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Leading by example

2018 Howard Morry Leadership Conference inspires next generation of leaders

March 26, 2018 — 

The student organizers of the fifth annual Howard Morry Leadership Conference say this year’s event, which took place on March 10 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, drew over 125 participants.

Felipé Garcia and Kristi Perrin, organizers of the 2018 Howard Morry Leadership Conference

Kristi Perrin and Felipé Garcia, both students at the Asper School of Business and special event coordinators for the Commerce Students’ Association, co-chaired the conference planning committee. Launched in 2013 by Winnipeg lawyer and philanthropist Howard Morry (BComm[Hons]/81), the day-long event invites local business leaders to share the stories of their success with students, and presents students with concrete actions they can take to make a difference as leaders in their own lives, right now.

“It’s a unique opportunity to meet the caliber of people you might not have the chance to meet every day—the movers and shakers in our community,” says Garcia.

This year’s leadership panel featured four keynote speakers: Jim Ludlow (president of True North Real Estate Development), Fred Kelly (Kizhebowse Mukaa – Kind Walking Bear), Mariette Mulaire (president and CEO of World Trade Centre Winnipeg), and John Proven (COO of Conviron, BComm[Hons]/90).

“Howard Morry has always seen this conference as a way to take student leadership to that next level by having established speakers from diverse backgrounds talk about all aspects of their journey—not only their successes but their failures, which also have valuable lessons to teach us,” says Perrin.

Jim Ludlow spoke of the importance of giving back, and how success means nothing if you’re not paying it forward in meaningful ways. Mariette Mulaire delivered a talk called “From the Dojo to the Boardroom,” which focused on how discipline and other martial arts principles shape her leadership. Fred Kelly shared the story of his own personal and professional background, and talked about what reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples means to the business community and industry, including the calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. John Proven talked about asking the right questions, playing to your strengths, and knowing your team is the greatest source of your strength as a leader.

Between keynote speakers, participants broke into workshops that focused on actionable strategies students could use to put the lessons they’d learned into practice. After John Proven’s keynote about the value of asking questions, for instance, Asper professor Lukas Neville presented groups with a business case, then asked each group to brainstorm five questions investors should ask before investing in the company.

Denise Zaporzan, president of Denise Zaporzan and Associates, and Danielle Tkachyk, owner of PMC Desaulniers Insurance Brokers Inc., also led workshops.

This year, for the first time, the organizers opened the conference to all U of M students, as well as students from the University of Winnipeg. “Leadership is universal, it’s not just applicable to business,” says Garcia. They also invited members of the Associates—a network of local business leaders who support the Asper School—to join the students at workshop tables.

“On the one hand we wanted to create networking opportunities, but we also wanted to get conversations flowing,” says Perrin. The result was a huge success: “The room was humming from all the lively discussion going on between the students and these prominent, experienced executives sharing ideas.”

Garcia says the Asper School is extremely fortunate to have so many alumni who give back to their school in this way. “You don’t find networks like the Associates at other business schools. But our Associates have been to Asper; they know how important it is. Most Asper grads choose to stay here for their careers. We’re a community of shared values, and they care about making sure those values continue into the next generation of leaders.”

Perrin and Garcia say the long-term plan is to expand the conference into an event that draws students from across the country and beyond. In the meantime, they’re pleased with the brand recognition the conference is beginning to build for itself in Winnipeg.

This marks the second year in a row the conference took place at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. “The CMHR has been a traditional meeting place for thousands of years. Its creation was a community collaboration, and now it’s home for stories of Canadian human rights leaders,” says Perrin. “We couldn’t imagine a more appropriate and inspiring place.”

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