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Business Day firsts

Longstanding tradition goes virtual for first time in 55-year history

Student Life

By Susan White

Business Day is marking its 55th year with a couple of firsts.

Pictured left to right are Kristen Murray, Robyn Budgell and Nethmini Hapuarachchige, members of the 2020 Business Day committee.
From left are Kristen Murray, Robyn Budgell and Nethmini Hapuarachchige in a photo taken before social distancing restrictions were implemented due to COVID-19.
Photo: Submitted

It’s the first time the student committee has dealt with a global pandemic, and the first time the popular event will be held virtually.

The half-day professional development conference, which is organized by the graduating commerce class at the Faculty of Business Administration each year, was originally scheduled for March 27 at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland.

Now, it will be held via Zoom webinar on Friday, May 29, from 10-11:30 a.m.

‘We were shocked’

Kristen Murray, committee chair, says that when all events were cancelled or postponed back in March, she and the other committee members were “shocked.”

“As time went on and the pandemic evolved, it looked less and less like a physical event would happen,” she said. “As a committee, we agreed unanimously that we didn’t want to see our hard work not lead to something and for the Business Day tradition not to continue. Most importantly, we decided to go virtual for the community of people who look forward to this event each year.”

Many of the speakers originally slated to participate will still take part in the virtual event.

Speakers include Angelo Casanas, director of programs and partnerships, Genesis; Cheryl Hickman, general and artistic director, Opera on the Avalon; Charlene Johnson, chief executive officer, NOIA; Phil Maloney, owner and general manager, Bannerman Brewing Co.; and Jenny Smith, president and executive creative director, Ray.

Supportive community enables virtual event

Ms. Murray says the community has been supportive of the move to a virtual event.

With sponsorships no longer being necessary to offset the cost of a live event, for example, many businesses and organizations have instead pledged their support to the Business Day 2021 committee.

“To see a group of business students pivot so rapidly and adapt so creatively is really inspiring.” — Dr. Isabelle Dostaler

Items donated as door prizes will still be awarded through a random draw with safe delivery taking place after the event.

“While it will look quite different from any other year, we aim for this Business Day to still be inspiring and impactful,” said Ms. Murray.

‘Learning experience like no other’

Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean of the business faculty, says she’s impressed with the students’ ability to manage the many challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a new situation for everyone. Even seasoned business owners and leaders are dealing with this for the first time, and learning as they go,” she said. “To see a group of business students pivot so rapidly and adapt so creatively is really inspiring. I’m very proud of them.

“I’m also deeply grateful to the business community, sponsors and speakers who have supported the committee along the way,” she continued. “Business Day is an important tradition for us, one which provides learning opportunities for not only participants, but for the organizers as well. This year’s committee is having a learning experience like no other!”

Ms. Murray agrees.

“This entire experience has really challenged me in so many ways,” she said. “The entire committee has really stepped up and shown their commitment and drive. I feel I can only come out of it all a better leader.

“I’m really thankful for the community being so patient and supportive throughout it all,” she added.

Business Day is now free for registrants. Registration is available here.

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