“Top Hat is an amazing place filled with smart people driven by the clear mission to improve education.”
Mike Silagadze is the CEO and co-founder of Top Hat. Under Silagadze’s leadership and vision, Top Hat has become the market leader in student engagement software, and is used by millions of students at three-quarters of the top 1,000 colleges and universities in North America.
Silagadze is an active speaker in the higher education, technology and startup communities, having lectured at the Rotman Commerce Entrepreneurship Organization, the ASU GSV Summit, MaRS, Tech Fest Toronto, SAAS North and TEDxLaurierUniversity, among many others.
Silagadze holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.
“I’ve worked at other startups. Top Hat is something different—from the market, leadership and team, the potential is even greater.”
Ralf Riekers is the CFO at Top Hat and has been with the company since 2013. He oversees finance, operations and human resources.
Before joining Top Hat, Riekers held VP level positions in finance, operations and client services during his 13 year tenure at Eloqua until its acquisition by Oracle for $950M, six months after its IPO on the NASDAQ.
Riekers is a SaaS industry veteran, and an expert in building and scaling fast-growing SaaS companies. He is also actively engaged in mentoring startups in the Toronto area.
He holds an MEng from the University of British Columbia and graduated from Queen’s University with a BSc in Engineering Physics.
“What’s revolutionary about Top Hat is that our technology finally makes it possible for instructors to engage students one-on-one inside the lecture hall—just like Socrates did.”
Nick Stein is the CMO at Top Hat and is responsible for driving the company’s overall marketing strategy, including brand management, corporate communications, customer acquisition and retention, and marketing planning and execution.
Prior to Top Hat, Stein held marketing leadership roles at customer intelligence software provider Vision Critical, enterprise cloud computing giant Salesforce.com and Rypple, a venture-backed startup acquired by Salesforce in 2012.
Before he joined the startup world, Stein was an award-winning business journalist at Fortune magazine and CBC Television.
Stein holds a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University and a BA in English Literature from McGill University. He has taught at Columbia University and New York University.
“I am thrilled to be part of such a mission-driven team that’s so focused on taking a bite out of the cost of education for students while supporting professors’ efforts to create a more engaged and effective classroom experience.”
John Hood is Top Hat’s CRO, and oversees all revenue-generating functions, including inside sales, enterprise sales and customer success.
Hood joined Top Hat from Oracle, where he was the Group VP in Sales Development & Demand Generation for Oracle Digital, and led a team of more than 800 sales professionals. Prior to that, he was the CRO at Auction.com, where he steered high-impact sales, sales operations and support teams. Previously, Hood was VP and General Manager at HP, where he was responsible for the Americas SMB market. He began his career with Dell, where he spent 17 years in a variety of sales, operations and general management roles in the U.S. and internationally.
Hood holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
“Top Hat is on an amazing journey to transform the higher education experience for students and professors alike. The company’s proven track record of customer satisfaction is a testament to the strong foundation the product and engineering teams have already built.”
Bhavin Shah is Top Hat’s CTO, joining the team in 2019 to help drive product innovation for professors, students and Top Hat employees. Shah leads Top Hat’s engineering team, responsible for the company’s technology stack, software development, security and application performance.
Prior to joining Top Hat, Shah served as CTO at artificial intelligence and machine learning software solutions company Globalive Technology, where he drew on over 15 years of senior engineering and development leadership experience. Before that, he spent five years as the first CTO at TouchBistro.
Born in India and raised in Toronto, Shah holds a BASc in Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto.
“Education is one of the very last sectors to undergo a total technological transformation. I'm motivated daily to be part of the innovative and disruptive team that is changing the landscape of modern education.”
Jacquie Dwyer is Top Hat’s VP of North American Enterprise and APAC. She leads a dynamic team of sales reps who focus on institution-level relationships at North America’s leading universities. Dwyer splits her time between North America and Australia, where she also focuses on building key relationships with educators at colleges and universities across Australia and New Zealand.
Before joining Top Hat, Dwyer spent six years at customer intelligence software provider Vision Critical, where she was the Regional VP of North American Sales. Prior to that, she spent six years at Hotspex, where she held various roles in operations, new product development, and sales.
Dwyer holds an Hon. BA from the University of Toronto.
“I work with some of the smartest people in technology and education, and it’s exciting to be part of Top Hat’s phenomenal growth.”
Mumin Al-Shawaf is the VP of Customer Success at Top Hat and has been with the company since 2013. His team manages the ongoing success of Top Hat’s customer base of professors and universities through account management, onboarding and support.
Prior to his current role at Top Hat, Al-Shawaf served in finance, operations and sales roles at the company. Before joining Top Hat, he was director of product support at Eloqua.
Top Hat is Al-Shawaf’s third startup, having joined Eloqua and Netsuite in their growth stages. He helped build the customer support departments at both companies, which played an important function during both IPOs. Both companies were acquired by Oracle.
Al-Shawaf holds a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA from the Schulich School of Business and a BA in Computer Science from Ryerson University.
“What sets Top Hat apart in the industry is the team’s genuine focus on maximizing students’ return on their educational investment.”
As VP of Product Marketing at Top Hat, Nina Bilimoria Angelo is responsible for the company’s overall message and value proposition for the market and for Top Hat customers.
With over ten years of senior leadership experience in both the publishing and technology sectors, Angelo joined Top Hat from Pearson, where she led product strategy teams that focused on personalized learning and analytics. Prior to that, she spearheaded the emerging-market education strategy at HP and worked as a management consultant to help Fortune 500 companies grow and optimize their businesses. A seasoned “intrapreneur,” Angelo specializes in leading cross-functional teams in strategy creation and execution, market research, product positioning and change management.
Angelo holds a BA in International Relations & Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
“I’m humbled to be working with such talented and motivated individuals who have rallied behind enriching the academic experience for students and professors alike.”
Amanda Pardy is Top Hat’s VP of Product, responsible for leading the product management team and driving Top Hat’s product strategy. She guides the product management team with the goal of delivering best-in-class customer experiences.
Prior to joining Top Hat in 2019, Pardy was the VP of Product at Sensibill. Before that, she led product and product teams at start-ups and large scale B2B and B2C companies including Achievers, Intuit and AdParlor.
Pardy holds a BSc in Applied Mathematics from Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“Top Hat is dedicated to delivering an excellent student and professor experience—and we do that by striving to provide a fantastic employee experience.”
Meghan Smith is Top Hat’s VP of People & Culture and is responsible for the holistic employee experience at Top Hat. In this role, Smith creates and implements people-centric strategies and programs that enable employees to grow in their careers while accomplishing Top Hat’s strategic business objectives.
Smith is a seasoned international HR Leader and brings over 20 years of practical and strategic leadership experience to the Top Hat team. Her background spans five industries (Technology, Manufacturing, Entertainment, Energy and Healthcare) across three countries (Canada, US and UK).
Smith holds a BComm degree from Laurentian University and graduated with Honors.