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Business Day rises above

Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, moderates the panel discussion with Business Day participants, from left, Dr. Mark O’Dea, Jim Burton and Charlie Oliver. Rolland Morier also spoke at the event but was unable to stay for the question period.

By Meaghan Whelan

At the 45th annual Business Day, the theme was meant to be rising above a stormy economy, but another theme emerged as the speakers shared their wisdom – don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Lots of them.

Charlie Oliver, the 2009 Gardiner Centre Entrepreneur of the Year and CEO of Martek Morgan Finch used a video of BMX biker crashes to show what businesses should be like – able to share and celebrate mistakes.

He said mistakes occur when you are pushing your creative and intellectual edge, and that taking risks and making mistakes should be celebrated, although he noted that you shouldn’t make the same mistake twice. He finished his presentation with another video, those same bikers landing the jumps and tricks they had wiped out on.

“Crash and burn turns into crash and learn. Shove your ego aside and don’t be afraid of crashing like a kid,” he urged the audience. “Take risks and go where you’ve never gone and support others as they do the same.”

Keynote speaker, Dr. Mark O’Dea, president and CEO of Fronteer Development Group talked to the audience about the importance of mentorship and lifelong learning, the lessons he learned from the economic downturn and his belief that discovery drives everything.

He advised students to “be nimble, recognize opportunities and to listen to and surround yourself with mentors you trust. They will help you navigate your life and career. Failure and mistakes happen, and things can change from calm to stormy in an instant. You can’t always fight the current, but you can make the best of a bad situation.”

Dr. O’Dea said that the economic crisis left many companies struggling but it was an opportunity for those willing to take the chance.

As is tradition, the conference was completely organized by graduating students from the Faculty of Business Administration. James Goodridge, member of the organizing committee, said that the event was an unqualified success.

Ryan Snodden, CBC’s weather specialist, hosted the event and Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, served as moderator.
Dr. Zerbe said he was proud of the student organizers.

“As a newcomer to the Faculty of Business, it is always a pleasure when I encounter another example of the talent and commitment of our students, and the organizers and student volunteers of Business Day are an excellent example. They put together an excellent conference and I was proud to be a part of it.”

All sides of the business community were represented at the event, with attendees from large and small organizations in a variety of industries.