What You Learn at Conferences in Business School

Though I love my Alma Mater I don’t think it was the robust academia that molded my mind, it was everything outside the classroom.  The people you meet, the events you put on through student groups and the conferences you attend.  Academics, grades and going to class are just the tip of the iceberg if you really want to learn.  It’s not a secret either, it’s actually very simple, get involved, do as much as you can, meet as many people as you can.  Take Mark Twain’s advice to heart:

“I never let school get in the way of my education.”

Below are the list of conferences I was lucky enough to attend, but not only did I meet new people every time, I learned major life lessons throughout these four years of hands on education.

Roundtable – Degroote School of Business(2005)

Always keep learning. Dr. Nick Bontis of the Degroote School of Business told us that knowledge will always give you the competitive advantage in whatever you do. Here’s a short clip from his talk:
He was a phenomenal keynote.  I remember telling someone after his talk that he just made the entire trip worth it.  Alas I was hooked on conferences.

Roundtable – Haskanye School of Business(2006)

A lady gave a talk on personal branding and told us a story about purple people.  It was a hilarious tale of how understanding your own personal brand means a lot to where your career will take you.  It really resonated  with me.  I came home from that conference and shaved my head for the first time and have been bald ever since.  Wild hey?

National Business School Council Asper School of Business(2006)

The Dean or Emeritus Dean gave a talk on reciprocity.  I had never heard of the concept, but it made a lot of sense.  Basically ‘kill people with kindness’ and it will come back to you.  He told us story after story on how just being nice to someone in a very difficult situation can pay large dividends.  It made a lot of sense to me.  From then on I tried to be a nicer person everyday.

Roundtable – Dalhousie University(2007)

A networking god from the west coast told us story after story of why you need to develop and maintain a strong network.  He said we should be meeting 7 new people a day.  A radical thinker who knew exactly what he was talking about.  I always try to carry around at least 7 business cards on me (he said that’s the bare minimum).  Simply put, the more people you know the more opportunity you have in the world to reach your goals.

West coast Leadership Retreat(2007)

The first conference where I met Irfan Rawji.  He taught a session on; a very effective way to give feedback, opening up to your team and the infamous lesson on being unreasonable, probably one of the most powerful concepts I learned in University.  We had two full days with Irfan and I can honestly say I learned more over those two days than an entire year in school.  It was different.  It made me want to learn more.

National Business School Council Asper School of Business(2007)

One of the best parts about these conferences was the people you met from other schools.  At this conference I skipped many of the daily sessions to talk to other student Presidents from schools all over Canada.  I learned a lot from how other Presidents handled situations and what problems they were facing at their schools.  This helped me immensely while I was president of the BSS, it was like I had my own mentors all over Canada.

JDC West(2006, 2007, 2008)

A business case, athletic and social competition. Over a three year period I experienced JDC West in a Business Strategy Case, on the Social Team and on the sports team.  The first year we got last place.  The second year we finished in second last place.  My last year on JDC we took second place, an amazing achievement and one unforgettable weekend.  Any student will learn more taking JDC than any other class in University.  If you have the opportunity be a part of JDC, you will never forget it.

University of Victoria Leadership Conference(2008)

Irfan taught a session at this conference as well, the one that changed my life. We also participated in the largest treasure hunt in Victoria, learned some amazing team building games and had presentations from Entrepreneurs who shared their passion about us finding our purpose.  Overall a life changing weekend.

Roundtable – University of Alberta(2008)

The last conference of my University career was mostly spent with the people I had met during this fascinating journey.  Brian Billick was speaking at the gala on the final night of the conference but we were too busy talking about each other’s up and coming life plans.  We called it “Table 6”.  All the presidents from the West and one from the East gathered around a table for one final night before we’d go out into the real world.  Richelle, Jess, Liam, Roger, Nick, Marc, Sammy bear, Carolina, Conor, Aman, and Amy made my entire University education worth it and I think we were all in tears by the end of the night knowing we’d have to part from each others company the following morning.  I will forever be in debt to this group of fascinating individuals, they were a large part of shaping the way I think and leading me in the direction of not believing in the bullshit society tries to sell us on.

Table 6

From Left to Right: Marc, Jeph, Roger, Richelle, Carolina, Aman, Sammy Bear, Amy, Conor, Nick

We’ve met once since we’ve been done school and I would assume we are overdue for another meet up with this group of amazing minds.

Business School isn’t about getting the best grades, the highest GPA or graduating with honors.  Do all of those if you want to get your masters, doctorate or if you want to be the best at school.  If you want to get the most out of University open your mind and your heart to others.  Get involved.  As much extra-curricular as I did in University the only thing I would change would be to get more involved and to meet more people.  It is in those situations you actually learn about “the real world”.

How was University for you?  Where did you learn the most?  Have some advice for University Students?  Please share in the comments below.

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *