I had the chance to sit down with Brianna Bergeron, Natasha Hnidy, and Jacqueline Woods over lunch last week. These dynamic ladies are Co-Chairs of FUZE Conference, a fun, unique conference coming up this April 1st at The Bassment. Here’s a bit of our conversation:
So, what is FUZE, exactly?
Brianna: FUZE is Saskatchewan's only conference dedicated to Marketing and Communications professionals. It's a joint venture between Saskatoon Marketing Association (SPMA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) - Saskatoon Chapter.
And what do IABC and SPMA do?
Natasha: Both organizations provide professional development and networking opportunities to their members. Together, our members are a rather mixed bag of MarComm professionals from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. There are writers, designers, entrepreneurs, strategists, agency people, communications...Really, it's a group of creatives who enjoy learning, sharing and collaborating. And FUZE helps make some of that happen!
I heard that FUZE NITE was a new format of the event?
Brianna: As of this year, we've decided to alternate FUZE Conference, our full day conference event, with FUZE NITE, an evening version of the event that showcases two fantastic keynotes and devotes more time to the networking side of things. 2015 is FUZE NITE, 2016 is FUZE Conference, 2017 is FUZE NITE, and so on...
Can you tell us a little about this year's keynotes?
Jacqueline: This edition of FUZE is really for everyone – you definitely don't need to be a MarComm professional to be inspired by the keynotes’ stories of leadership and dedication. Zahra Al-Harazi immigrated to Canada from Yemen. Single mother. 25. Three kids. No post-secondary education. Fast forward 10 years and she's graduated from college, running one of the top communications firms in the country and being named Chatelaine's Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Rachel Mielke from Hillberg & Berk is our second keynote and a great Saskatchewan success story. In her 20s, she made extra cash making jewellery at her kitchen table between BComm classes at the U of R...next thing you know, she's running a multi-million dollar company from Regina and the Queen's wearing her necklace! Wow. Super women, indeed!
And what do you three ladies get up to when you're not FUZE-ing things up?
Brianna: I’ve been working in marketing and communications for over six years. I studied at Simon Fraser University and launched my career in Vancouver. Three years ago I moved to Saskatoon to join KPMG and have loved working with the best accountants in the city. Starting in April I will be taking on a new challenge as Communication Strategist with Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Outside of work I am the Vice President of the Saskatchewan Marketing Association, Co-Chair of FUZE, Chair of READ Saskatoon’s annual fundraiser LIT UP! and try to squeeze in time with my equally busy boyfriend.
Natasha: I've been in the design and marketing industry for 15 years and recently started as digital marketing specialist at Superior Cabinets. This new role allows me to hone in on the skills I love most, planning and executing strategic visual communications. My husband and I also own Rhine Artisans Fine Woodworking. Jacqueline and I run the Professional Development portfolio for IABC Saskatoon together, which means hosting lunch’n’learns and workshops throughout the year. And I'm also very proud to sit on the Enactus U of S board.
Jacqueline: I'm a communications strategist at Creative Fire. I do strategy, marketing, recruitment, engagement, research, writing - you name it, really. It's all about problem solving and helping clients share their stories. I really enjoy learning, and this job certainly keeps me on my toes in that area! One week it's mining, the next it might be real estate development, human rights, event production or community engagement...I sit on the Chamber’s First Nations and Métis Opportunities Committee and recently began classes toward a PhD through the U of S School of Public Policy, focusing on new approaches to Aboriginal economic development. Music is another important passion for me. I'm Artistic Director of Saskatchewan's only chamber music festival, Ritornello, which happens every year at the end of May, and enjoy playing keyboards and synth on the more indie end of things with my husband. Hah! I guess you could say we’re a rather hyperactive trio of ladies, eh?
Karyn: Anything else people should know about FUZE NITE?
Natasha: That it’s at night! And that we’re hosting it at The Bassment, the jazz club in the old post office basement on 4th. There will be tonnes of great food and tasty custom cocktails. Our famous photo booth will be awaiting the smiling faces of FUZE attendees. Oh! And we’ve got some great prizes lined up for our networking challenge.
Brianna: Tickets are limited to 160 – people should get on grabbing theirs on Picatic before they sell out! You can follow us on Facebook and on twitter @FUZEConf. And of course there’s more information on speakers and the event at fuzeconf.com