Topic: “Canada in a globalizing world: challenges and opportunities”
Jean Charest, Partner, McCarthy Tetrault LLP and Former Premier of Quebec, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, was the longest-serving premier in Canada. He is currently a Partner at McCarthy Tétrault. He is a great leader and has in-depth knowledge and experience with public policy, corporate Canada and international matters.
Topic: “Value of story-telling in business communication”
If you did not attend Mark Weber’s lecture, you missed something important. That is what some of his audience feel. His classes are always full and often packed. During his lectures, the audience is highly engaged and the learning is intense.
Mark has received national and international awards for public speaking and debating. Mark is on the faculty of University of Waterloo and has taught courses on negotiations and organizational behavior to students at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, INSEAD and at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.
DETAILS OF THE EVENT
The much-awaited event featuring the Honorable Mr. Jean Charest, Partner McCarthy Tetrault LLC and former Premier of Quebec; and Prof. Mark Weber, Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, University of Waterloo, was held on Saturday, 21 September 2013 at the Markham Convergence Centre, Markham, Ontario.
It was a well-attended event with the hall filled to capacity. Following introductions and short opening remarks by IITAC’s Khaliq Zaman and Vinod Munshi, Mr. Charest spoke on “Canada in a Globalizing World – Challenges and Opportunities”. Not withstanding the daunting title of the topic, with his engaging style and simplicity in words, Mr. Charest put the audience at ease immediately.
The speech was well laid out with overheads to assist the audience. Mr. Charest spoke about how, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, globalization had influenced international trade. He mentioned agreements such as NAFTA, the Maastricht Treaty and also events such as the 2008 Financial Crisis leading to State Protectionism. He talked about various treaties and agreements that are being negotiated by different countries the world over in order to facilitate and grow trade. While these agreements are supposed to be fair to all parties concerned, Mr. Charest pointed out that more often that not the party with the power ends up dictating the terms. As an example, he cited his experience in negotiating a contract with a particular country. While he told the other country’s negotiator that the implementation of the contract was subject to arbitration and that it would likely go in Canada’s favour, the immediate response of the other party was “then we won’t be friends any more, will we”, a clear indication that the other party had the upper hand.
Mr. Charest spoke about the energy market and Canada’s major role in it citing Quebec’s hydro- electrical power exports to the USA, the Alberta oil sands vis a vis the Keystone Pipeline and others. He interspersed his speech with stories of his own experiences which made the subject easier for the audience to understand.
Citing the role of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former President of France in driving the free-trade agreement with Canada, Mr. Charest emphasized the need for an "issue-champion" from India to accelerate bringing a Canada-India trade agreement to a successful conclusion.
Mr. Charest, with his decades of experience in politics, left the audience with a lot to think about and gave them a glimpse of how international trade deals are actually worked out.
Following Mr. Charest, it was Prof. Mark Weber’s turn. Prior to going into the details of the topic, Prof. Weber gave an excellent overview of the University of Waterloo’s Post-graduate program in Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET). He cited the entrepreneurial nature of the students attending this program and the high number of start-ups they create. He made particular mention of the rising participation of female entrepreneurs in this program.
Prof. Weber’s talk was on “The Value of Storytelling in Business Communication”. It was also a very lively one with significant audience participation. The topic became easy to understand with every example he gave reminding the listeners of something similar that had happened in their lives. Dr. Weber did not have too far to go in explaining his points – he cited how Mr. Charest had used every technique of storytelling in his speech to elucidate the rather heavy and unfamiliar territory of international trade the audience was treading on. When asked if they remembered the various treaties that Mr. Charest spoke about, very few of did. However, Prof. Weber reminded them that although the details might have been lost, they remembered the stories that went along with them, and thus got the gist of the points Mr. Charest was making.
By the end of Prof. Weber’s talk every member of the audience was smiling for having learnt something that would be useful in their business.
The evening ended with a Vote of Thanks by Vishwas Dhekney and some additional time for networking
Vishwas B. Dhekney,VP Events, IITAC 2013