Alumni leaders inspire an entrepreneurial mindset at the 2023 BCIT Alumni Association AGM

On June 15, 2023, more than 110 attendees gathered virtually for the 2023 Online Annual General Meeting (AGM) and special alumni panel presentation, Engage Your Entrepreneurial Mindset.

BCIT Alumni Association President Emil Bosnjak welcomed attendees from across the BCIT community including alumni, current and past Alumni Association directors and presidents, the BCIT Leadership Team, the BCIT Foundation, and BCIT students.

“I have seen the generosity of this passionate community of alumni, and I can’t thank you enough,” said Interim BCIT President Paul McCullough, who shared success stories of alumni and the impact they’re making in their fields, in BC, and beyond. He also announced that Dr. Jeff Zabudsky will join as the Institute’s next President on July 10, 2023.

Attendees learned about exciting BCIT developments made possible by the INSPIRE Campaign, including the $162.6 million Trades and Technology Complex, which is part of the $680-million redevelopment plan for the Burnaby campus.

“The Alumni Association has connected with our more than 200,000 alumni to foster alumni success, give back to the BCIT community, and engage alumni for life,” remarked Emil Bosnjak, who acknowledged and thanked the eight volunteer members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the two regional Alumni Ambassadors.

The Alumni Association’s accomplishments were also highlighted during the event. Some of those accomplishments include:

  • Alumni donors sharing more than 400 messages of encouragement with students
  • Donating $4,800 to the BCIT Student Association’s increasingly busy Food Pantry
  • Funding more than $54,000 in entrance awards, scholarships, and graduating school awards through endowments
  • Hosting the 3rd annual Holiday Market featuring alumni-owned businesses
  • Growing partnerships that benefit alumni through the BCIT Alumni Perks app
  • Sponsoring and hosting alumni events
  • Welcoming new grads at the first in-person convocation ceremonies since the pandemic

Reshmeena Lalani, BCIT Alumni Association Secretary and Treasurer, gave an update on the Association’s financials, emphasizing the critical importance of Affinity Partner programs in helping fund initiatives, events, and programs for alumni and to give back to BCIT students.

Retiring board directors Jennifer Patterson, Alexandra Gunn, and Nolan Nordwall were acknowledged and thanked for their contributions to the Alumni Association. The new directors joining the Association’s Board of Directors were announced for election and re-election including Reza Bafandeh, Mandy Harris, Sergey Bukharov, and Jimmy Wang.

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Inspiring an Entrepreneurial Mindset

The special alumni panel presentation—Engage Your Entrepreneurial Mindset—featured Orene Askew, DJ and Change Maker; Olivia Lovenmark, Founder, Duchess Cocktails and Co-founder, Repose; and Ryan Benn, CEO and Group Publisher, Alive Publishing Group Inc. and Canada Wide Media.

The passionate alumni panelists inspired the audience with real-life examples of their trials and triumphs and offered practical tips to stand out in any field.

“Be vulnerable … people want to hear real stories,” shared Orene, adding that the video marketing, social media, and business skills she learned at BCIT have helped put her on the map as a DJ and motivational speaker.

Olivia, who cautioned against perfectionism and comparison as barriers to getting started, offered insight for overcoming imposter syndrome: “We sometimes perceive other people to be better or smarter than us, but it’s simply not true. Everyone has their unique value to add. Once you tap into that mindset, self-doubt starts to fade away.”

“It’s not about brilliance,” added Ryan, who believes in service-based leadership and pursuing joy and balance across all areas of life. “It’s about how hard you work and being true to your values.”

The impact of storytelling arose as a theme in the discussion. From Orene escaping a house fire with only her DJ gear to Olivia confronting sexism when starting her women-led business and Ryan nearly losing a company for which he was responsible to a cyber-attack, their stories of adversity proved to shape their journeys and build their resilience.

How do these ambitious alumni overcome inevitable obstacles of an entrepreneur to achieve success? The panelists collectively emphasized that they proactively take care of their mental health, build supportive networks, and find the courage to persevere.

Watch the video recording of the 2023 AGM video:

View a complete list of the current BCIT Alumni Association Board of Directors. Read the BCIT Alumni Association’s 2022/23 Annual Report.

The Alumni Association expresses gratitude to the BCIT Board of Governors, the Institute, the Foundation, and the Affinity Partners and event sponsors: BMO, Manulife, and TD Insurance.

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