Meet Alexandra Lee and Victoria Lin, the co-chairs of Ivey’s first ever Women in Management Conference. They have been working tirelessly for eight months with their team to organize speakers, sponsorships, and workshops, as well as coordinate marketing, finances, and logistics. With less than a week to go, Alexandra and Victoria are finalizing details to make sure everything is ready for the big day (Saturday, November 12). I sat down with the co-chairs to find out more about the upcoming conference and the planning process involved.
Alexandra Lee (left) and Victoria Lin (right) are the co-chairs of Ivey’s first Women in Management Conference
Tell me about yourselves and how you came across Women in Management (WIM).
Alexandra: We are both fourth year Ivey students, graduating this year and pursuing careers in consulting and strategy. We wanted to do something in our final year to leave an imprint. I came across WIM in third year and was a section representative for the club. A lot of my friends from other schools, like Queen’s, had been organizing conferences since first year so I knew that the WIM Conference would be the perfect opportunity for me to get involved and make a difference.
Victoria: I also came across WIM in my first year at Ivey. It was one of my favourite clubs because it held many useful events and offered a supportive environment for women in our program. Ivey is one of the few business schools left that does not hold a Women in Management Conference, so it was important that we created one for the students at Ivey.
What is WIM and why do you think it is an important club to have at Ivey?
Alexandra: WIM is a club at Ivey catered to female students in the HBA program. Ivey’s gender ratio sits at 60:40, with more male students than female. WIM is our chance to make sure that females are getting access to all of the opportunities and resources they need in order to be given a chance at success.
Victoria: We bring networking opportunities and speakers from different industries to help students start their career, as well as host regular social events to build a strong community for our members. We want to make sure that girls have the network and resources to succeed both at Ivey and in the workplace.
Tell me about the upcoming WIM Conference.
Victoria: Our theme for this year’s conference is “Momentum: Inspiring driving and development.” The first part of this theme has to do with personal reflection and achievement. When you first start your career, you have the most momentum and a lot of opportunities available to you. It is up to you to find the drive and develop the skills to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
Alexandra: The second part of our theme is a celebration of females in the real world. Our conference will celebrate achievements and inspire females to continue driving progress, bringing the 60:40 gender ratio to 50:50.
What can delegates look forward to on conference day?
Victoria: Our conference has a lot of career development opportunities. Students can attend workshops in various industries, such as consulting, accounting, marketing and finance. There’s also a development workshop on personal branding. One of our speakers is from Catalyst, a diversity organization, and she will be speaking about different industries’ progress and where improvements can still be made.
Alexandra: We’re also holding a panel session with leaders from different fields. Students will learn about how these leaders found success and how students can do the same when they start their careers. We want students to come out of this conference feeling inspired by success stories and more knowledgeable of different industries.
What are some of your responsibilities as co-chairs?
Alexandra: Pretty much everything. Since it’s our first year running this conference, we operate very much like a startup where everyone is responsible for everything. Each person on our team has a role—for example, logistics, marketing, sponsorships, etc. – but we fill in for each other wherever we can and wherever is necessary.
What have been the best and most challenging parts of organizing this conference?
Alexandra: The most challenging part of planning this conference is the fact that it is the conference’s first year. There is no blueprint for us and all sponsors are new and sourced by the team. It’s hard to convince people to sponsor you if there is no track record of previously successful conferences.
Victoria: The best part of planning this conference is that it is incredibly rewarding. People are really excited to set the foundation with us and the firms involved want to help us get this off the ground. This enthusiasm keeps us going. We’re excited to visit in five to ten years’ time and see how the conference has grown and evolved.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to next year’s co-chairs?
Victoria: It’s really important to be passionate about WIM and this conference. For eight months, Alex and I have spent 10 hours each week planning and coordinating with our team. Now that the conference is approaching, our hours have increased to 20 a week. It’s easy for us to find the time because we believe in it and love working on it.
As graduating students this year, what advice would you give to your first-year self?
Victoria: Get involved and find things that you’re passionate about. Western gives you a lot of opportunities with different clubs. Find something you’re interested in and make a difference in that area. It’s also important to make sure you’re leading a balanced student life. Set aside time to have fun…and go to Rick’s!
Alexandra: I went to an all-girls school before coming to Western. It took me a while to find my female community at university (WIM). My advice would be to rely on your girlfriends and find that network. Another piece of advice I’d give is to take initiative. If there is something awesome that’s not currently available on campus, start it!