Meagan Doepker: SEIDO Student Officer Becomes "Worldy"
From acting as a greeter during its 2011 launch to hosting diplomats during university visits, recent University of Saskatchewan B.Comm. graduate Megan Doepker was highly involved with the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) during her time of studies.
She was the first student whom SEIDO Program Coordinator Nick Kokkastamapoulos recommended when a partnership between the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program, the University of Saskatchewan’s Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies, and the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) gave six university students the opportunity to partake in actual foreign direct investment (FDI) research.
“Doing proactive FDI is something fairly new to SREDA, but with all the competition it’s a must now,” Doepker says. When she graduated, she was offered a paid contract position with SREDA which included a business trip to Germany. “Germany was a great opportunity to actually apply the FDI research I had been doing to a real situation,” she says. “We went to Agritechnica to look for FDI opportunities. Prior to the show I had researched different companies that would be attending. It’s great to see the fruits of your work really having a direct impact.”
When her contract with SREDA finished at the end of 2011, Doepker took her knowledge and experience to Patiala, India. Along with volunteering at a school and a girls’ orphanage, Doepker was involved with a project to bring the traditional embroidery of the region, Phulkari, to international markets. “One of the things I’ve learned from SREDA is that no matter where you go, the place and people will have a niche that the world will want,” says Doepker. “There is now demand from the west for fashion that is transparent and ethical. There is an allure to preserve these dying arts as they are replaced by mass production.”
Doepker found success with her entrepreneurial project. UNA Fashion launches in the fall of 2012, offering a chic line of eco-leather bags. “I’m working with artisans through different Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in and around the villages of Kolkata, India. They are all fair trade certified and have missions that go beyond the fair trade principles,” she says. For example, one of the NGOs uses all profits to run support programs for former sex trade workers in Sonagachi, India. Another runs a Development Centre to bring together and empower individuals from a variety of marginalized situations.
“Through my work with the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO), whether it was the networking events or hosting diplomats or the research I did for SREDA, I had the necessary connections, contacts and experience to start a great career that I’m passionate about.”
* 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.