Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Experience : The Measure of Tomorrow

Daniella was part of a delegation of four CU-WISE members who recently travelled to Toronto to attend the 2014 WISE National Conference. In the next coming weeks you'll get to hear from all the delegates. Here are Daniella's impressions.

UofT WISE hosted its second National Conference on March 22-23 in downtown Toronto. The theme of this year’s conference was “Experience: The Measure of Tomorrow”. The mission was to provide us with inspiration and direction for leading our lives as we embark upon professional careers. [Aren't you excited about the rest of this post? I bet you are!]. For this post, I decided to take you to the Opening Keynote speech given by Kathy Lee

Kathy Lee, President & CEO of GE Capital Canada opened the conference with these words “If you’re not failing enough, are you challenging yourself enough?”. She went on and reminded us that we have to make things happen! Failure is an option but fear is not. [Quite a reminder since I (and maybe you do too) sometimes tend to let fear sit in a corner of my mind, but I’m not renting that space anymore!]. We should have a POSITIVE and CAN DO attitude. 

WISENC14 - Opening Keynote

Now, what are the success factors to effectively gain experience? Her answers were the right environment and the right attitude. 

  • The right environment - You might need several trials but it's about: 
  1. Choosing a workplace you feel involved in
  2. Choosing a workplace you are inspired by

  • The right attitude 
  1. Vision: “The only thing worst than being blind is having sight with no vision” Helen Keller 
  2. Networking: Have Coaches, Role Models, Connections and Sponsors 
  3. Continuous Learning: Never stop learning! 
  4. Risk Taking: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk” Mark Zuckerberg 
  5. Personal Branding: Differentiate yourself. Value what you are good at and have your personal signature. 

Kathy also warned us about the battle that always takes place between our Plan (e.g. I’m going to graduate, have an awesome position, climb the career ladder, have kids by 30…) VS Reality (e.g. You don’t see any career ladder at all. It’s your 30th birthday and you are wondering if the father of your children is lost in another dimension because you have no kids yet). It’s okay if your reality does not match your plan. In fact, nobody has it all figured out and you won’t have all the answers. So, don’t get too attached to your plan and be open to change. We have to learn how to deal with challenges and change. Do not only embrace change, thrive with it! Plus, what we think as failure might not be failure but strength. You learn from every experience you gain and every risk you take. So, be bold, be fierce and be fearless!
Besides, Kathy also recommended to surround ourselves with people who will give good advice (Family, friends, ….)

The President & CEO of GE Capital Canada concluded with these notes : “Keep Calm and Enjoy your Life” and beware  “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them and they have consequences” (Jack Welch) [See this Wall Street Journal article]

I really had a great experience at the WISE National Conference and I hope you appreciated your ride to the opening keynote! 

Stay great,

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!