Olena Zamkova

Director of Innovation and Experience Design at Épik Collection

Building better Business Models with unique value propositions is not for the weak, but Olena’s 20+ years as owner and manager of hotels and restaurants have made her fearless in the face of changes in both client expectations and business paradigms. Also a student in the Advances Studies in International Hotel Management program at ITHQ, her brilliant mind was noticed by a teacher who did not hesitate to take her under his wing: That teacher was Daniel Gallant. Together, they would both define the innovative path of Epik Collection. Olena understands the complexities of today’s business world and has the critical thinking needed to make smart, innovative choices in experience design with high impact on guest loyalty.

This critical thinking offers a clear path towards both profitability and long-term success for Epik Collection. Her ability to organize complex thought into a comprehensive path and then allow collaborators the creative freedom they need to obtain business objectives is one of the reasons for her success as Creative Director at Epik Collection. She is the Queen of multitasking, and the unrelentless force behind every Epik Collection project. Olena is both a teacher and an enabler at heart. Her nurturing nature allows her to bring out the best in those who work with her. She challenges the students who work side by side with us and is a catalyst for growth and making dreams come true.

Philippe Champagne

Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, Accor Hospitality | Director Sales and Marketing at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Hotels and Tourism from UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal)

Having started his professional career with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in the year 2000,  Philippe Champagne has more than 23 years of experience in the field of hotel Sales and Marketing. For more than 12 years, Philippe rose through the ranks from Junior Sales Manager at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal to the position of Sales and Marketing Director at the unique W Hotel in Montreal when it opened its doors in 2004. After winning the best W Hotel of the Brand, Philippe subsequently moved to a corporate level as Global Sales Director, Eastern Canada at Starwood before returning to Le Centre Sheraton as Director of Group Sales. In 2012 Philippe jumped the fence for a period of 6 years where he held the position of Vice-President at Hotel Management International (HMI), a site selection firm specialized in hotel contractual negotiations. In 2018, when Philippe returned to his first passion – the hospitality industry, he chose Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth to assume the role of Regional Director of Sales and Marketing for Eastern Canada within Accor Hospitality. He is primarily responsible for Sales and Marketing at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth as well as Revenues and Marketing positioning for 6 iconic hotels such as Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu and Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.