On March 21st, by request of and in collaboration with the Canada-ASEAN Business Council’s (CABC) 4th Annual Business Forum in Singapore, B+H (a member of the CABC) chaired a new event targeted specifically at bridging a network of influential women transforming the business landscape across Canada and the ASEAN Nations. On day one of the two-day CABC 4th Annual Business Forum, the newly­created Women’s Leadership Forum presented: Women Transforming Business, providing an important environment for women to network, inspire and propel each other towards solving today’s complex problems through innovation that will create a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

“As we were conceptualizing this event, my first thought was to avoid creating another event about ‘how women can get a seat at the table,”‘ says Karen Cvornyek, CABC Women’s Leadership Forum Chair and President, Asia, B+H Architects. “It’s very clear to me from my years as a professional architect in Canada, Shanghai and Singapore that, while women may not always be at the table, they are very much present, and shaping our future in ways that we are just beginning to understand.”

Karen Cvornyek, CABC Women’s Leadership Forum Chair and President, Asia, B+H Architects

Inspiring Presentations from Today’s Trailblazers

Her Excellency Lynn McDonald, High Commissioner to Singapore

Her Excellency Lynn McDonald, High Commissioner to Singapore set the stage by describing the sea change taking place in Canada as a direct result of the feminist vision and leadership set out from the very top by Prime Minister Trudeau’s government. Today nine out of 12 of Canada’s ambassadors to the ASEAN are women, and we were lucky enough to have Both Her Excellency Lynn McDonald, and Her Excellency Julia Bentley, High Commissioner to Malaysia participate in the forum. The morning’s programme featured six inspirational women speakers who each described their own personal journey to leadership; Jan da Silva, President at CEO of Toronto Region Board of Trade, Marie-Claude Dumas, President of Clean Power and SNC Lavalin, Mairead Lavery, Senior VP Business Development at Export Development Canada, Le Hoang Lan, Co-Founder of LABO, Humera Malik, Founder and CEO of Canvass Analytics, and Lavinia Thanapathy, President of PrimeTime Business and Professional Women’s Organization.

Panel Discussions

Conversations that Matter at the World Cafe

After a morning of inspirational speakers, the second half of the forum engaged participants in a World Cafe, a participatory, inclusive discussion format designed to encourage conversations that matter to shaping our future and influencing positive outcomes. Attendees were welcomed to each table by dedicated Table Hosts who would ensure everyone is engaged in the conversation at their own comfort level and, most importantly, would be the keepers of the wisdom that is generated during each conversation.

At the end of three rounds of conversations the Table Hosts shared the key insights from each group, looking for patterns and themes and capturing key ideas to create a living network of collaborative dialogue in service to positively impacting the future of work.

Table Hosts shared the key insights from the conversations

The conversations revealed many great opportunities from leveraging technology to unleash new markets and carry education to every corner of the globe, to the importance of having more open and transparent conversations. Having the courage to call out and challenge behaviour that impedes inclusion and actively seeking better role models for females AND males that challenge gender stereotypes and give young girls and boys reason to believe in a future where their dreams become possible. “Women all over the world are Transforming Business by providing new forms of leadership, innovation and perspectives,” notes Wayne Farmer, President, Canada-ASEAN Business Council. “Greater empowerment of women professionals in our businesses and workplaces benefits us all, and we are extremely pleased to introduce the Women’s Leadership track at the CABC Business Forum this year.”