Discovering the Catalyst: Editors' Review of the Carleton University Women in Business Conference

By: Amanda Jeysing, Editor at Ignite Magazine

Carleton University Women in Business (CUWIB) held their second annual conference, ‘Discovering the Catalyst’ on March 3rd, 2018 at the Marriott Hotel, Ottawa. The event attracted 150 attendees that consisted of students and professionals alike.

As an association that values the equity of opportunity and diversity of people in the business world, CUWIB invited passionate and empowered professional women to join panel discussions and share their experiences as keynote speakers. The event also provided participants with a great opportunity to network.

The speakers came from all walks of professional life, and highlighted careers and entrepreneurial endeavours within the government and private sector. Representatives came from various backgrounds such as Finance and Accounting, Entrepreneurship and Consulting, Fashion, Public Relations, and Human Resources.

One benefit of having such a wide range of sectors is how it allowed for the representation of the local online community, such as entrepreneurs and fashion bloggers like Dominique Baker.

Unfortunately, CUWIB fell short this year based on the lack of diversity it advocated for, as seen in the predominantly white, female, able-bodied demographic of professionals invited to speak. This deviation from CUWIB’s values and priorities was a failure on their part, and is not reflective of its perspective on marginalized people in the business world.

It is not acceptable that the team overlooked this in part due to their biases, despite the club being spearheaded by its founder and initial executive team made up of capable and driven female entrepreneurs of colour. The showcasing and appreciation of diversity among people in Ottawa is a very necessary duty for CUWIB to carry out as an organization that prides itself on the empowerment of those who are less privileged in our society.

One of the main highlights of the event, I must say, was the keynote speech delivered by Almas Jiwani, founder of the Almas Jiwani Foundation. The air in the room changed when she took the stage and spoke so passionately about our fight towards female empowerment and how we all play a role in achieveing gender equality.

Despite the lack of representation of women of colour by featured speakers, Discovering the Catalyst did showcase a variety of both success and struggle in the business world, presented through practical advice and tip-sharing combined with networking opportunities. The full-day conference was a great way to connect with other students, though few, and passionate female-identifying professionals.

By: Emily Coppella, Editor at Ignite Magazine

Carleton University’s Women in Business 2nd annual conference took place at the Marriott Hotel in Ottawa on Saturday, March 3rd, providing a space for women and entrepreneurs to celebrate and advocate for female empowerment.

Arriving early to the 2nd floor of the Marriot to help prepare for the event felt surreal. The banners, table centerpieces and neatly stacked itineraries would soon be surrounded by business professionals, passionate students and of course, the hardworking Carleton University Women in Business team.

Our various panels were the most intriguing to me, especially the Human Resources panel. This was our first panel among four others. As an event catered to women in business, key topics included the importance of keeping one’s voice active, discovering a work/life balance, and being realistic about setting personal and professional goals.

I have always wondered how women approach managing other people in the department of Human Resources. This conference provided the perfect platform to hear testimonies from women who have truly succeeded in this field.

One of the most surprising things I learned between managing the club’s social media and attempting to network with successful entrepreneurs in attendance, like Domonique Baker, Manager of Program Development at Style Domination, was the versatility that this conference embraced.

One of the WIBTalk speakers, Captain Josée Rodgers, spoke about her English degree background that led to success in her military service. As an English major myself, I was slightly doubtful about the relevance a business conference would have for a student like myself. This conference showed me that the work ethic, communication skills, and passionate action that women in business demonstrate motivates me to be a better English student, friend, and global citizen.

The networking lunch included a delicious buffet and time to interact with guests, panelists, and other speakers. Carleton University Women in Business provided a welcoming environment where students and business professionals interacted seamlessly to build meaningful connections. I especially admired the student photographer who was able to document all of these women supporting each other.

The energy at this conference was palpable, and it lingered long after the event ended. Shortly following Almas Jiwani’s memorable speech, many guests took photos, exchanged contact information and bonded over stories. Although the conference had come to a close, it has left an imprint of inspiration on me for a long time to come.

Photo by Avinash Kewalramani