Interview With Audrey Henderson

Meet one of Her Campus uOttawa’s resident girl bosses, Audrey Henderson who organized this year's ASPIRE conference.

HC: For people who weren’t able to attend, what was it?

AH: ASPIRE is a conference we put together to reflect everything that Her Campus stands for. Female empowerment; how to be well-rounded in all aspects of life. I think networking is so cool. It’s an opportunity to talk to and hear from someone who’s done what you want to do, who’s jumped over hurdles you didn’t even think existed but it turns out they did. That’s exactly what we did here.

HC: Why did you choose the name ASPIRE?

AH: One day we sat down for like 5 or 6 hours and basically said we need a name, yesterday. Honestly, the biggest problem was not using one that had already been used by some of the other successful student conferences like Legacy or Momentum. Once we made sure there weren’t any immediate conflicts through some quick google searches, we landed on ASPIRE. The meaning behind is that we want young women and men to aspire to be more, in every aspect of their lives. Literally the definition is directing your hopes and ambitions toward achieving something. Hopefully hearing some of our speakers helped give students something to strive for.

HC: What was your goal for the conference?

AH: The sad truth is that gender inequality is still a problem today. Not as much as 30 years ago, 20 years ago, a week ago or yesterday and not nearly as much here in Canada but it still exists; simple as that. ASPIRE was an opportunity for students to hear from successful professionals doing what they hope to do one day, and more specifically, how they overcame problems that arose with regards to gender gaps. My goal for ASPIRE was to reflect that 1. There are still problems, but 2. They are overcome-able; here’s how.

HC:You’re also in other extracurricular at uOttawa, what are they and did that help you put this together?

AH: I am! Right now, I’m also the VP University Affairs for the Communications student fed body. That means that myself and my franco counter-part, take care of all of the academic events for Communications students as well as act as their liaison with the University. I’d say in a general sense yes, both include event planning so I can pull ideas and experience from one to use in the other, and vice versa. I think the biggest thing that I can pull from either is working on a team. Working with people is hard, no matter who it is. The best way to learn how to work with people is to do it; to get frustrated and to figure out how to move through as you go.

HC: Which speaker were you looking forward to the most?

AH: If you ask any of my friends they’d tell you I was seriously geeking out for a solid month before the event at all the awesome speakers we had lined up, I guess I’m just like that. I love to work and I love hearing from successful people in general, so I don’t think I could honestly choose one speaker, and even then, some people are so much different in person than I expected them to be when I was emailing them, so that puts a whole other spin on it!

HC: What was the most challenging thing from an organizational perspective, about putting the conference together?

AH: Well, a conference is definitely different from the events I’ve done in the past. The speakers are probably the hardest. Not in the sense that they’re difficult to work with because they were wonderful- but you have to find a balance with contacting enough so that you’ll get enough responses, plan for some to back out, plan for last minute vacancies… trying to make sure they fit the panels you’ve created, then making sure there’s a good mix of people within that panel. For example, our STEM panel had an engineer, a family physician, an IT person, a PHD Student and a recently graduated PHD student, so with that regard, we had a mix in ages, fields, etc., but that all fit under the STEM umbrella. I had to adjust my strategy with regards to contacting speakers very quickly, and it was through the advice of my counterpart Jocelyn that I did actually.

HC: Any advice for anyone else looking to put together a starting point to having all of these ideas?

AH: Honestly the absolute most important piece for any successful event, achievement, etc., is people. You need to have a strong team; this year Jocelyn and I have a fantastic team of interns that are really amazing, an awesome president and vice president and all our team VP’s are so on top of it. I 100% could not have made it happen without them. You need to make friends in all the right places. I am so thankful to the plenty of people that have nothing to do with HC that I happen to have met or am lucky enough to call my friends who went out of their way to help me out when I needed it. Anything from connections, to tricks I didn’t know about, to strategies they’ve used in the past, to promotion. Be friendly, talk to everyone, you never know who will end up helping you out the most, and when it comes to events like this you will need the help, this is never a one woman show.

HC: What can we look forward to next from the Her Campus Large Scale Event team?

AH: This year is our 6th annual Capital Catwalk, and I am SO excited! My counterpart on HC, Jocelyn, is putting SO much work into it and it sounds like it’ll be an awesome event. Everything from the theme, the location, the designers has been thought through in detail and is sure to be a night to remember. Anyone interested in being in the show should come to our model casting this Saturday, November 26th, and the show is going to be on Saturday, February 10th, 2018!