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June 24, 2019

The Power Of Your Story

“You already are everything you dream of becoming!” – Mpumi Nobiva

Our July 24 Benchmark and CompTIA event celebrating young female millennial tech leaders and the power of their stories was a tremendous success. We were so delighted to bring our communities together at the Verity Club for Women to celebrate how the next millennial leaders’ contributions and talents are changing the tech sector. Our president Luc Villeneuve and Benchmark Corp are committed to supporting young women as they lead change in their organizations to close the gender gap. “At Benchmark, I want to lead the charge in using my influence to open doors, create opportunities, forge connections, mentor, sponsor and break down barriers,” says Luc. “My daughter Stefania is my inspiration to advocate for gender equality and support next generation female leaders like her. She is a phenomenal young woman who’s forging her own path in tech, has the highest standards and believes hard work pays off.”

We reached out to leaders in our gender diversity community, such as Corrine Sharp, Fariba Anderson, Dr. Imogen Coe, Kelly McDougald and Julie Hansen — to collaborate on creating a line-up that included the most respected millennial leaders. The audience was moved by the diverse stories shared by the panel, which Luc moderated, and during speeches by CompTIA’s Nancy Hammervik and Mpumi Nobiva. They shared a passion for change and how they forged their path to success.

Riya Karumanchi, the 16-year-old founder and CEO of SmartCane, discussed how she stays focused by creating a table with her top priorities. Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro, a CPA and growth consultant, talked about how we have to “tell the committee that meets in your head to shh when it tells you no.”

Vanessa Vakharia, founder and CEO of The Math Guru has created a career by failing with outstanding results. Failing grade 11 math, not once but twice, put her on a journey to success.

Mpumi shared her beginnings in South Africa, where she lived in squalor but was surrounded by the deep love of family. After her mother died of AIDS when she was nine, her lasting guidance and her extraordinary grandmother’s efforts to break the cycle put Mpumi on a path that led to Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy. She was chosen out of over 6,000 applicants and it changed her life.

Mpumi was joined by Tim Cork, her male mentor and author of the outstanding book G3 the Gift of You, Leadership and Netgiving. All attendees left with a signed copy of Tim’s book.

“I’ve never hosted an event where everyone in the room was totally mesmerised by the speakers and leapt to their feet to provide a standing ovation when it was over,” added Luc.

Everyone at Benchmark was so proud of the feedback – 90 percent of attendees rated the event as excellent. Charlie Atkinson of CompTIA’s Canadian Business Technology Community Advisory Board, summed up his highlights in this thank-you note:  

“Over the decades that I have enjoyed being a part of this industry, I have never attended an industry event with such an impactful and meaningful agenda that was fully delivered. Everything about the event was on point! From your opening address Luc, speaking to the purpose of hosting such a catalysing event, to Nancy’s fact-filled presentation that underscores why doing what you have with Celebrating the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs is so very important.

The impressive and meaningful panel with Riya, Chioma and Vanessa — where these three young ladies placed the exclamation point on the power of belief along with the inspiration — lit up the room with the stories of their challenges and incredible accomplishments. The icing on the cake was Mpumi and the power of her message. AIDS may have taken her mother, but I would offer that inspired her great spirit with her powerful and authentic delivery of an amazing dose of inspiration, empowerment and enablement with her message that ‘you already are everything you dream of becoming’! In speaking with Ally, my daughter, on the drive home I can tell you that the impression and impact you have made on one young lady. More importantly, it is a true indicator that your event was, and will be, a force-multiplier in inspiring women to become everything they dream and perhaps change the diversity dynamics in our industry.”

One of the biggest highlights of the event was meeting the millennial leaders and hearing their stories and passion for change. We documented the fantastic memories in this photo album. The event is going to be the first of many for our community.

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