Inaugural conference looks to inspire tomorrow's business leaders

Apr 26, 2018
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More than 200 students gathered at the Hazel McCallion Campus in early April for Sheridan’s inaugural Business Conference, hosted by Sheridan’s Alumni department and the Pilon School of Business.

Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and Candybox Marketing, the afternoon event featured keynote speakers, breakout sessions, networking boot camps and panel presentations intended to inspire and inform the next generation of business leaders.

The conference also included a session with members of Sheridan’s Business Hall of Fame. Pilon School of Business namesake Randy Pilon (Business ’82), Karen Janes (Business ’89), SVP, real estate development and new business development at Aritzia and Darrell Keezer (Marketing ’05), CEO and founder of Candybox Marketing, participated in a roundtable discussion, sharing how they became trailblazers in their respective industries.
Keezer also opened the conference with a keynote presentation. Mississauga, Ont.-based Candybox Marketing specializes in social media, online marketing and lead generation, with Keezer’s keynote tackling the topic of digital disruption. 

Throughout his presentation, Keezer challenged the perceptions companies have of millennials and baby boomers, emphasizing the importance of evolving and adapting as a business in order to meet the needs of the changing Canadian consumer. “Think about your customer and work backwards,” Keezer said, adding that businesses should avoid a “spray and pray” approach when developing a social strategy. 

Following Keezer’s keynote, students split into three different breakout sessions where alumni shared insights from their own professional journeys. Faraz Ahmadpour (International Business ’12), SVP of R&D and open innovation at Virox Technologies chatted about fostering innovation, while Stephen Sills (Illustration ’07), co-founder of  virtual community and student resource Student Life Network emphasized the importance of personal branding. Lea Romanelli (Human Resources ’08), director of HR online and retail distribution centres at Indigo, hosted a group of students who actively asked questions about how to begin a career in human resources.

Following a brief dinner, Nicole Moore gave an inspiring keynote on the power of positive thinking. Moore, a former Sheridan student and registered nurse, was attacked by a shark during a vacation to the Caribbean in 2011. Following the attack, Moore underwent a long recovery period that included multiple surgeries, leading to her arm eventually being amputated. 

Despite Moore’s unfortunate circumstances, she found the humour and positivity of her situation. “Sure, a shark took my left arm – fortunately, I’m right handed,” she quipped at one point.
Moore also spoke to the importance of not being held back by one’s own fear, adopting the mantra “persevere despite the fear.”
In another session, entrepreneurs revealed the inspiration behind starting their own businesses. Moderated by Renee Deveraux, manager entrepreneurship and changemaking, the panel featured Dominic Gallego (Accounting ’14), franchisee of The Lunch Lady and owner of Snaptique; Manny Kandoloa (Computer Science Technology ’07), founder of InterestPiggy and Brandon Grosvenor (Advertising ’93), founder and CEO of Brand Grow Media. 
Finally, a group of HR professionals provided students with advice on how to transition from school to work and tips on how to find a dream job. Moderated by Kerri Zanatta-Buehler, cooperative education advisor, participants included Alanna Meyers (Human Resources Management ’15), Vikram Mitter (Business Admin, HR ’04) and Adam Baines (Business Admin HR ’08).  
With students providing overwhelmingly positive feedback from the day’s events, the Business Conference will return for its second edition in 2019. 
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