How BCIT Business + Media students get industry-ready—and innovative

Diverse backgrounds enhance creative management solutions

Hard work, but also fun: Global Trade and Transportation Management students learn to analyze international markets, import, export and transport goods, and much more.

Arriving in Vancouver as a grade 12 exchange student, Gabriela Gallo had a clear goal: learn English, then move back to Brazil. But Gallo didn’t count on falling in love with Canada. Or, via BCIT’s Global Trade and Transportation Management (GTTM) program, on discovering dynamic job prospects she simply wouldn’t find in Brazil.

Now a consultant with the Vancouver source-to-pay firm OPTIS Consulting, and sending money home to build a house for her mom, Gallo recalls how staying in Canada after grade 12 was both exhilarating and intimidating. She was on her own in a still-new country, with no industry connections. Granted, for this top student, various post-secondary options did beckon. But only one compelled.

As Gallo relates, the GTTM (formerly International Business Management) program “had it all: a 100% graduate employment rate; 20 students to a class, labs to practice what you are learning; a team-building environment.” And, invaluably, “an intense focus on hands-on Business Consulting Projects that reflect real industry requirements.” Gallo and her team worked with World Trade Centre Vancouver on ways to help small- to medium-sized businesses grow their imports and exports. The team’s solution: put the companies in contact. “We’d find two companies that both shipped to Europe, or were both in the wine business. We said, ‘Why not talk to each other, learn from and build with each other?’”

In all, hard work—but also fun, recalls Gallo. “BCIT allowed me to gain working experience and build my confidence. I had all the tools, so that when I applied for work I knew I could do the job.” Gallo secured her OPTIS job offer immediately, one of four offers she received, thanks to another BCIT hallmark: industry networking events where students showcase their skills and accomplishments.

The GTTM program welcomes students who are eager to learn but need guidance, says Program Head Jackie Li. “Like Gabby, they may be new to the country, new to industry. We help them bridge cultural gaps. For example, in Brazil when they say, ‘Meet you at 9 a.m.,’ showing up at 9:30 or 10 is fairly acceptable. In Canada, the meeting hosts would view that as rude. We familiarize students with how industry works and what stakeholders expect. From being outsiders, students become insiders.”

Through the two-year diploma program, students attain the skills to analyze international markets; market products internationally; import, export and transport goods; manage an international team; and more. When students graduate, Li stresses, they are job-ready.

“We offer a vigorous curriculum design with an emphasis on practical skill-set development. We provide a lot of opportunities to develop teamwork, presentation and leadership–all fundamental skills required to work in the business sector. Through industry-interactive activities like the projects Gabby describes, we send teams of students to resolve real-life industry problems. And, as industry experts, we help guide students toward the career that will best fit them.”

Diversity enhances creativity

But the GTTM program doesn’t just benefit students. The diversity that international students bring enriches the program—not to mention industry. Li cites University of Illinois Professor Cedric Herring, who found that culturally diverse teams provide more creative solutions than culturally homogenous ones do. Diversity, writes Herring, “create[s] an inclusive culture that values and uses the talents of all would-be members.”

Li concurs. “If you take the time and training to help someone adapt to other cultures and accept ideas that are perhaps contradictory to their own, they become able to work with differences, to use the diversity for innovative options.”

Grad Sierra Zhang, now a KPMG consultant in trade and customs practice, recalls being “comfortable” in her pre-BCIT sales/marketing job in Tokyo. But comfortable wasn’t enough. “I wanted to develop my international business skills. Making changes in life is scary, and staying with the status quo would have been the safe option. However, I needed to explore new environments.”

Why apply to BCIT? “The key word is practical,” Zhang says. “The program connects students with professionals in industry. You have opportunities to create and showcase your work.”

Unlike other, theory-based schools she checked out, Zhang appreciates that BCIT has student teams tackle real-life industry projects. “In working with people from different backgrounds, I learned from our differences. I grew as a professional—and as a person.”

Find out more about GTTM at https://www.bcit.ca/programs/global-trade-and-transportation-management-diploma-full-time-7465dipma/. To contact Program Head Jackie Li: jli257@bcit.ca