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Apprenticeships, startups, and leading manufacturing part of panel talks in KW

Build a Dream Kitchener-Waterloo is back for the second time in a year! This expo’s panel will highlight a different group of female professionals sharing advice and insight from their own experiences with following paths where females have been under-represented.

MODERATOR: Joni Jean, Chair, Trades & Apprenticeship, Conestoga College

Prior to joining the Doon Campus at Conestoga College, Joni spent five years with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, providing support to apprentices and sponsors in Guelph and Wellington County. In addition to her full-time career, she has been a reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces (Air Force) for over 20 years, supporting the air cadet program as a glider pilot and senior instructor with the Officer Training School for Ontario.

Yvonne Lau, Founder, Retainify
Yvonne spent 13 years in various Human Resources capacities, including implementing HR programs and technology across North America, Australia, South America, and Africa. While completing her MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, she discovered her passion to build her own startup. Encouraged by her family’s belief that everyone should try entrepreneurship once in their lifetimes, she took the leap and created Retainify, an HR tech startup that collects/uses employee feedback to improve managerial decision-making and employee experience.

Deb Franke, President & Owner, AJ Braun Manufacturing
Deborah studied Industrial Chemistry at Seneca College in Toronto, and spent 15 years working as an Industrial Chemist and Research Department Manager at Cooper Standard Automotive. In 2007, she switched careers to assist her father with A.J. Braun Manufacturing and purchased the company in 2012. Today, A.J. Braun is going strong with 30 employees. Deb is furthering her business knowledge with part-time university.

Jennifer Seberras, Founder, Simplify Supply Chain Solutions
Jennifer discovered supply chain and logistics 15 years ago. As she rose through the ranks of different companies she noticed there were not many women occupying significant roles in transportation, operations and supply chain. Jennifer decided to create the change that she wanted to see and Simplify Supply Chain Solutions was born. Two years later, Simplify provides consulting and asset-based transportation services and is one of the only companies of its kind in Canada owned and operated by a woman.

Laura Butchers, Continuing Education Coordinator, College of Carpenters
Laura Butchers started her apprenticeship in September 2009 as a flooring installer, and received her Red Seal in February 2015. She pursued teaching and joined the College of Carpenters as an instructor for working at heights training. In 2018, Laura became the Continuing Education Coordinator for the College of Carpenters.

Mary Marshall, Automotive Technician, Parkway Ford
Mary has been in the automotive industry for 4 years and currently works at Parkway Ford. She got her start thanks to the OYAP program and is a licensed Automotive Technician, with Red Seal Endorsement.

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