Grow Your Career Conference

Check out the top tips our presenters gave to

help grow your career!

The Grow Your Career Conference may have come and gone, but check out UCalgary Alumni's robust year-round career program. Don't miss out on our:


Feb. 3, 2018 | 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. | $25, includes breakfast and lunch
Location: University of Calgary Downtown Campus, 906 8 Ave S.W.

Grow Your Career with our inaugural career conference — an event that’s exclusively for UCalgary alumni!

We’re gathering some of your fellow alumni who are experts in the area of career development to lead this day of learning and exploration. You’ll leave with tips and practical advice that’ll help guide your career journey, no matter if you’re looking for new opportunities or are aiming to develop professionally in your current career. 

Sessions and schedule

8 – 9 a.m.  Registration and breakfast | Location: Event Centre B & C

9 – 9:50 a.m.  Keynote: The Rise of Intrapreneurship | Location: Event Centre B & C

10 – 10:50 a.m.  Session #1 — Does Your Career Matter? (to You) or Reigniting the 50+ Worker

11 – 11:50 a.m.  Session #2 — Building Career Resilience in the New Economy or The Power of Mentorship

12 – 1 p.m.  Lunch | Location: Event Centre B & C

1 – 1:50 p.m.  Session #3 — Insights from an HR Recruiter: Winning Resumes or Workplace Culture and Intercultural Competence

2 – 2:50 p.m.  Session #4 — Acing the Interview or Owning Your Development Today, For Tomorrow

3 – 3:15 p.m.  Closing remarks. Door prizes awarded. | Location: Event Centre B & C

3:15 – 4:30 p.m.  Coffee bar and network | Location: Event Centre B & C

Keynote: The Rise of Intrapreneurship

Location: Event Centre B & C

Forbes has called intrapreneurs the “heroes of a business.” has credited intrapreneurs with being “drivers of innovation.”
And Fast Company has said “the future belongs” to intrapreneurs.

The time is now for you to be an “intrapreneur” — an employee who proactively thinks and acts like an entrepreneur to bring innovation and creativity into the workplace. Join keynote speaker Derek Hassay, RBC Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurial Thinking, to discover why entrepreneurial thinking is a critical skill for your career success. Derek’s presentation will introduce you to the fundamentals. Specifically, you’ll learn how entrepreneurial thinking:

  • can help you identify and deliver innovative solutions to workplace and market challenges;
  • can drive you to focus on value-enhancing activities that support continuous improvement and growth, as well as increasing customer experiences; and
  • is your key to personal and organizational success.

Derek will also share with you UCalgary’s strategic focus on developing entrepreneurial thinking on campus and in the community.


Keynote speaker: Derek Hassay

RBC Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurial Thinking, Haskayne School of Business

Derek Hassay has been teaching at UCalgary’s Haskayne School of Business since 2000. His teaching and research interests exist at the intersection of marketing and entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on the practical application of theory and, most importantly, has led to the development of entrepreneurial thinking at UCalgary. To date, thousands of students at Haskayne and across campus, as well as members of the community, have received training in the art, science and practice of entrepreneurial thinking.

Derek’s work in this area led to the development of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Haskayne School of Business and, more recently, UCalgary’s Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. As the RBC Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurial Thinking, Derek designs and delivers a variety of instructional, research and community-engagement initiatives related to this exciting area of economic, social and cultural development.

Derek has more than 20 years of experience advocating for the development and growth of sustainable entrepreneurial firms and non-profits and he created the award-winning experiential learning project, Selling Smiles 101, that simultaneously teaches sales and sales-management skills while raising money for children’s charities.

Derek is also a recipient of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.

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Session #1

Does Your Career Matter? (to You)

Location: Room 234

Does your career matter? We don’t mean, does it matter primarily to your spouse, parents, boss, family, friends or culture. Does your career matter to you? Does it speak to your deepest aspirations? Does it offer you a sense of fulfilment and purpose?

If you answer “No” to the above, then you are not alone. A poll conducted by Gallup discovered that, worldwide, 87 per cent of workers are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. Employee disengagement is a colossal waste of time, money and resources. It makes one wonder: “How many of today’s problems are the result of (or exasperated by) people simply being in the wrong job, doing something they dislike and aren’t especially good at?” And then one wonders: “What could this world look like if we turned it all around?”  

Join us for a thought-provoking session where we'll explore the practical steps required to create a career that is meaningful, fulfilling and financially rewarding. In this session, you will learn:

  • the four components to designing an integral career;
  • the five skills required for career resilience; and 
  • the one obstacle to career fulfilment and a number of strategies to overcome it.


Clifford Wessel

Clifford Wessel

UCalgary alumnus Clifford Wessel, BA’89, is a senior career coach and owner of his own practice, 02yellow Inc., where he primarily provides integral coaching services. Here, he has provided counselling and professional development programs to coaches, psychologists and other mental health professionals in Canada, the US and internationally.

Clifford’s career tip:
One of the most important things an employee can do to be in control of their destiny is to replace the “employee mindset” with that of an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Reigniting the 50+ Worker

Location: Event Centre A

Workers in their 50s have an amazing opportunity to reignite their careers and reflect on how they can bring their valuable skills to the workplace and their communities in new ways.

Whether you are a 50+ worker wanting to tweak your current career, become an entrepreneur, start an entirely different career or have been let go during the recession, this session is for you. It'll focus on the nuts and bolts of how everyone, regardless of their age or stage of career, can strengthen their career decision-making “muscles” using higher-order thinking skills. This session encourages the 50+ worker to go beyond the traditional job search and learn how to look for unique and interesting work opportunities instead.

This session focuses on honouring the 50+ worker and the value they bring to the workplace and will: 

  • challenge the concept of ageism, identifying how 50+ workers can bring value to the workplace, the greater community and even social advocacy;     
  • introduce the concept of higher-order thinking skills and how these skills relate to career decision-making; and 
  • learn how to practice due diligence in career decision-making, including what information to research, analyzing that information, evaluating choices and creating career opportunities.


Ann Nakaska

Ann Nakaska

UCalgary alumna Ann Nakaska, BA’00, MEd’09, is a consultant specializing in career decision-making. Her clients include young adults, mid-life career changers and 50+ workers. She believes in strengthening her clients’ decision-making skills through increased analysis, evaluation and self-reflection.

Ann’s career tip:
If we want better careers, we need better career decision-making skills. Great career decision-making is a continual, intentional process that requires a lot of time, research, analysis and evaluation.

Session #2

Building Career Resilience in the New Economy

Location: Event Centre A

In today's rapidly changing world, and with increasing uncertainty about what careers may look like in the future, it's increasingly important for individuals to build career resilience. Join us to learn how to foster career resilience through adopting a free-agent outlook and implementing key principles for thriving in a changing career landscape.

You will leave the workshop with: 

  • an understanding of the importance of fostering career resilience, as well as the ability to thrive and adapt to a changing career landscape in a proactive manner;
  • six key principles that can be implemented at any stage in your career; and
  • practical tips and resources to use following the workshop. 


Matthew Geddes

Matthew Geddes

Alumnus Matthew Geddes, BSc’82, BSc’89, MSc’92, is a career specialist at UCalgary with 20 years of career-development experience. He’s passionate about bringing new resources and research-based practices to support individuals. Matthew has a diverse background and is certified in interpreting the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory, all of which allow him to bring a unique approach to supporting individuals in achieving their career goals.

Matthew’s career tip:
Build an openness to change by identifying one small thing you would like to do differently or start doing. Write what it is, why this is important to you and a simple plan for doing it. Share this with a spouse or friend.

The Power of Mentorship

Location: Room 234

Mentoring is a powerful relationship and process that benefits both mentors and mentees in so many ways. Whether you are an accomplished professional or embarking on your first career mentorship can have a huge impact in your life and career as well as in the life and career of someone else. It can rekindle your purpose, introduce you to new ideas you never thought possible, challenge you with different perspectives and help you overcome obstacles.  

This session will focus on how the power of mentorship advances one’s own leadership development in the areas of career and professional development, both as a mentor or as a mentee. Designed as an engaging, hands-on workshop supported by research, this session will explore:   

  • benefits of mentorship for mentors and mentees, personally and professionally;
  • how to cultivate and successfully navigate mentoring relationships;
  • the key elements of success in a mentoring relationship; and
  • the broader positive impact of mentorship on society and in enhancing the workplace.


Frances Donohue

Frances Donohue

UCalgary alumna Frances Donohue, BSc’01, has been working with students at the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business at the Haskayne School of Business since 2001. She leads the Haskayne Professional Mentorship Program, Haskayne Peer Network, the national East meets West MBA Leadership Case Competition co-hosted with the Ivey School of Business, Western Ontario University, and the Community for Advanced Leadership.

Frances’ career tip:
Develop as many mentoring relationships (informal or formal) as you can from a wide breadth of people in your life. Consider that you’re always teaching someone something, intentionally or not.

Jenny Krahn

Jenny Krahn

Jenny Krahn joined UCalgary’s Haskayne School of Business in 2006, where she was a founding GeEMBA faculty member, teaching the MBA, EMBA and other graduate programs. Jenny co-chaired development of foundation for the first major research centre at Haskayne, the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business, and then became its second director in 2013. The centre delivers high-impact student experiences, enables discovery to advance research and supports community connections.

Session #3

Insights from an HR Recruiter: Winning Resumes

Location: Event Centre A

Most online job postings have hundreds — even thousands — of applicants. In such a competitive market, how can you get your resume noticed? This session will reveal the mindset of recruiters when they screen resumes, what they look for, why it matters and who consistently makes it through to the next stage. You'll learn:

  • the four basic ingredients needed to create a resume;
  • the importance of formatting and flow;
  • how to craft an effective profile statement;
  • three prompts to help quantify your accomplishment; and
  • insider tips on keyword optimization.


Brian Palmer

Brian Palmer

UCalgary alumnus Brian Palmer, BComm’06, is a strategic career professional with more than 12 years of experience in the energy and consulting industries. His focus on career development has included roles as a recruiter, talent management advisor, new-grad program co-ordinator and career transition coach. In that time, Brian has screened more than 2,800 resumes and led more than 300 interviews.

Brian’s career tip:
While there’s no one-size-fits-all format for a resume, how your words appear on a page do matter. Imagine walking into a gallery and seeing your resume hanging on the wall. Your content should show up clear, consistent and well-crafted. You want your reader to “step in” and take a closer look.

Workplace Culture and Intercultural Competence

Location: Room 234

As workplaces become increasingly global, it's essential for individuals to develop intercultural competence and to understand how culture can influence the way they think and behave. Every workplace and employee possesses a unique culture, and being able to understand and adapt to cultural differences will help you succeed in the workplace.

In this workshop, you will learn:

  • what intercultural competence and workplace culture refer to and why they are important;
  • how to improve your intercultural competence; and
  • how to understand and adjust to cultural differences. 


Martha Liliana Gonzalez

Martha Liliana Gonzalez

Alumna Martha Liliana Gonzalez, BSc’12, is the international career development specialist with UCalgary Career Services. She provides specialized career planning and job-search support to international students at UCalgary of all levels, including undergraduate, master and doctoral.

Martha’s career tip:
According to the Future Work Skills 2020 report, the ability to operate in different cultural settings is predicted to be one of the top 10 skills needed in the workforce. One of the first steps towards developing this skill is to engage in cultural self-awareness. 

Session #4

Acing the Interview

Location: Room 234

If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why? Tell us about a time you failed at something. Why should we hire you?  

If you were asked these questions in an interview, would you feel comfortable answering them? Join us for this session to learn about different types of interviews and how to stand out to make that crucial positive first impression. You'll hear from a panel of experts on how to:

  • prepare for an interview to assess and convey your skills, knowledge and attitude;
  • avoid making the biggest mistakes people make in interviews; and
  • manage the nerves and stress that come with interviews.

You'll also have an opportunity to ask the panellists questions you have about interviews.


Martha Liliana Gonzalez

Martha Liliana Gonzalez

Alumna Martha Liliana Gonzalez, BSc’12, is the international career development specialist with UCalgary Career Services. She provides specialized career planning and job-search support to international students at UCalgary of all levels, including undergraduate, master and doctoral.

Martha’s career tip:
Reflecting on your unique knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences prior to the interview will help you build confidence. This confidence will help you create a positive first impression.

Agnes Thibeault

Agnes Thibeault

Alumna Agnes Thibeault, BSc’89, is a dynamic leadership coach with 20 years of experience in diverse human resources and management positions, including career management, advising, recruitment, program management and training.

Agnes’s career tip:
Interview preparation isn’t just about strategy and the right answer to a question. It’s about managing your emotions and honouring yourself and what’s going on for you. There’s no right answer to a question, so don’t try to memorize your answers. Instead, ask yourself: “What’s behind that question and why might they be asking it?”

Jocelyn Spurr

Jocelyn Spurr

Jocelyn is the talent development consultant with Human Resources at UCalgary. She has more than 27 years of broad-based business experience including career development, job search, human resources, recruitment, administration, logistics management and international projects. Jocelyn is passionate about career development and working with people on finding an engaging job fit.

Jocelyn’s career tip:
Remember the basics of job interviews; be on time and be prepared. Don’t dismiss the value of a sincere thank you and a tactful and professional follow-up.

Owning Your Development Today, For Tomorrow​

Location: Event Centre A

It’s up to us to take responsibly for our personal and professional development. With the new year upon us, there is no better time to refocus on Owning Your Development Today, For Tomorrow. If you are career-focused and recognize the opportunity to be more intentional and strategic about growing your career, this session is for you.

You will learn innovative strategies that will inspire a new perspective on how to own and influence your personal and professional development. Your takeaways will support you in creating performance objectives and development plans for 2018 and beyond.

Specifically, participants will:

  • begin an action plan on how to identify and articulate their professional brand;
  • identify the benefits of actively seeking “no” or a “not now”; and
  • explore strategies to intentionally manage a career path, including creating an instant credibility statement.


Christine Dagenais, MBA’11

Christine Dagenais

UCalgary alumna Christine Dagenais, MBA’11, founded Creative Coaching, a boutique strategic learning firm based in Calgary. She’s a certified Executive Coach and Leadership and Capability Development expert with 17 years’ experience in supporting thousands of leaders. Christine and her team have partnered with the Executive MBA Program at UCalgary’s Haskayne School of Business since 2012, where Christine has, to date, provided executive coaching to more than 250 Executive MBA candidates.

Chistine’s career tip:
Adopt the “you never know unless you ask” principle and you are guaranteed to learn something new every time. This knowledge will allow you to inform your next step, make better decisions, pivot your strategy etc. This is particularly important for growing your career because not asking and believing your assumptions to be true (i.e.: I’m not ready for the next level; I’m not the strongest candidate for the job) can be self-limiting.