I always wanted to have a career related to international business.
I have had a passion for learning foreign languages since childhood, and I enjoy travelling, meeting people from different places, and learning about their cultures and traditions.
At one point in my life, while I was a Market Analyst in a dynamic international business consulting company in Eastern Europe, I felt I was lacking knowledge and understanding of international business specifics outside of that region of the world.
[Tweet “I decided to fill in this gap with education, and perhaps some work experience abroad.”]
Filling gaps to reach my international trade career objectives
The FITT-accredited International Business Management program offered through Fanshawe College seemed to be a perfect fit for me.
First, its curriculum covered all the topics that I required for my career development. Second, I was tempted with the idea of receiving professional credentials from FITT along with my college diploma.
During the transition period I rushed through all stages of culture shock. In the first month everything was new and fascinating: new food, colourful and diverse culture, and great people. Every time total strangers greeted me on the street with the most sincere smile, it made me feel welcomed and inspired!
Ironically, I then started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated for the same reasons: new food, unfamiliar culture, and a lack of personal communication and close friends.
Once the school year started, I realized that there was simply no time for being homesick. Together with the very high workload, our curriculum was so catching that I dove into studying from the start and quickly adjusted to my new routine.
A global trade learning experience that exceeded my expectations
The program was very multicultural and enabled us as students to build strong cultural-competency and sensitivity while working on various group assignments. The program brought together more than 40 students from around the world: India, China, Western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and of course Canada. Where can you gain more knowledge on international business culture than from actual foreign professionals?
The program also supplied us with a toolbox for each stage of the international business life cycle.
This includes analysis of market fitness and choosing the proper market entry strategy, to managing marketing and legal aspects, finance and logistics.
Not only do the FITTskills textbooks cover valuable and up-to-date concepts of international business, but as students, we also had the chance to work on a number of realistic projects on topics such as international trade research, business planning, financial planning and marketing planning.
Coming from the Ukraine—a civil law country—the Legal Aspects of International Trade course was something that I required to augment my skills. It helped me become knowledgeable about regulatory specifics in common law and international business relations.
The International Trade Finance course helped me to expand my vision of international financial markets and the various tools available for cross-border transactions.
My previous role as a market analyst involved consulting with businesses that were seeking growth, either internationally or locally. They were very limited in terms of resources, and they were operating in a highly unfavourable business environment with practically no access to project or trade financing.
With my newly acquired knowledge, I know I would now be able to provide quality advice on some of the instruments that are available to such organizations abroad.
Applying my new international trade skills in the real world
After the first semester, several students in the program who demonstrated their dedication and achieved the highest GPAs were invited to apply their skills to real business situations. Being one of them, I volunteered to conduct a market feasibility study for a European medical device manufacturer seeking expansion into the North American market.
My research was structured based on two projects, including one based specifically on international trade research, and the other on international business planning. These projects were required in order to finish the FITT-accredited program and earn the FITT Diploma in International Trade.
Working on the study provided meaningful industry insights, demonstrated the real advantages of Canada over the U.S. as a viable market, and offered practical recommendations for possible market-entry and partnership opportunities.
This experience prepared me and gave me the skills to be able to gather, analyze and interpret data through primary and secondary research. It also gave me the skills to develop concrete recommendations for practically any industry.
A helping hand to guide my career in the right direction
In addition to this, the program’s teaching staff had their own incredible international business experience and perspectives, which they shared willingly. The personal and professional support we received from the professors was limitless.
With a genuine interest in international market research, there were many times when I turned for advice to my International Trade Research and International Trade Management professor and mentor, Murray Morgan.
In order to complete an international trade research project I was working on for a waste management solution company, I was expected to do primary research in the target market. I initially attempted to conduct primary research several times through various questionnaires and surveys.
However, the response rates were too low to draw conclusions. When I expressed my concerns to Professor Morgan, he pointed out that it was not so much about the instrument itself; but rather it was about asking the right questions to the right people.
Instead of addressing my survey to administrative offices in targeted organizations, I invested a great deal of time to obtain direct contact with people who were related to custodial services or facility management. The outcome was amazing! I received answers from most of the respondents within hours, and I was able to confirm my preliminary conclusions.
Professor Morgan’s natural talent for teaching and remarkable work experience motivated me to continue my career path in international business. Even after graduation, he has supported and guided me in my career development and he continues to help me build my professional network in Canada.
For this purpose, I am planning to work towards my CITP®|FIBP® designation. I believe that this will give me more credibility and exposure to the community of international trade professionals, and will truly unlock my potential.
Looking forward to my growth opportunities in international trade research
In the international market research field, I see myself providing practical business development consulting to internationally focused companies that are exploring new horizons.
Since I am now more educated on different aspects of international business management, I will be able to look at my future research projects from a totally different and broader angle.
I think this will enable me to become a more insightful specialist.
In this world where information quickly becomes obsolete, being able to transform data into intelligence and draw practical business recommendations is a valuable skill that I’m glad I possess!