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Blog: Ready, Set, Ascend: Opening student minds

Wednesday, April 18, 2018  
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Ready, Set, Ascend: Opening student minds


Students from the three Ascend Canada GTA student chapters met last month at the annual Ready, Set, Ascend! Conference to get unfiltered career advice and make connections with industry professionals.  Nearly 100 students from the University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University gathered at the event on March 23rd, 2018.

This spectacular evening was all about innovation. It started off with opening remarks from Jeannine Pereira, Ascend Canada board member and EY Canada’s Talent Development and Learning Leader, on the importance of continuously looking to reinvent oneself.  “Companies look for agility, flexibility, and adaptability because what you do today isn’t what you will do 5 years from now”, she said, in reference to the rapid pace at which our marketplace is changing. 

It was a perfect set-up for two guest speakers, who talked about mindset and personal passion.


Arunan Sri, Founder of Stealth Blockchain Platform Company delivered his keynote speech on the need to continuously innovate and create more value in the world we live in. He stated, “Innovation is an internal mindset rooted in how we respond to what is happening around us”. He spoke of the importance to commit ones mindset to innovation because we come from cultures that stress the need to follow cultural norms and aim for traditional careers in medicine or engineering. However, it is important to go against these norms and follow your own passion to create innovation.


Brian Phan, the Executive Officer of U.CASH, echoed these comments in his speech, where he encouraged attendees to visit their ancestral country as there are opportunities for innovation all around the world. He started his career at a young age, working in a factory and painting houses. Through hard work and his commitment to re-inventing himself, he is now the co-Founder of a multi-million dollar company by market capitalization. His message to the audience was “Most tech companies didn’t start out as technology companies, banking for example. Look at your industry and see how technology will influence or disrupt it. He encouraged all attendees to “Be part of the change”.

The speed mentoring session gave students the opportunity to learn about career choices in diverse industries, gain career development advice and learn more about Ascend Canada. Industry professionals from companies like TD, RBC, Manulife, CPA Canada, Microsoft, and Accenture gave students plenty to think about. A 4:1 ratio of students to representatives at each mentoring roundtable was very impactful!  

Lastly, the night ended off with great food and an open networking round for students to mingle with mentors who most aligned to their career goals. Thank you to the student chapters, the Ascend relationship managers, and mentors who volunteered their time to help make this year’s conference another great success!

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling more confident about my future. All of the speeches tonight were so inspirational and created a great impact. The speakers opened our minds by challenging us to take on new opportunities that are outside our comfort zone and teaching us about the importance of networking and the willingness to learn from everyone around us.  


Keethica Ganeshalingam is the President of the Ascend Ryerson, and is currently a 4th year student working towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the Ted Rogers School of Management.

about Ascend

Ascend Canada was founded in 2012 to enhance the presence, visibility and influence of current and future Pan-Asian business leaders. Today, with the support of our more than 3,000 members and numerous corporate partners, our objectives are to develop the full potential of our members by leveraging our networks and providing programs and events that inspire, as well as educate. 

Vision: To have a diverse and inclusive Canada where pan-Asian talent can achieve its full potential.

Mission: Partner and progress with Canadian Organizations to develop and advance pan-Asian talent.

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