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Blog 6: Team Canopus Says Goodbye to Kuala Lumpur and Hello to the Next Chapter

By: Sukri Sharbini

Team Canopus at Closing BanquetThe in-market research and meetings with key organizations in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore was the final piece of our Telfer Executive MBA program. A grueling semester of strategizing with our client, fellow team members and with project advisors culminated in validating and expanding our client’s understanding of the market opportunities within Malaysia and Singapore. While it was largely all hands on the deck for the team when we were on the ground, we were also under fantastic operational leadership of project co-leads Amanda and Matt.  

The consulting engagements take you beyond textbooks and the classroom learning. I find the International Business Consulting Project to be the most interesting part of the program, and there is not a doubt that it will be beneficial to our professional growth in international business. The experience of working with the client, cohort, school and other stakeholders certainly delivered the global, practical and relevant aspect of the program.

I still recall the team asking me almost one year ago if I would be the one to present our team’s market of Kuala Lumpur as a final destination option for our international project. Now, as we leave the region, it seemed like the cohort made the best choice. It has been a wonderful journey for me over the last year by helping not just my team, but also the cohort in leveraging my network and connecting them with people in Malaysia and sharing with them some of the sensitivities of the region.

The Program also provided us with the support and training we needed to complete this international consulting engagement. Based in Ottawa we are blessed by proximity to embassies and high commissions, Global Affairs Canada and other government bodies. The Program arranged for representatives from the Malaysian High Commission and Global Affairs to join us at the Centre for briefings.

Having our client and the client representatives from the other teams join us in the trip was an indicator of how serious this trip is for their organization. It also shows that the Telfer Executive MBA program has prepared us well for this venture and maintained our focus on providing value to our clients. Our relationship with the client in-market helped us navigate through the process in real-time, ensuring that we were did not go off tangent. We were able to also leverage on the international experience of our project advisors in the mornings and evenings.  

Banana Leaf Meal experience with Team CanopusTo be fair, it was not all work. We had pockets of downtime to enjoy the cultural sites Malaysia has to offer, like the Buddha and Hindu temples, the amazing hotel poolside and authentic Asian cuisines. One interesting cuisine experience our team members had was eating off banana leaf that they used as plates – organic and no dishwashing necessary.   The poolside was where we had some of our best team meetings, while enjoying the sun and beautiful scenery of the Petronas Park that just next door.

It was also a pleasant surprise to many of us that Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan was in town during our trip. His trip was in conjunction with the port call of two Royal Canadian Navy frigates, HMCS Ottawa and Winnipeg. Our cohort President, Mike Bell, organized a trip for us to visit the frigates in Port Klang. 

In our last day together as a cohort, we all had blast sharing our little KL stories and experiences doing the program over dinner in an exquisite place.   

Even though the Pacific Ocean separates Malaysia and Canada, at the end of our trip we felt we were able to bring a piece of Canada to Malaysia. To borrow Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s words when he visited Malaysia in 1958: Canada and Malaysia will be friends until the snow falls in Malaysia and the rubber trees grow in Canada. It was a statement calling on both nations to embrace this friendship forever.    

I personally think this process has changed each member of the cohort for the better. Thinking back to our orientation meeting in August of 2015, we are not the same people as when we started. We’ve grown in our minds and our hearts, and we have confidence and skills we couldn’t have imagined we would have at the start of all of this.  Now that we’ve gone back to our own lives we will always feel the threads of Telfer pulling on our hearts and a need to meet up as a team in the future.

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