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Blog: Now you can: Ascend expands to GTA West

Friday, May 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
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By Sonya Kumar

“I can’t make it, it’s too far.”

“I won’t be able to commute and make it on time.”

“All these amazing events that Ascend is hosting and I can’t join them.”


Well now YOU can.


Our members’ voices were heard. May 17th marked another milestone in Ascend Canada’s history – as the first-ever GTA West event took place in Mississaugua.  With a growing membership base outside of downtown Toronto, this was a great first step in being more inclusive ourselves! Planning is underway to expand to the north of the city.


Raj Krishnamoorthy (Deloitte), Ascend Canada board member, welcomed nearly 100 guests, including many from RBC, TD, Microsoft, Loblaw, IBM, McGill and UofT to name just a few! He took an opportunity to share Ascend’s history, global presence, mission statement and goals…with pride!

Suzanne Gagliese, Vice President of Microsoft Services took the podium and shared messages of diversity and inclusion, and the business case to “Innovate to Differentiate.” Suzanne is also the Executive Sponsor for Microsoft Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives. She delivered her presentation with energy and passion behind every word. She engaged the audience by sharing Microsoft’s mission statement “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” 


Suzanne shared three golden nuggets that I took away:


  1. Growth mindset: We need to always be learning and insatiably curious.  We need to always be improving. Be open to ideas of others, where the success of others does not diminish our own.  Celebrate risks, small and large, failure leads to mastery!

  2. Diverse workforce: Diverse thinking is at the root of invention and innovation!   Microsoft developed four strategic pillars for diversity and inclusion:  Transform the culture, empower the people, expand the talent pipeline and oh yes, delight the customers!

  3. Unconscious Bias: Important work is being done to help uncover unconscious bias - our natural people preferences that create hidden barriers to D&I initiatives. Microsoft has learning solutions - tools and resources through manager guides, e-lessons and dialogues for its employees.  Suzanne shared this unconscious bias training resource for all Ascend members too: it’s FREE – open to one and all – that includes YOU!  Please click here to access the training (did I mention it was free?!)

To close, Suzanne shared a powerful statistic:  “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.” Case closed -- it is a business imperative, and it is also “doing the right thing!”


Energized from the powerful messages, Ravi Ranganathan (RBC) set the stage for our networking event where there was only one rule – to have fun!  There was a definite buzz in the air. I felt there was a new found appreciation for one another, and that although we are buildings apart, there were many things we had in common. Our dialogue helped to inspire different ways of thinking, the feeling of wanting to know more, learn more from each other. I can’t wait until our next event in GTA West. Let’s keep the momentum going!  

Sonya Kumar is National Manager, Onboarding & Training Management at RBC. She is also a proud member of Ascend Canada and took the lead in organizing this event. Onboarding new members to Ascend in the GTA West – perfect fit!

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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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