Meahgan Sweet: Edwards Student Trade Mission to Indonesia and Malaysia

From August 3 – 19, third year University of Saskatchewan marketing major Meahgan Sweet was one of three young professionals representing the University of Saskatchewan (and Saskatchewan) on Junior Team Canada’s International Trade Mission to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Meaghan, a SEIDO Student Officer with the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies’ “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), was overwhelmed by the high-level opportunity. In addition to sponsorship from the Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies – University of Saskatchewan, Sweet had to find additional funds various Canadian companies to reach her participation costs goals. Nick Kokkastamapoulos, SEIDO Program Coordinator, helped with referrals to possible donors within the his government and corporate network. “We would partner with those companies and try to develop opportunities overseas for them,” Meaghan explained. “While Nick would act like a middleman trying to connect me for additional funds, I in turn became kind of like the middle man for my new sponsors to formulate trade relationships for these Canadian companies.”

Sweet said she was able to get contact information for trade officers while meeting with the Embassy of Canada in Indonesia and the Canadian High Commission in Malaysia. Upon her return, she passed this information on to local companies like Genki Bar.

One of the highlights for Sweet was touring Indofood, the largest producer of noodles in Indonesia. “I grew up on a farm and that’s our wheat being shipped over to those countries and feeding those people,” she said. “Seeing our Saskatchewan product transformed into food that is the staple of Indonesia gave me an overwhelming feeling of pride.”

Sweet said she also enjoyed the interactive meetings, such as the one at Manulife Financial. “We used a marketing technique to try get more brand representation in the country. It was sort of like something we would do in a marketing class but we were doing it for a country,” she explained. “It was cool.”

On her first day in either country, Sweet participated in an activity much like the Amazing Race. “That was our opportunity to see the country,” she said. “They were fun and had us all over the city. We took local transportation and got to jet around on our own.”

Her traveling adventures, including visiting the World Bank, a local orphanage and Malaysia’s Batu Caves, helped solidify friendships with the other members of Junior Team Canada. “I made some great friends,” she said. “I’m going back to Ottawa this weekend to visit them.”

Sweet said the experience also inspired her to do more when she returned to Canada. “This has kind of given me the opportunity to realize we can do things within Canada. We have opportunities available to us.”

She plans to remain involved with the SEIDO Program during this academic year. “Nick [Kokkastamapoulos] asked me to volunteer with them and I’d like to do that,” she said. The program consists of training in various aspects of international business and provides students practice in a trade assistant role similar to what functions might be expected of junior diplomat officers within Canadian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade.

Sweet said she’ll also look to more experiences in the SEIDO Program.

* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).

The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at nick.kokkas@seidoprogram.org or nkokkas@haultaininstitute.org or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.