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WeForShe 2018 - Speak up, Step up and Act up!

YELL is excited to have sent 15 of our high school students to the 2018 WE FOR SHE Forum thanks again to the generosity of our community partners, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBoT). The conference took place in November 16th, 2018 at Vancouver Convention Centre. Held on an annual basis, WE FOR SHE is one of North America’s largest celebration of empowerment of women in our society that involves the gatherings of thousands of female  business leaders, change makers, and employers. The forum focuses on creating an equal future and reinforcing the role we each play to further equality across Canada and beyond.

During the morning keynote, the honorable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of Province of British Columbia and former Chief Executive Officer at YWCA, raised some of the most powerful questions to both the female professionals and the youths present: “What’s most important for you?... What’s your most proud time?” Upon answering these questions truthfully to themselves, our students explored their personal values in  guiding in their interests and career choices. Sitting next to Her Honour is Adina Williams, a highly involved member of the Squamish Nation and also a senior student at UBC, who also talked about her journey as an aspiring young women as the representative of the youth counterpart.

@WeForShe - Her Honours Janet Austin with Adina Williams.

@WeForShe - Her Honours Janet Austin with Adina Williams.

Of note, the conference included two sessions hosted by business leaders. One of them - “Inspiring Men to Inspire” was facilitated conversation with three established business leaders about what it takes to inspire men to be inspiring, inclusive leaders.

@WeForShe - ‘Inspiring Men to Inspire’

@WeForShe - ‘Inspiring Men to Inspire’

In the afternoon session, our own YELL speaker, Tara Bosch, also shared her story of turning her fear into one of the most successful, and fastest growing startup. We were all inspired by the experiences and advice that the speakers shared.

In addition, the conference has “NextGen Leaders Concurrent Sessions” which allow high school students to attend two 30-minutes sessions presented by organizations including Women’s Enterprise Center, Electronic Arts, the University of British Columbia, CPABC, Minerva BC, Spark Creations and ViaSport. It is also the favourite part of our YELL students.

Isabela, one of the attending YELL students, mentioned, “I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops, where we were able to have a more minimized audience, such that we could better familiarize ourselves with the professionals and fellow students”.


@WeForShe - Our YELL students definitely enjoyed the conference!

@WeForShe - Our YELL students definitely enjoyed the conference!

YELL students’ thoughts and learnings:

“WFS was an unforgettable experience. Not only did it empower and inspire but showcased the skill and potential of women in the room. I was struck by the comparison of life being a road trip, and that on this road to success, you would only allow yourself to be happy and enjoy yourself when, and only when you reached your destination. Explained like that, it appeared to me ridiculous to disregard my journey towards achievement, and view each passing as a fleeting highway marker. IB, for example, should not simply be viewed as a hurdle to overcome, but an experience to revel in and learn.”

                    - Isabela

“WFS is an experience I'll never forget. I learnt to be bold and brave and listened to so many inspiring ppl. It has definitely impacted my future in a positive way.”

- Anjali

“Something that I took away from WFS was be true to yourself and pursue your passions, follow your dreams and don't be afraid to fail. I want to take more initiative even if it scares me. Don't let fear hold you back from being true to you and pursuing your passions.”

- Taryn

“WFS was a lovely experience. I learnt to manage stress in a proactive way. My take away was to accept your flaws and love the way you are. Even if you're going through difficulties in life, you've got people behind you. “

- Nicole

“I learned how important it is to empower young women as they are the leaders of the next generations.”

- Mayah

“I heard some unexpected stories. Learnt how brave, open and empowered the women are. How there are so many opportunities to pursue!”

- Sheyda

“If you are really determined and you really want something, work hard and you will achieve it.”

- Zoë

“I learned the possible solution for gender equality. Equality starts in household. This event is very organized, have great food and great resources.”

- Jenny

YELL October/November 2018 Event Highlights

The past two months have been an event heavy and empowering experience for our YELL students, alumni and even us! YELL is always honoured when invited by partners to attend events like Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon and BC Chambers of Commerce’s Minister Lunch with Hon. Catherine McKenna. These events play an influential role in shaping our youth’s personal and entrepreneurial journeys. We hope their involvement injects energy, and hopefully new perspectives  into the room.

YELL Alumni attending Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon.

YELL Alumni attending Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon.

A Conversation with Ellen Degeneres

Courtesy of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBoT), a selection of our female students were invited to attend, A Conversation with Ellen Degeneres. Students left the event with empowering messages that inspire them to follow their passions and help them to manage the inner dialogue of the subconscious mind - “living life more truthfully”. Ellen shared powerful anecdotes that illustrated the importance of compassion and perseverance, a message that our YELL speakers have also drilled in our high school classrooms since the start of the school year.

YELL Students Attending ‘A Conversation with Ellen Degeneres’.

YELL Students Attending ‘A Conversation with Ellen Degeneres’.

Under-20 entrepreneurs pitch their startups to business leaders at international trade forum

The BC Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual #TradeTalks event on 11th October, 2018. This was a half-day forum for BC Business leaders to take a closer look at Canada’s trade and export agenda, with key insight on CPTPP from Maryscott Greenwood.

Eight YELL students got the opportunity to attend this amazing event and this year we had two YELL teams pitching to industry professionals.

Below is a Q&A with those young entrepreneurs.

Presenter #1: Saimir Sulaj- Oigo

Saimir Sulaj currently is a 3rd year Computer Software Engineering student in UBC as well as the co-founder of Oigo, an AI-driven text-to-speech annotation platform that allows university students to record lectures and search for specific snippets of audio with their desired topic.

Staring from this summer, Saimir has been working on Oigo for four months. “University can put lots of stress on people. You should be enjoying yourself. So I tried to see what I could do to help that.”

Actually Oigo is already his fourth start-up venture. “Two of them failed. One of them was generally successful.” But Saimir learned a lot from all the failure and progress. “That’s good because I meet lots of people and I get exposed to different kinds of projects. I love building things and dreams. Entrepreneurship is kind of ideal.”

“Before YELL, I had zero interest in business. And then I took YELL and it literally changed everything. It is about building and creating. YELL by far was the class had most impact on me.”

The week before #TradeTalks was extremely stressful for Saimir. He had three midterms in three days and needed to prepare for pitch at the same time. He did a lot of research and practice. “I didn’t sleep the night before. But It is fun, stressful, and I feel alive.”

After his pitch, panelists, Takuji Sakai, Executive Director of JETRO, and Angela Hollinger, Director of the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia, came to Saimir and shared their opinions on his future expansion plans for the Japan market.

( I wish I had this program when I was in high school !!)

For the whole video, click here.

Presenter #2: Javed Gill- SmartPill

Javed Gill graduated from YELL last year. His team, with Ali Bhagudi, Amaan Mangalji and Faaiz Walji, won 2nd prize at the YELL Venture Challenge 2018. Their venture idea, SmartPill, is an app that connects patients to physicians and pharmacies to reduce wait times for reoccurring prescription orders.

“We actually originally started with making sure patients take their medication on time, and then we pivoted to focus on helping patients get their medication. We figured this was a better and more solvable problem.”

#TradeTalks was memorable experience for Javed. “I was excited, and nervous at the same time. I think a little bit more nervous than excited. But I practiced and did it over and over again in front of different people just to get everybody’s opinions.”

Javed heard about YELL from his friends, who are currently part of his team of SmartPill. “It was a great experience. I never wanted to be an entrepreneur before. But after YELL, I actually want to pursue entrepreneurship.”

The part he liked most about YELL was the experience of pitching at the Venture Challenge. “I liked the YELL venture challenge  because it felt high profile and it gave me good experience in public speaking. So even now, when I give speeches in school, I just feel more comfortable.”

As for the good tips for our current YELL students, Javed mentioned YELL weekly guest speakers. He encouraged students to take seriously what YELL weekly guest speakers say. “They have a lot of good stuff to say. It is really important that you put their experience to good use.”

The full video is here.