So, whos speaking at GEM anyways (Part 1)

I don’t know about you, but over here at GEM Conference HQ we’re starting to get really excited about the amazing speakers to hit our stage! They’ll be sharing thoughts and ideas, best practices related to their areas of expertise and career experience. Our panel topics will leave no stone unturned where biz + career is concerned: everything from business development, money and negotiating, to skill-building, storytelling and sales, leadership, personal branding and social media.

We want to give you the inside scoop on who these career-building, entrepreneur-slaying women (plus one lit up dude!) are, so you can get just as excited as we are to hear them speak on May 30th. So let’s jump in!


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Here’s your Speaker Round-up for the first half of the day:


Amanda Aerin, Founder Amanda Aerin Style (Toronto)

Amanda (you may know her as Amanda Forrest) is an edgy designer, TV personality (a regular on Marilyn Dennis), brand ambassador, boss, media influencer, and a straight-up inspiration. She’s a nationally recognized expert on home construction, project management, design, and lifestyle trends. Her broadcast segments are seen on multiple television networks, radio, and shared on social media with a reach of almost 3 million people. A mom of five, Amanda balances family life with a thriving business and design brand.

She is going to be speaking about authenticity, purpose, rising to the top, and staying true to yourself as you navigate creative and very competitive careers. 


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How do you tell your brand or personal story, sell it, and strategize for success? This panel will look at defining your value proposition - whether that’s as an employee, leader, job hunter, or as a brand selling a product or service and how to craft your message.

Speaker // Lana Dingwall: Business + Life Coach, Podcaster

Lana is a local business coach and podcaster (Changing the Story: Kick-Ass Women in Business). Lana helps entrepreneurs fill their client rosters and helps those struggling with work-life balance live the life that they intended. She focuses on how we tell our stories to others, and changing the stories we tell ourselves in order to increase potential in our lives and businesses.

Speaker // Mallory Rowan: Founder of LVD Fitness + The LVD Brand

Mallory is the co-founder of LVD Fitness, a strength lifestyle brand designed to help athletes give back and whose brand spreads the Strong is Beautiful message. She has not only successfully marketed her branded apparel, but has built a community of brand followers who lift. Mallory is also the CEO of The LVD Brand, a marketing agency helping other brands grow their business and stories.

Speaker // Kena Paranjabe: Co-Founder of Brika, Founder of All You Are (Toronto)

Kena is a self-proclaimed Ex-Career Woman, turned co-founder of Brika in Toronto. This innovative retail concept highlights emerging artisans and designers, and has multiple shops in Toronto as well as pop-ups in malls including Yorkdale. She is also the Founder of a sleepwear brand called All You Are. Kena has more than 15 years of experience in retail, including creating and managing retail strategies, with brands such as Indigo, Joe Fresh, and Gap. Kena is passionate about inspiring others to live well every day and harness their creativity to create a fulfilling life. 


Skills Building w/ Bailey Parnell, CEO of Skillscamp (Toronto)

Bailey is the Founder and CEO of SkillsCamp, a soft skills training company, and was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, is an award-winning digital marketer, TEDx speaker, and has talent for helping people and brands tell better stories.

Bailey’s one-on-one chat with our moderator will focus on skills building: how to develop them, how to identify what you’re not good at, and how to overcome it. She will also speak to how she built her own business working with multinational companies.

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Women don’t like talking about money! This panel will be talking about everything related to pricing and how to identify your value, and how this links back to storytelling. Once we’ve correctly identified our skills and value proposition, how do we price accordingly and negotiate if necessary. This is going to be a goodie!

Speaker: Laura Kelly, Laura Kelly Photography

Laura Kelly is one of Ottawa’s top photographers and host of the podcast You Might Not Like It, breaking rules and adding fuel to the fire. She has stories about the ying and yang on pricing and negotiating rates in the competitive photography space. 

Speaker: Desirae Odjink, Half Banked

Financial expert and blogger at Half Banked, Desirae helps people use their money to live a life they love - without having to give up those lattes.

Speaker: Susan Richards, Numbercrunch + Invest Ottawa

Susan is a Certified FCPA (equal parts entrepreneur and accountant), virtual CFO, Owner of Numbercrunch  (a forward-thinking accounting-support company), and is co-chair of Invest Ottawa. Susan is passionate about providing strategic financial guidance to Startups and scaling small-medium sized enterprises.


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A gathering of the people who went out and slayed their careers. Whether in your career or business, fast growth is always the goal, but it can be tricky to handle. These fast-growing brands and business folks give tips, tricks, and talk about slip ups that happened with things blew up!

Speaker: Tom + Amanda, Founders of Coal and Canary (Winnipeg)

Our only male speaker at this conference! Tom and Amanda started Coal and Canary, a candle brand that has absolutely blown up! They’ve been in Oscar nominee gift bags, featured on Good Morning America, in Jillian Harris’ Holiday Gift Guide and Bachelorette Guide, in Cameron Diaz’ The Body Book, and more! They have recently opened a production facility employing a number of employees. 

Speaker: Becca Courtice, The Happy Ever Crafter

Becca teaches art, calligraphy, and lettering, and provides a number of calligraphy services for clients. In just a few years, she’s built a massive community of more than 160K on social media by teaching the basics in a fun, step-by-step process. Becca has even been able to take her business on tour, meeting students in more than 20 countries!

Speaker: Nora Zabarah-Pucci, Zarucci Bridal

Nora is the owner of Zarucci Bridal. A uOttawa MBA graduate, she has always had a desire for fine fabrics, textures, beads, and anything hand-made. Her wedding collection is a reflection of her philosophy that a woman at any age wants to look and feel beautiful. She has taken her gowns to NYC for fashion and tradeshows, has a showroom, and is currently working on scaling production and outsourcing. Nora is in the thick of growing her business!

Buy Tickets HERE.

That wraps up our morning sessions for GEM Conference! What do you think? Who are you most excited to see? Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 of this Speaker Roundup, featuring all of our amazing afternoon speakers!

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