Conference Recap Series: FBTC
ITMSA’s Future of Business and Technology Conference (FBTC) was a great opportunity for attendees to learn about the world of technology in business. The two-day conference had four inspirational keynote speakers, six hands-on workshops, a case competition, a panel, a career fair and an award gala. We will go over some of the highlights of the conference, along with an interview of two team members from the ITMSA team who helped plan the event!
FBTC had many amazing sponsors including Symcor, who hosted the case competition, as well as FDM, TechNation, Infinite Investments Systems, the Ted Rogers Students’ Society and the Ted Rogers School of Management’s Information Technology Management Department! ITMSA also gave many amazing prizes including an Airpods Pro, two $100 Amazon gift cards, and three 1-on-1 coffee chats with representatives at Microsoft. Some of the delegate bag items included blue light glasses, wireless chargers and ramen!
Case Competition and Awards
ITMSA partnered with Symcor to host its Symcor Case Competition, which had prize opportunities of $1,500 for the first-place team, $1,100 for the second-place team and $700 for the third-place team in separate streams; one being with first and second years, the other with upper-year students, showing how valuable the opportunity was to compete! Here are the winners of each stream!
In the junior stream, Team 8 (Ashlie Arora, Hussain Kakjiwalla and Aqib Aslam) won first place, Team 2 (Naif Bashar, Shafat Khan and Ikroop Johal) won second place, and Team 6 (Aman Mathur and Nehal Patel) won third place! There were also awards for Most Creative Presentation (Team 2), Most Engaging Delivery (Team 6), Most Innovative Solution (Team 8) and Best Technical Solution (Team 4, which included John Daniel Chavez and Thanikan Umagaran).
In the senior stream, Team 2 (Zahra Adelzadeh, Teni Johnson, Kenny Pham and Shazeen Kamran) won first place, Team 7 (Shaiful Maznabin, Heris Wu and Natali Saltoun) won second place, and Team 3 (Daniel Wu, Eric Rajatnam and Justin Cordero) won third place! The Most Creative Presentation was awarded to Team 1 (Sulaman Shan, Meaghan Good, Shoaiba Hyder, Christopher Niemela and Ryan Romig), the Most Engaging Delivery was awarded to Team 6 (Raunac Ferdaus, Nawal Alim and Katherin Tran), the Most Innovative Solution was awarded to Team 2, and the Best Technical Solution was awarded to Team 7!
FBTC had so many amazing segments for students to attend, here are some of the key points!
The opening keynote on Day 1, delivered by Raza Jafri (Co-Founder and CEO of 3D Cityscapes) was an incredible testament to the theme of the conference; resilience. He recounted the incredible story of his immigrant father and the challenges his family faced moving around before settling in Canada. He spoke about important habits to build resilience such as goal-setting, and “writing the goal in pen, but the plan in pencil” to be adaptable. He also spoke about the use of the Metaverse in his business as the pandemic hit, as well as the future of quantum and biotechnology being implemented. It was very insightful listening to a tech entrepreneur like Raza!
The Power Platform workshop, hosted by Technical Specialists at Microsoft (Julia Kroon, Jason Pan and Sururchi Arora) was extremely valuable in helping students build the technological skills for their careers. They highlighted the importance of Power (97% of Fortune 500 companies use Power Platform), then proceeded to walk students through the development of creating an application for finding food spots at Ryerson with Power Platform in a demo, showing how it was easy to implement and how they could leverage this skill in the future. It was very informative and exciting to learn about!
Accelerating your Career with Resiliency was another great workshop hosted by Alizeh Ali, a Business Technology Management graduate of Ryerson and Senior Consultant at EY! She highlighted the changes of direction she faced in her career from being a pilot and career consultant among many others before becoming a consultant. With this experience, she described the intricacies and challenges of entering the consulting field and gave students the tools to build humility, hunger and resilience. Her final takeaway was to engage in self-care and build awareness to maintain a high level of emotional intelligence!
The closing keynote on Day 2, delivered by Mallory Maynard (Co-Founder of Ripple Studios) was a great end to the event! Mallory, a Ryerson graduate, began in the entrepreneurship program before switching to marketing and found a career in technology. By taking courses in software, she was able to automate her boring and repetitive tasks, showing the power we have to create change. She also spoke about her motivations to help bring women into technology careers by breaking down barriers such as educational, societal biases and lack of role models. Her valuable tips to join networking events in different disciplines, take programming courses and speak to different founders when starting a business inspired students to create innovative solutions!
Interview with the ITMSA Team
I got the chance to speak with two members of ITMSA, Iram Cheema, co-VP of Events, and Alizain Hirani, Director of Events about the planning of FBTC. They spoke about the value of the conference, the challenges they faced and their overall takeaways!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you help execute the conference?
Iram Cheema: As one of the co-VP of events, I played a key part in executing this conference. Many people know being a part of Events is doing a bit of everything because you are creating the event, so in helping execute this conference I was responsible for leading and delegating all the tasks to my directors. I have a group of amazing directors who work closely with me to delegate the tasks, as well as my co-VP of events.
So executing this conference, that came with starting from scratch, getting contracts in place and booking places. Our team was actually in-person while hosting the event online, so that made it a lot smoother as well. Another key part of it was working closely with our corporate team to secure all the amazing speakers that we had which was a really big part of executing the conference, as well as our marketing team who did an amazing job making all the graphics and promoting this event really well.
And then, of course, our admin team and our general associates for reaching out. So with executing the conference, delegating and making sure that you’re watching over all the tasks that have been delegated, and then just listening to what the students want.
Alizain Hirani: In my role as Director of Events, I helped the Events Team come up with questions for the panelists, engaged with students attending the conference, and also reached out to external students who may have been interested in coming to the conference to attend the conference and see what our speakers have in store.
As the speaker and host of the conference along with my partner Liz, we wrote our script, introduce all of our speakers and panelists, and do some research on who they were, what they did, and how they got into their positions. We also actively listened to the keynotes to ensure that we were giving honest and heartfelt appreciation and feedback to our speakers that came out. It was a very big thing for them to take time out of their busy schedules to come and speak at our conference.
And overall, help out wherever I could with technical aspects throughout the two days of the conference. That was essentially my role for this conference.
How do you think the conference help students develop their professional skills?
Iram Cheema: One of the biggest parts that we have now integrated into our conference is the Symcor Case Competition, which we’ve been holding for many years now. It’s one of the biggest things that helps students who attend the conference by practicing and developing case cutting skills through that case competition, as well as communication, speaking, leadership, collaboration, and working in teams.
Also being able to network, they had a lot of networking opportunities with different students, as well as industry professionals, so that also helped with learning how to talk about your career with different people.
I know a lot of students who have made many great connections and landed some good co-ops as well. It’s two days full of learning and the opportunity to make life-long connections.
What was your favourite part of the conference?
Alizain Hirani: I would say the opening keynote by Raza Jafri of 3D Cityscapes. I really enjoyed that keynote presentation because it was personal and very relatable, especially to a lot of international students because he was an international student when he arrived as well.
I also really enjoyed our Career Fair. We had a bunch of companies come out and we got to talk to some of the representatives and recruiters to discuss what companies are looking for in hiring and how you could stand out as an individual.
So that was nice as well, to get to talk to those industry recruiters, and listen to Raza.
What were some of your favourite delegate bag items?
Iram Cheema: I’ll definitely say the noodles, we got these instant noodle boxes, which were one of my favourites, as well as the blue light glasses, which I have been making use of, so I honestly was really happy with how the delegate backs turned out this year.
We got some really cool items, but I think my top two were something to eat and then something to help with being online for a lot of our classes, the blue light glasses.
What were some of the challenges in organizing the event and how did you overcome them?
Iram Cheema: I think one of the biggest challenges, and I think a lot of student groups faced was whether the event was going to be online in person. And that was one of the big things that we faced because, as I mentioned, we were working on contracts. We had originally booked the conference at the Hilton Hotel, so working really hard to get that conference and everything booked last-minute, then being told that everything is going back online and that we weren’t able to hold this conference anymore.
That was the most significant challenge for our team because then we had to sit back and debrief, decide whether we were postponing it or whether we were going to go online, and decided to go online because again, the pandemic situation is so unpredictable and you never know.
So I think that’s the biggest challenge any event faced with the pandemic and one of our biggest challenges. Also, ensuring that we still got our delegates engaged being online because online conferences tend to lose lots of engagement.
Those were the biggest things we focused on, and I think we were successful in this regard, ensuring student engagement was there and hosting an online event having everything planned for in-person and switching it two weeks beforehand.
What are some things ITMSA is looking to implement in the future?
Alizain Hirani: For FBTC, a lot of what we did at this event was different from past years in terms of how we presented our conference because we used a unique platform called SiberX, whose CEO was actually one of our keynote speakers as well. We thought it was a really good platform to do conferences on because it wasn’t just a zoom screen, there were graphics around and you could see who was speaking. We just really enjoyed the experience of working with the software and we had really good feedback from the participants about the platform and the way it was presented.
We’re definitely looking to implement that into more of our events that we do online and hopefully, we get to do FBTC next year in-person. Obviously, with the current situation we weren’t able to, but hopefully next year we will.
That’s mainly what we’re looking for, more in-person events, and we’ll have those coming up soon.
Would you recommend students attend FBTC next year?
Alizain Hirani: Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt. Especially if it’s in-person next year, it’ll be even more fun, intuitive and engaging, definitely.
The quality of speakers that we had; the quality of keynotes, panelists and the case competition that we had was by far some of the best I’ve seen and I’ve attended a couple of conferences myself. I think we’re definitely standing out and with a focus on technology at our conferences, I think that stands out even more to participants.
If you have a passion for technology and business, definitely make your way to FBTC next year.
That wraps up our recap of FBTC, ITMSA’s Future of Business and Technology Conference! Thank you to Iram and Alizain for speaking about the amazing aspects of this event, and congratulations to the winners of the valuable prizes, we look forward to seeing you there next year!
By: Sukhman Basi