Asia Pacific Foundation Conference
The annual APF conference was held on this October 11th and 12th at the beautiful Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue venue. This conference focus is to get people from business, government and educational institutions together to interact and discuss current issues that are relevant to the Asian region. Lany and myself were fortunate to attend the dinner on the 11th as well as the conference on the 12th.
Driving from the college to the dinner at the Pan Pacific hotel, Lany and I decided to make a little pact to not socialize with each other this evening, as we wanted to meet as many people as possible at this event. Upon our arrival we said our good byes and started to mingle during the free cocktail hour. After some small talk with a number of people it became clear that the effects of the September 11th incident were going to overshadow the pre-existing agenda during the conference. Our guest speaker during the dinner was Premier Gordon Campbell who focused on how his government was open for business in which he went on to promote the liberal party and all the things that they are doing to increase awareness of how BC was friendly to business. Fortunately the wine flowed freely, which allowed for some interesting discussion, passing of business cards and hopefully some key contacts. The dinner allowed people to get together on more of a social level to meet and discuss events of the day.
On Friday, the conference began with a speech in the big round room by Herb Dhaliwal the Minister for Fisheries and Oceans and then everyone broke off into different sessions according to their area of interest. Lany went to the transportation session, whereas I was off to the investment finance section. Stephen Poloz of the Economic Development Corporation led the morning discussion on Asian and Canadian business in which we concentrated mainly on opportunities in China, increasing Canadian exposure for foreign investment and problems with financing new ventures. The open discussion forum allowed for many participants to present their own ideas and options for solution that brought out a lot of interesting topics for discussion. Ultimately there was no real consensus in any of the sessions, it will be the opportunities that this event provided in meeting key players who work directly in the Asian Pacific region that will be the most beneficial. In the end, the conference provided the opportunity to meet and converse with a number of people on a social level with whom otherwise it would be more difficult.
Leaders of Tomorrow
On October 4, an orientation was held for the members of the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) in the Telus store downtown. For the APMCP Year 15, we have three representatives: Kaoru, Kaoru and I. The orientation started at 4:30 and as Vidi and I arrived late, we did not get the chance to find a seat. We were practically standing during the orientation considering that we were both tired and hungry. On the other hand, we could see Kaoru from a distance enjoying a good location at the perfect warmth of her seat as she arrived ahead of us. (I did envy her that time.)
Why did I join LOT? I got interested becoming a member of LOT because of the mentorship program it offers. LOT's goal is to prepare students on how to build relationships effectively with business people in a practical, fun and informative way. For an international student like myself with future plans to do co-op here in Canada, I saw this as a good opportunity and exposure.
On that orientation, there are an estimated 150 students from 13 different schools and around 100 mentors. As I was looking around, I realised that most of the students are just on their undergraduate course. Needless to say, I felt a little mature compared to them. Anyway, my mother used to tell me that I look baby faced sometimes. (just kidding)
In any orientation or gathering we attend, rule of thumb is to do NETWORKING and that is exactly what Kaoru, Vidi and I did. It is time to practice and further harness what we have been learning in ICM class. Smile, look approachable and do not hesitate to be the first one to introduce yourself. That sounds easy! However, as I was chatting with people I noticed that some are giving me a quizzical look every time I ask for their calling card. Later I found out that in Canada calling card means phone card and I indeed sounds funny asking someone for their phone card (perhaps on their mind l don't have my own money to pay for my own call). In the Philippines, we call business or name card as calling card. I should have known the difference earlier.
Later that night, a surprise raffle was announced. I'm sure glad I had written my name and put that paper in that drop box. I was really hoping to win the jacket or sweater, it is getting colder in Vancouver hence winning either of the two will be perfect. I was keeping my fingers cross during the duration of that raffle but I never got the chance to win, even just a ballpen (same with Kaoru). However, Vidi won herself a prize: a bag from Norton.
Finally, the moment we students have all been waiting for: our chance to meet our individual mentor. Student interests are matched based on the mentors expertise. For the introduction to be organised, LOT staff divided the room alphabetically based on the student's surname and I willingly followed. I had to wait for a few minutes until the LOT staff introduced me to my mentor. Oh! No, not him, that is what I was thinking the moment as I came face to face with him. He's only 3 years older than me and that absolutely is not my idea of what a mentor's age should be. In addition, he has been in Canada for only seven months, I was hoping to have a mentor who is an expert in the business environment of Canada. Am I just pre-judging him? I don't know but I did try my best not to show my disappointment. We have talked for ten to fifteen minutes and agreed how we can meet once a month. After that, my mentor has excused to himself as he has to attend a party (he's a Sales Manager in a hotel). Well, it might not be a bad idea at all having a young mentor: we can party together and by the way he is single.
Vidi and Kaoru's mentors unfortunately did not show up for the night. Walking back to the bus stop, we agreed that the LOT orientation was worth attending but we still are in the process of determining how worthwhile is our decision to join LOT. We can keep everyone posted.