Pick up the pieces after a failure and live your wildest dreams - some of the words of wisdom media icon and alumna Anita Erskine ’99 shared with Trent students during her time as CEO-in-Residence. Throughout her week-long residency, she spoke to Trent University students across the disciplines about business ethics, how to see problems as opportunities, overcoming bias, and embracing diversity.
“Through the CEO-in-Residence, I gained the opportunity to come back to Trent - my nurturing ground where I developed all my courage and fortitude,” says the Trent alumna who is an award-winning communications professional from Ghana, CEO of Anita Erskine Media and has twice been ranked one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Africa. “The experience opened my eyes to how open this wonderful young generation is to being guided to face the world head-on and how eager they are to see what the world in its entirety has to offer them.”
Mentorship sessions, meet-ups, and more
The CEO-in-Residence program, coordinated through the School of Business and the student-alumni mentorship program Life After Trent, gives students at both the Peterborough and Durham GTA campuses access and opportunities to learn from business leaders across the country and around the globe. During her residency from February 27 to March 3, Erskine inspired students through one-on-one mentorship sessions, meetups, lectures, and a panel discussion.
During her first public talk on the Symons Campus, entitled ‘Innovation, Inspiration, and Inclusion in the New School of Business,’ Erskine discussed moving out of your comfort zone to meet and learn from people who don’t look like you. As an international student, Erskine says the biggest gift she gave herself was to immerse herself in campus life and meet others outside of the Trent International community. “Go out there and do something uncomfortable and change the world,” she told the audience.
Challenging stereotypes, fighting for gender equality
Gender stereotypes, meanwhile, were the focus of the panel discussion led by Erskine, Gillian Kunza ’04, CEO of Designed Securities Ltd.; Emily Whetung ’03, a lawyer and chief emeritus of Curve Lake First Nation; and Kristi Honey, a member of the Trent board of governors and CAO for the Township of Uxbridge.
During the discussion Leading Women Speak: What Leadership Means to the Fight for Gender Equality, the panelists spoke to students, staff, and faculty about issues including having to work harder than men for promotions and raises, relying on support systems to take care of family matters to avoid burnout, and how to be a successful female leader without being cutthroat.
Erskine capped off her residency with a day-long visit to Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, where she offered one-on-one mentoring sessions to students, class visits to Business courses, and a public talk attended by students, faculty, and staff where she spoke about change-making, recognizing and harnessing your passions, and navigating the twists of life after Trent.