Ban­quet helps stu­dents to con­nect with busi­ness lead­ers

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG mlieben­berg@prairiepos­

The se­cond an­nual Busi­ness Con­nect ban­quet in Swift Cur­rent was even more suc­cess­ful than the in­au­gu­ral event to cre­ate net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties be­tween stu­dents and lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers.

The ban­quet was hosted by the Swift Cur­rent & Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce at the Christ the Redeemer hall, Nov. 19.

Cham­ber CEO Karla Wiens said the event was at­tended by 53 busi­ness lead­ers, which was about 10 more than last year. They were joined by around 13 stu­dents from the busi­ness pro­gram at Great Plains Col­lege and 38 stu­dents from the Swift Cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive High School (SCCHS) Busi­ness Club.

The busi­ness cham­ber started this ini­tia­tive to con­nect lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers with de­vel­op­ing en­trepreneur­s from the col­lege and high school.

“We re­ally rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of work­ing with the next gen­er­a­tion, be­cause these will be the next busi­ness lead­ers in Swift Cur­rent,” she said.

The event is an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents with an in­ter­est in busi­ness and en­trepreneur­ship to speak di­rectly with busi­ness own­ers and man­agers.

“We are in­ter­gen­er­a­tional in our busi­ness suc­ces­sion plan­ning,” she said. “So it’s very im­por­tant to foster that sense of busi­ness com­mu­nity with these stu­dents early, be­cause odds are they will be the ones com­ing back and be our next busi­ness lead­ers and part­ners in busi­ness here with some of the folks that are in at­ten­dance this evening.”

She noted that the stu­dents are thirsty for knowl­edge and they want to learn from these busi­ness lead­ers how to achieve suc­cess.

“The busi­ness lead­ers that are in at­ten­dance at an event like this are in­vested in the suc­cess of the next gen­er­a­tion,” she said. “They want to pro­vide men­tor­ship and they want to see these stu­dent suc­ceed, and give them dif­fer­ent ad­vice and tips on things that they might not have thought about.”

She added that busi­ness lead­ers can also learn from the younger gen­er­a­tion and the stu­dents can pro­vide them with new ideas and dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.

“I had some­one leave this evening say­ing this is an­other great event,” she men­tioned. “Last year after this event they ac­tu­ally hired a stu­dent from the col­lege who has turned out to be a re­ally great em­ployee at one of the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries here in Swift Cur­rent. So that’s a suc­cess story where we can con­nect peo­ple and help them de­velop, whether it be the busi­ness peo­ple or the stu­dents.”

Three stu­dents and three busi­ness peo­ple were seated at each ta­ble for the four-course meal. The stu­dents changed ta­bles after each course to give them an op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with as many busi­ness lead­ers as pos­si­ble.

Mar­garet Schafer, the busi­ness pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor at Great Plains Col­lege, at­tended the ban­quet for the first time.

“It’s quite ex­cit­ing,” she said. “I think just lis­ten­ing to what’s go­ing on around me there’s a lot of chat­ter. So it’s good for the stu­dents.”

She felt the dis­cus­sions around the ta­bles might help stu­dents to de­fine their ca­reer paths. They do not only have an op­por­tu­nity to speak to some­one in the busi­ness world, but they can speak specif­i­cally to some­one about dif­fer­ent busi­ness roles, for ex­am­ple what an ac­coun­tant does or some­body in hu­man re­sources.

“Right now these stu­dents are in the first year busi­ness cer­tifi­cate and so a lot of them have an idea of a ca­reer path, and oth­ers are just kind of ex­plor­ing their ca­reer path,” she said. “So hope­fully this will give them an idea where they might like to go.”

There is an added ben­e­fit for the in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at the col­lege who at­tended the ban­quet.

“It gives them an in­tro­duc­tion to what busi­ness is like in Canada and specif­i­cally in this com­mu­nity,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to SCCHS busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion teacher Cindy Lowe the dis­cus­sions around the ta­bles are use­ful for stu­dents to learn in­ter­view skills.

“I want to put them in un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tions where they have to net­work and they have to think on their feet and they have to an­swer ques­tions about them­selves,” she said. “Those in­ter­view skills are price­less for get­ting jobs, but also I’m a big be­liever in de­vel­op­ing path­ways to their fu­ture. … They don’t have to go down a cer­tain pre­scribed path. They might get an idea tonight and that build some kind of fu­ture thoughts for them and where they want to go in their ca­reers.”

She ap­pre­ci­ated the com­mit­ment of the busi­ness lead­ers who at­tended the ban­quet and who helped to men­tor stu­dents through this in­ter­ac­tion.

“We’re de­vel­op­ing lead­ers in our school right now, stu­dent lead­ers, but also fu­ture busi­ness lead­ers,” she said. “That men­tor­ship that busi­ness peo­ple are giv­ing is some­thing we can hardly du­pli­cate in the high school in a class­room, and this ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing is so im­por­tant for the kids to learn hands-on.”

Regina mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Jeph Maystruck was the key­note speaker at the ban­quet. He felt the move­ment of stu­dents be­tween ta­bles was an ex­cel­lent net­work­ing idea that he has never seen be­fore and it was a great op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to speak di­rectly with busi­ness peo­ple.

“For any stu­dent at this point I think it's good to un­der­stand what

SCCHS Busi­ness Club stu­dents pose for a group photo after the 2nd an­nual Busi­ness Con­nect ban­quet, Nov. 19.

Pho­tos by Matthew Lieben­berg

Above and be­low: Stu­dents net­work with Swift Cur­rent’s busi­ness peo­ple at the 2nd an­nual Busi­ness Con­nect ban­quet, Nov. 19.

Brock Friesen, Swift Cur­rent & Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce past board chair, de­liv­ered the clos­ing re­marks at the 2nd an­nual Busi­ness Con­nect ban­quet, Nov. 19.

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