On Wednesday February 10th, 2016, the Deville Coffee Shop on 6th Ave was bustling as usual. However, this time it was not the regular coffee-goers and student that dot the scene – instead it was a group of young women with posters and sign-in sheets in hand.
This was the much anticipated Soft Launch of the Young Women in Business – Calgary chapter. Since the ideas first formed in August of 2015, various calls, coffees, meetings and happy hour drinks took place to bring the inaugural event to the City. Ten minutes before the first guests are expected to sign in, the team came together at the entrance for a de-brief and confirm tasks.
As the first guests walked in, they were met with Rachelle Tilden and Linda Huynh, who accepted their coats, give out their name tags and drink tickets. Their attention was then steered to the glass wall, where four questions were posted on the glass. The questions included general questions, such as “Why are you in Calgary”, and “What do you think is the benefit of female mentorship?”, but also questions that encouraged them to think a little more deeply, such as “what would be a piece of advice you would give to a mentee if you had one?”, and “Why does the percentage of women who aspire to go into senior management and leadership roles drop down from 43% to 15% by the end of the female’s second year of work?”.
As the other guests rolled in, the little sticky notes started going up one-by-one. In true female fashion, they were organized in neat columns and rolls.Guests started having the chance to taste some of the charcuterie and sweets that Deville is known for. The small coffee shop was soon bustling with girls meeting up and chatting as they chatted in what we hope is a comfortable atmosphere. By 6:10pm, the shop was aptly full, and the glasses clinked as the introduction was given. Alice Chen, the President and Founder of the Calgary chapter welcomed the audience, introduced the team, and briefly touched the background of Young Women in Business and the role that it hopes to play for the young women in the rooms. She raised the glass and made the first toast of many to come:
“To strive in the business world, we gals have to have each other’s back. In this room, we have accountants, bankers, lawyers, marketing and HR professionals. And one day, we will be senior managers, executives, business owners, and contributing members of society. So cheers.. to us!”
A one-page anonymous survey was handed out to the guests. The results were to be consolidated and dispersed back to the audience in the following week. Members of the board went around and explained what some of the brainstormed ideas meant – such as High Tea and Speaker series. The night was wrapped up with Colleen Toohey going back to the glass wall, and commenting on any recurring themes that the answers had. Despite having a broad range of professionals in the room, there proved to be definite overlap in the answers, and some ideas that transcends work, but not gender. It will be these kind of questions that we hope to tackle as an organization together.
The guests were informed of the formal “hard” launch that will take place in March and encouraged to bring out their friends and colleagues. As a group that is at its infancy start-up stages, the guest of approximately 25 was a sign that the City is definitely craving a group that tailors to their age-specific needs.
Young Women in Business – Calgary is thankful and gracious to the generous sponsorship of Sher Nerland Calnan LLP.