Bringing to Power Female Business Leaders, One Conference at a Time

By: Emily Coppella, Editor at Ignite Magazine

Sandra Tisiot, founder and CEO of the Women in Business Conference and Eastern Ontario Women in Financing hosted the 10th anniversary of her event, last week at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre. She recalls what inspired her to craft this association that offers an annual conference, networking opportunities, and resources for women in business and beyond.

“It’s a story of need. There were a group of ladies and I that were tired of going to Toronto for all of our professional development and all these types of events where you’re networking and learning...and I always seemed to have the responsibility of finding the speakers and creating the theme of the event.”

Starting with about 60 women in the room, Tisiot began managing the event in 2013, sparking the growth of the conference for subsequent years. Attendee growth increased by 200%.

“There’s a great need and desire for women to be in the room together, because there’s a certain special energy that comes from only women being in the room.”

Tisiot shares that the first step she took in organizing her first conference was to find speakers. She recommends finalizing what is the conference’s theme or messaging, and building speakers around this. By improving the quality of the speakers, Tisiot ensures the quality of the conference is enhanced each year as well.

“I tune into what’s going on and then find speakers…[based on] the issues women are having at that time, and that changes every year.”

Tisiot believes a great speaker is someone who has success and expertise in their field, and that this is distinguishable as soon as someone begins speaking on the conference’s stage.

Tisiot is also an author, lecturer, fitness instructor and mortgage professional. What started as a joke to express her work and life balance, has now become one of her beloved mottos.

“I work while I’m away so I can be away while I work. There are certain times in the year where I plan to completely unplug but I always stay in touch a little bit so that it never becomes problematic when I get back.”

Although one of her key strengths is organization, she is a big advocate for not neglecting tasks in favour of returning to them at a later time. For example, although she may have the option to respond to an e-mail at a later time, she makes a point to complete the task immediately. This is one of her strategies for success.  

The success of the Women in Business Conference is also a vital component to Tisiot. She confesses that while she earns her living as a mortgage professional, she serves by organizing the conference. Tisiot makes sure to extend the conference past business professionals. By gathering speakers that are diverse, she ensures a celebration of all women. This year, she supports speakers who touch on the subject of finance, explaining the understanding of finance as important to many different people. Another speaker is prepared to discuss the impact of energy and the spirit. The conference also hosts various vendors from different fields to cater to a more diverse range of people.

Tisiot recognizes the gendered challenges of being a woman in business, yet she pushes past any idea of limitation.

“The boys club is alive and well, but I really try not to focus on that. I think that if you just focus on yourself and be the best person that you can be, that hopefully that will drive away and be able to wedge that issue or that problem.”

A fan of strengthening one’s own clarity, she also praises the ability to support other women. Out of the four key pillars of the conference’s mandate: connect, celebrate, inspire and learn, Tisiot chooses “connect” as the term she is most passionate about.

“There is nothing more important than the human connection and you have to be face-to face to do that.”

The Women in Business Conference provides just that, a space planned to host 10 speakers, including co-founder and co-owner of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries, and co-star on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, Manjit Minhas. With a line-up of professionals ranging from comedians to vice presidents of marketing, the 2018 conference is prepared to channel inspiration. When asked about a woman role model Tisiot is inspired by, she gives insight into the power of connecting with many people.

“It’s not just one person…you get little nuggets of information from everyone. Eventually you have so many nuggets, you store them and they become you. That’s your resources, that’s your tool bag, that’s what you go to in order to do what you need to do.”

When asked to sum up the Women in Business Conference in one word, Tisiot jumps between “contagious” and “dynamic.” After deliberation, Tisiot confirms “contagious” as the defining word for the event.

“There’s an energy in the room when you attend that is quite contagious…[Tisiot has had people say that] if you’re to attend one conference only, this is the one you should go to.”