Business Day marks 50 years

More networking, Q&As slated for annual event

Feb. 16, 2015


Business Day 2015 co-chairs
Allison Penton and Robert Forsythe

Business Day 2015 is focusing on more audience interaction and learning opportunities for students this year.

The annual student-run event, organized by students in the final year of the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program, is marking its 50th anniversary, which co-chairs Allison Penton and Robert Forsythe say provided license to make some changes to the event’s traditional structure of high-profile speakers and static presentations.

“We wanted to make it a more interactive event,” said Ms. Penton. “In the past, having three speakers was a great learning experience but for student and business personalities in the room to be able to ask questions of people that have been successful here in Newfoundland, [it’s] going to be a nice learning experience for everyone in the room.”

Business Day 2015 will be held on March 6 at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland.

Brendan Paddick, CEO of Columbus International Inc. and Memorial’s 2013 Alumnus of the Year, is the keynote speaker. Mr. Paddick holds both a commerce degree and a master of business administration from Memorial.

He will tell the story of his entrepreneurial journey that began in Grand Falls-Windsor and led to running a multi-national telecommunications company in the Bahamas. He will also talk about how his company managed significant growth in a short period and offer his insight into the company’s uniquely horizontal organizational structure.

Then, a panel of four local businesspeople will engage in a question-and-answer session with members of the public. The panel will feature Anne Whelan, president and CEO of Seafair Capital; Sean Wiltshire, CEO of Avalon Employment and Gary Smith, president and CEO of Newfoundland Power.

The event will be hosted by Matt Wright, local comedian and a 2011 commerce graduate, and the panel will be moderated by Lynn Morrissey, a communications professor at the business faculty.

This year’s event will also offer increased networking opportunities.

“We wanted to have more open time for people to actually get to know the students, and then educate students about their companies and hopefully make connections,” said Mr. Forsythe. “We just wanted to get more out of that because it’s a valuable part of the day.”

The theme for Business Day 2015 is “A Prism of Possibilities,” which the co-chairs say is reflected in the diversity of speakers and industries represented.

“It represents different backgrounds and different opportunities and how people kind of fit into that. And not even knowing what opportunities are in store yet. Some we know, some we don’t,” said Mr. Forsythe. “Yes, 50 years have passed but going forward, what are the next 50 years going to bring us? We wanted to take the focus of what does the next 50 years mean from this starting point?”

The student committee has been getting some help from members of the commerce class of 1983, which has provided guidance, experience and advice to help organize the event.

A Class of ’83 reunion will be held on the evening prior to Business Day, to which some members of the graduating Class of 2015 will also be invited to attend.

“The class of ’83 is well-established in the St. John’s community but the class of 2015 is just starting. So we wanted to create almost a buddy system out in the community and help people get connections,” said Mr. Forsythe.

Tickets for Business Day 2015 are $60 for members of the public and $35 for students. Tickets and more information are available at or by emailing

Susan White