Thrive Magazine... Mission: International - Student Jackie Cook & APEC Japan 2010
Release Date : October 17, 2011
It was only last February that the Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies held its official launch party in the Edwards Reading Room. The Chinese New Year themed event brought in prominent members of the business community, government officials, Edwards faculty, staff and students...everyone seeming to understand the enormous potential behind such a venture.
“This is the time, more than ever,” the Centre’s founding donor, Ted Hanlon, said at the event, “for our students to learn the importance of international studies."
Those students fortunate enough to get involved with the Hanlon Centre in its genesis, like third year marketing major Jacqueline Cook, were able to make great strides toward their own potentials under the Centre’s guidance. “They were incredible mentors,” says Cook. “A lot of it is raising sponsorship, but raising mentorship is something you can’t put a price tag on and that’s definitely what the Hanlon Centre provides.”
Cook’s journey took her from a conference at the Global Leadership Centre in Saskatoon to Yokohama, Japan when she was selected as one of the four Canadian delegates to attend the 2010 APEC Summit.
But Cook and her colleagues weren’t sent to simply watch the Summit.
The Hanlon Centre helps students become active participants in the international business community through providing specific challenges. Cook explains the method of Hanlon Centre Director, Nick Kokkastamapoulos: “Here’s the resources. Here’s what you need to know. Here’s your mission, a mandate while you’re there, but you figure out how to do it.”
Cook was given two missions for the APEC Summit, the first of which involved connecting with the CEOs of 19 top Japanese corporations. “Our job was to identify these people in the crowd and find a way to break the ice. And it’s often difficult with language barriers because when [there’s] a group of Armani suit business men speaking Japanese and you come up and say, ‘Hi, I’m from Canada! How are you?’ there’s not really any relevance,” Cook laughs.
She and her team came up with innovative ways to strike up conversations, like 30 second escalator rides and probably-more-than-necessary coffee breaks. “I drank probably about 25 coffees a day,” Cook says. “[But] you have to be fearless ... because some of the other CEOs wouldn’t even talk to the CEO of Toshiba.”
Cook’s second mission, one she needed to complete to receive sponsorship from the Hanlon Centre, was to deliver a letter from Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, and CEO of Great Western Mineral Group, Jim Enghdahl, to a member of Japanese government. The letter officially invited Japan to investigate Saskatchewan’s rare earth minerals – a commodity required for several Japanese industries.
The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke at the APEC opening ceremonies surrounded by a 12-person entourage, but Cook knew this was her chance to complete the mission. “As she was making her presentation, my colleague and I kind of went to the side of the auditorium and as they left we just kind of left with them,” Cook remembers.
Another highlight of her amazing year was being among the five Saskatchewan students selected to attend a national youth caucus in Ottawa. Cook took part in discussions with Prime Minister Harper on branding Canada and what each province brings to international trade. “In years past, [Saskatchewan] has been sort of underestimated … but especially when it comes to food security … we play a key role in the global stage.”
Cook was then chosen to represent Saskatchewan with My Summit 2010. The group of young leaders from across Canada attended both the G8 and G20 Summits, but first participated in plenary sessions. “We … learned how to engage in multilateral trade negotiations … It was pretty incredible to see what goes on at some of those talks,” Cook says.
They then drafted a 25 page communiqué of recommendations on the four issues to be discussed at the G8 Summit – nuclear non-proliferation, maternal health, food security and the environment – and Cook’s peers voted her as the team member to present the document at the G8. “Oh my gosh,” she says, remembering the moment she was selected. “I think about it even now and it seems like a dream.”
When Cook entered the reception room of the Deerhurst Resort, she met the leaders of the eight countries represented at the G8 Summit. “I remember taking a step forward and seeing President Obama and my heart just dropped to the floor,” she says. “You see him on TV, you see all these people on the news and in photographs everywhere, but living and talking and breathing and moving right in front of you … I was totally star struck.”
Cook’s journey has come full circle, as she has not only gained a new perspective on international relations but has also strengthened her ties to home. “The contacts that I made internationally I still keep in touch with and it’s great on that front, but what I learned about ... from the connections I made in Saskatchewan and Canada is invaluable,” she says.
Cook continues to be involved with the Hanlon Centre – now working with other Hanlon Centre students to enhance the Centre's current pilot Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program. “What we’re trying to do is create a generation of students that are not only informed about global trade but are well equipped with the tools and the knowledge that they need to engage in these professional careers,” Cook explains.
The program will consist of eight modules on various aspects of international business and will eventually lead to a certificate. “I think the Hanlon Centre is finding its groove, not just in the Edwards School of Business but across different faculties,” Cook says. “Starting with Edwards Students is an awesome flagship because I think the business students are the ones that are going to drive this program forward.”