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UofGH hosts third Women in Leadership event on International Women's Day

On International Women’s Day, the University of Guelph-Humber held its third annual Women in Leadership event, hosting virtual Power Chat sessions with influential female founders and executives as well as a networking fair that brought together students, alumni, faculty, staff and employer partners from a wide variety of fields and industries.

“The Women in Leadership event gives students the opportunity to hear the stories of female industry leaders who hold executive positions within their field. This event is intended to encourage open and honest dialogue between our partners, students, and staff,” said Career Coordinator Melissa Patrizi, whose Career Services department stages this and many other professionally focused events each year.

“It is an opportunity to be inspired by the journeys of other females, to hear about their challenges and their successes, and to come away feeling encouraged and motivated. This event allows students to explore possibilities while hearing from women who once were in the very same place of not knowing what the next steps were for them in their career.

“I firmly believe if you can see it, you can be it, and if you hear it, you can achieve it. This event gives students a forum for that type of inspiration.”

Valuable perspectives

This year’s guest speakers were Nigela Purboo, founder of the Onyx Initiative, and Canada Basketball Foundation Executive Director Maria-Leena Clarke.

In an intimate discussion, Clarke took the audience through each turn of her career path and how she found her way professionally, while Purboo addressed the challenge of re-establishing her career after taking years off to devote to her family, as well as the rival pressures that many women find themselves juggling.

“Being a woman in a leadership role requires tough skin, dexterity and great strength,” said Purboo, noting that she was frequently aware that she was being treated differently than men, but resolved not to let it shake her.

“I am proud of my ability not to let these microaggressions deter me from my vision,” she said.

Given the move into a virtual setting, this year’s Networking Power Hour took on a different look, bringing together a diverse cross-section of the UofGH community – including students, staff, and alumni, along with employment partner Enterprise Rent-a-Car – for an open dialogue that proved useful for many students looking to build new professional contacts.

“We wanted to create an environment where students, staff, faculty, alumni, and professional partners from across the UofGH, Humber College and the University of Guelph communities could connect and share their stories and aspirations,” Patrizi said. “The goal was to make it a fun and interactive experience.”

This year’s Women in Leadership event also found Peel Regional Police presenting their Female Inclusion Team (F.I.T.), a program intended to lead the way for positive change in the recruitment and mentorship of women who aspire to become police officers.

“We had the pleasure of speaking with Cst. Cameel Chambers, Cst. Jessica Vanderwal and Kourtney Wilson on their experiences, advice for students on how the mentorship program works, and how to get involved,” said Career Coordinator Sandra Fazio.

“It was a great hour or ‘power chat’ as the UofGH students turned on their cameras and took the opportunity to ask a range of questions, and the F.I.T. team answered openly and shared resources.”