Re-Blog: Extending the Reach of the SLC

The 2015 UBC Student Leadership Conference was held on Saturday January 10th on UBC’s Vancouver campus. Featuring over 100+ presenters (including students, staff, alumni and community members) and reaching an audience of 1100+ delegates, the conference proved to be a fantastic success!

As part of their On-Going Programs, the SLC invited student attendees to review and comment on the conference’s two keynote speakers. Check out their reviews below, all re-blogged from

SLC next step

The Opening Keynote for the 2015 SLC was Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of Global Innovation at NIKE Foundation. Check out what these students had to say:

Katie Tissington-Turner, 4th year Psychology

Residence Life, National Residence Hall Honorary, Library Student Advisory Committee, UBC HerCampus

“Shaifali Puri’s presentation outlined five careers she has had in life so far, four of which were unexpected ones that she neither planned for nor anticipated. The unexpectedness of her career opportunities resonated with me, because she accepted each offer without knowing exactly what would come from it. I am at a point in my university career where I feel that every decision is crucial because my degree is almost complete, and I want to maximize what I get out of the time I have left. Shaifali’s story of boldness in stepping into new territory with each career move came at just the right time for me, as I try to take a step that will lead me down a path that honours my values and provides me with experiences I desire, and experiences I may not know about yet. Her presentation left me with this thought: Even if the next step I take does not seem to fit with my “plan”, it could lead me to my destination in a different way, or take me somewhere even better.”

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Laura Lu, 3rd year Developmental Psychology

Residence Hall Association, Arts Undergraduate Society, Peer Program (Centre for Community-Engaged Learning), Orientations

“At this year’s Student Leadership Conference, I had the pleasure to listen to Shaifali Puri, a keynote speaker, give a speech about her life experiences and how the theme “The Next Step” was represented in her life. Throughout her speech, she took us on a journey through her various different past careers: ranging from being a journalist, lawyer, working in a government position, reinventing a project for Scientists Without Borders, and finally, now working for the NIKE Foundation. She taught us a valuable lesson: through it all, she didn’t expect what the next step was. Opportunities presented themselves to her, and as she opened doors, more doors were being revealed to her. Often times, we get so caught up in planning out our futures and knowing every step to come. However, she taught us to remember to improvise, and advised us to navigate life by taking one step at a time. Terming this the “adjacent possible”, she recognized that the next big breakthrough rarely comes from “Eureka!” moments, but it depends on incremental steps that lead us to opening many doors. Her speech was valuable to me because it taught me that the next step is about taking a chance.”

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Scott Henry, 2nd year Commerce and Computer Science

Residence Life, Best Buddies, Sauder Philanthropy Program

“Shaifali is an inspirational, innovative, and determined leader who is the perfect example of taking the next step. Her life has been a series of staircases: from journalism, law, economic development, innovation management, and now her current position, the executive director of the Nike Foundation. Shaifali has done it all, learned from it, and now acts as a constant inspiration to everyone on their leadership journey.

Shaifali proposes that “If the terrain and the map do not agree, follow the terrain.” When starting a new job, entering university, or at the beginning of virtually anything—all too often we have a preconceived notion of how things will advance and what we want to get out of them. Usually though, it doesn’t go this way. We need to let go of the life that we have pinned down so that we can accept the one that is waiting for us. Throughout her career, Shaifali demonstrates this trait by changing her industry, adapting, and being realistic that you can’t expect to walk in the front door and be at the back of the house.

It is important to learn that as we move forward with life, we need to be adaptive and open to pivoting ourselves no matter the direction. People make maps, life makes terrain. Let go of that map, and follow the terrain!”

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The Closing Keynote for the conference was Derreck Kayongo, founder of The Global Soap Project. Check out what these delegates thought of Derreck’s presention!

Winnie Ho, 5th year Science and Music

Orientations, MUSA (Music Undergraduate Students Association)

“Derreck Kayongo’s fun-filled and inspirational retelling of his experience growing up as a child refugee with a teacher-turned-dressmaker mother provides a plausible explanation for his impeccable but fun sense of style. However, it was growing up with a teacher-turned-soapmaker father who contributed to his heightened sensitivity towards soap and set the stage for his NEXT STEP: a serendipitous vision for the present Global Soap Project.

Kayongo believes that all the events and experiences we accumulate—whether good or bad—have a purpose behind them. Each new experience shows us our true strengths and weaknesses. Should we fall, we need to remember that we are human and pick ourselves up again. In this way, each new experience gradually builds and shapes us to become a more exceptional and remarkable human being. Kayongo further encourages us to take time to realize and develop our unique set of skills and talents as they will become undoubtedly be an integral part to our NEXT STEP.”

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Emily Neufeld, 3rd year, Integrated Science

Peer Programs (Centre for Community-Engaged Learning), UBC Sororities

“There is nothing as beautiful as being consistently, consistent. Derreck Kayongo’s words profoundly resonated with me, not because I necessarily fully grasp them, but because of his passion and authenticity behind them. I am currently embarking on a new journey of leadership and the SLC could not have come at more necessary time. I emphasize necessity because the days leading up the SLC, I had never been so whole-heartedly exhausted and starting to question why.

Often times we associate certain titles with shiny crowns and perpetually smiling faces, but there’s a truth behind them that we are too afraid to expose because it may show that we are weak, vulnerable or worse yet, human. Being a student leader has unique demands of academic excellence, time management, and consistent performance, and I’m going to be real with you—I don’t always know what I’m doing, I often don’t have the right answer, and I’m not always doing good. What Derreck reminded me was that it’s ok to be and feel all these things, and to embrace them. Derreck’s humility and vigor reminded me to not take myself so seriously and to never forget the value of passion.

“Be present.” Life can get so hectic and it’s so easy to get caught up in that never-ending list of to-dos. I have now made it my goal to be present, to connect with my experience and the experience of others, and to not be so focused on the next step that I am blind to right now. I believe in living in the why, but sometimes it’s all too easy to forget and just do. I don’t know what my next step is going to be, and maybe that’s a good thing because now that I come to think of it, I’m really darn happy in the step that I’m in right now.”

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Although the 2015 SLC may have come to a close, the Planning Committee still has many more programs coming up to continue to promote leadership development on campus. Keep checking for more information on upcoming events, including a Pecha Kucha presentation on March 19th, 2015.


-Written and prepared by Ian Schultz, UBCevents Communciations Assistant, in partnership with the UBC Student Leadership Conference Planning Committee.