2017 Marquee Event Recap: “Advancing Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace”

This year, BWT put on its 7th Annual Marquee Event. The buzz surrounding the event started earlier this year when the intrepid line-up of panelists and keynote speaker was announced, leaving everyone in anticipation of March 9th.

This year’s event featured the very topical theme, Advancing Diversity and Inclusion Within the Workplace. There were over 250 attendees from our seven sponsor companies, BC Hydro, LifeLabs, McCarthy Tetrault, SAP, Sodexo, TELUS and Vancity, selling out our event and making it one of the most successful to date!


Our keynote speaker Tej Singh Hazra, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, HSBC Bank Canada, moved the crowd with a very personal story that depicted his experience with racism, immigration and disability. Tej left the audience (literally) singing out loud to Fleetwood Mac, but most notably, reminded us that we are all involved in the fight for diversity and inclusion. He urged us to get involved and noted that although Canada sees far less discrimination than other nations, we should not rely on our reputation or accept the current status quo since we still have a very long way to go.

The event did not stop there! The three panelists wowed the crowd with examples of how their respective companies are furthering change and moving the needle on diversity and inclusion. The audience participated by eagerly addressing their questions to panelists Katherine Power, Vice President of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Sodexo, Seema Dhanoa, Vice President Business Integration Services, Digital Solutions & Business Technology, Vancity, and Donna Wilson, Senior Vice President of People and Partner Relations, LifeLabs who motivated the crowd with their audacious answers.

Key leaders and representatives from all seven sponsor companies came in from around the Lower Mainland and beyond for this opportunity to network and #BeBoldForChange in support of International Women’s Day.

To quote some of the attendees,

“This was my first event and I really enjoyed it! It was just the right length. The key note speaker delivered his information on a serious topic in a fun way. Keep up the great work BWT!”

“The location was perfect. I would like to see events at that location again. Very accessible.”

“Inspiring and engaging stories from Tej Singh Hazra. Awesome networking opportunities to connect with motivated women in tech industry.”

“The panel was inspirational. It was great to hear the different perspectives and approaches each company takes to help promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

A BIG THANK YOU goes to the BWT Marquee Event team who produced (once again) an amazing event this year!

For future events and to learn more, follow us on Twitter @BWTvancouver.

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Marquee 2017 Panelist: Introducing Donna Wilson

Donna Wilson.jpgWe would like to introduce our final Marquee 2017 panelist: Donna Wilson from LifeLabs!

As Senior Vice President of People, Community and Strategy, Donna is responsible for Human Resources, Labour Relations, Community Engagement, Customer Insights and Experience and Corporate Strategy at LifeLabs.

Prior to joining LifeLabs, Donna was Vice President of Industry Services and Sustainability at WorkSafeBC where she was responsible for leading five operational areas. From 2005 to 2010, she was the Executive Vice President of Workforce and Sustainability at the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC).

In addition to leading the hiring of a workforce of over 25,000 volunteers, Donna played a key role in the development of an extraordinary Games culture and the strategic direction and project leadership for sustainability and Aboriginal participation in the 2010 Games. Throughout her career, Donna held progressively more senior roles at Vancity Credit Union, BC Hydro, Canadian Airlines International and the BC Nurses Union.

Donna participates as a Director on the BCIT Foundation Board. She is Chair of the Governance Committee on the Board of Parachute Canada, a national organization that focuses on injury prevention and saving the lives of Canadians. From 2011 to 2015, Donna served as Chair of the Board for Decoda, an organization that supports community-based literacy programs and initiatives in over 400 communities across British Columbia.

Donna holds a Bachelor of Psychology from Simon Fraser University, an Executive Management Certificate from Queens University and is a Chartered Director (McMasters).

Donna will be part of our panel discussion at our annual event taking place on Thursday, March 9. Tickets are limited–visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/advancing-diversity-and-inclusion-within-the-workplace-tickets to get your ticket today!

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Marquee 2017 Panelist: Introducing Katherine Power

kpower2014With just 9 days left until our annual Marquee event, we would like to introduce our second panelist: Katherine Power!

Katherine leads Communications and Corporate Affairs with Sodexo Canada. She is responsible for developing comprehensive and integrated strategy for managing Sodexo Canada’s overall external relationships and reputation, which includes media, stakeholders and community groups.

As well, Katherine leads Brand Management, Communications, Corporate Responsibility, Indigenous Relations, and Diversity & Inclusion to help Sodexo achieve its business goals and objectives. She is also Executive Director of Sodexo’s STOP HUNGER Foundation in Canada.

Katherine oversees Diversity & Inclusion for Sodexo Canada and is an Advisory Board Member for both Pride@Work Canada and the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion. She is also a member of the Board for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Katherine has an Honours degree in Rhetoric and Professional Writing from the University of Waterloo, a Management Certificate from Carleton University with a concentration in Marketing, and a Diploma in International Trade from FITT. She also serves on the Board of Directors at the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and is Vice-Chair of the Board at Food4Kids Ontario.

If you are as excited as us to hear about Katherine’s experiences and stories, don’t forget to grab your tickets for the Marquee event today at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/advancing-diversity-and-inclusion-within-the-workplace-tickets – tickets are limited!

Continue to follow us on Twitter @BWTvancouver.

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Introducing Seema Dhanoa, our BWT Marquee 2017 Panelist!

seema-dhanoa-head-shotAs we are fast approaching our 2017 Marquee Event, we would like to introduce the first of our panelists: Seema Dhanoa from Vancity!

As Vice-President of Business Integration Services at Vancity, Seema develops and integrates values-based digital and technology solutions to meet the needs of organizations, communities and people to create sustainable impact.

Seema has been with Vancity for 14 years. Her career is focused on learning, growth, and the pursuit of challenges as part of her constant leadership journey. Seema has held a variety of roles in consulting, projects and strategic initiatives. She was responsible for leading the development of a strategy and business plan for Vancity’s wholly-owned subsidiary bank. This helped to extend Vancity’s vision to accelerate impact in communities.

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Seema is actively involved. Seema was part of Minerva, Women Leading the Way, a program that supports women in building values-based leadership skills. In 2016, Seema was co-chair for the Minerva Face of Leadership Conference, an event to bring together leaders who want to create more inclusive cultures by eliminating unconscious bias and closing the gender parity gap.

Seema holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Diploma in Marketing Communication Direct Response, both from BCIT. She is currently completing her Executive MBA at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.

For up-to-date information about our 2017 Marquee event, follow us on Twitter @BWTvancouver and join the conversation with the hashtag #BWTMarquee. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Limited tickets are available for our 2017 Marquee event! Visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/advancing-diversity-and-inclusion-within-the-workplace-tickets to get your ticket today.

Promotional codes are available to employees of sponsoring companies only.

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BWT Marquee 2017 keynote speaker announced!


We are thrilled to share that Tej Singh Hazra will be our keynote speaker for our 7th annual BWT event!

As the Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Tej’s role is to enable HSBC Bank Canada to compete locally and internationally by driving a purposeful Diversity & Inclusion Strategy that aligns to business goals and enhances organizational performance.


Integral to the strategy is the ability to effectively attract, retain and lead HSBC’s diverse work force. Of particular focus is empowering leaders and employees to reach their full potential, and the creation of an inclusive and engaging work environment that is culturally competent. Tej’s extensive knowledge and experience with the 1995 Employment Equity Act saw HSBC recognized in 2016 for their Employment Equity Achievements and contributions.

Prior to joining HSBC, Tej was the Head of Diversity & Inclusion for IBM Canada, where he established the Accountability Framework, positioning Diversity & Inclusion as a business owned program. He also led IBM’s Global Emerging Issues Response Team—accountable for managing real-time regional issues involving cultural, regulatory and faith based nuances in the company’s emerging markets.

Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Tej graduated from The University of Huddersfield (UK) where he studied Computer Aided Engineering.

Tej immigrated to Canada with his spouse in 1996 where they live raising their son.


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Millennials Meet Executives Another Successful Year


The second annual “Millennials Meet Executives” (MME) event was a hit for all the business professionals and students who were in attendance! This year, MME was held on November 16th at the Bruce R. Birmingham Undergraduate Centre at the Sauder School of Business and hosted a sold-out crowd of over 40 Sauder students. There was a tangible energetic buzz in the room and great discussions happened throughout the night.

Our panel this year featured Haleh Bahrami from LifeLabs, Heather Pallas from TELUS, Janet Wood from SAP, and Kurt Umlauf from Sodexo. Kicking off our event with some immediate inspirational take-aways, our panelists shared their experiences and advice on how young professionals could put their best foot forward as they venture into their careers.

Haleh was the first panelist to share with the students and started it off with telling students to stay open to possibilities. Even if some opportunities that arise seem to come out of left field, be flexible and take a chance – it might lead you to unexpected outcomes. By always remaining curious and passionate about the job that you do, you will achieve your goals much more easily because of the positive energy you are exuding.

Heather keys in on how important it is to build a rich personal network. She defines a network to be a reciprocal relationship that people can cultivate – the more effort you put into it, the more rewards it could give back to you. This was a great tip she gave students before the networking session later on in the night! A nugget that she left with all of us is the notion and quote said by Ginni Rometty, “growth and comfort cannot co-exist”. What gives people comfort would not be something that gives us the most growth.

One of Janet’s biggest overarching messages is to “show up”. She reminds students that everyone is a leader who has the ability to add value – it is in every professional’s control to decide to show up and be present in what they are doing. A particularly resonating line with the audience reads: “Don’t let yourself leave a meeting with people wondering why you were there”. Furthermore, Janet elaborates on how Sales positions are tremendously helpful for professionals who want to develop a variety of skills ranging from communicating well, being strategic, to understanding what happens “behind-the-scenes” in a company.

Kurt urged the students to envision themselves working in their chosen professions for the next 50 years until they hit the average retirement age. In this half century, it is in each person’s own responsibility to take ownership of their career and not be stuck in a job that doesn’t inspire them. As the industries continue to change in the coming years, Kurt advises students to find ways to stay relevant as they progress towards their dream job, be strategic in their choices, and be brave to tackle opportunities- even ones that make them feel uncomfortable.

Hands were flying during the Q+A period as the students asked poignant, well-thought out questions. Comments were bounced back and forth on topics such as mentorship, career move decisions, how to find motivation every day, and how to decide between taking comfort or courage. The night wrapped up with a snack-filled networking session.

Thank you to all the panelists, networking delegates, students, staff from Sauder’s Business Career Centre, and volunteers for making this night of inspiration happen and supporting our BWT Vancouver organization. Until next year!


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2nd Annual Millennials Meet Executives Speaker: Kurt Umlauf from Sodexo

With just over a week until our Millennials Meet Executives Event #2016MME on November 16th we are delighted to introduce you to our fourth speaker:headshot_3

Kurt Umlauf is a District Manager for Sodexo (@SodexoCanada), with focus on  Business Development, through operations. He manages corporate clients across Canada and sells them solutions for their building problems.  Kurt was born and raised in the US and drafted to Canada in 2012 where he has quickly climbed the ranks to being one of Sodexo’s few experts in the field of facilities maintenance. In 2015 he started a real estate company that specializes in target marketing for investors.
In his free time Kurt can be found playing up to his Instagram followers by leaning on Lamborghini which he claims to own, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and reminiscing about the days when a/s/l was a way to start a conversation.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on November 16th!  Open to all senior female Sauder students. Spaces are limited – register on COOL today!

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