On February 2, Desautels Women in Business (DWIB) hosted their fifth annual National Women in Business conference at the Hyatt Regency. Open to both McGill students and the general public, the conference aimed to provide an opportunity for career-minded women to speak with professionals in a range of fields about the challenges facing women in business today and the corporate world in general.
“The most important thing is that we provide a platform for people to network with executives,” explained Dominique Buchanan, the Co-President of DWIB and a marketing major in her final year at McGill. Buchanan added that “the event gives people who might not necessarily feel comfortable in a traditional networking setting the opportunity to speak to the people they want to speak to.”
The event began with a presentation by Kelly Trihey, a partner at Trihey Financial Group and a portfolio manager with Industrial Alliance Securities. Trihey graduated from McGill with a Bachelors of Finance in 2001, and her speech addressed a range of topics from advice on how to differentiate yourself in the finance industry to the benefits of being a woman endeavouring to enter the professional business world.
“Studies are showing that diverse teams bring an improved investment process to the table,” Trihey stated, explaining that “investment companies around the world are recognizing this research and they’re trying to encourage women to be part of their teams.”
The day consisted of two more keynote presentations by Dr. Diane Vachon, the Honorary Consul General of Monaco in Montreal, and Dr. Susan Reid, a professor of marketing at Bishop’s University. The remainder of the conference provided participants the opportunity to engage in workshops on different topics such as entrepreneurship and international business. The workshops were orchestrated by several distinguished women including Nathalie Lemyre, the Director of Talent Acquisition at Air Canada, Caroline Losson, the Vice President of Marketing at Keurig, and Julie Gapitman, Assistant Vice President at HSBC.
Buchanan explained that events like the National Women in Business Conference addresses the concerns women graduating from business programs face: “What we saw today is that women are still underrepresented in a lot of different jobs, especially in finance. To be able to speak with successful business women really allows young women to say, ‘okay, I can move forward in my career.’”
Attendees expressed a similar excitement about the opportunity to attend a conference with women as the central focus. Paige Doyle, a U1 Management student, commented that networking events similar to the National Women in Business conference are generally male dominated. “I’m excited to hear from women working in finance, and find out how they got to where they are in their careers.”