Our Team

Challenge Factory views people as equity, not as assets that depreciate over time. Our team is the key to Challenge Factory’s success, from top to bottom, from beginning to end.

Led by our founder and president, Lisa Taylor, Challenge Factory has a core team, specialized associates, and paid interns—and everyone is valued as we do meaningful work, learn, and grow together. People join and stay with us because our culture is built on a foundation of trust and courage. We foster and depend on a flexible work model and an intergenerational, entrepreneurial spirit. 

Challenge Factory’s dynamic, multidisciplinary team has a shared commitment to helping purpose-driven organizations and communities shape the Future of Work. We work to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals and make business a force for good.

Our Core Team Members

Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor
Founder and President

I thrive when working with disruption. In 2003, I started researching how to provide people in their 50s and 60s with new experiences that would break them out of routine career patterns and challenge the “successful, but not satisfied” mindset that seemed pervasive in my corporate career. The spark of an idea for Challenge Factory was born and, in 2012, as the oldest baby boomers were turning 65, I launched my own business. Challenge Factory was the first company in Canada to offer career services specifically designed for older workers. Our purpose was to enhance work for employees of all ages by re-engaging those who had been left to languish. My unique background in older worker career development and workplace engagement led to my appointment as an Associate Fellow at the National Institute on Ageing (Toronto Metropolitan University). I am proud to have been recognized as a WXN 2022 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award winner.

I’m passionate about not wasting potential and believe that we need new models, tools, examples, and heroes to help us shed outdated career and work-related thinking. I love making sense of complex concepts and use my MBA in Strategic Management and Public Administration (York University) to bridge corporate and policy considerations when shaping the Future of Work. My ability to link real-world practice and public policy resulted in my selection as one of five members of Team Canada at the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy. 

My work has been recognized in Canada, Singapore, and Scandinavia, and I am the co-host of two podcasts and the author of five books, including The Talent Revolution: Longevity and the Future of Work  (University of Toronto Press) which I wrote with Fern Lebo, and the Retain and Gain series of career management playbooks (CERIC). I’m often asked to provide media commentary and can be counted on to provide a different and informed view of daily events.  

I sit on the Boards of Directors of CERIC and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR-A) and I’m a member of the Association of Professional Futurists. I’m also an active community leader within my synagogue. Being connected to different communities matters a great deal to me and I seek out opportunities for meaningful volunteerism that helps people and communities thrive. 

Emree Siaroff

Emree Siaroff
Vice President, Leadership and Consulting

I believe that companies, and the people within them, are integral to building the local and global communities that we all want and need in our lives. As Challenge Factory’s Vice President, Leadership and Consulting, I bring this belief to the leadership development, trusted advisory, and strategic human resources work that I do every day. 

I’m a strategic thinker and a results- and change-oriented leader. With thirty years of domestic and global HR experience, including leadership and executive roles at Stantec, BDO Global, Xstrata, and Hudson’s Bay Company, I’m very proud to say that Challenge Factory has allowed me to find my own Legacy Career®, where I use my expertise and experience to pursue activities and collaboration that give me purpose.

I offer wisdom and passion that help drive the importance of culture in an organization, and an understanding of how HR can engage people and deliver sustainable value by enabling the business.

Being part of our team means being truly valued as we do meaningful work, learn, and grow together. The centre of our work culture is a caring community. We can’t help our clients if we’re not able to come to work as our authentic selves.

Many years ago, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative and Commercial Studies from the University of Western Ontario, a Certificate in Human Resources Management (CHRM) from Seneca College, and a Certificate in Strategic Human Resources from Queen’s University.

Taryn Blanchard

Taryn Blanchard
Head of Research

I’ve done a lot in a short amount of time. I got a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Toronto before turning 30-years-old. I did brief stints as a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces and an intelligence analyst at a private investigation firm. I spent a summer on an archaeological dig in Peru. I worked in the non-profit sector on issues of free expression, privacy, and access to information, during which I helped persecuted journalists around the world find safety.

In 2020, I came on board to lead Challenge Factory’s research mandate. After working in academia, joining a small business was a thrill. Every day, I use my expertise in qualitative research methods to develop work-related business insights, carry out projects that measure purpose-driven impact, and create content that our clients and audiences want to read and find useful. This role also means I’m able to continue telling people’s stories, which is why I pursued anthropology in the first place.

Anthropology is the study of humanity: human behaviour and identity, communities and cultural groups, structures and systems, language and so much more. (Did I mention I also got a degree in linguistics, way back when?) Making sense of the Future of Work allows me to explore an essential part of humanity and what it means, simply put, to be alive today.

I’m also Challenge Factory’s resident writer and copyeditor. Need a perfectionist who’s always looking for ways to ‘word that better’? I’m your person. I’m a certified business ghostwriter with over 10 years of professional writing and editing experience. These days, I do freelance work for academic, small business, and corporate leaders, including a wonderful independent non-fiction publisher.

My own writing can be found in publications like the Toronto Star, Policy Options, Careering, and Challenge Factory’s blog. I’m the co-author of The Canadian Guide to Hiring Veterans and editor of Workforce Architecture.

Justin Doran

Justin Doran
Project and Operations Manager

As Challenge Factory’s Project and Operations Manager, my job is to ensure that both our external clients and our internal team stay organized, on track, and maintain the high quality and standards that allow us to do amazing work. Communication is critical to our success, and I pride myself in keeping everyone transparent, consistent, and organized across our many workstreams. I adapt to every challenge that comes my way and lead teams through change so that our clients and partners are satisfied, believe in both Challenge Factory and their own organization, and have a great experience while tackling complex Future of Work challenges. 

I’m a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and come from a background in education. I have a Master’s in Sociology from the University of Guelph, a post-graduate Certificate from Georgian College’s Research Analyst program, and an HBA in History, Sociology, and Anthropology from the University of Toronto.

Brynn Lansdown
Customer Experience Specialist

In my first Work-Integrated-Learning (WIL) term at Challenge Factory, I was one of three interns who worked together even when we weren’t assigned “group” projects. It was one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. While pursuing my Business Diploma at Georgian College, I was part of group projects where students were tasked to work together, but I often found them frustrating and disorganized. In one-off group projects, students often don’t have shared values, close ties, or the opportunity to achieve something that has real impact. Our Challenge Factory team operates differently, and noticing that difference helped me understand what I was looking for when I graduated. 

People tell me that I am dependable, patient, and detail-oriented. I balance a full home life, active volunteer responsibilities, and strong career ambitions. I’m at my best when I’m helping people improve processes to be more efficient—so they can focus on relationships, not tasks. I believe relationships between co-workers, clients, and the community are the most important currency we have. My job is to help them grow. 

Joining Challenge Factory’s core team as a recent graduate, I’m able to ask questions that lead my colleagues to really think about the work we do, why we do it, and who it impacts. My business education, student leadership experiences, and previous work experiences have left me passionate about learning new ways to deliver better services, as well as confident that I can delight customers. As the team’s Customer Experience Specialist, I’m always pushing my colleagues to be bolder in how we develop our relationships with clients and partners. From my previous work with automotive dealerships and wholesalers, I have a deep understanding of the value in maintaining long-term relationships with customers and supply chain partners. My experience fostering these types of B2C and B2B relationships is a strength I bring to Challenge Factory every day.

Emily Schmidt
Research Associate

I’ve studied a lot. English literature. Environmental science. Politics. Conflict resolution. International security. I’ve also studied in several places. I have a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies & Communications from the University of Waterloo, during which I studied abroad in Finland. Then I moved to Belgium to do my Master’s in Global Peace, Security, and Strategic Studies at the Brussels School of Governance.

Lifelong learning is a core part of Challenge Factory’s work, and I definitely live it. The one constant that has always remained the same as I pursued new opportunities and experiences is my passion for research. Throughout my BA and Master’s, I loved exploring every aspect of qualitative research that I could. I have the most experience researching sustainability and the development of vulnerable communities in Canada, and how the climate crisis is impacting our future. I hope to transfer this knowledge into further advocacy. 

I’m now continuing my journey in qualitative research with Challenge Factory as a Research Associate. I’m valued for my open mindset and ability to actively listen to the needs of those around me, and feel fulfilled when my work has a positive impact on both my team and our clients. I work primarily on data analysis, project development, and editing to support our research projects, and I’m excited to work with Challenge Factory to shape the Future of Work to create sustainable environments in a challenging and changing climate.

Emma James

Emma James
Business Development and Administration Associate

As Challenge Factory’s Business Development and Administration Associate, my job is to facilitate collaboration in the advancement of the Future of Work. A public policy enthusiast, I enjoy exploring innovative policy solutions for meaningful, relevant, and actionable change to shape, rather than respond to, the Future of Work. I view my work through a lens of empathy – the human side of problem-solving. For me, it’s all about people. 

As the InterGen Lab Manager, I collaborate with our team to mobilize ideas into action. I coordinate and oversee the completion of work for the lab, and I am responsible for the day-to-day management and success of the program. I also work with our partners and collaborators to ensure we meet objectives and outcomes. I am passionate about identifying and flipping the assumptions we commonly make about a problem as to develop creative and innovative approaches and solutions to address complex and multi-faceted challenges of all kind.

I joined the Challenge Factory team in 2023 while completing my MPA (Master of Public Administration) from the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. I also hold a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Alberta and I am currently working toward a graduate certificate in Applied Creativity and Innovation.

Mariel Ferreras

Mariel Ferreras
Marketing and Graphic Design Coordinator

I’m the creative force behind Challenge Factory’s visual identity and online presence. I have an affinity for simple, minimalistic designs that tell a story. As the Marketing and Graphic Design Coordinator at Challenge Factory, I play a central role in developing and executing marketing campaigns, designing compelling graphics, presentations, and other content, and promoting the company’s brand. I led an overhaul of Challenge Factory’s brand portfolio—including the logo, typography, slide decks, newsletter graphics, and other visual assets—and continue to elevate the company’s social media, websites, and publications. I’m especially proud of my work on Workforce Architecture magazine and Hidden Sector, Hidden Talent: Mapping Canada’s Career Development Sector, a 300-page research report that presents a data-rich evidence base using human-centric design.

I’m known for my ability to think creatively, tackle every challenge with grace, and deliver results. I always recognize the importance of collaboration and meeting deadlines. In addition to working with Challenge Factory, I’ve worked as a freelance designer with start-ups, small businesses, and social media influencers on projects including branding, illustration, and web design. I value continuous learning and growth, having earned a Diploma of Education, Graphic Design, from Algonquin College’s School of Media & Design, and I’m currently pursuing a second Diploma in Computer Programming from Algonquin’s School of Advanced Technology.