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University of Regina and Universidad de Guanajuato hold International Business Congress

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: March 24, 2021 2:00 p.m.

Dr. Wallace Lockhart (University of Regina) and Dr. Martin Pantoja (Universidad de Guanajuato).
Dr. Wallace Lockhart (University of Regina) and Dr. Martin Pantoja (Universidad de Guanajuato). Screenshot of the inaugural International Business Congress.

On Monday evening, students and representatives from the Hill and Levene Schools of Business and the Universidad de Guanajuato (UG) in Mexico held the inaugural (virtual) International Business Congress. The Congress is part of the International Business course in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program where 10 students from the Levene Graduate School of Business at the U of R and 14 from the UG worked together virtually, attended joint seminars as well as business presentations, and ultimately formed five teams that presented their projects at the Congress.
 

Dr. Wallace Lockhart, an Associate Professor with the Hill and Levene Schools of Business, helped develop the Congress as part of the International Business course in the MBA program.
Photo provided by Dr. Wallace Lockhart
“This class is part of a bigger internationalization strategy our faculty has been nurturing for years but I think it’s great for the University of Regina that we are building real solid ties that give us as academics and researchers chances to collaborate with people in another culture,” said Dr. Wallace Lockhart, an Associate Professor with the Hill and Levene Schools of Business who helped develop the course with Dr. Martin Pantoja from the UG.
 
Dr. Lockhart has been involved in several partnerships and initiatives in Mexico to give his students more exposure to cultural differences as well as differences in things like economies, wage rates, and political and legal environments. All have come with support of UR International.
 
“Creating this type of virtual program is a fantastic initiative to further strengthen the institutional relationship and create more accessible international opportunities for students during this unique time,” said Haroon Chaudhry, Acting Associate Vice-President (International) with UR International.
 
In February 2020, Dr. Lockhart was in Mexico and visited the Universidad de Guanajuato as part of a tour to develop partnerships in the country. He said he hit off right away with Dr. Pantoja and they immediately began to develop the partnership for the course.
 
“When Wallace and I spoke about doing the course together, one of the essentials the international course needed was to expose the students to an international environment so they can have that intercultural understanding in business,” Dr. Pantoja said. “For most businesses, financial knowledge is universal, but many businesses don’t have personnel to understand multiculturality or any different cultural understanding.”
 
Being proficient in virtual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic was an asset for both groups of students. However, there were still challenges and learning moments along the way. According to Levene student Robert Hembroff there were still some language barriers which required tools like Google Translate. They also learned and had to adjust to the fact that some students lived in parts of Mexico that were prone to power outages, leaving them unable to attend online meetings. In addition, there were different cultural celebrations, which meant days away from class.
 
MBA student Robert Hembroff and his group present their project.
Screenshot of the inaugural International Business Congress.
“The education level is very similar and the students we worked with were very professional,” Hembroff said. “One of my main takeaways was our educational equality. I do have to give more credit to the Mexican students with Spanish being their first language. They had to do at least half of their presentation in English. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be the other way around.”
 
Hembroff was part of the first group to present at the Congress with their focus being on digital marketing in Canada and Mexico. The other groups had projects that focused on the restaurant industry during COVID-19 in Nepal, Canada (Saskatchewan), Mexico, and Cuba; an international comparison of the textile industry in Canada, Mexico, and China; the viability of a Canadian tomato greenhouse firm expanding production to Mexico; and post-COVID-19 graduate business programs in Canada and Mexico.
 
With the Congress over, both Dr. Lockhart and Dr. Pantoja have started compiling feedback from the event to see how they can improve on it for next year and even expand the concept.
 
“I’m hoping that after this congress and the semination of the results, more faculties will be interested in being a part of this and other faculties will want to connect to Regina,” said Dr. Pantoja.
 
The goal for Dr. Lockhart was to allow his students to experience the cultural differences and get a sense of the community and family and positive energy. In the end they got that and more.
 
“After all the work and everything you’ve been through and it’s been a very intense course – you’ve got the experience to share and you can put it on your resume that you were part of and presented at an international business congress as part of your studies,” he said.