Young professionals put the ambition in the Ambitious City – Photo: Alyssa Lai
No wonder Hamilton has been called the ambitious city.
A city where young professionals have a platform to congregate, converse, collaborate and inspire. A community where its leaders encourage its ambitious minds to make change for the better. An innovation incubator where a generation of entrepreneurs is fostered.
Nothing embodies this better than Hamilton HIVE’s #HIVEX, a premier conference for young professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs.
A conference that is becoming a landmark event in the Golden Horseshoe attracting attendees looking to advance themselves and the Hamilton community as well as those looking for ways to attract, retain, engage and develop young leaders.
“Hive X is a rallying point that shows that Hamilton is a destination for young people who want to start a career, want to plan roots, want to be involved and engaged in the city,” said 30-year-old Ryan Moran, past chair of Hamilton HIVE and #HIVEX 2013 coordinator.
Moran is thrilled with how Hamilton HIVE has impacted the city.
The three-year-old umbrella organization for young leaders, professionals and their networking groups is a partnership of the City of Hamilton, the Chamber of Commerce, the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative and institutional and private sector partners.
Hive currently represents 19 member groups ranging from various industries like finance, health, art and media to technology and supports more than 1,200 young professionals in the city.
Hive has shown that there is an energetic and influential community of young people in Hamilton who are ready to be involved in civic, policy, economic, and social discussions.
“Leaders should be listening and taking note of that,” Moran adds.
And indeed they are.
City manager, Chris Murray provided welcoming remarks. City councillors that attended include Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr, Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead and Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins who was the only councillor to visit the conference last year.
Murray said that the City of Hamilton has a vested interest in them and that the City is listening and wants to move in new directions.
“City Hall’s mindset has been changing and I think it needs to be changed to be as progressive as we need to be,” Murray said.
With the biggest turn out yet, the conference-goers at this year`s #HIVEX had increased by 60 percent from the previous year.
Thirty-four people attended from Toronto, North York, Niagara on the Lake, Uxbridge, Oakville, Grimsby and other small towns.
Hamilton HIVE has become a model for groups outside the city, because it’s the most comprehensive, Moran said.
#HIVEX has had influence with the city’s thought leaders when the ideas and inspirations from the conference are presented to the City Council. Two presentations have occurred so far with the latest in February.
Murray said the meeting was one of the “best discussions” that they’ve had in a long time.
Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor believes youth should have a voice and should be given every opportunity and the conference serves as an extension of that.
“We need to ensure we are inclusive with our development of policy and making sure that we don’t leave anyone behind. That’s why I am here.”
No immediate change comes from a one day conference. The real game changer is what gets in your head to drive you to do something tomorrow, “it is the inspiration for what you do after,” Moran said.
“What comes out of the events is what people put into it.”
Ideas are generally exchanged through workshops.
This year, the conference provided a series of workshops on civic-engagement, career, and business with speakers and panelists from all walks of life.
Speakers and panelists have usually been local but this year the committee achieved a balance between local and out-of-town leaders.
Moran attributes this to showcasing Hamilton to influential people who have some sort of connection to the city.
Adam Spence, the associate director at Toronto’s MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, was one of the speakers at the unusual economies workshop.
Spence focused on the ‘unusual economies’ that have considerable value to the City including sustainability, heritage, culture and urban spaces.
Spence was the vice-president of education and corporate director for the McMaster Student Union when he was a student in Hamilton.
“Hamilton is truly a leader in impact investing and economies for social change,” he said.
He noted Hamilton companies like REfficient.
Arati Sharma is another out-of-town leader with Hamilton roots. The Shopify community development manager is a former McMaster student and she was once recognized on Hamilton Spectator`s Top 40 Under 40 list.
Other speakers included the morning keynote by ArcelorMittal Dofasco`s Charlie Hendershott, Needlework duo Kate Hunter and Liz Simpson, McMaster University`s Paul Bates, lunch speaker and one of McMaster Alumni Association Board of Directors Elaine Kunda, president of the Mustard Seed Co-operative Grocery Graham Cubitt, cycling advocacy blogger Abram Bergen, arts community catalyst Colina Maxwell,CityHousing Hamilton`s efficiency and sustainability mastermind Sean Botham, and the real-estate game changer Joe Accardi.
A “grand finale” key-note by Neil Pasricha, Tedx Toronto speaker and New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awesome and a social reception was held on the 21st floor of Hamilton’s Stelco Tower — with 360 Hamilton view.
This was the first year a Hive X planning committee was formed. In the past couple of years, Michael Marini, founding chair of Hamilton Young Professional group and marketing coordinator for city of Hamilton, had been instrumental in bringing the initiative into life.
Marini is also one of the masterminds behind Hamilton`s `The Ambitious City` youtube video that solicited just over 17,000 hits in 4 days. The video now has around 22,000 hits.
“Young professionals are not asking anymore, they are doing it,” said Marini.
The ten member committee for Hive X 2013 were Ryan Moran, Abigail Santos, Tammy Hwang, Kevin Browne, Sim Kalsi, Peter Topalovic, Devon Donaldson, John Nashid, Minha Ha & Mike Kubes.
“None of this could have been possible without the tireless efforts of our volunteer planning committee,” said Melissa Height, Hamilton HIVE chair.
Moran adds, “The past three years have been great for establishment, framework and for creating awareness. People now know it (#HIVEX), look forward to it and expect it to happen every year.“
The Hamilton municipal election takes place in 2014 and HIVE is looking to incorporate the election into the conference in educating the demographic on the issue.