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Leading the next generation with Illuminate x North York

Hey! My name is Esther Han and I am a Grade 10 IB student at Alexander Mackenzie High School. This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Illuminate x North York Regional Conference. Through this blog I hope to share a few things I learned about life-long learning, choosing the right career path, and futuristic thinking.


"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".

- John C. Maxwell


Dan Kiernan (Keynote Speaker):

When introducing yourself to someone new to build meaningful connections and be memorable, we should use The 3 C's:

  1. Context - Tell them a little bit about yourself, who you are, your organization.

  2. Credibility - Like a mini-verbal resume, sell yourself to give the other person an idea of your experiences and past work.

  3. Call to Action - So what? End with something to think about and build off of.

When choosing a career pathway we should:

  1. Reflect - Reflect on your personal strengths and weaknesses, and get external feedback from those around you. Figure out what you are good at.

  2. Explore - Explore possible careers depending on your reflection, and begin to build connections with professionals in the field.

  3. Activate - Use the new information to turn yourself into a desirable candidate for the career. Become someone that is appealing to employers.

Workshop #1: Elevator Pitch

By being put into random groups and having to introduce myself to strangers using the 3 C's, I learned how to improvise and make the other person feel comfortable. Within the 5 minutes we had to chat with one another, they learned about my past experiences, my education, my goals, and my passions. I was also able to build a positive connection with the others in my group, so I could reach out to them in the future and still be memorable to them. The goal with this workshop was to practice the "elevator pitch" in a more casual situation, to prepare ourselves for the real world.

Workshop #2: Swish Goswami Q/A

Key Takeaways:

  • It's never too late to start something that you have a competitive advantage in

  • Choose something for your future in which you are set apart from everyone else in the field (where do you have a competitive advantage in, what makes you different?)

  • Life is a learning process; Swish himself still does not know if he made the right decision to drop out of college, but he has goals that he plans to reach

  • Celebrate the small victories!

  • Build connections with people in the field

  • Talk to people who have done it before

Deloitte Keynote:

By reflecting on what the education system should change to encourage life-long learning, I was able to think critically about tangible solutions to an issue that many people speak about but don't act about. Some of the key things that I learned while discussing with my group as well as from other group presentations are:

  • Life-long learning takes intrinsic motivation to learn

  • There is a clear issue in the education system; statistics show that many students are not really "learning" in school, but rather memorization then forgetting

  • It is good to make clear steps to take towards solutions

    • Include financial planning

    • SWOT analysis; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Entrepreneurship and leadership know no boundaries.

I consider myself an entrepreneur in the sense that I have specific goals towards my future and the future of the world. I am a leader who has a passion for the career path I want to choose, and I believe that I can be someone who creates change in this world, and for generations to come. I am always curious and eager to learn, because I recognize that there is so much that I do not know. Overall, in the future, learning is going to be a big part of my life no matter my age, and I can be a leader in all situations.


One thing I am very passionate about is education and the power that learning holds. Neuroplasticity is the term that describes how our brains continuously change throughout our lives; growing stronger each time we learn and explore new things, and weakening when we stop life-long learning. I am grateful to have had the pleasure to attend the Illuminate x North York conference this year, and even won the 2nd place $200 prize along with my team! I look forward to building off of our weaknesses this year, and taking all the space for improvement to hopefully come back even stronger next year.

One final pice of advice about leadership is that nothing can be done without a deep, desirable, passion within us. But that enthusiasm is enough to build a generational leader.

See you next year!


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