[ABCs of the PhD @ EGSS Conference] "Networking Tools and Mentorship" Panel Discussion and Cocktail



March 28th: 4 – 5pm

Jack Cram Auditorium

Faculty of Education, McGill University


This year’s EGSS Conference will include a special panel on networking that will provide an opportunity for McGill University alumni to facilitate the learning and development of networking and mentorship skills. The panel will share their fruitful experience and career trajectories addressing the theme: Networking Tools and Mentorship. They will discuss their experiences of professional networking in their field, what networking tools were important to achieve their goals, important networking and mentorship opportunities, and suggestions for new professionals to help start out and build a career.  A networking cocktail will follow.


  • Katherine Nikidis (BEd’91) – Head of School, Trafalgar School for Girls

Panel Members:

  • Phil Cutler (BEd’13) – Founder & CEO, GradeSlam
  • Michel Lafrance (BEdPE’94) – Headmaster, West Island College (WIC)
  • Tami Zuckerman (BEd’02) – Co-founder, VarageSale

Kathy Nikidis - photo

Katherine Nikidis (BEd’91) graduated from McGill in 1991 and has since dedicated the past 25 years to education and human development.  Whether it be through her time in the classroom or with individuals and teams, her focus has been on empowering individuals through understanding their passions and values.

After graduating from McGill Ms. Nikidis conducted research there, and later in Toronto, with Formula One Circuit Drivers, and both the National Ski Team and Rowing Team.  At the same time, she pursued her passion for education both in the classroom and later focused on developing technology and innovation in schools.  She graduated from Concordia University with a master’s degree focusing on human performance technologies.

She has been on the senior leadership team of St. George’s School of Montréal as both Director of Innovation and Technology and Head of the Senior School.  Following her time at St. George’s, she was Head of Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School for nine years and now Trafalgar School for Girls where she was recognized as an advocate for girl’s education in Montréal.  Her talks on women’s leadership, to the McGill Alumni and the Women’s Canadian Club, amongst others, have identified her as one of Montréal’s leading speakers on girl’s and women’s education and leadership.  This continued commitment to serving and empowering girls and women both locally and internationally lead to her current appointment as Head of School at Trafalgar School for Girls and Chair of the Faculty Advisory Board in the Faculty of Education at McGill University.  She hopes to be able to continue these professional endeavours while serving her community and spending precious moments with her spouse, their families and friends, cooking, traveling, riding and filling their home and workplaces with laughter and a kindness!

Phil Cutler - photo (002)

Philip A. Cutler (BEd’13) is the founder and CEO of GradeSlam (f. 2014) the award-winning educational software company that powers personalized learning in schools. GradeSlam provides students with 24/7 unlimited access to an educator for any subjects, while providing the classroom teachers and admins with analytics on their students.

Prior to GradeSlam, Cutler had founded several successful businesses including national in-home tutoring service Laurus Educational Services (f. 2009) and Montreal’s first lifestyle summer camp, Laurus Summer Camp (f. 2012), where he is the Chairman. In 2013, at 25 years of age, he became the youngest ever-elected City Councillor in Westmount, Quebec. He continues to sit on Westmount’s council and is the city’s Commissioner of Infrastructure and Innovation.

Cutler holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from McGill University in Montreal where he played linebacker for the McGill Redmen football team & represented the Faculty of Education on McGill University’s Senate. He has also been very active in philanthropic initiatives related to Alzheimer’s disease as well as the McGill University Health Centre and the Jewish General Hospital.

Michael LaFrance - photo

Michel Lafrance (BEdPE’94) is a passionate educator and school leader who has been making a difference in the lives of youth and parents for nearly 25 years. He is described as a leader, a coach, an innovator and a visionary.

Michel is currently enjoying his 5th year as the Headmaster of West Island College (WIC) in Montreal and prior to that was the Executive Director of the Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS). Michel earned his Bachelor of Education degree from McGill University and his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at l’Université de Sherbrooke and completed the CAIS Advanced Diploma in Independent School Leadership.

Michel currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Priory School, the Canadian Accredited Independent School Association, the Government’s Consultative Commission for Private Schools in Quebec and is a member of the selection committee for the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Michel speaks on a variety of topics at various conferences and workshops and is also a frequent guest speaker within the Faculty of Education at McGill University.

Michel is devoted to sharing his passion, helping others succeed, having a positive impact on the lives of students, parents, and teachers, committed to continuous learning, and driven to contribute to the development and implementation of a vision for the next generation of schools.

Tami Zukerman - photo

Tami Zuckerman (BEd’02)  Tami is the Chief Mom behind VarageSale. While on extended maternity leave in 2011, she came up with the idea for a safer and better buy and sell app that would stretch family budgets and connect local communities. With the help of her programmer husband, the VarageSale platform was born just months after the birth of her son in May of 2012 and then acquired recently in November, 2017. VarageSale was venture backed by US investors, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Ventures as well as Canadian investors, Real Ventures and Version One Ventures.

As Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of the award-winning start-up, Tami spent her time helping new communities launch, leading her ever-growing team and coming up with new product ideas to improve user experience. Today, Tami contributes her time to speak with women who are looking to scale their businesses and helps them navigate through the process.  She also takes on a role in the Toronto tech scene participating in the “Founder City” project: A peer community of 500+ founders and teams, trained to support each other, solve problems, and attract talent.

Previous to this, Tami spent 10 years teaching, molding and motivating the future stars of the world. Tami grew up in Montreal and graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Education. She currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.

EGSS final

Sponsored by Faculty of Education, University Advancement – ABCs of PhD presents


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[REGISTER by March 9 for the EGSS Conference]