International Women's Day Conference 2014 Recap

This year's International Women's Day Conference was a huge success and the atmosphere was filled with positive energy. Led by our marvelous MC, Lien Yeung, between speakers, Valerie Mason-John, Mia Thomsett and Addie Gillespie from DARE Vancouver, Jill Earthy, Suzanne Siemens, Paulina Cameron and more. They shared their stories of how they got to where they are and their definitions of success.

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By Natasha Jung, SOUL mentor and marketing communications professional Two things people know about me: I love Jay-Z and I love people.

Being a people person, naturally, I get to meet a lot of people. A few times a year, I get invited to meet university students at conferences, speaker series or networking events.

Typical types of questions I get from students:

• What do you do for work? • How did you get to where you are today? • What are some tips you have for finding a dream job after graduating from university? get the idea.

I recently attended a networking roundtable event that brought in professionals across different industries with students from different areas of study. One of the students came up to me and asked me something I had never heard from a student before:

"What are the challenges you face being a young woman trying to work your way up the corporate ladder? What are the limitations or obstacles I should be aware of and prepare myself for?"

While I am certainly aware of challenges women may face in getting to top leadership positions, I didn’t feel qualified to answer her questions, even though she was asking about my own experiences.

Why? There's so much more to the conversation of career advancement for women than what I have personally experienced. Having started off my professional career a few years ago, I had not yet faced any limitations or obstacles because of my gender (at least not that I'm aware of)...and I certainly hope I never do.

We had to switch tables before I could answer, so we couldn't finish the conversation and then the event was over. (Don't worry, I'm going to see if she wants to go for coffee to discuss further).

Where did these questions come from? Had she been doing some reading that had led her to believe these were things she should worry about before even graduating from university? Has she seen or experienced this first-hand? Did someone tell her that she should start thinking about these things as so to 'choose an appropriate career path' or 'set goals accordingly'?

The very next morning, I had a meeting with my Chief Marketing Officer who was visiting from Toronto. She's only 4'11", but by the way she carries herself, she has people convinced that she’s 5'8". This wasn't a meeting about campaign plans or the direction of the marketing group within our firm – it was a discussion of the book "Lean In," written by Sheryl Sandberg,

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer. In this book, Sheryl describes how women unintentionally hold themselves back based on limitations they've created internally, which affect their outward progression in their careers and lives overall. I brought up the questions the student asked the night before and we discussed the issue.

Inspired by the discussion around the table, I ask this of my fellow emerging professionals (females and males alike): If you're ever asked similar questions, I hope you can answer in this manner:

• Many of the limitations we see can often be self-inflicted and a reflection of how we compare ourselves in relation to our male counterparts around us • There will always be obstacles and challenges in our professional lives, but we should embrace and overcome them • We are only limited by what our minds think we can or cannot do • You go, girl! (just kidding...unless it works in that situation)

How's that for a pep talk? As much as I believe in all those messages and strive to live by them everyday, I can't ignore the facts.

Deloitte and Carleton University's Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership conducted a study, Progress in inches, miles to go. The study provides figures, facts and tremendous insight into female leadership across all industries and shows how women are under-represented in those top spots.

I don't have a magic formula to prescribe what emerging professionals (male and female) can do today and tomorrow to help change that. What I can advise to students who are carving their paths though, is this:

• Choose an organization where you have potential to grow • Have thoughtful conversations with people in your network about this topic if you have questions • You can't control external barriers, but you can certainly manage your own internal ones - don't ever limit yourself • Embrace any challenges that may come your way as an opportunity to grow • Ask yourself this question: What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Oh, and where does Jay-Z factor into this? Not only is he married to Beyonce (aka Queen B, who has the entire music industry wrapped around her finger), but he too doesn't believe in limitations. So in the words of Jay-Z, I tell myself this all the time and I hope you do too: "world can't hold me, too much ambition."

Executive for a Day Raffle Prize at International Women's Day Conference

557740_362043540500369_254437157_n At our International Women's Day (IWD) Conference on March 8 at the Century Plaza Hotel, we will have raffle prizes you can enter to win. One you might be interested in is our Executive for a Day prize where you could win a coffee chat/office tour of your desired organization to learn more about the career that interests you.

Organizations and professionals participating will be:

Erica Rizzo Technical Talent Associate Hootsuite
Pam Hernandez Project Manager Telus
Sam Ko Manager, Platform Ecosystems & eChannels Marketing SAP
Jennifer Maloney Co-Founder Yulu PR
Stephanie Shaw HR Business Partner Teck Resources
Sanj Kooner Associate PricewaterhouseCoopers
Pam Sirney HR Manager Holt Renfrew
Caoimhe Bourke HR Manager Smythe Ratcliffe
Sam Dundee and Andrea Yeung Mergers and Acquisitions Analyst/Financial Analyst Deloitte/Telus
Ellen Pekeles Senior Vice President of Operations Vancity

Tickets for IWD are now on sale: http://ywibiwd14.eventbrite.caWe will have more organizations and professionals, so stay tuned!

For a list of speakers and panelists, click here.



Tips to Help Get Organized Before Tax Season

Filing a tax return is an important part of your financial plan. However, without the proper documentation, the Canada Revenue Agency will not allow you to claim credits or deductions. Keeping track of receipts and slips is important because without proof, your claim may be denied and you may end up paying more tax than you should.

Caroline Battista, tax analyst with H&R Block Canada and speaker of our upcoming Mind Your Money workshop, offers some advice on how to get organized early and outlines what paperwork you need to complete your return.

First, keep all your receipts and tax slips together in one safe, easy-to-access location. It could be a drawer, an envelope, a file folder or shoebox. This will save looking for receipts at tax time. Remember, if you received a receipt in January 2013 to claim on your tax return, it will be at least 14 months later when you actually file in April.

There are many valuable slips students should keep for taxes, including:

  • T2202A form: Provided by your university or college, this form allows you to claim your tuition fees and indicates the number of months you can claim the education amount and the Textbook Tax Credit. It is based on the calendar year.
  • T4 slips: If you have worked during the year, your employer is required to supply a T4 by the end of February. If you have moved, make sure you provide an updated address. You need to include all your T4 slips from 2013 on your return. Not reporting income can lead to penalties and interest.
  • Student loan statements: For government and provincial student loans, you can claim a tax credit on the interest paid during the calendar year. Unfortunately, private loans and credit lines are not deductible.
  • Transit passes and receipts: If you earned enough income in 2013 and depend on transit to get to campus, keep your passes and receipts to claim the Transit Pass Tax Credit. This also includes some electronic tickets if minimum usage requirements are met and weekly passes are purchased for four consecutive weeks. Make sure the pass clearly states your name, how long the pass is valid, the amount paid and the name of the transit authority.
  • Moving expenses receipts: If you have taxable income from scholarships or research grants, you may be able to claim moving expenses. You may also qualify if you move more than 40 kilometres for a summer job. Deductible expenses include travel, transportation, storage and the cost of meals and temporary accommodation for up to 15 days.

No matter how little income you may have earned, make sure you file a tax return. You may not be able to claim your tuition and education credits now, but you have to file the T2202A Form the year you receive it in order to carry forward the credits or transfer them to a parent, grandparent or spouse.

Filing also means you probably will qualify for the quarterly GST/HST benefit, which should help your quality of student life. And once you graduate, your carried forward credits can result in a refund once you start earning.

If you find taxes confusing and could use some guidance, you can use an online tax preparation program like H&R Block Tax Software which walks you through step-by-step tips to identify every possible deduction or credit, calculates your return as you go, and ensures you get your maximum refund. And you may be able to file for free. If you would rather consult a tax professional, drop by the H&R Block office in your neighbourhood. Students are entitled to special pricing and a tax professional will review your previous year’s return for free.

About the Speaker

caroline ywib

Caroline Battista Tax Analyst, H&R Block Canada

Caroline joined H&R Block as a tax professional in January 2008 after leaving behind a career in the film industry. Steadily promoted within her district, Caroline leveraged her acting skills to act as the local spokesperson and community representative for her area.

Promoted to Tax Analyst in 2013, Caroline continues to support the field as a tax instructor and acts as one of the company’s national spokespeople. She provides commentary on tax law changes and regulatory developments as well as translating tax into simple language.

Prior to joining H&R Block, Caroline was an assistant director in the film and television industry, managing the cast and crew for programs like DaVinci’s Inquest.

She is an active volunteer within her community. She represents H&R Block at the Salvation Army’s Dignity Day preparing tax returns as part of their community outreach program. She also serves on the organizing committee for the Oppenheimer Park Christmas Dinner, which serves more than 2,500 meals on the downtown eastside Vancouver.

Caroline studied marketing and advertising at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and economics at the University of British Columbia.

She lives in North Vancouver with her husband, daughter and father.

Why you should be a YWiB SFU member

As a non-profit society for emerging female leaders in Western Canada, Young Women in Business (YWiB) SFU opened under the greater YWiB network five years ago. It has since grown to include a platform of growth opportunities for emerging female leaders at SFU - ranging from workshops, socials, networking events, a mentorship program, social enterprise challenge, and, most recently, the International Women’s Day Conference. Within 5 years, the SFU chapter has grown to inspire and connect 100-120 members, from all faculties, annually and has helped them achieve their personal and professional growth goals - no matter what they are.

Check out this video and see how YWiB SFU has inspired Zoya, a second year social sciences student, and Megan, a fifth year communications and IAT student.

Join YWiB SFU today to build your story. Member applications are now open and deadline is September 29th. Simply fill the form here.

Why You Should Be a Mentor

Supporting Our University Leaders (SOUL) Mentorship Program, initially launched in 2009, is a student-run program unique to YWiB SFU. SOUL connects SFU Alumni from various industries with talented SFU female students based on the personal and professional career aspirations of the student in order to develop an educational mentorship.

As mentioned in a Forbes article, there are benefits in how becoming a mentor can boost your career. You can:

  • Better understand the business

  • Better understand how people perceive you

  • Create a larger network

  • Help solve issues

  • Gain personal satisfaction

SOUL gives an SFU Alumni the opportunity to gain those benefits. More importantly, the program provides SFU alumni the chance to contribute back to the SFU community, to meet and be inspired by passionate female students, and receive a rewarding experience of making a difference in someoneʼs life.

“SOUL is a supportive environment where both mentees and mentors are encouraged to grow and learn from one another and gain different perspectives on life,” says Sally Lee, co-executive of SOUL.

Both Sally and her co-executive, Fiona Kwong, were part of the program last year and the experience has profoundly impacted them.

“The SOUL Mentorship Program has added enormous value to my university experience,” says Fiona. “Prior to joining the program, I was lost and greatly restricted by my uncertainties and self doubt. My mentor liberally shared her personal experiences, and offered me valuable insight. Her encouragement and support helped me gain confidence that allowed me to step out of my comfort zone to take on opportunities, and achieve the goals I've set out to attain.”

As for Sally, being both a past mentee and a current executive has allowed her to develop long-lasting, meaning relationships and an understanding of SFU alumni who are passionate about giving back.

“I find SOUL to be refreshingly unique from other programs in that it is able to foster genuine and long-term relationships for each individual mentor-mentee relationship,” says Sally. “ I am so appreciative of how the program and the mentors are able to raise confidence and initiative for every mentee, including myself. I hope to have another successful year for the 2013/2014 term!”

*The duration of the program is from November to April. Deadline is August 31.

{Launch Party} Who is Miss YWiB?

Last week, we kicked off the year in style with our annual Launch Party. After winning “Event of the Year” at the BASS Awards last year with Launch Party 2012, we knew it was going to be tough to raise the bar.

With help from our amazing sponsors at Butter Media, Lavish Design, Browns Brentwood and Blanche Macdonald, however, we pulled it off. Over 150 guests enjoyed makeovers from Blanche, tae kwon do lessons from Kees Taekwondo, and manicures from some of our very talented friends. Photos from Butter's photo booth can be found here. Our guests also enjoyed learning some DIY beauty tips, including a sugar honey scrub and banana face mask. Recipes can be found at the bottom of this post!

Launch Party wasn’t all fun and games, though. Upon arriving, the ladies were charged with the task of learning as much about YWiB SFU as possible in order to answer the question, “Who is Miss YWiB?” Throughout the night, we asked our guests to add their major and/or concentration to a large map. By the end of the night, we finally had our answer. YWiB girls are more than just business students. YWiB recognizes that every woman is in the business of building her career, whether she is a science major or an arts student. After adding their names to our map, guests received their swag bag full of goodies generously donated by Unilever Canada.

The executive team would like to thank everyone who attended Launch Party. Your energy and passion for YWiB SFU is inspiring, and we can’t wait to get to know each and every one of you this year. We are also so grateful for all the support from our amazing sponsors, whom without Launch Party would not have been possible.

Membership applications are now closed, however we are still accepting applications for participants for Project GIVE. Applications are due Sunday, September 30 at 11:59 pm.

Our photos from Launch Party can be found here. Below are the recipes used at our DIY Beauty table, enjoy!


Banana Mask Avocado Mask Sugar Honey Scrub
Banana – 1 slice Honey – ½ teaspoon Lemon Juice – 1-2 drops Avocado – 1 teaspoon Honey – ½ teaspoon Sugar – ½ teaspoon Honey – ½ teaspoon Olive Oil – 1-2 drops Vaseline – less than ½ a teaspoon
What is this good for?

  • Banana helps nourish skin
  • Honey absorbs and retains moisture
  • Lemon juice exfoliates the skin, reducing the appearance of scars and acne
  • This mask is particularly good for oily skin


What is this good for?

  • Avocados and honey are particularly moisturising
  • This mask is particularly great for dry skin


What is this good for?

  • Honey is known for its antibacterial and moisturizing properties
  • Sugar can be used as an exfoliator
  • Good for exfoliation and application wherever needed, best for the lips