Discover a Global Saskatchewan
through Blair Hudyma
International Officer, Government of Saskatchewan, Executive Council and Office of the Premier
Throughout Blair Hudyma's education and career he has gained tremendous amounts of international experience. From attending university in Norway to working for the Saskatchewan Government, he has learned the tricks of the trade such as researching cultural etiquette and keeping up with global events.
"Go hard. Go real hard, and get your education.
If you have your eye on something, go and get it."
Jocelyn: How did you first become involved in international business and trade?
Hudyma: My Bachelors degree was in international economics. From that point I was lucky enough to get an exchange to the University of Nordland in Norway.
You have described your experience at the University of Nordland as 'an amazing experience'. What was the highlight of your stay?
Getting to study with so many people from around the world. It was an international business school, so there were countless business students from all over the globe. We also got to work with a lot of energy firms from Norway and Russia.
If you could go back to university, would you seek any training that you never had?
I would get a Doctorate in Applied Economics, specializing in international trade. It's more of a personal goal, but any additional units of education always help.
What skills have you picked up abroad that has been most useful in your business career?
Learning about different cultures and business etiquettes. Around the world everybody does business differently. So that's really valuable. Being culturally adapt to your business situation makes everything flow easier. Being involved in international trade and business means you need to understand that countries don't all do things the same way.
Has there ever been a cultural blunder that you have made while abroad?
Not necessarily a blunder, but close too. Usually before I go into meetings I do research. For example, in Japan when you are dealing with Japanese business people, you are not to fiddle with their business cards. I have also researched Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, and India. They all have different ways of doing business. Often in India, it is not so much like doing business when you try to form relationships, but it's about developing rapport and friendships.
Your work requires you to have in-depth knowledge about world events and trade. How do you keep yourself updated on a regular basis about everything going on around the globe?
Constant research. It is something I do everyday. You have to wake up and look at the news from around the world. It takes up a lot of time, but it is something that I enjoy. For example, I saw India had an election, which had a lot of implications for the world. The new prime minister is very economic and development focused. India is going to become an even bigger global player, and Saskatchewan has large opportunities there.
Click here to meet the rest of the Global Players.
What countries do you believe are Saskatchewan's most vital trade partners and why?
The United States, China, Japan, and India. We have vested interest in exports to those regions such as agricultural exports.
Many people are unaware of Saskatchewan's significant global exports. Why do you think this is?
I am not totally sure why that is. Saskatchewan has always been really an export driven economy. I'm not sure why it's not well known, I mean we are called the breadbasket of the world for a reason.
In your role as an international officer you meet many people from all over the world. Who has been the most interesting person you have met among them?
The most interesting person was his Excellency Nirmal Verma. He was the head of the Indian navy for a while and is now the high commissioner of India to Canada. He is a really intelligent guy and interesting character.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in international business?
Go hard. Go real hard, and get your education. If you have your eye on something, go and get it. When I was getting my economics degree, I saw that there was a CO-OP placement for the department of foreign affairs and international trade. I said, "I am getting that and that's the end of it". Persistence and drive is important.
How important do you believe it is to get your name out there, and build a professional network globally to have a career in international business?
It is very important, as much as I didn't want to believe that when I started my education. I was hoping the education would be the prominent part of my career. But making contacts is very important not only for future job prospects, but it also helps to have friends elsewhere if you need information or help with a project.
Can you tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be most significant in your career?
There have been a lot of projects that I would consider to be an accomplishment. One thing that has been really neat is when we work on a trade mission or project that is supposed to be implemented government wide. Sometimes Brad Wall will come in and give us a pat on the back, so that means a lot. A specific project in my time here that was my biggest accomplishment was when I was first hired. A colleague and I developed a roadmap for emerging markets in Saskatchewan. We put together quite an in-depth paper that ended up being well taken.
Out of all of the countries you have visited to do business, which has been your favorite and why?
I am going to have to say Norway. I went to school there, but also the business experience was excellent. Working between energy companies was interesting and I just really enjoyed it a lot.
Did you notice any differences in how they conduct business in Norway as compared to here in Saskatchewan?
A little bit. They are a very proper people. I found that initially when you do business, it's not that they are standoffish, Canadian people are just exceptionally friendly. However, when you sit down and get to know them, they become exceptionally friendly and very open. That would be the one take away from doing business there, even in social relationships.
Is there a new country you would like to visit, that you haven't been to and why?
Nigeria is a new country I would like to visit. Reason being there is a lot of compliments between Canada and Nigeria. We could be doing a lot more business and trade with them. I would like to visit Nigeria to develop some of those relationships.