Human Resources

Staff & Leaders' Conference

In partnership with Human Resources, Western’s Staff Development Team inaugurated Western’s Staff & Leaders' Conference in February 2003. The conference includes keynote speakers, workshops and various tours—all available on campus. Staff from all areas throughout Western attend, at no cost, and rate the experience very highly. Below is a brief description of past conference activities.

2018 Western Staff & Leaders' Conference

Thanks for joining us February 21, 22, & 23, 2018


Past Conferences

Build Your Best - 2017

In 2017, you were inspired to “Build Your Best” life, career, and self through opportunities to build skills, knowledge, health, relationships and community. Keynote topics included "The Happiness Equation" (Neil Pasricha); "What Today’s Financial World Means for Your Personal Finances" (Rob Carrick); "You’ve Got Colleagues and What to do About it: Myths and Realities of 5 Generations in the Workplace" (Dr. Karyn Gordon); "Choir! Choir! Choir" (Nobu Adilman and Daveed Goldman).

Concurrent sessions included workshops on:

  • Building Western: An Update on Capital Projects
  • Finding Meaning Through Volunteer Work
  • Getting it “Write”
  • How to Put Social Media to Work for You
  • my money tools: Navigating
  • Office 365 Helpful Tips
  • Presenting at Your Best
  • Propelling Success: Stories from Western’s Propel Entrepreneurship Centre
  • Proven Strategies for Resume Writing and Interviews
  • Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence
  • Retirement Ready: The Sun Life Retirement & Savings Plan
  • Saving Ontario’s Wildlife: A Day in the Life of Salthaven
  • Staff International Engagement (SIE) Info Session
  • Ten Nutrition Habits to Start Today
  • Sun Life Financial: Book a One-to-One Session
  • The Power of Confidence
  • Why Hackers Go After Universities (And How to Protect Yourself)
  • Your Way to Wellness – Wellness Fair

Tours included visits to: The Advanced Facility for Avian Research; Western Archives & Research Collections Centre; National Centre for Audiology; Visual Arts; Robotics; Residence Life at Saugeen-Maitland Hall; and Zoological Collections and the Herbarium.

Strength 2016 - Find it. Build it. Share it.

In 2016, staff and leaders were reminded that building strength and resilience is key to helping us through challenging times. Keynote topics included "Simply Beautiful: Photogtaphing the Human Connection" (Annie Griffiths); "Drop the Worry Ball: Parenting in the Age of Entitlement" (Dr. Alex Russell); "Perception and Possibility" (Warren Macdonald); "Myth or Science" (Dr. Jennifer Gardy).

Concurrent sessions included workshops on:

  • Care for the Caregiver
  • Ten Nutrition Habits to Start Today
  • Top Fives for Financial Health
  • Western's Indigenous Students: A Vibrant Future
  • Project Management Essentials: Tools to Go
  • Crafting a Great Resume
  • Giving Your Best Interview
  • iPad Tips and Tricks
  • SunLife Retirement and Savings Plan
  • How to Make Sushi
  • New Staff Reception
  • Keeping You and Your Family Digitally Safe
  • Stronger Communities: Putting an End to Homeslessness
  • Staff International Engagement Session
  • Yoga and Zuma

Tours included a bus trip to the Sustainable Archaeology centre, and campus tours of: Western Archives & Research Collections Centre; Western Greenhouses; National Centre for Audiology; Robotics; Department of Earth Sciences, Skeleton, Footprints, Earthquakes; and Delaware Residence.

It's Your Move! - 2015

In 2015, staff and leaders were motivated to invest in themselves, their careers and their futures by taking charge of their game. Keynote topics included "Dreaming Big: Living Bigger" (Jon Montgomery); "Mastering Stress: You Have More Control Than You Think" (Dr. David Posen); "A Journey of Hope, Purpose & Building Bridges" (Waneek Horn-Miller); "Information Bombardment: Take Back Your Time!" (Dr. Nick Bontis).

Concurrent sessions included workshops on:

  • Great Tips to Make Great Gardens
  • Leave for Change: Stories from Vietnam
  • Your Way to Wellness (Wellness Fair)
  • Investing with Confidence
  • Grow our Career at Western
  • Cool Story Bro: An Exploration of Memes
  • Western's New Musculoskeletal Research Cluster
  • Protecting Your Information in the Digital World
  • Art Class: Create Your Own Landscape
  • What's Your Change Style?
  • New Staff Reception
  • Zumba
  • Yoga

Tours included the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel; Western Archives & Research Collections Centre; The Brain and Mind Institute; Advanced Facility for Avian Research; Department of Earth Sciences, Skeleton, Footprints, Earthquakes; and Ontario Hall Residence.

Choose Your Next Adventure - 2014

AdventureIn 2014, the 12th annual conference helped staff & leaders navigate the options and adventures of life and work. Keynote topics included: "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" (Michael Moss); "Mental Health & the Power of Human Interaction" (Stephane Grenier); "Getting Passion Out of Your Profession" (Nina Spencer); "Open Roads Open Minds: An Exploration of Creative Problem Solving" (Steve Uzzell); "Freedom and Forgiveness" (Amanda Lindhout).

Concurrent sessions included workshops on:

  • Big Data’s Impact on Brain Research
  • My Pension at Western
  • Making Change Work for You
  • Wellness Fair
  • #westernu: Social Media & Western
  • Deepening Your Intercultural Competencies
  • Protecting Your Digital Self
  • My Money: Am I Saving Enough?
  • Yoga


Tours included the Map & Data Centre; SimMans Family at the Clinical Education Suite; Mummies & More: Department of Anthropology; and bus trip to WindEEE Dome, with presentation from Fraunhofer Project Centre.

Refresh - 2013

RefreshIn 2013, conference attendees were invited to spark new thinking and renew creativity at Refresh! Keynote topics included: "The Great Traits of Champions" (Mark Tewksbury & Debbie Muir); "Taking Control fo Your Tech" (Steve Dotto); "Adventure: Planet Earth" (George Kourounis); "Decisions that Double Your Productivity & Reduce Stress!" (Steve McClatchy).

Concurrent sessions included workshops on:

  • Mission to Mars, Western’s Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration
  • Eldercare Essentials
  • Meditation
  • Savings 1, 2, Free
  • Zumba
  • Investing: Your Western Pension
  • MS Office Secrets Revealed
  • Western International Gaining Momentum
  • Postdoctoral Scholars Research Super-Summaries
  • Wellness Fair
  • Tough Conversations: Resolve Conflict & Build Relationships
  • Yoga


Site tours: Department of Earth Sciences, Wind Tunnel & WindEEE mini-dome, Greenhouses, and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics).

Ignite - 2012

IgniteIn 2012, more than 1000 staff and leaders’ participated in the annual conference. Keynote topics included: "Survival Skills for Life and Work: Inside Discovery Channel's 'Eco-Challenge' " (Yvonne Camus); "The Future Ready Campus" (Ken Steele - Academica Group); "A Changing World: Through the Lens of National Geographic" (Joel Sartore); "Information Technology: Perils and Benefits" (Jesse Hirsh - CBC)

Concurrent sessions included workshops on:

  • Building Activity in Daily Life
  • Leaving Your Mark thru Visual Identity
  • Intercultural Conflict and Communication
  • Using Falcons to help Feed People in Sudan
  • Mental Health Basics
  • Inner Strength for Change 
  • MS Office Secrets Revealed
  • Western Sustainability
  • Unlocking Your Conscious Consumer
  • Bullies in the Classroom
  • Introduction to Yoga and Cycling


Site tours included: Advanced Facility for Avian Research, 3D Anatatorium (Virtual Reality Theatre) and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics).

Go Global - 2011

Go GlobalIn 2011, the theme was “Go Global”, inspired by Western’s strategies around Internationalization. More than 1000 staff and leaders’ participated in the annual conference. Keynote topics included: “The Courage to Shine” (Silken Laumann); “Secrets to Longevity – An International Photo Story” (David McLain, National Geographic); “How One Person Can Make a World of Difference” (Marc Kielburger); “Today’s Young Adults – Your Colleagues. Your Students. Your Kid.” (Max Valiquette); “College of the Overwhelmed – Mental Health on Campus” (Dr. Richard Kadison); “Western Go Global” (Julie McMullin); and “Researchers’ Spotlight” featuring Dr Fred Longstaffe and Dr. Sandra Smeltzer.

Concurrent sessions included workshops on career development, stress management, work-life harmony, intercultural communication, using the web as promotion, and global health at Schulich. Yoga and Cadio Hoop were the fitness options, and Western Serves: Conference Edition was back again this year.

Surface Science Western joined a list of favourite site tours, including: SimMan’s Family, AFAR, Map and Data Centrex, Western Archives, and an architectural tour of campus.  “Western’s Got Talent” wrapped up the conference with song, dance and art from employees across campus. 4 Days and more than 30 Events!

Go For Gold - 2010

Go For GoldIn 2010, the theme was "Western 2010: Go For GOLD" (Grow, Offer, Learn, Develop), which invited the over 1250 registered staff and leaders of Western and its affiliates to strive to Grow, Offer, Learn, and Develop both personally and professionally. This year focused on a variety of personal and professional development areas, including building and maintaining healthy relationships, community involvement, and professional skill building.


Keynote topics included "Success Strategies" and "The Wealthy Barber" (David Chilton); "The Relationship Cycle" (Barbara Coloroso); "Changing the News, Changing the World -- One Step at a Time" (CBC's Mark Kelley); "The United Way: Perspectives on London & Middlesex" (Andrew Lockie); and "Designing Your Guilt-Free World" (Debbie Travis). This year we featured 8 Western researchers in two Western Researcher Spotlights to allow Western staff and leaders to gain an understanding on the exciting research happening around them.

Concurrent sessions included Take the 'Yawn' Out of Your Lawn, The 'Write' Stuff, Photography 101, From Pre-Marriage to Re-Marriage: Building and Sustaining Healthy Couple Relationships; Western Serves: Staff Edition, Discovering Yoga/Meditation, Microsoft Office 2007 "Crash Course"; Western Heads East, Do More Great Work, and Off-The-Wall Team Building.

Among the site tours were the new Advanced Facility for Avian Research, The Claudette-MacKay Lassonde Pavillion (Green Building), Western Archives, McIntosh Gallery, and the Glassblowing Facility in Chemistry. 51 Events over 4 Days!

Possibilities: Yours to Discover - 2009

Possibilities: Yours to DiscoverIn 2009, the theme was “Possibilities… Yours To Discover”, which invited the 1116 registered Western Staff & Leaders to discover the world of opportunity around them. With a focus on change and discovery, the conference was host to a variety of exciting speakers, concurrent workshops and site tours that invited members of the Western community to realize the possibilities in their own lives and around our own campus. Keynote topics included “4 Generations, 4 Approaches to Work” (Adwoa Buahene), “At Least I’ve Got My Health” (Brett Leake), “Our Changing World” (Kevin Newman), “Paul – The Path and The Person (Dr. Paul Davenport), “Leadership Lessons” (Western’s own, Denis Shackel), and more.

Concurrent sessions included Charting a New Path – Personal Budgeting Basics, Discovering Yoga and Meditation, Understanding Pensions, A New Rhythm, From Problems to Possibilities, Preventing Workplace Violence, The Science Behind Happiness and more.

ITS, Visual Arts, the Clinical Education Suite and more Western gems opened their doors for site tours.

41 Events over 4 Days!

Big Impressions, Small Foot Prints - 2008

Big Impressions, Small Foot PrintsIn 2008, the theme was “Big Impressions…Small Footprints”, inviting campus colleagues to make big impressions professionally, personally and environmentally, while leaving small footprints as you go. With an emphasis on respectful workplace culture and environmental responsibility, this conference was packed with powerful speakers and interactive workshops. Keynote topics included "Crazy, Buzy, Nuts!" (Victoria Labalme), "Perspectives on a Planet" (Bob McDonald) "Mother Earth and the Political Frying Pan" (Gordon McBean) and "The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander in the Workplace" (Barbara Coloroso). Concurrent sessions included Shiny Object Syndrome, Small Inbox - Big Outputs, Being at Your Best, Preventing Workplace Violence and more. We had the opportunity to showcase areas on campus such as the new Biotron, Robarts, Anatatorium and more. 36 Events over 4 Days!

Degrees of Connection - 2007

Degrees of ConnectionThe 2007 Conference broke registration records with 966 Western staff registered in a variety of session. The “special feature” of bringing guests resulted in 64 spouses/ partners/ family members attending designated sessions – and was a great success.

We heard inspiring messages from Liz Murray, encouraging to follow our “what-if’s”, enjoyed humourous moments with Dr. Brian Little as we gained insight into the world of “E’s and I’s”, found new perspective about planet with Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, started creating our “To-Done Lists” instead of “To-Do Lists” with Nora Spinks, and were truly impressed with leading edge Western Research on an HIV/AIDS vaccine “simplified” by Dr. C. Yong Kang. We have received numerous requests to bring back Michael Coleby for another cooking demonstration, and to repeat the ever-popular Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel. We enjoyed concurrent presentations from many of our very own Western experts, and celebrated with recipients of The Western Award of Excellence.

Opening Doors, Discovering Talent - 2006

Opening Doors, Discovering TalentThe 2006 Conference, entitled “Opening Doors – Discovering Talent”, included a wide variety of keynote topics including Technology (Evan Soloman), Leadership & Teamwork (Jude St. John), Discovering Passion & Possibility at Work (Denise Bissonnette), and Inspirational Life messages (Terry Evanshen). Western employees were recognized in the first annual “The Western Award of Excellence” – a true celebration of Western talent. Over 800 Western employees attended this very successful conference.

Communicate, Relate, Create - 2005

Communicate, Relate, CreateThe 2005 Conference was entitled "Communicate! Relate! Create!" Topics included personal leadership, celebrating differences and rekindling the flame within. We learned about a Western's faculty and staff response to the HIV/Aids crisis in Africa. There was a Team Survival exercise and a Town Hall meeting with Dr. Davenport (President) and Gitta Kulczycki (VP - Resources & Operations). Evaluations were even more positive than in the past and staff at Western look forward to next year’s experience.

The World of Work: Refresh, Reframe, Renew! - 2004

2004 ConferenceThe 2004 Conference focused on keynote sessions and tours, again offered twice each to support workplace coverage. The Conference was entitled “The World of Work: Refresh, Reframe, Renew!” Again, attendance totalled 700. President Davenport opened the conference, and three of the six keynote speakers were Western professors. Topics included leadership in all roles, managing email, managing one’s own career, understanding the new “millennial” generation, global issues that research at Western helps to address.

Learning, Working, Living - 2003

Learning, Working, LivingThe 2003 Conference was entitled “Learning, Working, Living” and included sessions on Generations in the Workplace, Research at Western, Employability Skills, Workplace Resilience, Continuing Education, Humour in the Workplace, and Personal Coaching. Most agenda items were offered twice to enable staff in work units to cover for each other back at the workplace.  President Davenport made opening remarks, the Vice President, Resources & Operations, was actively involved as a host, and a number of Western Researchers and Staff involved in Research spoke about their work, including the Associate Vice-President of Research.

For more information about Western’s Staff & Leaders' Conference, call Cara Carson, Human Resources Specialist, at 85581 or