Our Team

Team Bios

Ronald N. Stern, LL.B.

President

Mr. Stern is the founder and President of Stern Partners. He practiced law for approximately 15 years as a partner of a leading Canadian law firm, with an emphasis on corporate and commercial law and various social interest matters. Since 1989, Mr. Stern has devoted his full time to the management of his business interests.

Mr. Stern is involved in all aspects of Stern Partners’ activities and acts as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for some of the group’s operating companies.

Mr. Stern serves, or has served, on a variety of corporate and community boards, including the Vancouver Airport Authority, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, the Vancouver General Hospital and University of British Columbia Hospital Foundation, the Vancouver Symphony Society, the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, and Science World British Columbia.

Neil de Gelder, Q.C.

Executive Vice President

Mr. de Gelder joined Stern Partners as Executive Vice President in 2005, and is involved in all aspects of the group’s activities.  Prior to joining Stern Partners, he practiced law with a leading Canadian law firm for almost 25 years, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, financings, corporate governance and financial services matters.

Mr. de Gelder is a past Executive Director of the British Columbia Securities Commission. He also serves, or has served, on a variety of corporate and community boards, including the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, Pan American Silver Corp., Discovery Fund (VCC) Ltd., the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Annette Mah, CPA, CA

Controller

Ms. Mah graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and obtained her Chartered Accountant designation in British Columbia. Ms. Mah has several years of experience working in public practice with a leading national accounting firm. Her focus included Canadian tax compliance for real estate development companies and other privately held corporations.

Ms. Mah joined Stern Partners in 2006 as a senior financial accountant and became the firm’s Controller in April 2007. In addition to overseeing the daily accounting and treasury matters of the firm, Ms. Mah is responsible for the financial reporting of a number of Stern Partners’ companies.

Honourable Jacob (Jack) Austin, P.C., O.B.C., Q.C.

Senior Advisor - International

Mr. Austin has been active in both private and public life. He received his law degree from the University of British Columbia and Harvard Law School and practiced law in Vancouver for over 20 years in trade and commercial law, particularly in relation to China, South Korea and Japan.

In public life, Mr. Austin served as Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, Canada, and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. After his elevation to the Senate, he served in the Canadian Cabinets of Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Paul Martin.

From 1993 to 2000, Mr. Austin served as President of the Canada China Business Council and from 2000 to 2003 as Deputy Chairman. He assisted in the building of a close relationship for Canada and China in commercial development.

After leaving the Senate in March 2007, Mr. Austin became a special advisor to Stern Partners. He is also Honourary Professor in the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

Mr. Austin was made a member of the Order of British Columbia in 2010, received The Simon Fraser University Distinguished Community Service Award in 2011, and the LL.D. (Hon) from the University of British Columbia in 2011. He also holds the Order of the Aztec Eagle, which is Mexico’s highest award to a non-Mexican citizen. In 2014,  Mr.  Austin was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Norm Drewlo, C.M.A.

Vice President

Mr. Drewlo is an accountant with a broad financial background and extensive operational experience. He has approximately 20 years of experience as a senior executive in various distribution companies in the energy equipment, wire, cable and data products industries.

In 1983, Mr. Drewlo assumed the position of Controller at Gas Equipment Supplies (which was acquired by Stern Partners in 1992), a distribution company of propane and natural gas equipment. He subsequently held various senior management positions, including President, and helped create National Energy Equipment, which is now part of the Stern Partners group of companies.

Mr. Drewlo joined Stern Partners in 2004 as Vice President, and is involved with special projects and acquisitions and divestitures. He also assists with the financial and operational activities for some of the group’s companies.

Caroline Sanche, B.B.A., CPA, CA

Director Taxation

Ms. Sanche graduated from Simon Fraser University with a B.B.A., majoring in marketing and finance. After working for two years in industry utilizing her marketing degree, Ms. Sanche joined KPMG where she obtained her Chartered Accountant designation along with a specialization in Canadian taxation.

Ms. Sanche worked in public practice as an Associate Partner, leading the Credit Union tax practice, as well as providing tax and accounting services to financial institutions, real estate, hospitality and owner managed businesses. Since 2010, Ms. Sanche has assisted private, not-for-profit and charitable entities in senior financial roles. She has experience in Canadian taxation, US taxation, International taxation, business development and planning, financial reporting, financial advisory services and corporate structuring.

Ms. Sanche joined Stern Partners as Director of Taxation in 2012. She is responsible for Canadian and International tax compliance for the group’s companies, as well as providing tax accounting and planning assistance.

Yvonne Barbosa, B.Com., CPA, CA

Tax Manager

Ms. Barbosa graduated from the University of British Columbia where she received her Bachelor of Commerce degree. She then joined KPMG where she earned her Chartered Accountant’s designation.

Ms. Barbosa joined Stern Partners in 2002 as Tax Manager. She provides both tax compliance and advisory services to the tax team, as well as to the various companies in the Stern group.

Her responsibilities include preparing and reviewing various tax reporting forms and returns, assisting the team with external tax audits and performing research and analysis of tax planning issues impacting the group’s companies.

Keith Van Apeldoorn, CPA, CA

Vice President, Taxation

Mr. Van Apeldoorn has over 30 years of financial experience, primarily in the tax area. After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Mr. Van Apeldoorn obtained his Chartered Accountant’s designation while at the Calgary office of Arthur Andersen & Co. He then spent 15 years leading the tax department at a large Canadian public company with substantial real estate investments in Canada and the United States. Subsequently, Mr. Van Apeldoorn relocated to the Vancouver area and spent 5 years with a private real estate group.

Mr. Van Apeldoorn joined Stern Partners in 2001 as Vice President, Taxation. He oversees Canadian and international tax compliance and planning for the group, and assists in other financial matters, including financial management and analysis, acquisitions and dispositions, cash flow management, accounting and corporate structuring.

Daniel Cairns

Senior Associate

Mr. Cairns joined Stern Partners in 2013. He is actively involved in acquisitions, reorganizations and ongoing business-related matters for the group’s companies.

Prior to joining Stern Partners, Mr. Cairns completed a Master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Oxford, as well as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia.

Since joining Stern Partners, he has achieved Level 2 of the CFA and is currently involved in all aspects of financial modeling for the group’s current and prospective investments.

Mr. Cairns speaks French, German and Spanish.

Shamsh Kassam, CPA, CA

Chief Financial Officer & Vice President

Mr. Kassam graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and obtained his Chartered Accountant designation while articling with KPMG. In January 1993, he joined WIC Western International Communications Ltd., which was a leading communications, broadcast and entertainment company. He held various positions, including Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, and was involved in its acquisitions and divestitures, including due diligence and financing.

After the division of WIC’s assets as a result of a take-over, Mr. Kassam worked for CanWest Global Communications Corp., which acquired the television assets of WIC, and subsequently also acquired the Southam newspaper assets.

Mr. Kassam joined Stern Partners in 2002, and is currently Chief Financial Officer & Vice President.  In addition to supporting the financial and operational activities for some of the businesses controlled by Stern Partners, he oversees treasury functions, risk management strategy, and the group’s insurance and benefits programs, and assists with corporate development.

 

Linda Wong, B.B.A., M.B.A.

Tax Specialist

Ms. Wong graduated from Capilano University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, specializing in Accounting. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix. Ms. Wong has several years of experience working in a large service company as a Senior Tax Accountant, focusing on U.S. and Canadian tax compliance.

Ms. Wong joined Stern Partners in 2008 as a Tax Specialist. She is responsible for the preparation and filing of Canadian tax returns for many of the group’s companies.

Peter Crawford, B.Com., LL.B.

Corporate Counsel

Mr. Crawford graduated from the University of Victoria with degrees in commerce and law. In 2007, he joined the Toronto office of Stikeman Elliott LLP and was later called to the Ontario bar. Mr. Crawford moved back to B.C. in 2011 and joined the Vancouver office of Goodmans LLP and was called to the B.C. bar. Mr. Crawford’s practice focused on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, securities, corporate governance, technology, and general corporate and commercial law.

Mr. Crawford joined Stern Partners as Corporate Counsel in 2013. In addition to advising on legal matters for the group, he assists with acquisitions and financings, corporate governance, and on-going business matters for the group’s companies.

Shawn Lewis, B.C.L., LL.B.

Vice President & General Counsel

Mr. Lewis is a lawyer with a broad range of domestic and international experience. After graduating from McGill University’s School of Architecture, he studied civil law and common law at McGill University.

In 1998, Mr. Lewis joined Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, a leading international law firm based in New York. At Paul Weiss, Mr. Lewis was a member of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group and Private Equity Group. His practice focused on domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions and other general corporate matters. Mr. Lewis has significant experience representing private equity funds and other institutions in connection with their investments in public and private companies and other leveraged acquisition, joint venture, recapitalization, financing and liquidity transactions.

Mr. Lewis joined Stern Partners in 2004 and is Vice President & General Counsel.  In addition to overseeing legal matters for the group, he assists with acquisitions and dispositions, corporate development, corporate finance and on-going business matters for the group’s companies.

Mr. Lewis was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1999 and is a practioner of foreign law in British Columbia.