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International Women’s Day Gala inspires SFU’s women in business

The Young Women in Business SFU event showcased some of Vancouver’s inspirational business women

Young Women in Business SFU celebrated women’s accomplishments in pushing for social, economic, and political equality with the seventh-year return of their pillar event, the International Women’s Day Gala. The sold-out event at the Pinnacle Harbourfront on March 4 welcomed over 100 guests with the purpose of helping connect upcoming female leaders with established female powerhouses and business professionals in the Lower Mainland.  

Lori Joyce, most commonly known from the television show Cupcake Girls, spoke about focus and the importance on being your authentic self in building your own business. “Focus on what you can control, focus on what you can do and what your competitors cannot do, and focus on doing it right,” said the CEO of Betterwith Foods Inc.

In addition to an inspiring keynote, four diverse panelists from varying industries of health, technology, food, and social development talked about several concerns in finding your voice, finding the right support network, and creating your own path. “You have to nurture who you are outside of business and take care of what your spirit needs,” emphasized Shannon Bosa-Yacoub, a proprietor of Glowbal Group.

Nohemie Mawaka from Global Health, and TEDxSFU 2016 speaker, refused to let discrimination hinder her progress, quoting Shonda Rhimes, “‘I know that racism and discrimination exist; I just choose to not acknowledge it.’” She added, “It’s important to acknowledge it, but don’t let it hold you back.”

Both Shannon Juzenas, a software engineer at Google and Zoya Jiwa, founder of As We Are, also detailed their stories on their vulnerable moments. Laura Ko, a first-year attendee said, “Everyone had different stories and experiences, but they all had relevant and similar advice in a way.”

She added the importance of the panelists’ advice on embracing vulnerability, “All the speakers had a time of vulnerability when they faced obstacles, but they didn’t give up on what they were passionate about and stayed limitless. [That] really inspired me because I’ve definitely experienced those moments where it felt almost impossible to do what I wanted to accomplish.”

“IWD [International Women’s Day] was organized with the idea of empowering individuals and cultivating a collaborative community,” said Angela Sibia, the chair of the organizing committee.

“I wanted attendees to leave feeling inspired to take on the challenges that they didn’t dare dream were possible [and] to connect with a diverse group of female leaders from various backgrounds whose challenges resonate with those of our delegates,” Sibia continued.

“Hearing that such successful women felt the same way at some point motivated me to work harder and effectively collaborate with others instead of taking on everything on my own,” added Laura Ko.

It looks like there will be a new inspired generation of female leaders in the SFU community.

Mika is part of the Executive team for Young Women in Business SFU