29 August 2011- International trade mission broadens horizons and opportunities
When Samantha Phelan and Tyler Power were asked to summarize their recent international trade mission to Indonesia and Malaysia in two words, they both said: “Life changing.” The two bachelor of commerce (co-operative) students of Memorial University’s Faculty of Business Administration were among 24 chosen from hundreds of applicants to participate in the Junior Team Canada mission from Aug. 4–19.
Sponsors of their mission included the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, Rutter Inc, DFB Group, Ottenheimer Baker, Pennecon Inc., Memorial University and the Harbour Breton Community Youth Network.
Ms. Phelan and Mr. Power, along with other team members, conducted interviews and meetings with heads of state, chief executive officers and community officials to gather market intelligence, valuable contacts, and discover exporting opportunities for their sponsoring organizations, all in an effort to promote trade within their regions.
Forging new business contacts and learning foreign business practices was a constant priority and Ms. Phelan declared the core of the mission to be about “establishing connections, and following up on those connections to create new relationships that our sponsors can foster with individuals in these foreign countries.”
The two commerce students also enhanced their networking and presentation skills. At the Ghandi Memorial International School, Ms. Phelan and Mr. Power delivered a presentation on Memorial University and Canada.
“Many international students don’t know a lot about Canada,” noted Mr. Power. “So we had to persuade them to see the positive aspects of studying abroad, while promoting Memorial’s reputation as a leading institution.”
Presenting doesn’t come naturally to Mr. Power, but like the majority of the trip, getting pushed out of his comfort zone was a constant.
“I have never travelled outside the province, so to be in these countries interacting with groups of business people has really improved my confidence level and opened my eyes.”
Personal growth was another outcome of the mission that both are grateful for. Ms. Phelan described interacting with executive level members of the business community as “overwhelming and intimidating.” Despite these initial feelings, however, Ms. Phelan was encouraged by the opportunity.
“I knew this was our chance to make an impression on a global stage, to really represent our country, province, and our university,” she said. “Focusing on fulfilling our sponsors’ mandates helped me complete the assigned tasks with confidence.”
That shift in confidence paid off – at one point, both received an invite to an exclusive networking dinner at the Petroleum Club in the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, the students dined with Dato' Wee Yiaw Hin, executive vice-president of exploration for Petronas. Ms. Phelan had the opportunity to converse with him about the Malaysian-Canadian business connection for Petronas. To Ms. Phelan’s surprise, he followed up with her the next day to ensure she had his contact information.
Ms. Phelan also had an informative discussion about oil spill detection regulations in Indonesia with David Lamb, president and CEO of Talisman Energy.
The actual mission may be over, but the long-term work of Ms. Phelan and Mr. Power is just beginning. Both will be delivering presentations to their mission sponsors to recap what they learned from the mission and how they accomplished the mandates provided to them. The commerce students’ experience was so intense that it’s taken them a week just to absorb it. One thing they did feel immediately, however, was the sense that they could make a difference.
“The individuals we met were very open to discussing the relationships that could be formed between their respective countries and Canada,” noted Ms. Phelan. “It made us feel that despite just being students, we have the ability to make a real difference and contribute to the business community here in our province and around the world.”
Mr. Power agreed. “What is most amazing to us is that maybe five or 10 years from now, there will be a profitable economic Canadian-Malaysian or Canadian-Indonesian connection that all started because of something we did on this mission.”
For more information on Global Vision and its programs, please visit www.globalvision.com. Want to go behind the scenes of the mission? Check out the team blogs, including Ms. Phelan’s, at www.myglobalvision.com.
Featured in the Memorial University Gazette. Written by Jennifer Kelly. http://www.today.mun.ca/news.php?news_id=6581