Navigating Professional Connections Beyond the Classroom

From our virtual Spring 2021 International Study Trip course classroom, we are the Corporate Relations (CR) team!

Our team includes Johnson, Yahya, Evelyn, Mehek, and Waleed. We are excited to share our experiences on what happens behind the scenes when a group of bold, inquisitive, and ambitious students seek to reach out to notable executives from companies around the world. In general, our team’s main goal is to ensure that students on the virtual trip meet professionals from diverse industries to gain insights and learn from their experiences.

Next is a brief overview of our individual roles on the team, our experiences so far, and what we are looking forward to in the course:

Johnson

Photo of JohnsonWhich industry/companies are you assigned to reach out to? What have been some successes and challenges so far?

I was assigned to reach out to the real estate, sports, and entertainment industries. These industries are not the typical industries that the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) students are familiar with, so the International Study Trip course really provided me with the opportunity to reach out to people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. At first, it was intimidating to send out emails to senior executives and CEOs. However, the interviewees were all very responsive and approachable. In addition, the strong reputation of the University of Waterloo and their alumni network really made the reach-out process easier and more efficient. So far, I have confirmed over 4 speakers, and I am really looking forward to hearing about all of their stories in August.

What’s your favourite part about being on the Corporate Relations team? What skills are you learning and what are you looking forward to in the International Study Trip course?

My favorite part about being on the CR team is the opportunity to reach out to high-profile industry professionals. The International Study Trip course really serves as a perfect excuse to connect with these individuals. Furthermore, I really enjoy working with my teammates on the CR team. Everyone on the team is collaborative, communicative, and all of us have been contributing ideas and helping each other since day one. Throughout the process, I have learned how to communicate effectively with audiences of different backgrounds, and I learned how to plan strategically to accomplish my goals. Finally, I am looking forward to building ever-lasting friendships with my classmates and learning from the leading professionals about how they navigate through their careers.

Yahya

Photo of YahyaWhich industry/companies are you assigned to reach out to? What have been some successes and challenges so far?

Given my strong interest in technology and entrepreneurship, I was assigned to reach out to these industries for the AFM 334 class. I am really enjoying the process of reaching out to these individuals as I get the opportunity to conduct research on interesting profiles. Furthermore, I also get to reach out to people I would not have otherwise, as with the course, there is an actual purpose of my e-mail.

So far, I have had great success as I was able to connect with individuals who possess really interesting backgrounds, and who I am certain will provide the class with a different perspective. I am continuing to reach out to individuals with unique backgrounds to give our class the best exposure possible within the technology and entrepreneurship industries. On that note, one of the biggest challenges I have faced in terms of reaching out is connecting with high-profile individuals due to their busy schedules. I will continue to try and connect with them by trying different reach-out methods other than e-mail. I am really looking forward to hearing from all of the different speakers in the coming months!

What’s your favourite part about being on the Corporate Relations team? What skills are you learning and what are you looking forward to in AFM 334?

My favorite part of being on the CR team has to be connecting with unique individuals. This course provides me with the opportunity to reach out to individuals who I would love to learn from, and given the nature of the course, they are more likely to respond in contrast to myself just messaging them out of the blue. Furthermore, I am also really enjoying getting to know the rest of the CR team. Given the pandemic, it was difficult to meet new people so the opportunity to get to know my classmates better is really rewarding.

The CR team has provided me the chance to hone my communication and research skills. When reaching out to individuals, the e-mail I send needs to be concise and engaging enough for the respondent to read through. As a result, by going through multiple drafts, we designed a final template. I am really looking forward to getting to know the rest of the AFM 334 – International Study Trip course team better, along with finally getting a chance to hear from all of the wonderful speakers we have lined up!

Evelyn

Photo of EvelynWhich industry/companies are you assigned to reach out to? What have been some successes and challenges so far?

I am responsible for reaching out to companies in the non-profit, pharmaceutical, retail, and consulting industries. The experience has been great so far because I have had the opportunity to research and learn more about a variety of companies. While at first it was challenging to determine how to best approach cold contacts, trying different methods and talking with course alums was helpful in establishing best practices. Leveraging warm connections from the class has been helpful in securing additional speakers as well.

What’s your favourite part about being on the Corporate Relations team? What skills are you learning and what are you looking forward to in AFM 334?

My favourite part of being on the team is having the opportunity to connect with leading professionals from around the world. In my role, I have learned how to better organize meetings, collaborate with teams, and adapt my communication techniques to different audiences. I look forward to meeting with all the speakers in August to learn about their career journeys and insights!

Mehek

Photo of MehekWhich industry/companies are you assigned to reach out to? What have been some successes and challenges so far?

I’m responsible for reaching out to companies in the accounting, consulting, and retail industries. Some of the challenges we initially faced were identifying the best methods to approach our contacts and determining how to efficiently offer and allocate interview time slots, while considering different time zones, to ensure they don’t overlap. Brainstorming within the CR team, discussing with course alums, and communicating frequently helped us create a detailed plan. Additionally, leveraging the University of Waterloo alumni network has also made the process of securing speakers easier! I think a personal challenge may have been organization, but our decision to communicate every step single forward in progress definitely helped me stay on track and on the same page as the rest of the team. The journey has been great so far, but I believe the best is yet to come.

What’s your favourite part about being on the Corporate Relations team? What skills are you learning and what are you looking forward to in AFM 334?

My favorite part of being on the CR team is having the opportunity to connect with executives of leading multinational companies from around the globe and interacting with my teammates while doing so. The role and the experience so far have taught me how to schedule and organize meetings seamlessly, communicate with my teammates, and efficiently shift focus to important areas when needed. The best part is that even with assigned industries to focus on, the team has always managed to support each other and make decisions as a whole. This experience has been nothing short of ‘teamwork makes the dream work’. In the International Study Trip course, I’m looking forward to simultaneously learning about the intricacies of the global economy and understanding the abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and personalities of our industry experts. The prospect of tapping into their world and gaining an insight of how they process information, lead their companies, and make decisions is exciting!

Waleed

Photo of WaleedWhich industry/companies are you assigned to reach out to? What have been some successes and challenges so far?

I’ve been responsible for reaching out to companies across the finance spectrum – ranging from traditional banks, to growth shops, to places that specialize in more niche areas such as restructuring. I think a personal success from this process has been organization. Having to oversee and coordinate a week of meetings, that my classmates will depend upon later in the term, forces my team and I to be proactive and ensure things are done in a seamless manner. Throughout this experience, my team and I have been quite active in sharing things that work for us when reaching out to companies. We have also been excellent at shifting our focus, when need be, which has made this process quite enjoyable.

What’s your favourite part about being on the Corporate Relations team? What skills are you learning and what are you looking forward to in AFM 334?

My favourite part about being on the CR team is the people and insights. While each member of the team has assigned industries for reach outs, it has been quite collaborative, and my teammates are always ready to help and bounce ideas off each other. We all are working together towards the same goal, and I’ve found that to be reflected in our team meetings which makes things quite exciting. With regards to insights, hearing other members of the CR team talk about companies and industries we want to reach out to is very informative because it gives me a chance to hear something new that I wouldn’t have thought about or considered before.

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