Dragon's Den judge Arlene Dickinson addresses women's leadership symposium

Author: 
Andrea Kwan

Arlene Dickinson, author, venture capitalist, and judge on CBC’s hit show, Dragons’ Den, had a message for the Rotman Commerce’s Women in Business (RCWIB) Leadership Symposium: capitalism can have a conscience.

“You can make a great deal of money in business, trust me,” Dickinson said, “but you don’t have to make it at somebody else’s expense. You just don’t. You can make it, and they can win too.”

Dickinson shared the ethos underlying her success with a rapt audience of nearly 200 student delegates, in an informal Q-and-A session moderated by third-year Rotman Commerce student Rachel Teoh.

Dickinson, whose new book Persuasion argues for capitalism with a social conscience, reminded her audience of the importance of gratitude in business.

“Be thankful for what you have and your circumstances,” she said, “and be willing to give it to others.”

Dickinson’s advice capped off the daylong conference, which this year celebrated its third anniversary. Modeled after a similar conference that takes place at Harvard University, the Women’s Leadership Symposium is organized entirely by the undergraduate student members of Rotman Commerce Women in Business.

The organization’s president, fourth-year student Ksenija Stupar, said the event is a chance to inspire “the next generation of leaders to step outside [their] own boundaries by positively impacting and contributing to [their] local and global community.”

The theme of this year’s symposium was Leave Your Mark and more than  80 business leaders came together to teach, advise, and share their unique experiences as women with the attendees.

For many students, the experience was unique in the way that it highlighted the particular ways women can succeed in business, a domain that is still often thought of as a man’s world.

“The Women’s Leadership Symposium is important because it showcases female role models for ambitious students looking to carve their own paths,” said Rotman Commerce student Katelyn Li. “To me, WLS is an important reminder that there are still some inequalities in the workplace which require our attention.”

More information on Rotman Commerce Women in Business and their annual Women’s Leadership Symposium can be found on their website.