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  • Abby's Stop At CLOP

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    As the week begins, we sat down with Abby Sullivan, a second-year MBA, who recently returned from north of the border at the Canadian Leadership Orientation Program (CLOP). CLOP, an initiative begun six years ago, involves the Association of Canadian Studies, based in the U.S., and the University of Ottawas Telfer School of Management in a joint venture, receiving support and funding from a number of prominent American and Canadian organizations. The programs primary objective focuses on educating international students about the political and business systems in Canada and to use that knowledge to show how the North American countries can use their unique relationships to increase trade and business among the three countries.

    Abby shared some of her experience with the Student Life Blog, so lets check out what she had to say!

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    The Canadian Leadership Orientation Program (CLOP) was founded in 2005 as a partnership between the Association of Canadian Studies in the United States and The Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. The program is also supported and funded by many businesses and organizations including Foreign Affairs Canada, HEC Montreal, the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. The goals of the program are to educate international students from the United States and Mexico about the political and business systems in Canada. That knowledge is then used as a base in presenting ideas on how the North American countries might use their unique relationships to increase trade and business among the three countries.

    On May 29th, I arrived to Ottawa and was excited to get to know my fellow participants and learn about the week ahead. This year, the attendees included students from 22 business schools in the United States and two schools in Mexico as well as MBA and MS – Political Science students from the University of Ottawa. The Canadian students, faculty and event organizers were all very welcoming and we enjoyed a tour of the nation’s capital city of Ottawa. The city is unique in that it is one of the only truly bilingual capital cities in the world with most of the population speaking both English and French.

    The first two days of the conference were held in Ottawa at the EMBA facilities of the University of Ottawa and included presentations and lectures to help the international students become better acquainted with the Canadian political system and business operation styles. All of the guest speakers were excellent and included two members of the Canadian Senate, various professors from Canadian and American business schools, company representatives and the Mexican Ambassador! After two intense days of lectures and company visits, we finished our time in Ottawa with a reception at the U.S. residence in Ottawa. Mr. Jacobson, the United States Ambassador to Canada, is originally from Chicago so I enjoyed talking to him about our common home town and learning about his career working in law and government relations.

    The following morning, we departed Ottawa for Montreal, Quebec. In Montreal, we arrived at the HEC Montreal and were greeted by administration from their MBA program. The administration at HEC gave a presentation on the culture and business operation style in Quebec, as compared to the other Canadian provinces due to its strong French influence. The rest of our two days in Montreal were spent visiting a large video game developer, a transport company and the business that regulates and distributes all of the alcohol in Canada! After enjoying these company visits, meeting with some HEC Montreal students, enjoying great food and exploring a bit of Montreal, we headed back to Ottawa to end the program. The final day was a great culmination of the week and ended with a spontaneous picnic on the lawn of Parliament!

    I would recommend this program to any incoming student to the Illinois MBA because it gives students the opportunity to learn about international relations in a hands-on format. Because Canada and Mexico are so close in physical proximity to the United States, we often assume their culture and practices are similar to ours. By attending this conference, I was able to not only learn about the differences, but also network with students studying business and political science in these countries to truly learn how everything works! I feel that my knowledge of the North American relationships – business and political has grown immensely. I am grateful to the Illinois MBA for selecting me as their representative as well as all of the sponsors for making this program possible!