by Adrienne Baker
The sixth annual Women and Work symposium, organized by the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, took a "chicken soup" approach this year, offering comfort and encouragement to an audience of about 300 women.
Regardless of their fields -- they ranged from entrepreneur to corporate executive -- the speakers gave the same recipe for success: perseverance and confidence. Do what you love, they said, and the rest will come.
Andrée Beaulieu Green, who left the faculty at UQAM at age 67 to start her own computer graphics school, Institut de Création Artistique et de Recherche en Infographie (ICARI), spoke passionately about challenges she faced trying to get start-up financing from the banks. "It's not a question of sex," she said, "it's a question of power."
Back in 1979, Anne Desjardins started a little restaurant near Ste. Adèle and called it L'Eau è la Bouche. Twenty years later, it is one of the finest restaurants on the continent, with a hotel attached, and Desjardins herself is a master chef.
She told how she went to great pains to find the best products for her restaurant, constantly improved her own culinary skills, and took care to hire the most suitable staff.
Rosey Edeh, Canadian record-holder in the 400-metre hurdles and winner of the Concordia Alumni Associations' 1999 Outstanding Student Award, gave advice about time management, and spoke of having passion for what you do. "Do something that excites you every day," she said. "This is what you need to stay alive and well."
Along with taking care of her four-year-old daughter, Edeh is training for her fourth Olympic Games and writing her Master's thesis in Art History.
Katherine Aziz, who earned her BComm at Concordia, described her relatively smooth climb to her current position as vice-president of Kerr Financial, upgrading her qualifications as a financial planner with professional courses. She advised women: be flexible, don't burn any bridges with fellow employees, make your boss's job easier, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Now that women have attained a certain equality, new challenges are cropping up.
Keynote speaker Lynda Reeves, creator of Canadian House and Home and Garden Life magazines, addressed the issue of balancing home and family. "I am not balanced; this is important for you to know," she said bluntly. "I have always chosen my career first." Reeves is president of a publishing company and host of a TV program, House and Home.
Reeves talked about her early passion for design, and how she transformed that passion into a successful business. She encouraged entrepreneurs to persist and have faith that their idea will one day be recognized and supported.
The Women and Work symposium was
organized this year by Marjorie Davis, coordinator of special
projects, and members of a committee in the Faculty of Commerce
and Administration. CTR Editor Barbara Black served as moderator
for the morning session.