Women in Leadership Conference 2017:
A young Participant’s Perspective: By Saeeda Ali
Saeeda Ali at the Women in Leadership Conference 2017
This year’s Women In Leadership Conference hosted by the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business was an astounding experience where women got together to dine and befriend one another, as well as be more uplifted and have their leadership skills awakened by not one, not two, but three featured speakers. This was the first year to have three featured Wonder Women addresses, making it the biggest WIL Conference yet.
Meeting other women in business over breakfast and having those connections strengthened over lunch was a fantastic experience as everyone was eager to meet each other and share life and office stories. Although there were too many women in the room to befriend, there was a strong sense of sisterhood throughout, amplified by the words of the speakers who stressed the importance of uplifting and supporting one another as women.
One particularly wonderful experience was the makeover session done by the friendly and experienced ladies at Sacha Cosmetics, who artfully enhanced the natural beauty of the women and let the confidence hiding inside shine through.
Participants at the Women in Leadership Conference 2017 gett their makeup done by the Sacha Cosmetics team
The words shared throughout were truly uplifting, and every single woman who entered the event would have left feeling ready to take on the world with confidence, strength and determination. “You are not just anything,” were some words, “you are.”
The three featured speakers were author, consultant, and certified executive coach Marilyn Tam, Ph.D., Director of Self-Development Laboratory at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Maja Djikic, Ph.D., and motivational speaker and leadership coach Pamela Cournoyer.
Marilyn Tam lit up the hall the moment she stepped onstage with her quiet, profound presence. Both her talks were engaging, uplifting, didactic, and loving. She commanded attention effortlessly, speaking about her humble and heart-wrenching beginnings as an abused and isolated child labourer in Hong Kong, and her rise through education to become one of the most influential women in the business world. Everyone has worth, she said, it’s just up to us to see and use it. And it’s so important to remember that our past does not dictate our future, for our future is always what we make it. She spoke of achieving happiness, peace, and having a life mission to keep us fueled, and about always doing good in the world for the world, with a full and forgiving heart. It is quite probable that tears were shed during her talks, and an incredible appreciation for this woman who accomplished so much in her life.
Marilyn Tam, Ph.D., addressed participants on the importance of defining their life’s purpose
While Marilyn Tam spoke from a humanitarian, emotional perspective, Maja Djikic was at the opposite end of the spectrum with studies done on the mind and how it influences us in different situations, and how to work with it for better results. This perfect complement to Marilyn’s talk was just as profound, and Maja rightfully emphasised that no one should know our minds better than ourselves. She stood with charisma and experience before the room, speaking as though in a lecture hall with an ease and comfort that extended to every woman present as we learned about the mind. The facts and figures she presented were not daunting at all, but solidified and help to explain her points with clarity and added interest.
The mind uses us, she says, not the other way around. We must learn how to use both the conscious and unconscious mind for different situations. She shared a surprising fact – for some problems-it’s better to not think about it and instead occupy the mind elsewhere before going back to the problem and using intuition. While this varies per situation and degree of the problem, she said, studies showed that those who spent less time actively thinking about solutions solved them much more effectively. She also spoke about the problems women face in leadership. If one wants to have the presence of a leader, she said, get out of your head. People with charisma must be there with people in the very moment – just as Maja was so effectively.
Maja Djikic, Ph.D., highlighted the importance of understanding one's mind; only then can one truly be successful
*I was absent for the last featured speaker’s-Pamela Cournoyer- talk and unfortunately cannot write about it.
Conferences such as these are so important for raising awareness of the struggles women go through in the business world, and provides insight as to how they can overcome these to develop themselves into the best female leader possible- as was the focus of the conference. Every single woman who would have entered the room with doubts about themselves that they were aware or unaware of would have left with purpose, determination, newfound confidence, and a growing kindness and love for themselves, ready to take on the business world.