All Posts By

Caroline Witzel

QCIB 2019: The Power Of Choice

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Choice is one of the main results of globalization. With more options come more variety, allowing us to choose the right options for our businesses, careers, and ourselves. QCIB 2019 will delve into the concept of the power of choice. To get you thinking for the conference, here are 3 of the ways that international business brings choice to us.

Choice for consumption

An improving international network means that more products are available to us than ever before – whether that be by business expansion or simply shipping. The US Congress found that from 1972 to 2001, the product variety that was imported into the US multiplied by over 3.5 times – and surely much more now – thanks to freer trade agreements and the globalization of businesses.

The growing number of multinational corporations like Walmart, H&M, and Coca Cola enable a massive assortment of products in all of their locations. Social media makes us aware of products from across the world, and we can easily ship them. And the mobilization of cultures across the world means that cities have become hubs of multiple cultural groups – and with them, their domestic products, which include food, fashion, and more. Thanks to all of this, we’re able to access cars, cell phones, and tons of other goods and services that could better suit our needs. Not to mention, more products means more competition – which makes for lower prices and better products (even better choice).

‘Building a global brand is anything but simple – but with it being easier than ever before to enter international markets, it’s something that an increasing number of companies can achieve.’ – K International

Choice for career

Gone are the days when moving to London to work was radical. Today’s careers can span a number of countries and industries, due to the increased connectivity and globalization of companies.

Some jobs involve management across boundaries. MNCs, hotel chains and airlines operate in multiple locales, and require management of each of these entities – whether it be a manufacturing plant, an office, or a research hub. Jobs like management consulting and sales involve traveling to meet a B2B customer and perform a job or a pitch.

On the other hand, this expansion across boundaries creates opportunities for an international transfer to a partner or a different office. Some companies even offer formalized placements abroad. For example, EY provides a short international placement to summer students, while Adidas offers a rotational program component where you can pick your office location.

Choice for business strategy

As a manager or executive, the international business ecosystem opens up tons of doors for your business strategy. The first question is, where do you do your business? Trade agreements and connections allow your company to reach your ideal customers in foreign markets much more easily than before. This gives you a much larger market to sell to; and allows you to find even more customers that want your product.

Then, there’s the question of how you do business. Some businesses choose to outsource their labour from elsewhere because the resource provided in a foreign country works better than the resource domestically. Plus, more services are available to you, and more knowledge is being disseminated across borders. The possibilities are endless for the way you want to run your business. For example, startup Acerta Analytics in Kitchener, Canada, was able to find an automotive incubator in Germany which supplies the specialized automotive resources and expertise it needs to succeed.

Want to learn more about the Power of Choice? Delegate apps for QCIB 2019 are due Thursday, November 15 at 11:59pm. Check out the event on our Facebook page.


Customers Around The World: Working for Air Canada

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Emily van den Akker is a Comm ‘18 Grad. She is working at Air Canada in their Management Trainee rotational program, and is currently based in Toronto. This week we got the chance to chat with her more about what made her interested in an international job, and the ways her work is global.

Was international business an interest of yours in undergrad?

Yes, for as long as I can remember I have wanted to work abroad as an expat. Coming straight out of graduation it is very uncommon to find a job somewhere outside of North America but that doesn’t mean you can’t work in international business from within North America to start out.

It wasn’t until exchange that i realized how the first two years of Queen’s Commerce are quite North America focused. I did my exchange in the Netherlands and i found that all of my courses had an international focus even when it wasn’t in the course title. Being in the EU with classmates from around the world our focus was broad – we never exclusively narrowed in on the Dutch market.

In fourth year, once I found this interest, I decided to take mostly International Business courses. Commerce has some really good upper year international business courses, and my favourite course was COMM 398: Business, Government & the Global Economy.

What made you interested in a job at Air Canada?

For as long as I can remember I have been very interested in the airline industry. Stemming from a childhood living abroad and travelling a lot, i grew to love everything about airports, planes and flying. 

When i began thinking about where I wanted to start my career when I graduate it became clear to me that is wasn’t just the role that mattered to me but also the industry and brand. I knew that if i was going to enjoy my job, I needed to be in an industry which is competitive and exciting and work behind a brand which i like. I was lucky enough to have an internship with Air Canada the summer after exchange working on the brand team.  In my third and fourth year of Commerce i took most of my courses in the area of marketing and international business, which meshed very well with Air Canada. And of course, the flight privileges didn’t hurt!

Tell us more about your role as a management trainee.

I am currently in the graduate hire management trainee program which is similar to any company’s rotational program except that it is somewhat less structured. For the first year with the company I’m rotating through 3 different departments before being placed into a final role.

The first rotation is 4 months of operations for all management trainees. In this placement, I spent my first 5 weeks shadowing the day to day operations at YYZ doing things like pushing back planes on the ramp, understanding the baggage process, following customer sales agents and observing the Station Operations Control (STOC) and premium product experience. Given the complex nature of airline operations, this shadowing experience was like a crash course of all things airports and frontline staff. Following this I completed my four months in operations working on a process improvement project. This was essentially picking apart an operational process, finding the problems, solutions, recommendations and in some cases implementation. For the next two rotations, management trainees could be placed anywhere in the company based on a combination of need and interest.

I am currently in my second rotation in downtown Toronto with the Air Canada Sales team. Believe it or not Air Canada’s revenue is about 70% made up of agency sales largely from corporate clients so Sales is actually a rather large department which has global branches to service customers in all of our global markets. The idea of the rotational program is to expose you to the different aspects of the business to set you up for success  and help you decide what you like best after the three rotations.

How are you involved in international business in particular at Air Canada?

When one thinks of Air Canada the first thought that comes to mind may not be international business given that we are Canada’s flag carrier. We actually service over 200 destinations world wide, meaning that our customer market is global.

The airline industry is extremely competitive with over 200 airlines around the globe. Many perceive Air Canada as holding almost a monopoly in the Canadian market however, there are over 60 different airlines who serve the Canadian market through our 3 major hubs (YYZ, YUL, YVR). Air Canada acts as a gateway for both Canadians and Americans to Pacific and Atlantic markets and vice versa meaning that many of our customers connect through Canada but do not originate or terminate travel in Canada.

Our business is global at its core. We have staff around the globe, we follow many international regulations, we have global business partners in the way of airlines through our alliances and joint ventures and much more.

How does the international component of operations at Air Canada create barriers? How do you deal with them?

The success of an airline relies very heavily on things beyond its control. These include tourism, safety, mother nature, oil prices, as well as governments and regulation, on a global scale. A customer’s experience on the day of travel is largely dependant on how an airport operates, including security clearance and customs clearance. Having strong working relationships with these third parties globally is crucial to creating a positive customer experience. Running an airline is very operationally complex. What you plan for is not always what happens. For example, a storm in the US could prevent an aircraft from making it to Toronto in time for its next flight to Vancouver. As a customer with a flight from Toronto to Vancouver, it would be difficult to understand why your flight is delayed 5 hours because of a storm happening on the coast of the US. As an airline, operations has to find a balance of building in buffers to try and prevent delay and cancellation rippling effects but also fully utilizing our fleet and staff to serve more routes and more customers.

Check Emily out on LinkedIn.

Careers Abroad: New Zealand

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

This month we were fortunate to get the opportunity to interview Michelle Beal. Michelle is a Comm ‘17 Alum, and a QCIB Exec 2015-2017 Alum. She’s now based in Auckland, NZ: working in a job that allows her to both be in another country and work with international partners. In this interview, Michelle told us about what inspired her to work in a foreign country, how she networked her way there, and shared some insightful tips from her day to day.

Current company: Capability Group Ltd.

First, the story of how Michelle got herself to New Zealand.

A quick summary about me, how I got this job, and the relationship between the Canadian and New Zealand offices so what you read next makes sense. I’m currently based in Auckland, NZ, working for Capability Group Ltd (CGL). CGL is the authorized partner for Axonify, a Waterloo, Canada based tech company. CGL represents, sells, and supports the product in the Asia-Pacific region. We’re talking about two separate companies here. Partners yes. But this wasn’t as simple as an internal transfer.

It’d be easier to say it was dumb luck, but it wasn’t. It was really a combination of ‘right place right time’ and persistence.

Between 3rd and 4th year, I worked for a startup in Waterloo called Axonify. One week into my job, I met Nick. Nick was onboarding in Waterloo before heading down to work for CGL. My first question was, naturally, “tell me everything.”. The next was “How long’s your visa and who picks your replacement?”. I had my first conversation with CGL in October, 2016. Upfront, CGL said there was no guarantee they were going to replace Nick’s role. Fast forward the next two years: every few months I emailed or Skyped with CGL, and accepted a full time gig with Axonify after graduation. I was upfront with the leaders at Axonify that I was interested in moving to CGL. They were mentors about the skills and competencies I would need to be successful in a smaller company (when I left, Axonify has ~140 employees whereas the Axonify team at CGL is 7 people total). The open and constant communication with CGL also meant I had influence in my role’s requirements and expectations beforehand.

While at Axonify, I was working as an Opportunity Development Representative (the first part of the tech sales pipeline). My territory was throughout North America but I also had the international territory – anywhere without a rep assigned was somewhere I could pursue. This definitely got me warmed up for my job in NZ – I became used to navigating other cultures by spending a lot of time talking and listening, and became fascinated with the relationship building aspects of sales. For example, Japanese business is really hierarchy based, and decisions are top down. Even the differences between how business is conducted in NY and California are stark.

On top of all of that, I told my friends and family that the plan was 1 year in Waterloo, then 2 years in Auckland. I promised them and myself that it was going to happen, and I never quit until it was a reality.

New Zealand seems pretty Westernized, but what are some cultural similarities and differences that you’ve found working there?

One similar thing I’ve found is actually in a difference: New Zealand is not Australia, just like Canada is not America – kiwis can sound or seem similar to Australians, but don’t mistake one for the other.

A difference I enjoy is the relationship oriented approach to business. Everyone seems to have worked with or know someone who worked with the person I’m trying to reach. It’s great because there’s almost always a connection to move someone from a “cold” to “warm” outreach through an introduction.

Does your job involve you working with people in other countries? Dealing with international barriers?

My day to day involves working with both colleagues and prospective clients in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Canada.

It sounds like you’re really enjoying working abroad. Where do you see yourself in the future?

Initially, it was really hard for me to find international work opportunities since I don’t have a second citizenship nor do I speak another language. New Zealand is a great location for my first placement abroad because they speak English (albeit with an accent and new slang), and I find the cultural barriers to be minimal.

In the future, I definitely see more international work terms. After my visa expires in 2020, I’d love to head up into Hong Kong for one year, then move into Western Europe around 2022. Right now, I’m thinking Germany, Holland, or heading back to where I did my exchange: Sweden.

You can check Michelle out on LinkedIn.