Who we are

We’re a team of experienced and deeply committed search specialists. We bring passion to the task of helping each of our clients meet their objectives. Our enduring success has been built through developing long-term relationships with a select number of clients we admire and respect.

Gavin Naimer

Founder and President

Gavin Naimer is the Founder and President of Granite International Executive Search.

Gavin began his career as a search consultant at a global executive search firm where he gained experience building the senior management teams for large financial services clients. Gavin subsequently joined a boutique executive search firm as a Partner and managed a number of client relationships within the insurance industry.

Prior to executive search, Gavin was a lawyer specializing in insurance litigation at a prominent Toronto law firm. As counsel, Gavin represented a number of Canadian and American insurance companies at trial and appeal courts.

Gavin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Great Distinction in Political Science from McGill University and graduated from its law school with degrees in both Civil and Common Law. Gavin is a member of The Law Society of Ontario.

He previously served on the Board of Directors at Leo Baeck Day School and was Chair of the Human Resources Committee. Gavin enjoys coaching hockey and basketball in his spare time.

Contact Gavin Naimer: 416 572 2443 / gnaimer@graniteintl.com

Gavin Naimer

Jennifer LaRocque


Jennifer is a Principal at Granite International Executive Search.

Jennifer is responsible for client management of search mandates. Jennifer's search expertise spans a broad range of functional areas and industries including financial services and professional services. Jennifer has successfully recruited senior executives globally. She is known for exceptional results brought about by her tenacity in seeking and engaging the best candidates and her highly consultative partnership approach with clients.

Jennifer began her career at Ernst & Young where she worked in both the Toronto and New York offices. She initially joined the firm's human resources team focused on recruitment before moving into an account management role within the New York Financial Services Office focused on global financial institutions.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Physical Health & Education degree, both from Queen's University.

Contact Jennifer LaRocque: 416 572 2428 / jlarocque@graniteintl.com

Jennifer LaRocque

Sarah Kurek

Executive Search Consultant

Sarah is an Executive Search Consultant responsible for client management of search mandates. Sarah is an experienced Senior HR Leader who has held leadership roles at fortune 500 companies spanning the Finance, Insurance, Reinsurance, and Technology industries. She has extensive experience leading Global HR teams responsible for setting HR strategy, talent acquisition, talent development, performance management, succession planning, organizational design, change management, culture and engagement, compensation and HR Operations for the business areas she supported.
Sarah is a trusted business partner where she has spent significant time helping leaders identify talent to build the most successful teams. During her HR career, Sarah led HR work on multiple successful company merger and acquisition projects responsible for developing organizational structures and identifying the best talent for the newly formed and merged companies.
Sarah most recently was SVP, Head of HR for the US and Global HR Business Partner at RenaissanceRe for Underwriting and Pricing. She spent 13 years in HR leadership roles at Marsh & McLennan Companies.
Sarah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and Economics from the University of South Florida.

Sarah enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, boating and fishing.

Sarah Kurek

Hilda Mpi

Executive Project Coordinator

Hilda is an Executive Project Coordinator at Granite International Executive Search.

Hilda is responsible for providing ongoing Project Management assistance in complex and confidential executive search assignments. Hilda contributes to the continuous improvement of processes and approaches to best respond to the needs of our clients and candidates and support our business including managing and leveraging productivity tools and technology to ensure an exceptional search process. She also oversees the day-to-day management of the company’s vendor relationships including managing external IT and marketing agency support.

Hilda has previous experience as an Executive Assistant working at Bain & Co and BDO Toronto offices. She is interested in building her Project Management skills to help improve efficiency and to enhance the way the business operates.

Hilda holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and a double minor in Political Science and Sociology from University of Toronto.

Contact Hilda Mpi: 416 572 2413 / hmpi@graniteintl.com

Hilda Mpi

Mark Smith, MBA, PhD, ICD.D

Chair of the Advisory Board

Mark is Chair of the Advisory Board at Granite International.

Mark provides strategic counsel to our clients in a number of areas including talent strategy and development, executive coaching, board governance and succession planning.

Mark was previously a Partner at KPMG Canada. For the final seven years, Mark was the National Industry Leader, Financial Services (audit, tax, consulting for banking, capital markets, insurance and asset management sectors), a practice with $200 million in revenue and approximately 500 people. During his tenure, Mark was the Lead Partner for one of Canada’s major banks. Mark also developed KPMG’s approach to measuring and managing risk culture.

Prior to that role, Mark was KPMG’s Global Leader of Human Resources and Organization Change and was the Founder of KPMG Canada’s Organization Change Practice. Mark and his team developed the global methodologies in HR transformation, organization design and change management and distributed them across the globe.

Mark was previously Vice Chair of Mercer Delta Canada and Head of its Strategy and Corporate Governance practices. Prior to joining Mercer Delta, Mark was a Founder and CEO of Johnson Smith International (“JSI”), Canada’s largest independent consulting firm specializing in strategic change management. JSI was acquired by Mercer Delta in 2002.

Mark has served on numerous public, private and not-for-profit boards including Kensington Capital, SAL and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario. Mark was named “Dean of Canada’s Change Managers” by the Globe and Mail. He has presented to the Financial Stability Board (SIE Committee), has been an Instructor at York University on Accountability and Governance and is a Senior Fellow at Massey College / University of Toronto.

Mark holds an MBA in Finance and a PhD in Psychology both from York University. Mark holds the Director designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Mark Smith, MBA, PhD, ICD.D



Ray DiDonna is the founder of DiDonna Consulting, LLC. Ray has spent over 35 years in the life insurance industry, spanning direct insurance, reinsurance, and services. He successfully led several business units for three Fortune 500 companies including GE, The Hartford, and RGA. He was also CEO of a Toronto-based insurance services provider, with his tenure culminating in record growth and profitability and a national award recognizing the company's high-performance culture.

Besides managing businesses, Ray is also passionate about leadership development and has trained and coached dozens of future leaders. He has written multiple articles focused on effective leadership and management skills and is a frequent industry speaker. In 2022 Ray began partnering with the SOA to deliver a new, virtual leadership development program exclusively for actuaries which to date has trained over 50 participants.

Ray is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and holds both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of Connecticut.


Marlene Boyaner


Marlene is an accomplished business executive with experience in technology, operations and marketing. Past roles include Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer with Capital One Bank, and Vice President and Divisional CIO for CIBC’s credit card business.

As a senior executive in financial services, Marlene focused on developing future leaders and building high performing teams to achieve outstanding results. Marlene has led large transformation initiatives, driving enterprise architecture and process excellence to achieve significant business goals.

Marlene successfully integrated multifunctional business and IT teams, systems, and processes with innovative, market leading solutions. She has significant experience overseeing data management and analytics, IT architecture, business process excellence (Lean), agile development, program management, information security and risk management.

Marlene also consulted on complex transformation programs for Fortune 100 health care companies, and more recently, has been active in early stage company development.
Marlene serves on corporate and non-profit boards and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University in business.

Marlene Boyaner

Sean McDermott


Sean McDermott is an accomplished Property/Casualty insurance and reinsurance industry leadership veteran, mentor, and coach who has been a member of the global leadership teams at Willis Towers Watson, Axis Insurance, and Munich Re America. His responsibilities have included Chief Actuarial positions as well as divisional geography leadership roles.

Sean is a dedicated people leader who managed and developed high performing teams and continues to mentor and coach industry leaders, rising executives and former colleagues. He is a skilled communicator who excels at explaining complex concepts in a natural and straightforward style.

Sean is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS) and a Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA). He is a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Analysis and Duquesne University with a Master of Science in Leadership and Business Ethics.

Sean McDermott


At Granite International, everything we do is guided by 3 core values.


It’s our persistence and our drive that truly separate us from our competition. We don’t stop until everyone is satisfied.


We are inquisitive and determined to explore every possibility. In every search, we ask the tough questions and uncover any potential bumps that lie below the surface.


We care passionately about our clients and our candidates. By gaining a deep understanding of the motivations of each party we are consistently able to deliver successful outcomes for all involved.


We deliver exceptional engagement, advice and results

We provide trusted counsel to our clients. We help clients think through all the issues that could impact the recruiting and the long-term success of any given candidate.

We are able to engage with candidates where others fail

We go the extra mile, do our homework, and understand what drives the candidates, the industry, and corporate dynamics.

We discover your future leaders

We help clients hire candidates who often go on to great success– far beyond the role for which they were hired.

We are hands-on

We’ve been in the trenches. We know the issues that will impact the search and how to attract candidates in different markets.

We have deep industry relationships across the globe

We have rock-solid industry experience and proven success conducting global searches. We know who to contact for valuable insights regarding the search and the candidate pool.

We are small by design – and our size is our advantage

We are not large but we are unparalleled at what we do and how we do it. Our partners are involved in every aspect of every search.