University of Washington

Ottawa Leadership Orientation Program

In 2005 the Association for Canadian Studies in the US and the School of Management at University of Ottawa, in cooperation with Foreign Affairs, Canada, HEC Montréal, and the Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC initiated a week-long program for MBA students from leading US Business schools. Each year 20 students from the top MBA programs across the US are selected to participate in this experience. The program involves high-level briefings by Canadian political and business leaders and company visits in Ottawa and Montréal. Every year, since the Program’s inception, a UW MBA student has been selected.

Canadian Leadership Forum

Program Fellows

2009 Fellow - Shenjun (Ann) Huang, MBA Class of 2010
2008 Fellow - Kelly Voss, MBA Class of 2009, MAIS Class of 2010
2007 Fellow - Tania Elliot, MBA Class of 2008, MAIS Class of 2009
2006 Fellow - Jason McCalpin, MBA Class of 2006

Ann Huang and Dan Abele Shenjun (Ann) Huang
MBA Class of 2010
2009 Fellow
Kelly Voss Kelly Voss
MBA Class of 2009
MA International Studies Class of 2010
2008 Fellow
  Jason McCalpin
MBA Class of 2006
2006 Fellow


The Canadian Leadership Orientation: Building the Future

By Shengjun (Ann) Huang, MBA Class of 2010

Shengjun (Ann) Huang is a second year evening MBA student focusing on International Business and Marketing at the Foster School of Business. She is the leader of the 2010 Canada Study Tour to Vancouver and works as a 787 software engineer at the Boeing Company.

Dan Abele and Ann Huang
This year Ann Huang, 2010 Canada Study Tour chair, was selected as one of twenty-five MBA students from across the US to participate in the Canadian Leadership Orientation Program, sponsored by the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa. With Dan Abele, Head of Research and Academic Relations for the Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC.

What happens when three Mexicans, twenty-one Americans, and fifteen Canadians meet with various experts for a week-long program on Canada? A surprising realization dawns: despite our varied cultural, political, and economic differences, we are all part of a greater North American entity. With our countries’ intertwined destinies, we must learn to collaborate, cooperate, and communicate to ensure the success of our continent.

In the beautiful cities of Ottawa and Montréal, the Canadian Leadership Orientation Program (CLOP) united thirty-nine MBA students from across North America to hear about the world from a different perspective. From discussions on transportation to tri-country panels on integration and an overview of the global recession, there was much that we could learn and debate.Throughout the week, we were presented with the opportunity to talk not only to corporate executives, state officials, and a variety of professors, but also with students just like us. CLOP’s gathering of students from University of Ottawa, HEC Montréal, IPADE from Mexico City, and schools all across the US has started a cross-continental network that will continue far into the future, spreading global perspectives and helping to build a more educated North America.

The CLOP for North American MBA students is sponsored by the Association of Canadian Studies in the US (ACSUS), the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, in cooperation with Foreign Affairs Canada, HEC Montréal, and the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC.

The annual Canada Study Tour is supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Program Enhancement Grant, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

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Canadian Leadership Orientation - NAFTA, eh!

By Kelly Voss, MBA Class of 2009

Kelly Voss
Kelly Voss with Michael Kelly, Dean of the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, at the 2008 Ottawa Business Leadership Orientation.

Kelly Voss is a Master in Business Administration and International Studies concurrent-degree graduate student in her second year of International Business studies. She will be co-leading the annual Canada Study Tour graduate delegation to Vancouver this coming February.

Every year the University of Ottawa Telfer School of Management invites twenty US MBAs to participate in their Canadian Leadership Orientation. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the 2008 program, held in early June in Ottawa and Montréal. Participants attend lectures by top business and government professionals, visit major Canadian companies, and experience the highlights of Canadian culture--including Hockey Night in Canada!

For the first time, Mexican MBAs were invited, as well, to represent a major theme of the program--the importance of NAFTA in promoting international business. Guest speaker US Ambassador David H. Wilkins touted NAFTA as a positive force in North America, bringing structural change in Mexico and an increase in Canadian jobs. A representative of the Embassy of Mexico’s NAFTA Office noted that the increases in transportation costs and Carbon Footprint awareness make it more attractive for US companies to produce in Canada and Mexico rather than in China, intertwining our economies more than ever before.

With the rising price of oil, energy was a hot topic among guest speakers. The Ministry of Alberta cited Canada as one of the world’s energy superpowers, with large pools of oil second only to Saudi Arabia. The province of Alberta is currently working with the US government to secure an environmentally sustainable energy future.

Deputy Chair Frank McKenna of TD Bank Financial Group, one of Canada’s leading financial institutions, reinforced the importance of cooperation between NAFTA countries. Although the US and Canada share the world’s longest border, we still have a lot to learn from each other. McKenna encourages American students to study abroad or intern in Canada to increase cultural awareness of the difference in business practices. With trade moving closer to home, more companies will be recruiting students with cross-cultural experience who understand the advantages of their country’s largest trade partner.

All business aside, with Hockey Night, Beaver Tails and the Montréal F1 Grand Prix, the University of Ottawa introduced us to a delicious taste of Canadian life, and we are looking forward to getting to better know our neighbors as the bond between our countries continues to grow!

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Canada - US MBA Economic Forum
By Jason McCalpin, MBA Class of 2006

My experience participating in the week-long Canada-US economic partnership forum for American MBA students, hosted by the University of Ottawa, was truly phenomenal. Living so near the border in Seattle, Washington, as well as being married to a Canadian citizen, had given me a good foundation of knowledge of Canadian history, policies, and nuances. However, this program significantly deepened my understanding of the business climate and relationship between the two countries.

The number of lectures and activities contributing to my general understanding and enrichment, of which I will name a few, was staggering. First, I previously had no appreciation of the degree of social and commercial autonomy which the federal government allots to Quebec. The presentations implied that there is a substantial amount of initiative by the provincial government to court international commerce and trade on its own behalf. Accordingly, I'm sure the phrase "international trade," to many Quebecers, very much applies to trade with the rest of Canada as well. Additionally, I was surprised to learn that trade between the US and Canada is very much aligned on a North-South axis versus one that is East-West. I was already well aware that social ties followed this pattern; indeed, my wife's family, all of whom are from (and currently reside in) Vancouver, have long felt they have much more in common with Seattle than with Toronto or Montreal. That inter-provincial barriers partly drive commerce to follow the same pattern was surprising. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for our group of future business leaders, was information and strategies on developing and expanding companies. As we become decision-makers in our separate enterprises, we will sooner - rather than later - have input on how our companies grow. Information in this seminar on the availability, skill, and price of Canadian labor, as well as other factors of cost-benefit analysis of expanding or relocating into Canada, have given us a foundation for pursuing potentially significant business development strategies.

Personally, I took away a couple of very important impressions. First, I intend to pursue a career in commercial real estate, and a very hot topic here in Seattle is the potential "Vancouverization" of the city. Essentially, this describes making downtown buildings taller and more sleek, increasing infill development, setting building facades further back from the street, and making the area greener and more pedestrian-friendly. In a word, the city government wants to make downtown more livable. Although this is largely a matter of urban planning and local issues, I did pick up some helpful, insightful information on Vancouver’s development and the appropriateness of Seattle's endeavor to emulate it. In our tour and presentation at the Bank of Canada, the panel spoke very frankly about their policies regarding Canadian interest rates, their past history, and what they see for the future. Clearly this influences the magnitude of foreign investment in the country, as well as playing a part in determining the degree to which foreign countries will have a presence in Canada. Without having done further research into the matter, I would suspect that a significant portion of Vancouver's fortunes, as a major Canadian city with close ties to Asia, its status as the primary Pacific port, as well as a highly ethnic population, rest in these policies. I do know, however, that the inflow of capital, people, and businesses from Asia, particularly from Hong Kong, has had a significant impact on the Vancouver real estate market. Seattle does not have the same recent history, and, urban planning issues aside, I am not convinced that it is entirely appropriate for Seattle to emulate the same real estate development and growth pattern.

Lastly, I was left with a unique personal observation. In the US, time spent on the east coast in cities such as New York, Boston, and Washington, DC can leave one with the impression that business and political leaders see the eastern US - with its government organizations and financial institutions - as "The US." The rest of the country is relegated to either a support or observatory role. I found this to be true in Canada even to a stronger degree. Living in Seattle with a wife who had grown up in Vancouver and Calgary, Canada to me had been western Canada, and I was anxious to take a trip east. After introducing myself and explaining my situation to everybody I met, I was repeatedly left with others tacitly implying that "Oh, well yes, I guess that's Canada out there too…" I found this to be extremely surprising. According to a mid-September issue of The Economist, Alberta has - by far - the most robust provincial economy and is debt-free. Calgary, the most highly-educated city, is second only to Toronto in the number of corporate headquarters, and Vancouver is annually at the top of the UN's list of the best cities in the world in which to live. Again, I was quite surprised to discover how casually dismissive most easterners seemed to be of western Canada. As we here on the "left coast" of the US have had similar experiences, perhaps that explains at least part of the reason that both commercial and social regional ties lie on North-South axes.

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Canadian Studies Center
University of Washington
Box 353650
Thomson Hall, Room 503
Seattle, WA 98195-3650
T (206) 221-6374
F (206) 685-0668