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Desautels Women in Business Conference

“Who run the world?”

Have you ever been surrounded by the top female leaders of Montréal? Have you ever been surrounded by aspiring female leaders? National Women in Business: Partners in Excellence 2017 was the place to be.


6:00 am

It was a Friday morning; I was deciding which outfit to wear. “Which top would make me look like a soon-to-be Desautels graduate entering the real world? Which shoes would match my blazer? Who cares what you are wearing!” If only I could walk into the networking session in sweats, and my McGill hoodie. However, one tip for these “fancy” events when you are meeting executives and recruiters from around the country is to dress clean. Just because you are wearing a suit does not make you look professional. I am no fashionista, but from experience, I have seen some fashion faux pas. Wrinkled tops, Short skirts, platform heels, tank tops with cleavage? Possibly cute, but not when you are shortly about to meet the Dean of Desautels Faculty of Management, Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou. It’s winter; if you are wearing a skirt, wear stockings darker than your shoes and wear your boots. It is Montreal in the end, but bring your pair of shoes (closed-toe) in your purse and change before! All this to say, I found the perfect outfit, and off I was!


7:00 am

Living in the West Island pains, I hopped on the 7:34 am train “making my way downtown”. I arrived at the Centre Mont-Royal, super nervous and stressing, thinking I was super late. Turns out, I was one of the first to arrive. Coat check, stunning venue, but then for the awkward part. Do I wait alone at a table by myself, or do I attempt to socialize and meet new people? I was already feeling intimidated, but for some reason, I decided to take a shot and sit beside another female who was wearing a cute outfit. We started talking, and she turned out to be an interior designer, who was starting her own business, and snowboarded in her downtime. Not to mention, she was stunning and sweet, and my friend for the day – we even connected via Instagram at the end of the day. Morale of the story? Make new friends, you never know who you will meet!


9:30 am

The conference starts, and who else is better to give the commencement speech to aspring young women in a male-dominated world? Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Even though it was done via recorded video, I was as starstruck as if she was actually in the room. Hearing her say the words, “Canada and the world need more women leaders, decision makers and creators. We need YOU!” was scary, but gave me a warm feeling knowing that I will change the world one step at a time.

Check out her awesome message on Desautels Women in Business Facebook page! 

Let us continue! Next up? Sophie Palmer. The President of CFA Montreal graced us with her words of encouragement: that starting a family and being a successfull business woman is more than possible. With that, she set up the theme of the day: “Confidence”. That is when I decided to suck up all the courage I had in me, and carpe diem the heck out of the day. Keynote speakers, speaker panels, workshops, networking… it was a lot to take in, but one specific workshop truly inspired me that day: “Start Within”.


10:30 am

Not to sound like an absolute fan girl, but have you ever met someone who you’ve aspired to become? I was absolutely stunned and emotionally taken by Martina Buchal’s workshop. Martina Buchal is an international recognized speaker, coach and consultant. To add to her impressive resume, she has a background in law and diplomacy, and has spoken on many occasions for the United Nations’ Educators Conference and the Summit of Americas (special invitation by the Vice President of Panama himself – cool, me too… you know). She had this power to captivate our attention and draw us in to her words and wisdom. Confidence was the core of her message to us aspiring young women and men. Never to be afraid to speak up, fail, bounce back after failure, surrounding yourself with the right people… Without the words of Martina, I would never had realized all these thoughts at once. It was extremely overwhelming; she has no idea who I am, but I am eternally grateful for her words and wit. I even emailed her and asked her questions I could not ask, as I sadly could not find her, during the networking session. Her replies were so generous, and I was so appreciative of the time she took to answering my questions so thoroughly. Her and her family’s journey resonates with my family’s arrival to Canada, and her hard-work is nothing but extraordinary. Anyhow, first thing I did after her workshop? Subscribed to her daily newsletter! I suggest you do the same! 

Young, intelligent, and beautiful, Martina Buchal and her steps to confidence are not to be held only by the people that attended her conference. I must share these valuable steps (hopefully once given her permission, of course!) – to be continued.


11:30 am

However, the day continues and only gets better. Lunch was delicious. Networking, speaking one on one with the top of the top, taking from Martina’s wisdom, I took every ounce of confidence I had in my body and went for it. There was no stopping Jenny. I was on fire! As the modern day saying goes, “it was lit!” Tips for networking? It is always so intimidating, but if I can do it, so can you! Strike up the courage to start a conversation with the representatives of all the firms whether they interest you or not; practice makes perfect! (As fed up as we are from constantly hearing this, it is true!) Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be interested, and listen to what they are saying. Remember the names and who you are speaking to! Follow up. The worst that can happen is they don’t reply… It is always worth the shot.


2:30 pm

Finally, hearing from amazing guest speakers such as the President of Michael Kors Canada, Debra Margles herself. What a woman! Hilarious, honest and another woman to admire. It was also very refreshing to see male figures who are supporting women in the world of business, such as Alex Shee, analyst for Real Ventures. What a man!

All in all, my day was amazing. I even won a t-shirt for Michael Kors’ “Watch Hunger Stop”. I wish you could have all attended, but I leave you with this. Personally speaking, I dread social events. However, the more events and networking session I attend, the more I feel comfortable outside of my “introverted world”. I get to meet all these new fascinating people, create new relationships that, who knows, might bring me across the world one day. I feel proud at the end of the day, and most importantly, with the theme of the day, my confidence only seems to grow every time.

“Who run this mother?” GIRLS.


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