On September 23rd, 2021, an intimate group of students from Mainstream Bursary program was joined by Zeenat Khoja - Sales Director. Senior Leadership, Customer Engagement Innovation, Business Transformation, High Performance Culture at Eli Lilly and Meredith Keenan - Vice President, Human Resources at General Electric Canada for our monthly Fireside Chats. The theme for this Fireside Chat was Curiosity.
These meetings provide an exclusive opportunity for youth to meet a wide variety of industry leaders, hear about their life and career experiences, and ask them ANYTHING, all in a small group setting.
Students ask incredible questions like:
Eli Lilly- Never went to business school or did an MBA and didn’t do a sales role before t. Sales person is “icky” and I was scared of it. I’ve learned sales can be helpful and purposeful and satisfying and doesn’t have to have the used car salesman vibes.
What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself?
Be curious and don’t be afraid. Immerse yourself in different things and learn as much as you can. Focusing on the fear can make you miss things that you may love
Is there specific things you like to do when you are meeting new people?
Do some online research- so may available resources these days with social media and LinkedIn.
What moment in your career affirmed you had followed the right path?
Follow the things that fire you up, that you love and enjoy. (Connecting with people and helping them achieve their goals)
Tough set of union negotiations very complex and at 3am I knew I was in the right place to serve and do the right thing for the client- avoiding a strike. Relationships and trust is KEY
What makes an applicant stand out to you?
What has that person done in their previous life experience (both work and extra curricular/volunteer). Can they speak to their initiative and their collaboration? Are they excited about the prospect of this job?
Biggest career obstacle and how you overcame?
When change comes, am I taking care of myself and reflecting on how I can overcome. Every time I've faced massive challenges in the work place I’ve come out on the other side better than before. Empathy in times of challenge is so important and keeps giving beyond your interaction.
How can diverse youth today overcome barriers in the work place?
Get involved and connected as you see opportunities. Take full advantage of EVERY opportunity. Entry level is a great place to start climbing the ladder. Partner with people in the organization- search out good mentors.
Don’t be afraid to be the voice to educate how things can be more inclusive.
Zeenat and Meredith both provided incredible advice to the students and future leaders about curiosity and overcoming barriers. The sharing of their personal experiences provided context and motivation for the students in attendance as well as the opportunity to connect with industry leaders they normally wouldn't have direct access to. The panelists were blown away with the level of tenacity and grit demonstrated by the Mainstream Bursary youth and can't wait to see the trajectory of these young professionals.
To learn more about the youth we support, please explore the link below.