Ellier Leng, one of our INKspire co-founders, interviewed Menina Casalino, the director for Nspire‘s National Business and Technology Conference (NBTC). From their website, Nspire is Canada’s largest student-run non-profit organization in the business and technology space.
Can you give a brief description of yourself and your role within Nspire?
I’m a third year mechanical engineering student. My role within Nspire is Chair of the National Business and Technology Conference, and within this role I lead a team of 10 individuals who perform cross-functionality to plan and execute the event.
Can you tell me a bit more about the conference itself?
The National Business and Technology Conference is a two day event that happens in March in Toronto, Ontario. The idea of this conference is to bring together top talent across Ontario and abroad to a two day conference in which they’ll participate in a variety of events such as a case competition, sponsored industry challenges, networking, career fair and more.
How did this conference start?
The conference started before Nspire, beginning in 2001, and it started off as the largest business and tech conference in Canada. The founders of the NBTC decided that they wanted to create an organization because they saw more potential than just a conference. In 2009, three engineering students from UofT (University of Toronto) created Nspire to allow talented students to interact with business and tech leaders and this was how Nspire was formed. Now in 2016 we reached over 10,000 students, the organization itself is over 90 students large and we’re expanding across universities across Ontario.
How has Nspire and the NBTC impacted youth in past years?
I think it has become a platform for youth leaders to not only interact with each other but with recruiters and well-known industry professionals. It has allowed opportunities for students to pursue internships, jobs and showcase their talents through case competitions. It’s also a place to give money to new start-ups, which some have become companies that have been bought by Google.
Why do you think it is important for young people to be innovative?
I think that the world we live in today is constantly changing and developing and, because of this, you need to have a mind thinking forward all the time. Being technical and creative is what ‘innovative’ is to me. We are constantly being challenged and to thrive in this evolving day and age we must be innovative.
Could you share a bit about your knowledge on trends in modern tech over the past few years?
I think one of the things that we’re aiming to highlight with this conference is the fourth industrial revolution, or what they’re calling “Industry 4.0.” Things like ThinkData, cyber security, augmented reality and artificial intelligence are pushing businesses to adapt to tomorrow’s technologies. This year, we’re focusing on how Canada and the world’s largest corporations are adapting to changes like these.
How do you think modern technology has impacted the youth of today? What are the positives and negatives?
Personally, I don’t think I can think of a negative outcome except that it is challenging how we see things. I can speak for myself as someone who’s studying engineering and its methods that have been around for many years, such as thermodynamics. Those concepts haven’t changed in the past 25 years, but the way we apply them has been changing every day. The way I’m studying is changing everyday. Programs are now moving to being completely online and the environment in which we’re studying in is changing. For example, I could be participating in a summer internship where the company I’m working for is putting all of their information onto a cloud. I think it’s a cool and unique place to be in as young people in the current, modern, developing world.
Cool! So I realize that Nspire really focuses on bridging the gap between business and tech. Why is this such a focus?
I think every business is dependent on tech for its success. It’s dependent on it for its efficiency, and now it has become so interconnected which is why we want our platform and conferences to reflect that.
How do you see Nspire growing and developing in 5-10 yrs? What are you hoping to accomplish?
My hope for the organization is that we continue to push the boundaries of creating a platform for students to use and find opportunities to showcase their talents. My hope is to go national. Right now, the NBTC reaches Ontario and abroad roughly, but we haven’t created a strong platform for across Canada. I want to see that we’re able to become truly national. Furthermore, I’m hoping we can try some virtual events. Whether it’s virtual workshops or conferences, we can move online to see how it works for the organization.
That’s about it, thanks so much! Anything else to add?
If anyone’s interested in the NBTC, I welcome and encourage anyone to participate. The NBTC is truly a great place. We’re constantly looking to push the boundaries for these conferences and provide great opportunities for undergrads. If you’ve got a competitive side like myself, or are striving to be the best, it’s great to be surrounded by all these other like-minded students who are extremely passionate about this conference and tech/business.