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!