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HBA Leadership Day inspires students to grow their grit

Sep 12, 2023

Dr. Danny Southwick Speaking At HBA Leadership Day

Dr. Danny Southwick addresses HBA1 students at HBA Leadership Day

On September 8, the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership hosted its annual Ivey HBA Leadership Day – a day dedicated to the development of HBA1 students as leaders.

The day began with keynote speaker Dr. Danny Southwick, former NFL player for the Oakland Raiders and grit expert. Southwick developed his expertise in grit by studying for a PhD in Psychology under Dr. Angela Duckworth, New York Times Best Selling Author of Grit. These experiences led him to think deeply about what it means to have “talent”. For Southwick, talent is about “practice, practice, practice”, passion and perseverance, and, most importantly, maintaining a growth mindset throughout one’s life. He encouraged students to take advantage of every opportunity they have to find purpose throughout their time at Ivey and remain focused on the goals they set for themselves.  

Hope x Purpose = Grit

Southwick shared personal stories from his college football days and his transition from having a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, where he began to view defeat as temporary and in turn became more resilient.

“A growth mindset influences hope” he said. “If you don’t have long-term goals that give you purpose, you’re not going to be ‘gritty’ because you’re not going to care about something enough to want to put in the effort. You need to have a purpose.”

Southwick closed his address by encouraging students to think about what their top-level goal is and to truly ask themselves, why am I here?

“When you ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing enough, you start to get to more clarity and unlock your grit.”

Purpose-driven leadership

As part of HBA Leadership Day, Ivey also welcomed three influential leaders to take part in a panel discussion focused on the experiences that shaped them as leaders and enabled them to lead during tumultuous and trying times.

(L-R) Mona Malone, Rashid Wasti, and Jeannine Pereira chatting with Dusya Vera at HBA Leadership DayThe panel included Mona Malone, HBA '94, Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of People & Culture at BMO Financial Group; Jeannine Pereira, HBA '95, Director, Talent Development, EY Canada; and Rashid Wasti, EMBA '03, EVP & Chief Talent Officer at George Weston Limited. The discussion was moderated by Dusya Vera, PhD '02, Executive Director of the Ihnatowycz Institute.

Each leader spoke about what it means to be a purpose-driven leader, how the future of work will affect leaders, how to remain hopeful during volatile times, and the importance of reflecting and learning from one’s mistakes.

At the end of the panel discussion, each panelist shared one piece of advice for students:

I love the concept of the power of one. Sometimes you may feel alone, but you have the ability to make a difference. Anything you see out there that you don’t think is justifiable or correct, know that your one step forward can make a difference.” – Jeannine Pereira, HBA '95, Director, Talent Development, EY Canada
As you go through your career and life, you will interact with thousands of people – little interactions, big interactions, interactions for a day, interactions over many years. Out of that large group of people you interact with, I think it’s really important that you gravitate towards people who expand your possibilities as opposed to shrink them. The more you gravitate towards people who expand the parameters of your possibilities and who see more in you than you see in yourself, it adds up to a lot.” – Rashid Wasti, EMBA '03, EVP & Chief Talent Officer at George Weston Limited
Make sure your voice is heard, but on the flip side of that, make sure you’re helping other peoples’ voices be heard – make space for others. When you think about that in your groups or in your classes, it’s one of the most powerful pieces of advice.” – Mona Malone, HBA '94, Chief Human Resources Officer and Head of People & Culture at BMO Financial Group

The event concluded with students participating in a mini case class in their section classrooms, led by Ivey faculty. With a focus on crucibles of leadership, the cases allowed students to examine challenges they might encounter throughout their career.