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Telfer EMBA students help Ottawa clean-tech firm land Vietnamese industrial client


After spending a decade climbing the corporate ladder in Ottawa’s tech sector, Jordan Hutt arrived at a new business challenge last year: Helping a local clean-tech firm sell its products half a world away.

While enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, the IT veteran was tasked with an international consulting project that armed him with a more sophisticated skillset while also unlocking new career opportunities.

Working closely with his colleagues in the program and a real-world client in Ottawa, he helped the local firm secure a large infrastructure deal with a customer in Vietnam, exposing Hutt to new global market opportunities and growth strategies that he’s carried with him into his career.

“I gained first-hand experience in international finance, joint ventures, marketing – the whole nine yards,” says Hutt, who launched a new career at Sustainable Development Technology Canada following the completion of his EMBA. “I wouldn’t have had that kind of exposure working in a software company, so that alone was invaluable to me.”

Tackling global markets

As part of their consulting project, Executive MBA students pair up with a local business to help the company expand internationally, typically travelling overseas to take part in face-to-face meetings and working to secure a deal for their client.

The flagship two-year degree program offers professionals and rising executives the opportunity to hone their skills in a variety of areas including leadership, communication and team management.

Hutt’s cohort was ready to fly to Vietnam with their clean-tech client when COVID-19 brought international travel to a pause.

Group photo

Hutt says his team pivoted quickly, switching to virtual meetings without missing a beat.

“Doing meetings online and communicating virtually forced us to refine our focus and be really strategic in our approach to these business calls,” he says. “That’s something that has stuck with me.”

Using resources from the university library and the expertise from local and international government organizations, the EMBA cohort established comprehensive reports, outlining the reasons for choosing the Vietnamese market and fine-tuning the group’s business pitch to potential partners.

Hutt and his team were able to secure for their client a large infrastructure deal for water purification systems with a Vietnamese industrial company – a tangible result that led the Ottawa-based company to return for a second year to work with the Telfer Executive MBA program.

“Most of these clients don’t have the robust process that the teams are using to put these reports together,” says Dana Hyde, a professor with the Telfer Executive MBA program. “Not only are our students learning these valuable hands-on business skills, but their clients are walking away with a proven framework for international expansion.”

Building career confidence

Providing students with global experiential learning opportunities has been a priority for the program’s faculty since Telfer launched its EMBA program in 1992.

Exposing participants to new cultures, business practices and markets gives them a well-rounded experience as well as skills that are critical to working in an increasingly globalized world, says Hyde.

“EMBA students learn how to analyze information and make evidence-based decisions about international business, which they take back with them to their own companies,” she says. “But they also learn that navigating other cultures takes as much analysis as the project itself, which is an important piece of the puzzle.”

The school’s approach to learning goes beyond “opening a textbook and flipping through the pages” and will leave you more confident in yourself and your career, Hutt adds.

“There are a lot of programs out there,” he says. “Telfer’s unique approach is about applying what you learn in real time, and that is where the real value lies.”