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Another Illuminating Experience

Hi everyone! My name is Ken Sue-A-Quan and I am a Grade 11 student at York Mills Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend the Illuminate x Midtown TO regional conference.

After previously participating in the Illuminate x Markham regional conference 2 weeks ago, I was asked to be a Highschool Coordinator for this conference and I’m super glad that I took on this opportunity! Overall, the guest speakers provided engaging presentations and the case competition was an amazing learning experience.

The first guest speaker, Sal Naran, gave us an in-depth look at FinTech (Financial Technology) and his journey to where he is now. He started off by explaining what FinTech is, which is essentially technology that makes financial services easier, accessible, and efficient. After getting us more knowledgeable on FinTech, Sal talked about how the industry can revolutionize the finance sector and how Canada needs it more than ever. Canadian banks are innovating slowly due to reasons such as highly regulated rules, the oligopoly competition, the content Canadian consumer, the Canadian banking legacy, and more. Throughout his presentation, Sal not only kept his audience engaged through his points and ideas, but also through using Mentimeter, a presentation software where users can create fun and interactive slideshows. Whether asking us to define what FinTech is to getting our thoughts about the impact of the industry, Sal’s engaging presentation was super fun to listen to while teaching us all the different aspects of Financial Technology. To finish off, Sal provided us life lessons with the biggest one for me being that hard work will eventually bring out luck.

The second guest speaker, Razor Suleman, welcomed us with his inspirational insights on entrepreneurship. The main lesson that I got out of his presentation was to find a passion for something and turn that into a business model. No matter how weird it may be, if that is where your heart is then there is some way where you can monetize it. For example, Razor provided us with his story on how he created a business around his passion for sports cards. He further explained that if you’re driven by money, you will lose motivation after a loss, but if it’s done out of love, you’ll learn to be able to overcome these losses that are inevitable to come. This is a big point that I took out of his presentation, where although it does sound cliché, it reiterates the point that money doesn’t bring happiness.

My favourite part of the conference was the entire opportunity to work with my team members in order to find a solution to real life problems. During the actual case competition, my team and I brainstormed a solution that tackled the issue of inefficient invoice processing in the finance sector and how RPA and AI can provide a solution that is more efficient, faster, and cheaper. Not only was working with my team such an amazing experience, but exploring the innovative ideas and presentations that my fellow competitors came up with was another part of the conference that I highly enjoyed.

Overall, although my team and I faced a lot of challenges, the experience and knowledge that we got out of the conference are things that we would never forget. Thank you so much Illuminate x Midtown TO and the Illuminate Universe for hosting such an amazing event!

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