A Hanlon Campus Day with the American Consul General

Release Date : November 19, 2012

Story by: Jessica Wallace

Photos by: Brandon Ziola

The Edwards School of Business was in for a treat November 15-16th, 2012 as the Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies and the Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program (SITO) received American Consul-General Peter Kujawinski on campus for his first visit to Saskatchewan.  

“The nature of the Saskatoon portion of the visit was mainly commercial,” says Hanlon Centre Associate and SITO Student Officer Carolyn Aziz. “Because Saskatoon has so much potential as well as a strong trade relationship with the United States, we wanted to showcase Saskatoon businesses as best we could.” 

Hanlon Student Associates and SITO students officers Aziz, Brandon Ziola, Luke Sather and Avery Vold had been busy two months prior to the visit, communicating with the American Consulate-General on its objectives while in the province and planning an itinerary accordingly. The Consul-General, joined by his Political & Economic Analyst, Lori Kent, accepted the program’s invitation to visit the province as part of its Visiting Consul-General Series. 

“As a U of S graduate, it was a wonderful opportunity to introduce the Consul General to “my” university,” says Kent. “The enthusiasm and professionalism of the students involved in the program made me realize that the future of Saskatchewan is in good hands.”

Ziola, who was involved with preliminary promotion and photography, says having Kujawinski and Kent on campus was a fantastic experience. “He was very approachable, and his talk on stronger Canada-US ties was inspiring and tied in well with the theme of Saskatchewan's growing prosperity.”

Through the professional network of Hanlon Director, Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos, the student team introduced Kujawinski to several Saskatoon business leaders during his visit.  He discussed trade issues concerning Saskatchewan and the United States with CEO of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority Tim LeClair. “Alberta has been working on immigration policies to accelerate the allowance of American skilled trade workers into Alberta. I’m assuming Saskatchewan will follow suit,” LeClair says, responding to the shortage of skilled trade workers needed to sustain Saskatchewan’s growth in the manufacturing sector, and his efforts to attract skilled Americans to fill the gap.

Aziz, as part her training, arranged Kujawinski to also meet with Cameco Corp for an opportunity to discuss the company’s presence and projected growth in the United States.  Cameco mentioned the new mining facilities and extraction methods that are planned for the U.S, as well as other services they offer such as refining and conversion, fuel manufacturing, and power generation.  The Consul General and Economic and Trade Specialist Lori Kent were also provided a tour of the Cory potash mine. “The magnitude of the operations at the processing mills was impressive,” says Kujawinski. 

Aziz liaised with the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce to arrange a chamber luncheon for which Consul-General Kujawinski was the special guest speaker.  There he spoke about the trade relationship between Canada and the US, explaining, “This relationship is not a traditional one that solely focuses on commodities. Rather, new relationships must be forged in technology and innovation.” 

Kujawinski then had the opportunity to attend several meetings on the University of Saskatchewan campus.  He toured the synchrotron and met with the University’s Industry Liaison Office, which promotes the commercialization of technologies created on campus. Kujawinski also met with the university’s new President, American-born Ilene Busch-Vishniak, to discuss the possibility of more exchanges between Canadian and American students. They also talked about the reasons why many Canadians do not often consider studying abroad in the US. The country’s proximity to Canada can be a deterrent, rendering it less exotic, Busch-Vishniak explained.  “Moving away to go to college is not something that is part of Canadian culture compared to the United States. So when students decide on a destination, they want to go as far as they can.”

The Consul General gave a keynote speech at the Hanlon Centre’s Oil and Gas symposium, where top-level industry professionals spoke on Saskatchewan’s oil and gas sector.  Presenters included Rick Wingate, President and CEO of FNR Asset Management and Marvin Romanow, former CEO of Nexen.  Kujawinski stated that “Saskatchewan is a key province with uniquely connected energy and agriculture industries, and there are strong US-Saskatchewan opportunities.”

The final event for Kujawinski was a light faculty reception that included Hanlon government and corporate partners, hosted at the University Club by both the Hanlon Centre and the University of Saskatchewan’s International Office.  The reception provided energy sector professionals the opportunity to meet the Consul General and discuss future opportunities for partnership.  Dean of Edwards School of Business Daphne Taras introduced the Consul General before he addressed the guests, who included the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, Cameco, Areva, Canadian International Council, SREDA, Goldenband Resources, Innovation Saskatchewan, as well as U of S faculty, staff and students.

“We will continue to follow up with the American Consulate and the companies who have met them so that we can quantify the results and make improvements to our program,” said Aziz.  “There are so many possibilities not only for Saskatchewan businesses, but students and recent graduates as well.  One project we’re currently working on is a possible internship for U of S students at the American Consulate in Calgary as a junior trade and economic assistant.”  

“My first trip to Saskatchewan was amazing,” Kujawinski sums up. “The weather was a little cold, but the welcome was incredibly warm. Meeting with the Premier and other Ministers and industry representatives and dignitaries in both Regina and Saskatoon, I experienced Saskatchewan hospitality at its finest and was happy have a chance to strengthen the great relationship we share.”

The Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies serves the Edwards School of Business to help build and provide global business awareness and related skills training opportunities for its commerce students.  For more information, contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (Hanlon Director) or Jessica Wallace / Brandon Ziola (Hanlon Media & Communications) by email at hanloncentre@edwards.usask.ca or telephone at (306) 966-1837.