Photo: From left, Catherine Dangerfield, Mitch Mackay, Anicka Quin, and April Sather.
Only a year and a half ago, a women in leadership event was a kernel of an idea for Lee Harris, associate director of Employer and Alumni Relations at NYIT-Vancouver. At the President’s Dinner in September 2015, Harris and Catherine Dangerfield, vice president and market manager at TD Private Wealth Management and wife of then Executive Director and Dean of the Vancouver campus Paul Dangerfield, began to plan what they would do. The result was the event International Women’s Day: Embracing Growth in Leadership, held in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8 of this year.
“It was just a casual discussion about how our campus could really use a Women in Leadership event to provide context for women who are new to North American culture along with some advice and encouragement to our female students,” explained Harris. (The student population is made up of 100 percent international students.) “ Because our students have such different societal expectations, knowing how to approach employment challenges, leadership, how to build confidence, and find work/life balance were the main themes that Catherine and I identified as needing to be highlighted.”
The panel discussion featured Dangerfield; April Sather, Chief Information Security Officer and director of innovation, architecture, and security services at Blue Cross; Anicka Quin, editorial director at Vancouver and Western Living magazines; and Mitch McKay, a firefighter with the North Vancouver City Fire Department. Carlie Gausvik (M.B.A. ’16) and Ling Dai, an M.B.A. candidate, moderated the discussion which focused on four topics: pathways to leadership, challenges in the workplace, building confidence to lead, and work/life balance.
Moderators Ling Dai, left, and Carlie Gausvik. Photo by NYIT student Miranda Cabiladas.
The speakers discussed their personal experiences and offered advice to the attendees. For instance, none of the panelists planned to be in their current roles, but because they were accepting of new experiences that they encountered along the way, they were able to find success in fields they never considered. “It was an eye opener that motivated me to pursue things that I wouldn’t normally,” said M.B.A. student Valentina Lameda.
The exchange of ideas also inspired the speakers. “I found the whole experience great,” said Quinn. “My fellow panelists were incredibly interesting. I, too, felt inspired by some of their ideas, and the moderators asked thoughtful and well-presented questions.”
“All in all, it was a group effort that came together to foster learning about leadership, career advice, engagement with industry professionals, and potential mentoring possibilities,” Harris said.
“I was very pleased with the student turnout and high level of engagement to our Women in Leadership event and that there were as many men as women in the audience” said Irene Young, executive director and dean of the Vancouver campus.
“It demonstrates that women’s issues are not just a woman’s problem—it’s a societal concern that everyone can relate to or wants to understand,” added Harris.
But what truly made this event special was the encouragement and guidance the students received from the guest speakers. “They encouraged me to do things without fear. To just go out there and do it,” said Dai.