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The Toronto Global Forum - A Valuable Learning Experience

Sign that reads The International Economic Forum of the Americas: the Toronto Global Forum

January 28, 2019
By Raajia Abdur Rehman

An important element I’ve learned about the program so far is to utilize the resources McMaster offers in gaining an overall valuable experience. Through the course of the term we regularly receive emails about events, conferences, and talks, which have the potential to provide networking opportunities, practical examples and learning prospects. A particular event that interested me and fellow class members was The Toronto Global Forum by the International Economic Forum of The Americas, held last month.

This is a massive annual conference centred around economic development and brings together heads of states, central bank governors, ministers, and global economic decision makers.

At first it was quite intimidating to be in a room full of CEOs, industry experts, and highly specialized individuals however, as we began conversing, we realized while these people might be at the peak of their careers now, once upon a time they'd stood in our shoes. They were more than willing to answer our questions and offer us guidance in our endeavours.

The expat sessions were more intimate roundtable gatherings in which the panelists spoke about relevant topics and provided a great opportunity to engage one-on-one with the speakers. 

This year’s theme of navigating a world of disruption addressed the major issues faced by the global economy while discussing prospects for resilient growth and shared prosperity for the future.

To see the world’s greatest leaders come together in dialogue and collaborate through tech, business, science, innovation and sustainable development certainly put interdisciplinary learning into perspective.

A message that stuck with me was when one panelist emphasized the importance of maintaining the literacy level to whom they were speaking to. To put it into context, many attendees were experts, so they spoke in abbreviations and specialized language which went over the heads of most people who weren’t in that particular field. It was reassuring to know that many others were as confused as me, and for him to acknowledge that, in order for change to occur, we need for people to be able to comprehend each other fully.

Lastly, it was refreshing to hear women’s perspectives on conversations that are often overpowered by men. Although there is still a long way to go, seeing powerful women actively participate in globally transformative discourse was truly inspiring.

Key take home points from the conference
- People are more willing to help you than you think (write that email to the manager of …. - and KEEP writing)
- It’s easy to get comfortable in a job/position; however, in order to grow, it’s important to take risks
- You only get better through practice, (whether its public speaking, networking, interviewing, and so on)
- If you're truly passionate about something, stick with it even If people around you aren’t supportive because often people don’t understand the vision until it’s executed
- Each individual is on a different journey, and there is no one route to success - so it's important that we don't box ourselves in to traditional methods but rather to stride on our own path