Some 300 young professionals got first-hand advice from successful entrepreneurs and, at the same time, raised $63,000 for the Israel Cancer Research Fund at the ICRF Next Generation’s 2nd annual Revolving Tables, held at Toronto’s Park Hyatt Hotel Feb. 9.
“We are both young professionals,” said Leah Carr, who co-chaired the Revolving Tables event with Kyle Lichtman, “and we know that while many young professionals have career questions, few have access to senior executives whom they can ask for candid answers on career paths and career opportunities. Many young professionals are also unsure of a specific career direction to pursue, so the ability to meet several senior executives in an intimate setting would make the experience even more valuable. Hence, the concept of Revolving Tables was born.”
Next Generation committee co-chairs Jodi Fenwick and David Elfan said ICRF strives to foster generosity, community involvement and shared experiences, with the goal of raising $35,000 annually, the cost of a grant for one scientist to do one year of research in Israel, research that could assist in eradicating cancer.
The evening was structured around a three-course meal. Participants were assigned to a table where they networked with other participants. Each table was hosted by a Toronto business executive who shared his or her journey to success, offered advice and answered questions. After each course, the participants switched tables to meet their next mentor.
Thirty-two CEOs in a variety of fields were invited to act as moderators and mentors. Among them were interior designer Brian Gluckstein, author and culinary expert Rose Reisman, Harvey Kalles Real Estate president Michael Kalles, Mandell Entertainment Group CEO Corey Mandell, Cineplex Inc. president and CEO Ellis Jacob, Goodmans LLP co-chair Dale Lastman, Herzig Eye Institute medical director Dr. Sheldon Herzig and Post Media Network Inc. president and CEO Paul Godfrey.
The evening’s host, Julian Brass, founder of Notable.ca, an online lifestyle guide for young professionals across Canada, shared one of his secrets to success. “Passion, it was my passion to manifest my online business. It is passion for life that makes cancer patients fight back, and God willing, survive. It is passion and dedication that [makes] doctors who are aiming to find a cure wake up every single day and not take no for an answer.”
Jordan Banks, managing director of Facebook Canada shared the qualities he feels a business leader must have today. “One needs three fundamental qualities: number 1, a real sense of curiosity. The world changes so quickly, technology evolves so rapidly that you need to be curious and you need to have a real passion for not only what today brings but tomorrow as well… Secondly, you need to be extremely community-minded. We live in an era where it’s all about community, and you need to be genuine and you need to be authentic, and you need to be who you say you are and have a very strong moral compass. When you do that in business and as a business leader… people are going to want to buy your product and service and people are going to want to work with you. The third factor you need is to be motivational, inspirational and honest as a business leader.”
Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon added another element. “I think you have to love what you do, and if you don’t love what you do, change it,” he said.
Participant Allan Beckerman, founder and CEO of IQ Inc., which provides project management and software development services to companies with information technology needs, looked at the question a little differently. “Pursue what you are passionate about, certainly passion plays a big part of the equation, but I think people must gravitate toward things they are actually good at, and that has been evidenced to me by some of the CEOs here tonight,” he said.
“They may be very passionate about gaming or writing or cooking or retail, but they also have a knack for it, and I think it’s a dangerous game if you constantly direct young, enterprising people to only follow their dreams based on passion and not based on their innate skills,” Beckerman said.
“It is an amazing feeling to walk in here and feel the buzz…,” said Jeffrey Bly, an ICRF executive board member, “and I think it’s a testament to the community that the young generation is so interested in getting involved in charity – [and] this is charity that will help everybody, Jews and non-Jews.