The 2020 FITT Educational Award Winners innovate and excel in every area of international business 


FITT Educational Award Winners

As we near the end of October, there is much to celebrate, especially for some truly accomplished FITT students. Our 2020 FITT Educational Award winners have been chosen, and we’re proud to showcase their success. Each has demonstrated an incredible amount of dedication and tenacity in their respective categories, spurring accolades from many, including FITT President and CEO Caroline Tompkins, CITP, who said: 

“The FITT Educational Awards acknowledge the exceptional work and results gained by the dedication of the winners who strive for excellence in knowing how to support businesses in the growth of their exports. It is an honour to recognize the winners who have demonstrated their commitment, knowledge, and skills in international business, and we look forward to seeing their future accomplishments.”—Caroline Tompkins, FITT President and CEO


Learn more about these leaders in global business below: 

Student of the Year: Elke Uribe blazes a trail 

Elke Uribe attained the highest overall grade point average after having completed all FITTskills courses and earned her title as the 2020 Student of the Year! She impressed both her educational institution, Nova Scotia Business Inc., and Export Development Canada, who was honoured to (virtually) present the award to her. Julie Pottier, SVP of Channels and Marketing at EDC said, “EDC is honored to present the 2020 Student of the Year Award to Elke Uribe. We’re delighted to recognize academic excellence in the field of international business, and we sincerely congratulate Elke on her achievement.” 

Elke, herself, found value in the knowledge she gained, stating:

As a micro-business with no export experience, I now have a much wider view of what is needed to export after completing the FITTskills courses. The insights from the case studies in the course materials and from the experiences shared by the facilitators are a great way to learn about mistakes, successes, and helpful agencies. Taking the FITTskills courses has helped us plan our export strategy.”


International Sales and Marketing Plan Award: Allison Thorne and Robert Legere bring yoga and eco-tourism to Australia

The International Sales and Marketing Plan Award is awarded to the student attending an educational partner training organization who has received the highest grade for submission of a completed sales and marketing plan during the specific calendar year. In 2020, Allison Thorne and Robert Legere, both of whom studied at Nova Scotia Business Inc., created an incredible market entry plan into Australia that blended yoga and eco-tourism. We asked both what the award meant to them, and were thrilled with their answers: 

“To be recognized by such an esteemed organization such as FITT is truly an honour. As I seek to receive my CITP Designation, this award motivates me, and also reinforces my passion as an international trade professional.”—Allison Thorne, FITT International Sales and Marketing Plan Award Winner


Allison added: “As a consultant at Kisserup International Trade Roots, the FITT training has allowed me to think outside of the box in terms of international trade training while supporting my professional skills and abilities in supporting our global clientele. I am furthermore grateful to the wonderful team at Nova Scotia Business Inc. for providing this training as it has expanded my network amongst Nova Scotian international business professionals, a huge benefit for future endeavors.” 

Meanwhile, Robert Legere said of the achievement: 

“It is great to receive an award from an accredited international training partner such as FITT. This award increases my confidence in developing an international marketing and sales plan tailored to stakeholder requirements. This training has provided me a solid foundation of knowledge for all criteria related to international business and economic development.” 

When asked how they came up with the plan, both Robert and Allison noted a combination of personal experience and innovation as part of the spark, with Allison stating: 

“Our International Sales and Marketing Plan was developed on the basis of taking a Canadian-based yoga teacher training program to Australia. In 2017, I took 200-hour yoga teacher training to become a Certified Yoga Teacher in Costa Rica. Therefore, the plan was in many ways developed from my personal experience and understanding the landscape of international market entry and the corresponding sales and marketing strategies that correlate based on the FITT training and my project work at Kisserup. Australia was a natural fit based on the thriving yoga community that exits there.” Robert added: “We developed this plan together through a shared desire to travel and our aligning interests in eco-tourism and yoga.” 

Elke, Allison, and Robert all were recognized by NSBI as well: “Congratulations to Elke Uribe, our Nova Scotia participant for her win of the FITT Student of the Year award, and to Allison Thorne and Robert Legere on their win for best International Sales and Marketing Plan!” said Laurel Broten, President and CEO, Nova Scotia Business Inc. “NSBI’s comprehensive programs and services help exporters be competitive, connected and succeed in global markets, today and tomorrow. As part of that, Nova Scotia Business Inc. delivers the FITT (Forum for International Trade Training) courses in partnership with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.” 

International Business Plan Award: Nidal Islam impresses with dedication and business savvy

The FITT International Business Plan Award is given to the student attending an educational partner training organization who has received the highest grade for submission of a completed business plan during the specific calendar year. In 2020, Nidal Islam, CITP, student of Mount Royal University, blew judges away with his hard work and dedication. He noted of his achievement: “I’m humbled to be mentioned alongside such committed international trade professionals.” 

Meanwhile, Frank Cotae, FITT Coordinator at Mount Royal University said of Nidal, “Mr. Nidal is an intellectually curious student that placed keen attention on his academic development, registering continuous scholastic growth. His commitment to the course, where he developed the International Business Plan, was commendable and illustrative of an individual that showed the utmost dedication to his studies and his professional development as an international business practitioner. His determination to work on designing and writing an actionable trade plan that met the national standard set up by the Forum for International Trade Training showcased his exceptional focus and effort. As an alumnus, Nidal has continued his journey towards becoming an international trade expert by earning the most prestigious professional designation in Canada—the Certified International Trade Professional (CITP|FIBP ®) designation.”  

FITT Achievement Award: Esmeralda Rodriguez Arias shows an unbreakable commitment to international trade

The FITT Achievement Award is awarded to a student selected by the awards committee for a particular calendar year. Students are nominated, either by themselves or a peer, and are required to show a combination of community involvement and academic success. In 2020, Esmeralda Rodriguez Arias, CITP, who studied at Manitoba Institute of Trades & Technology (MITT)showed this combination in spades. She had much to say about her experience and achievement: 

Marking great beginnings in Canada 

Of her award win, Esmerelda said

“As an International Student that comes from Colombia, it means a huge recognition for all the hard work I have done from the beginning of my career here in Canada. It means that every person has a purpose in life and being able to receive this award is proof that mine is to serve the community and people not only from Manitoba but also elsewhere. I feel proud, honored, grateful and blessed. It means so much to me, knowing that there were also many people that applied and deserved it.”—Esmeralda Rodriguez Arias, FITT Achievement Award Winner


The big benefits of international business training 

Esmerelda found her experience with FITT Training to be exceptional, stating: “I think there are multiple benefits and I consider that the knowledge is something that never stops. I am very proud and fortunate to work with the World Trade Centre Winnipeg team, and I think the opportunity to establish a relationship with the companies and people has been the greatest benefit of this. I have also had the opportunity to work closely with experts like Willy Fogang, CITP, who was also my teacher at MITT and I would like to say thank you to him for all his knowledge and advice. I am also grateful to Mariette Mulaire, CITP, Derek Earl, Lucie Wiens, CITP, and Joelle Boisvert because they believed from the first moment that I would be able to work for the future of our companies and gave me the opportunity to demonstrate it.” 

The enthusiasm didn’t stop with Esmerelda. Her teachers were thrilled for her as well, with her teacher Willy Fogang, MBA, CITP, and Senior Account Manager at Export Development Canada stating: “Esmerelda was an exceptional student of mine with a keen interest in international business. For both of the classes that I taught her, she understood very early on that for the Canadian economy to prosper in a global ecosystem,  a good understanding of how global business works by trade professionals is paramount. She’s constantly investing in upskilling, expanding her network, and, more importantly, is always willing to bring her contribution when called on.” 

Celebrating a meaningful commitment to international business excellence with our Educational Partners  

The achievements by these hard-working students would not be possible without the support and commitment to industry-leading international trade training by our Educational Partners. We’d like to thank all our partners, including Nova Scotia Business Inc.Mount Royal University, and Manitoba Institute of Trades & Technology, along with the award presenters at Export Development Canada.  

For the class of 2020, there is truly no limit, and we can’t wait to see what they will all accomplish next! 

About the author

Author: FITT Team

The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is the standards, certification and training body dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. Created by business for business, FITT’s international business training solutions are the standard of excellence for global trade professionals around the world.

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