Ivey student earns way to world leaders forum

This isn’t Connor Lyons’ first step onto the international stage. But it’s by far his biggest.

This week, the Richard Ivey School of Business student is spending eight days with world leaders and youth ambassadors from 21 economies at the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii. Lyons is one of five Canadian students representing Canada.

Organized by Global Vision, a national non-profit organization founded by Londoner Terry Clifford, youth ambassadors from Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Nunavut and Calgary will join Lyons. He will lead the team in advancing the ‘Canadian brand’ by articulating the strengths of doing business in Canada, while building connections to allow Canadian companies to expand their international reach.

“This is the big time,” admits Lyons, noting in attendance will be world leaders such as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and presidents Hu Jintao (China), Dmitry Medvedev (Russia) and Barack Obama (United States).

“A lot of this is going to be a learning experience and getting a better understanding of Canada’s place in the global economy, while learning how we are viewed or how the scene needs to be altered to position ourselves better,” he adds. “It is a crash course in world economics. It’s going to be pretty cool to hear first-hand from really influential policy makers and business leaders, and how they view Canada.”

This isn’t this first time Lyons has represented Canada on the world stage. This past summer, also through Global Vision, he was an ambassador on the Junior Team Canada Trade Mission to Malaysia and Indonesia. But with this latest trip taking place on a much larger stage, Lyons says it’s a mix of nerves and excitement as he prepares for his one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday.

“It will be interesting to have access to him and to see what he’s thinking on issues such as the global economy,” Lyons says.

Earlier this week, Lyons met with fellow youth delegates to get the sense of how Canada is being perceived. “We’re all together to go through a number of programs – cultural, economic, development – and I’ll be branding Canada and demonstrating what we have to offer to these economies,” Lyons says.

In a sense acting as a liaison for Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, he has been given a target of approximately 50 people he needs to query about their interest in investing in Canada. “I may get five minutes with some of them if I’m lucky,” he says. “I need to find out how it’s going with their investments in Canada, or, if not, what are the roadblocks from initiating that investment.”