SFU business students host IWD Conference


WEB-international women

The Third Annual conference attracted influential Vancouver women

By Kelli Gustafson
Photos by Mark Burnham

SFU’s Young Women in Business Society ( YWiB) hosted their third annual International Women’s Day Conference on March 10, 2013. The Conference took place at SFU Woodward’s in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD).

According to the official IWD website, IWD has been distinguished since the early 1900s, and recognizes universal suffrage and the struggle for gender equality. It also focuses on achievements women have made over the years in the face of adversity.

This year, YWiB’s IWD Conference was hosted by Dawn Chubai of CityTv, and featured a number of keynote speakers as well as a professional panel. Over 150 men and women from the Vancouver area attended the conference to engage with others, discuss ambitions, and become inspired by the motivational stories shared by the keynote speakers. Tickets ranged from $10–$35, and were available to YWiB members, high school and post-secondary students, as well as professionals.

Michaela Klassen, VP of public relations for YWiB SFU, explained this year’s “Gaining Momentum” theme to The Peak. “[ The theme] tried to focus on growth, in both our attendees and our speakers.”
According to Klassen, the conference “attempt[s] to create a forum for both student and professional women to connect over a common cause.” The common cause, Klassen said, is to celebrate the advances that women have made in all different fields, despite setbacks and obstacles they may have encountered due to gender inequalities.

A much-anticipated keynote speaker at this year’s conference was Tori Holmes, a young woman who, at the age of 21, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 86 days. Holmes spoke of both the physical and mental hardships she encountered along her journey. “I’m proud that I rowed across the Atlantic,” Holmes said, “but the thing that I am most proud of is that I got to the start line.”

Holmes and Ish Jhaj, her cofounder for Shooting for Hope, were among this year’s keynote speakers. Shahrzad Rafati; CEO & Founder of BroadbandTV Corp, also acted as as a keynote speaker.

Inspirational speakers and panelists stimulated conversation throughout the day, along with an expo fair for professional development. The expo invited attendees to explore opportunities within the community, and some companies, such as HootSuite, offered the chance for individuals to job shadow.

Vuitton Chan, Executive member of YWiB and attendee at the conference, shared with The Peak her experience of the day, “To speak with so many brilliant and ambitious young women keeps me motivated and inspired.” Chan believes that IWD SFU is important because, “there are not many conferences in Vancouver dedicated to recognizing the accomplishment of women.”

IWD SFU is an annual event, and many of this year’sattendees look forward to attending again next year, including Chan, who concluded by saying, “[holding this event] for students and professionals to come together and celebrate each other’s accomplishments is a good reminder that each one of us has something unique to bring to our community.”