University of Washington

February 2011 Report

Students from the International Studies in Business Program attend the Pacific Northwest Economic Conference at University of British Columbia

Students at the Pacific Northwest Economic Conference of 2011 at University of British Columbia.

I am a German track member of the nationally-ranked Certificate of International Studies in Business Program (CISB) at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. I, along with 13 other CISB students, attended the 2011 Pacific Northwest Economic Conference thanks to the sponsorship of the UW’s Global Business and Canadian Studies Centers. The event was held on February 4 and 5, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The PNEC conference was designed by undergraduates at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. The aim was to bring together students, academics and business people to discuss common economic issues facing the Pacific NW and look at how the region can leverage its unique characteristics to fully participate in the global economy. Workshops covered such areas as technology, sustainability, natural resources, Asia Pacific trade, real estate development, and venture capital/entrepreneurship.

The conference began with a Friday evening dinner and networking event. The keynote speaker was Yoram Bauman, an instructor at the University of Washington who is self-described as “the world’s first and only stand up economist”. He is co-author of the Cartoon Introduction to Economics and has appeared in TIME Magazine, on PBS and NPR, and regularly appears at the Comedy Underground. The amazing views from the 34th floor only provided fuel for the conversation as we were given the opportunity to mingle and socialize with many of the students from colleges around the Pacific Northwest.

The following morning we heard from Egils Milbergs, Executive Director of the Economic Development Commission of Washington State. Appointed by Governor Gregoire in 2008, he is charged with developing a long term economic development strategy and making Washington State the most innovative region in the world.

After breakfast, we broke out into three groups to participate in breakaway sessions. I attended the “Technology” session, which was largely about the development in the technology sectors of the Pacific Northwest and specifically Vancouver. The speaker helped us make connections between the real world and the economic theories we’ve all studied. The second session was lead by Stephen Brown, President of the B.C. Chamber of Shipping. His informative speech was largely about international shipping between Vancouver and various ports in China.

The keynote speaker was Nolan Watson, a young Vancouverite who graduated from UBC. He described how he grew from having no work experience to obtaining a position as CFO of Silver Wheaton Corp at the age of 27, and what eventually drove him to quit the job. His insights into “work-life balance” rejected that theory; he worked nearly 100 hours a week to achieve the results he did. He talked frankly about the difficulties of living that lifestyle, and was unafraid to discuss the benefits as well. His insights were simple but powerful and he was incredibly motivating. After he finished his presentation and opened up for questions, the organizers of the PNEC made several closing remarks, and we headed home.

All in all, it was an incredible experience for many reasons. Besides having the opportunity to talk frankly with many successful people from all sorts of careers, attending an international conference aimed specifically at college students provided a great ‘stepping stone’ toward an international business career. Now I know what to expect from an international conference and know how enlightening it can be. I left much more knowledgeable than I came, and would highly recommend this conference to future students. There aren’t many opportunities like this and it is well worth it.

Click here for conference info/program

This project was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Title VI grant, US Department of Education, Office of International Education Programs Service.

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Paul Storer and Debra Glassman, Faculty Director of the Global Business Center.

Ten Things You Should Know about the Canadian Economy

by Paul Storer, Western Washington University

On Thursday January 27, I gave a presentation on “Ten Things You Should Know about the Canadian Economy” to a group of more than a hundred University of Washington students from a variety of Foster School of Business programs, including those enrolled in the Certificate in International Business program. My objective was to give students a briefing on key details about the Canadian economy and Canada-U.S. economic interdependence and I used numerous visual images to illustrate these facts. Many of the students planned to visit Canada in the near future as part of their coursework and all are involved in international activities that would be enhanced by greater knowledge of the Canada-US economic relationship.

Of course, the first of the ten items related the fact that the United States and Canada have the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship—a relationship often undervalued by many Americans and occasionally reported erroneously by the media. U.S. imports of Canadian energy products and the importance of making things together via “apples-to-apples” trade were also mentioned as contributing to competitiveness in North America. Stereotyped images of the Canadian economy as a resource-intensive hinterland were addressed and contrasted with the dynamic transportation, services, and technology sectors of the modern Canadian economy. Further comparative analysis of Canada’s banking and health care systems was encouraged as they are both issues at the forefront of the current American political agenda.

Over 100 Foster School of Business students attended Professor Storer's lecture on the Canada-US trade relationship.
Over 100 Foster School of Business students attended Professor Storer's lecture on the Canada-US trade relationship.

After the formal presentation, students asked many insightful questions on a wide range of issues. One student asked which factors had led to the recent successes of Bombardier’s aerospace division while another asked about the role of the Canadian banking system. Students also asked whether Canada and the United States should follow the European model and adopt a common currency or whether I would recommend further enhancements to NAFTA that would strengthen the North American economic space. I enjoyed this opportunity to interact with the students at the UW and hope that I helped them to have a deeper appreciation of the importance of the Canada-U.S. economic partnership.

Paul Storer is Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at Western Washington University. He teaches courses and publishes research related to the Canada-U.S economic relationship. Storer has previous experience working as an economist at the Bank of Canada and as an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

This lecture is part of a new partnership between the Canadian Studies and Global Business Center – North American Economic Partnerships – to increase Canadian content in business courses and programming. It provided information for Foster School of Business students participating in the Pacific Northwest Economic Conference and the 2011 MBA Canada Study Tour.

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