Posted on: August 21, 2018
It wouldn’t be out of place to expect a room full of over fifteen hundred people to be loud. After all, so many people together in the name of gaining leadership skills would be likely to boast some strong personalities. However, it was as quiet as a pin drop when time management expert Laura Vanderkam took to the stage on the morning of June 25, 2018, and quipped, ‘Going to bed early is just sleeping in for grownups.’
Vanderkam was just one of the various guest speakers featured at ‘The Art of Leadership for Women’ Conference in Vancouver on June 25. Thanks to generous funding through RBC, TRU Women in Trades was able to bring a group of twenty-one women together in the name of furthering leadership skills for women in trades. Women gathered in Kamloops, BC the day before the Conference, coming as far away as Prince George, BC, to hop on a bus and head down to the city.
With women working in a plethora of different trades from culinary arts to horticulture, refrigeration mechanics, automotive mechanics, electricians, welders and more, the group representing TRU Women in Trades was a mosaic of diversity, coming together in the common goal of learning how to be leaders in their trades.
Fifteen women representing trades from around the province and five women in trades local to the Lower Mainland met outside the Vancouver Convention Centre at 7:50 am to take some photographs together as a group, before shuffling into the reserved seating section. From th
ere the women managed to take notes furiously throughout the day, all the while getting to know each other and getting to know other women at the conference who stopped by the reserved TRU section to admire their moxie.
With TRU alumni Bill Williams at the helm as the MC, the speakers came out throughout the day presenting ideas and information in a way that was both accessible and interesting. Vanderkam presented the idea of time management as something available to everyone, regardless of careers and priorities. She broke down the notion of how all women have 168 hours of free time during the week in a way that had women nodding along in agreement.
Dr. Annie McKee followed, speaking the gospel of happiness at work, and how success is the byproduct of happiness, not the driving force behind it. Many women found her to be inspirational, mentioning her speaking points in conversation long after the day had ended.
After a break for networking and lunch, the TRU Women in Trades group gathered for a few more photos before focusing on a panel discussion of female leaders in the business and technology sectors. Their stories were different, but their sentiments were the same; work hard, believe your skills are worthy and don’t be afraid to speak up and big things can follow. An important lesson for the women in trades to remember, as they negotiate work contracts and gain momentum in their fields.
Tiffany Duka, a women’s leadership coach, took the stage and blew the audience away with the simple statement, “If you want something you’ve never had before, you need to do something you’ve never done before to get it.” Her message of needing to drop the ball on who you think you are, in order to become who you want to be was awakening. When looking around the auditorium you could see many women in the audience nodded along in agreement, as she spoke of balancing work and life and of previously feeling guilt whenever she proverbially ‘dropped the ball.’
Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and one of Forbes’s Top 50 Most Influential People in Business rounded out the day of speakers. She spoke earnestly of her experiences in business, and more importantly, her experiences in the burn out that can come with a successful career. After speaking about a time she collapsed due to exhaustion, she realized that success does not have to come at the cost of health. She gave tips and tricks on how to disconnect yourself from media, and reconnect yourself to joy. Her new motto has been swapped in her later years, going from FOMO- the Fear of Missing Out, to JOMO- the Joy of Missing Out. “After all,” Huffington mused, “the work will still be there tomorrow”.
The day concluded with women from different areas of BC hugging each other goodbye, passing around business cards and talking about how much they gained from the conference. The fifteen women on the bus heading back to Kamloops were exhausted from all the information gained over the past ten hours, inspired by the women around them and grateful that the opportunity given to them by TRU.
In the days since the conference, the women spoke of a fire that had been lit inside of them. They spoke of friendships freshly forged since the conference, and presented TRU with information about upcoming conferences in hopes of keeping the momentum going. Some of the women made a point of sending emails and feedback thanking both Women in Trades and RBC and detailing how the conference has affected their views of being a leader in trades going forward. The truth is that all of these women were already leaders in the field. It just took a little bit of encouragement in order for them to be able to see it.