VANCOUVER - The first thing you notice is how young they are. And then you see how determined as well. They are Young Women in Business, a group of students, recent graduates and professionals who have joined forces to create opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed on their own terms. And, as a group, they already have. This year, they are hosting their third-annual Beyond Pink conference, a two-day event for networking, speakers, panel discussions and inspiration that is expected to attract 250 participants. There is even a trade-show-like setting where exhibitors provide advice, not goods.
"We had never felt disadvantaged," explained one of the founders, Jennifer Sung. "But we knew that there were some unique differences in carving our career path that were not so apparent to our male peers."
The group collectively began to wonder why they had not been exposed to a conference that addressed the needs and interests of young women like them, Sung said.
So YWiB and Beyond Pink was born.
One of the issues being addressed this year is how couples really interact and balance their lives, careers and families, so they invited some of the city's busiest couples to tell them how to do that.
"Balance is something that everyone strives to find, and if you can see how everyone else is doing it, the pitfalls and the successes, and the tricks and ways to make it work [that really helps]," said Dani Waters, who is the speaker coordinator for the conference.
Three couples will sit on Beyond Pink's Power Couple Panel: Andrea and Nick Scott, owners of spa and facial company, Skoah; Nick Reiach Great Little Box Company vice-president, and Katie Dunsworth-Reiach, of Smart Cookies financial advisers and Spark PR co-founder; and Gayla Dehart of Achieve Excellence Professional Coaching Services and husband, John, Nurse Next Door co-founder.
"What really stood out to us was how many of our couples have children or are starting families and [we want to hear] how they are going through that transition," Waters said. "I strongly believe, or at least I strongly hope, that you can have it all, and I think all three of these couples are examples of people that really support each other and enable each other to do what they are doing."
Conference organizer Lindsey Smith agrees.
"There's been a stereotype in the past that you have to pick your family or your career," Smith said. "If you want to advance your career, be the CEO, means you won't be able to have children or spend any time with them. We're all pretty driven women, and we want everything, and it's pretty frightening being told you have to pick one of the other."
Waters attended Beyond Pink last year and "got such a big energy boost from seeing other women that were excited about life and excited about what they wanted."
This year's conference theme is "Make Your Brand. Leave Your Mark."
"We're all energetic and determined, but what am I good at?" Smith asked. "What do I sell people on? What makes me different from the people sitting beside me?"
Keynote speaker Michelle Rupp, principal of Lighthouse Leadership will speak on the challenges she's overcome and what made her stick out from the crowd.
Judy Brooks, who co-founded Blo Blow Dry Bar with her mother Judy, returns as a speaker as well to talk about adding value to personal interactions.
"Let's look beyond the package that may or may not be important," Brooks said. "Let's look at what you're leaving behind. That's what a mark is.
"When I leave the room, do I want somebody to remember what I was wearing or how I made them feel?" Brooks asked. "I want them to remember how I made them feel."
The conference is Nov. 19 and 20 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver.
More information is available at www.ywib.ca/beyondpink2010