Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Pierre Somers is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walter Group of Companies headquartered in Montreal, Canada. The Walter Group is mainly active in the financial sector, especially through the operations of Walter Financial, a prominent investment firm and keystone of the Group. The firm itself comprises two private equity firms: Walter Capital Partners and Walter Global Asset Management.
For over 30 years, Pierre Somers helmed the Walter Group’s founding company, Walter Surface Technologies, which was founded by his father in 1952 and owned by the Group until 2018. As head of the company, he was the driver behind its expansion to international markets. Walter Surface Technologies now operates in nine countries across the Americas and Europe. He also innovated with the creation of the Bio-Circle division, which offers environmentally safe solutions for industrial cleaning applications through bioremediation. On the financial side of the Group's operations, he contributed to the establishment of Walter Financial as a credible investment firm within the financial community. More recently, Pierre Somers initiated the creation of Walter Capital Partners, a private equity firm dedicated to supporting small- and medium-sized companies, as well as Walter Global Asset Management, a North American private equity platform focused on asset management.
Before taking the lead at Walter Group, Mr. Somers held various positions within Walter Surface Technologies in Canada and the U.S., where he garnered in-depth knowledge of various sectors of the company, on his way to becoming Chairman & CEO. At the beginning of his career, he worked as a mechanical engineer at Metabo AG, in Germany.
Pierre Somers holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University, in Potsdam, NY, which he obtained in 1976. In 2005, he was appointed Alumni of the YPO/MBA program at the Harvard Business School, an institution he has been active with for over 20 years. He is fluent in English, French and German.
Mr. Somers is a strong supporter of education. He has been honorary president for numerous fundraising campaigns held by organizations such as Madeli-Aide and the ITHQ (Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec), from which he has received an honoris causa degree. Through the Walter J. Somers Foundation, he supports the HEC Montréal Walter J. Somers Foundation Centre for Productivity and Prosperity, where he sits on the steering committee. Mr. Somers is a founding member of the Business Families Foundation, and is a member of the Presidents Club of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the World Presidents Organization and the CEO Organization.
Chairman, Walter Financial
CHAIRMAN, WALTER FINANCIAL
François Beaudoin is a member of several corporate boards and provides advisory services to national and international organizations in strategic planning, merger and acquisitions, human resources management and financial planning.
Mr. Beaudoin is a career banker who was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Business Development Bank of Canada where he worked from 1990 to 1999. Prior to that, over a 16-year period, Mr. Beaudoin held several executive positions in Quebec and Ontario at Bank of Montreal, including the position of Vice-President in the Quebec Region. From 1999 to 2012, Mr. Beaudoin acted as Senior Advisor with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Montreal.
Mr. Beaudoin is a member of the following boards: Walter Financial (Chairman), Walter Surface Technologies, Peak Financial Group, Britton Electric, and Benson Group.
Mr. Beaudoin is past Chairman of the Quebec Chapter of the World Presidents Organization. Mr. Beaudoin holds an MBA from Columbia University in New York (1973) and a BBA from the HEC in Montreal.
STEPHEN A. DAVIS
Partner, Ventry Industries LLC
PARTNER, VENTRY INDUSTRIES LLC
Until recently Stephen A. Davis held the position of President and Chief Operation Officer of American Saw & Mfg. Company in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. American Saw is the world's leading manufacturer of band saw blades and related products. In January 2003, American Saw was acquired by Newell Rubbermaid, a global marketer of consumer products with 2001 sales of nearly $7 billion.
During his career Mr. Davis served as a Director for numerous companies, including American Saw & Mfg. Company International, AmSaw Miranda, Mumbai, India, Dumont Company, Greenfield, Massachusetts, ALO-Teknik, Mora, Sweden, SPACE-Springfield Area Center for Excellence, and Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
Mr. Davis is a member of numerous organizations. Among them, he serves as member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, membership Chair of the Young Presidents' Organization, and member of the Advisory Committee of Merriam-Graves Industries, Charleston, New Hampshire. He is also very active in his community either as member, trustee, committee member or chair of many civic, social and charitable organizations.
Mr. Davis graduated from Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts in 1980 with a BS Business Administration (Marketing) degree.
Pascal Duquette was President and CEO of Natcan Investment Management Subsidiary of National Bank for 8 years before becoming President of the HEC Foundation in 2012. He had previously been Head of Global Equities for the Canadian National Railway Pension Fund, where he worked for almost two decades.
Among his other professional activities, Mr. Duquette sits on the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra Foundation Board, the Governor Council Hautes Études Commerciales, the Imperial Manufacturing Group Advisory Board, the Young Presidents Organisation and CFA Montreal. Mr. Duquette also sits on the Board of Directors of Lemais et associés, CTI Capital, Groupe Pamplemousse and Fondation Nouveau Départ. He is President of Placements Pasjo and Consultants Jopasc, and is a guest lecturer at the HEC, Concordia University, CFA societies and various investment groups.
Pascal Duquette obtained the CFA charter designation in 1994. He holds a Master's degree in Science, Economics and FInance and a BAA from HEC in Montreal. He a recipient of the Prix Relève d'excellence - Grande entreprise HEC award for the under 35.
Mr. Goodman currently serves as a corporate director of public, private and not-for-profit companies.
Until his retirement in 2011, Russell Goodman was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He held senior management and leading client responsibilities at Canadian, North American and Global levels. He was Managing Partner for the Americas' Project Finance & Privatization team; and Global Head of Advisory Services to the Transport Sector, and Managing Partner for PWC Montreal Office. He later became Managing Partner of PWC Canada's Transactions and Private Equity Advisory Services, which included M&A; corporate and project finance; restructuring and distressed strategy; valuations; and litigation advisory services.
In addition to serving on the Advisory Boards of Walter Surface Technologies and Walter Financial, Russell Goodman serves on the boards of directors of Gildan Activewear, Metro, Northland Power, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings and Forth Ports. A fellow of the Quebec Order of Chartered Professional Accountants, Mr. Goodman holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University.
He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pointe-à-Callière Foundation.
Chairman of the Board, Walter Global Asset Management
Mr. Johnson is a former Prime Minister of the Province of Québec.
He was admitted to the Québec Bar after earning a law degree at the Université de Montréal, and also holds LL.M. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of London (UK), as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School.
After practicing law as an executive in a Canadian investment and management company, Mr. Johnson was elected to the Québec National Assembly where he was a member for 17 years, while he held important positions as Minister of Industry and Commerce, Chairman of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Montreal Region, and later as Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.
Upon retiring from politics in 1998, Mr. Johnson joined the law firm of McCarthy Tétrault LLP for over twenty years, providing business and strategic advice to clients. During that period, he also acted as a director of publicly-listed corporations (Bombardier inc., The Great-West Life Assurance Company, The Investors Group, Bell Mobility, Ecopia BioSciences), engineering consulting firm EXP Global inc., and manufacturer Ezeflow inc. He also acted as a negotiator for the Québec government, was co-Chair with the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney on the Commission on the siting of Montreal’s university hospitals (CHUM and MUHC) in 2004, chaired the Judges Remuneration Committee from 2007 to 2010, and was a director of the Bank of Canada from 2008 to 2013.
In 2008, Mr. Johnson was appointed Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, Québec’s highest distinction. He has been Honorary Consul for Sweden in Montreal since 2002.
Managing Partner and Founder, Watermill Group
MANAGING PARTNER AND FOUNDER, WATERMILL GROUP
Steven Karol is Managing Partner and Founder of Watermill Group. He has over 35 years of experience leading the turnaround, strategy development and acquisition activity for portfolio and client companies. Additionally, Mr. Karol is Chairman of the Board and CEO of HMK Enterprises, Inc., a privately held investment company specializing in strategic and operational management.
Mr. Karol is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Carpenter Technology Corporation (NYSE:CRS). He has also served as Chairman of the Board at Mooney Aircraft Company (MNYG (OTC BB), Director and Chairman of the audit committee at StockerYale (NASDAQ:STKR), and as a Director for Jeepers! Inc., Intelligent Energy Limited and Inter-Tel Corp (NASDAQ:INTL).
Steven Karol is currently a member of World President's Organization (WPO) and has served as a member of the global leadership team for the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). He is Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the School of Engineering of Tufts University and recent recipient of the 2009 Tufts Distinguished Service Award. He is also past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Vermont Academy, and a Director Emeritus at the Brain Tumor Society. In addition, he is a co-founder and President of the Herbert M. Karol Cancer Foundation. He formerly served as a member of the Board of Overseers of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and as a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Boston Ballet.
Mr. Karol received his B.S. at Tufts University, and he is a graduate of the Presidents' Program on Leadership (PPL) at Harvard Business School.
Thierry Paternot is a member of the board of directors of Oeneo (a publicly traded company specializing in value-added technological closures for the wine industry), Eckes-Granini AG (a leading provider of fruit juices to the European market) and Bio-Circle (a specialist in state-of-the-art biological cleaning solutions). He is also an operating partner of Duke Street Private Equity.
Previous directorships include Henkel, Biomnis (a medical laboratory acquired by Eurofins), QCNS Cruise (which was sold to Montefiore Investment), FullSIX (an advertising agency taken over by Havas) and Cerelia (a manufacturer of chilled pie dough, acquired by IK Investment Partners).
He spent the bulk of his management career at L’Oréal. During his 22 years with the cosmetics giant, he served as the General Manager of Germany, France and Eastern/Southern Europe. He was subsequently named President and CEO of Reemtsma, which was acquired by Imperial Tobacco in 2002, and Facom Tools, purchased by Stanley Works in 2006.
Mr. Paternot graduated from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne with a degree in physics engineering and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.
He currently resides in Paris. He belongs to the CEO global network of chief executives (formerly YPO) and volunteers his time with SOS Amitiés, a hotline for people living with depression.
With over 40 years’ experience in retail, Robert Sawyer was President and CEO of RONA from 2013 until the closing of the chain's acquisition by Lowe's in May 2016.
Mr. Sawyer started his career in 1971 in the food industry as head of Steinberg's distribution centre. Moving on to Metro, he played various key roles within the company over the course of his 34-year tenure, in Quebec as well as in Ontario.
From 1979 to 1984, in his role as Director of the produce distribution centre, he took on numerous projects, including the construction and implementation of a new 500,000 sq. ft. automated fruit and vegetable distribution centre. In 1984, he was named General Manager of the Jardin Mérite division and, three years later, became Senior Vice-President, Retail, for the Metro and Marché Richelieu banners, thereby taking on the responsibility for marketing, expansion and banner development.
In 2005, he was promoted to Senior Vice-President of the Quebec division. In May 2007, he took on the added responsibility of the Food Service division's operations. Later that same year, he became Senior Vice-President for the Ontario division, which he was mandated to turn around, a mission he accomplished in less than two years. Finally, in 2009, he was named Senior Vice-President and CEO, a position he held until he left the company in 2013.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Sawyer has been actively involved in various organizations in the food industry. He has also been honoured with numerous distinctions, including the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Quebec Produce Marketing Association's Pillar of the Industry award in 2010. In October 2015, Canadian Business magazine named Robert Sawyer Top turnaround CEO of the year.
Mr. Sawyer has been involved with a number of charitable organizations over the years, including the Accueil Bonneau (board of directors), Moisson Montréal and the Maison du Père (Chairman of the main fundraising activity).
Head of Corporate Development
Head of Corporate Development
Isabelle Somers joined the Walter Group of companies in 2016 as Head of Corporate Development. In this role, she oversees the strategic direction of the Walter Group and its affiliates. She is a member of the boards of Walter Group of companies, Walter Financial, Bio Circle GmbH (a specialist in state-of-the-art biological cleaning solutions) and SPUD Inc. (an online organic food distributor and wholesaler).
From 2011 to 2014, Ms. Somers started in the Group Strategy at Bombardier Transportation in Berlin, Germany, where she developed PRIMOVE pure electric bus business models and market entry strategies. She later joined the Corporate Audit Service and Risk Assessment department of Bombardier Inc., where she assessed operational and financial risks within its Transportation operations and delivered onsite risk mitigation roadmaps to senior management teams in 12 different countries.
In 2016, Ms. Somers completed her MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, during which, she worked in a smart wearable technology start-up focused on non-medical maternity devices to validate the market need, attract potential investors and secure strategic partnerships. She studied Visual Arts, followed by a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance at Concordia University, in Montreal.
Ms. Somers is an art enthusiast and passionate about culture, food, health and wellness, and is devoted to promoting environmental and agricultural sustainability initiatives.
Her favourite motivational quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi