Jan. 26, 2022

Industry Leaders Use the Power of Conversation in Students Leadership Development

Learning with Leaders launches a new format to engage students with a greater number of business leaders.
Learning with Leaders: The Power of Conversation in Students’ Leadership Development

Learning with Leaders launched a new series format during the Fall 2021 term. This program, offered by the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business (CCAL), connects Haskayne students with experienced business leaders for a series of unscripted conversations. The new format consists of three sessions that focus on a particular aspect of leadership, with each subsequent session including a larger number of business leaders and students participating. This year the program continues to hold virtual sessions, allowing students to engage in conversations with leaders fromdiverse backgrounds and industries across Canada, all of them with unique perspectives and experiences that encourage students to realize their potential as leaders.

While the conversations continue to be open and unscripted, each session examines a different leadership quality that helps frame the conversation and help both leaders and students prepare for the discussion. Through a brief topic overview, leaders are encouraged to think about lived experiences, stories, and anecdotes that can provide further insight into the leadership challenges and opportunities students may face. Bringing those stories into the conversation is a powerful way to share knowledge and communicate values to students while sparking reflection and dialogue. Students also prepare questions in advance to dig deeper into the leader's experiences and perspectives.

During the first series of the 2021-2022 academic year, Learning with Leaders hosted eleven conversations with eight different industry leaders from the Calgary area and the United States. Over 21 different students joined the series and gained insight into the main series theme, "Proving Oneself and Bringing your Best." The following topics were discussed during the sessions:

Session #1 – The Importance of Mastery

This session focused on "The Importance of Mastery" with the participation of April Crane, Director Corporate Communications at WestJet, Colby Delorme, President of NATION Imagination – The Aboriginal Gifting Co., and Karen Ganzlin, Former Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer at TD Ameritrade. Leaders shared valuable lessons about the importance of perseverance when learning and mastering a difficult skill or challenging task. Students felt inspired to try new experiences and stay committed to developing new skills and harvest the benefits of achieving mastery, even if they don't necessarily enjoy the process at first. One of the students was particularly challenged to reassess her assumptions and pursue new opportunities. In her words:

"As a woman of colour, I'm always concerned about being undermined in a male-dominated industry. Hearing April talk about never letting herself have pre-conceived ideas because it closes opportunities was an important lesson for me to hear." BComm Student

Session #2 – Productive Working Relationships

In this session, George Brookman, Chairman & Corporate Ambassador of West Canadian Industries, Saskia Houwen, Director of Business Intelligence at Nutrien, and Colby Delorme (returning) joined the session to discuss with the students about "Productive Working Relationships." Students learned from the leaders' different approaches to developing authentic relationships. Participants were encouraged to be welcoming and accepting of others since learning takes place in the midst of diverse world views and ways of being. Both leaders and students shared the challenges and opportunities the pandemic and remote working have brought when making connections and establishing relationships.

“Thank you, George, for your time. I am approaching graduation this year, and it has been difficult making personal connections and networking. I really appreciate the advice on how to make connections virtually and in person.” BComm Student

Session #3 – Developing a Working Network

During this final session, leaders offered practical advice to students when "Developing a Working Network." Leaders highlighted the value students could bring to a network and invited them to be confident in sharing their strengths and qualities while staying true to their principles and beliefs. Students learned that connections last long, so the networks they develop now might provide priceless opportunities in the future.

“My biggest takeaway was more of a feeling conveyed by Allison than something she said. She was really great at showing us that our experiences can contribute value to an organization and our networks. And that our entire networks are interested in our mutual success.” MBA Student

Colby Delorme, Karen Ganzlin, along with three new leaders, Allison Taylor, CEO, Co-Founder, and Portfolio Manager of Invico Capital Corporation, Jason Grelowski, CEO of SDE Software Development Experts, and Rebecca Wood, Senior Consultant of Einblau & Associates, joined the discussion for this final session.

After the first series of Learning with Leaders, both students and leaders felt inspired by each other's viewpoints and stories. The lessons shared through these interactions will allow students to keep growing as leaders, no matter the professional path they may choose. Thank you to all the leaders and students who participated in this series and made of these sessions a remarkable experience!

The next session of Learning with Leaders will begin on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.If you are a student interested in participating in the upcoming series, please register here.

If you wish to learn more about the Learning with Leaders program, please sign up for our LWL mailing list to receive advanced notice of these events or email us at leadership@haskayne.ucalgary.ca.

If you are a community member interested in creating a lasting impact in our students by hosting one of these conversations, please reach out to us at leadership@haskayne.ucalgary.ca.

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