Christina Connelly, CITP|FIBP, is a Trade Commissioner with Global Affairs Canada at the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
With several years of experience working at both the state and federal level in the U.S., Christina now plays a key role in promoting Canadian agri-food, ag-bio and infrastructure products and services across the American Midwest.
Taking her interests from the classroom to the office
When Christina started working on her Master’s in Public Policy, she came to an important realization that shaped the rest of her career.
“I started my master’s education in foreign policy – but was soon drawn to the macroeconomic issues of international trade, and further focused my degree in that direction.”
I was fascinated by many nations’ dependence on one another for goods and services, and the impact that trading relationships and deals can have on virtually all other foreign policy issues.
Upon graduating in 2005, she took a job at the U.S. Government Accountability Office as a Policy Analyst, reviewing programs within the State, Defense and Energy Departments.
At the same time, she also worked on an International Trade Certificate, keeping that option open as well.
Christina says her varied interests and experiences helped teach her a crucial life lesson.
“It’s good to have a plan, but okay to divert from it as well. I always tell students with an interest in international work to be motivated, flexible, and curious. Great surprises await if you can be open to them, and work hard at whatever project falls in your lap.”
Early on, I think I worried that I needed to know exactly where I was going in my career–but often found myself going in a different direction because something unexpected piqued my interest.
One of those directions was from the federal government to the Minnesota state government, a move she made in 2007 to take a new role as a Senior Program Evaluator. Her main responsibility was examining energy and education programs to make recommendations to the Minnesotan legislature.
Just over a year later, her previous experience in energy policy and current agricultural focus both came into play in her new role as Bioenergy Manager, Agricultural Marketing & Development for the state of Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture.
It gave her the opportunity to work directly with bioenergy companies seeking to grow their operations, manage grants in the field and promote development in the industry across the state, while retaining policy elements from her previous work.
She also earned the McCloy Fellowship in Environmental Affairs, which is designed to promote partnership and learning between the U.S. and Germany, and afforded her the opportunity to conduct research and work on a project of her own.
“My fellowship took me to five cities in Germany over about a months’ time to conduct independent research on biofuels policies in that country.
Minnesota has always been at the forefront of US biofuels programming and policy-making; Germany is a leader in this sector for Europe. I wanted to compare the two and highlight opportunities for knowledge-exchange.
I arranged meetings with various government officials (national and provincial), stakeholder organizations, and companies—as well as toured relevant biofuels facilities throughout the country.”
Experiencing the world through international trade
In 2011, Christina continued her path towards her current role, moving into a position as International Trade Manager for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
As she’s travelled the world to promote the state’s food and agricultural products, promote FDI in the state’s agri-businesses, and help those companies through work like organizing trade shows and conducting research, she’s had a lot of fun opportunities.
“I traveled frequently to Southeast Asia to help Minnesota companies export feed products to that region.”
A few times, I took missions there around the Christmas holidays, and was delighted by the abundance of decorations and Santa-centric activities taking place so far from home. One of our hotels in the Philippines even had a “Welcome Santa” party for all the kids staying there!
In her current Trade Commissioner role, her responsibilities are very similar, and also allow her the chance to work on some projects she’s very proud of.
“I recently helped to coordinate a mission of U.S. craft beer brewers to British Columbia, Canada.”
This industry is incredibly passionate about their work-and uniquely collaborative, even among would-be competitors.
“It was uplifting to be in such a gorgeous place, surrounded by hops fields and mountains, helping connect buyers and suppliers to further grow this burgeoning industry.”
Making a commitment international trade by earning her elite designation
Christina has now worked as a Trade Commissioner for just over a year, and enjoys all of her roles and responsibilities helping Canadian agri-businesses expand across the Midwest.
To help her do that, however, she wanted to augment her existing knowledge with FITTskills courses.
“I had a great opportunity to take the courses via Global Affairs Canada.”
It’s always important to expand knowledge and grow one’s professional network, so I jumped at the chance. I feel like it solidified my knowledge of some key international trade concepts as well.
With the training experience now under her belt, she was excited to finalize the process by applying for and earning her CITP®|FIBP® designation.
“My certification is quite new, so I’m still learning what it can mean for my career. It’s great to have the certification, since it’s well-recognized in my field. Certainly it provides great connections, early on, to others in this field as well.”
This commitment to her field will help propel Christina towards continued success, and we wish her all the best as she continues to help Canadian businesses excel.
Twitter: Christina Connelly
Learn more about the CITP®|FIBP® designation
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CERTIFICATION—CITP®|FIBP®
Advance your career and build your professional credibility in the field of global business by earning the Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation.
Why Earn the Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) Designation?
The Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) designation is the world’s leading professional designation for the field of international business. So whether you’re new to global trade or have over a decade of direct experience, you’ll find the CITP designation can help advance your career and build your professional credibility.
The CITP designation sets you apart in the competitive international business industry because it’s proof you possess the competencies global business experts have identified as being essential for a successful career in international trade. It also recognizes your dedication to ethical business practices and ongoing professional development—both of which are desirable traits for today’s global business practitioners.