Session 3A: Personal & Professional Development

The Work-Life Balance Myth

Time and Date: 3:00-4:00 PM on Saturday May 6th 
Session Type: Panel
Panelists: Shenaz Hanif Shahban (Moderator), Jessie Adcock, Karen Savage, Jonathan Musser, Agnes d'Entremont and Janny Marie Peterslund

While the paid workforce is now relatively equal in terms of gender, the home and family continue to be seen as the “woman’s domain.” Women are expected to be both a breadwinner and a supportive spouse, all while rearing the children and managing the housework. But it’s not actually possible to embody both Sheryl Sandberg AND Martha Stewart without an army of help. Recognizing the value of a supportive partner and evenly distributing non-professional work is key to achieving a balance between professional and home lives. Yet, women also face external pressures to achieve an unrealistic expectation of perfection. How can we challenge gender stereotypes to live more balanced lives? Is it even possible to achieve balance or is balance something that is achieved over a lifetime? Do institutional and societal changes need to take place to achieve true work-life equality?

Shenaz Hanif Shahban is an expert advocating psychological well-being, internationally as an educator and public speaker, and locally, at her Coal Harbour psychology clinic. Currently, she serves as the Chair of Ethics and Standards to the BC Board of Directors for Clinical Counsellors, Delegate representative to BC Clinical Counsellors, and Well-being Liaison to UBC’s student interdisciplinary Well-being Commission. She is no stranger to presenting her research at prestigious international conferences, where she invites her audience to receive her material in a global and philosophical rhetoric. Shenaz continues her doctoral work at the University of British Columbia in a joint appointment with the Liu institute for Global issues and the Faculty of Medicine. She studies pathways to positive and optimistic outlooks, to foster psychological well-being across layers of hard-to-change life circumstances. To this end, she is coordinating Canada’s first longitudinal pan-Canadian study on Syrian refugee health outcomes. When she is not working or volunteering, Shenaz is hitting the slopes, at educational social service talks, or learning from cultures abroad.

Jessie Adcock is currently the City of Vancouver’s Chief Technology Officer, having stepped into the role after a successful 3 years as the City’s first Chief Digital Officer.  As one of the first public sector CDO’s in Canada, Jessie led the execution of a multi-year digital strategy focused on the growth of direct channels, enhancing citizen services and engagement, improving the City’s data and technology infrastructure, enabling a more digital workforce, and helping create opportunity for the innovation economy. She is now leading the City’s wider technology transformation as it navigates the era of Smart City technologies driven by IoT, Mobility, Data and Cloud. Prior to transitioning into public sector in 2013, she held global roles on IT, marketing and digital teams, working in the FI and Telecom sectors, developing and implementing digital strategies, leading innovation and application development, and managing direct customer channels for consumer and business markets.

Karen Savage, P.Eng., F.E.C, is currently the President of Horizon Engineering Inc. and has been providing geotechnical engineering services to the British Columbia building industry for three decades, with emphasis on the Lower Mainland. Her hands-on approach and strong knowledge of local soil conditions has been appreciated by stakeholders in residential developments, commercial developments, and civil infrastructure works. As well as providing traditional geotechnical design services for foundations, excavations, shoring systems, and pavements, Karen also provides insight into stormwater management, especially as it relates to surface and sub-surface drainage, stormwater infiltration, and sediment and erosion control, especially for LEED projects.

Jonathan Musser, M.A.Sc., P.Eng., is a professional engineer and project manager with Associated Engineering, currently on secondment to Metro Vancouver to oversee construction of a new drinking water reservoir in Surrey. He is a strong believer in the value of incorporating the diversity of human experience into any activity: inside the practice of engineering, while caring for children, in political life, and elsewhere. Jonathan is currently serving as a member of AE’s women in science & engineering retention committee, where he is able to make a practical contribution to gender diversity in his profession. More often than not, he says that he struggles to find a good balance between his work and the rest of his life.

Dr. Agnes d’Entremont, P.Eng., is an Instructor and the Mech 2 Coordinator in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UBC.  She received her BEng in Mechanical Engineering at McGill, and her MASc and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UBC.  Her technical research in Orthopaedic Biomechanics is in the area of human joint motion and cartilage health, with a particular focus on pediatric hip disorders and MRI-based methods. Her teaching-related interests include team-based learning and the flipped classroom, as well as diversity and climate issues in engineering education and the broader engineering profession.

Janny Marie Peterslund earned her PhD degree in stem cell biology from the University of Copenhagen and Hagedorn Research Institute/Novo Nordisk A/S (Denmark). She moved to Vancouver in 2010 while on her 2nd maternity leave for the adventure of working and living abroad. She works with STEMCELL Technologies Inc. as a Product Support Representative and Trainer for internal staff and customers. After a few years, she became a Product Marketing Manager with STEMCELL, responsible for Epithelial cell culture products.

Next to her professional life, Janny Marie is a past board member with SCWIST, is a board member of Dania Home Society (a retirement home in Burnaby), is a manager for her son's soccer team, and has two young kids with her husband Mads.

In the fall of 2015, Janny Marie took leave from work due to stress. After 3 months she gradually returned and has been working full time since November. She provides a first-hand experience of what it is like trying to find that work/life-balance most of us are hoping to reach, and often struggle finding.