Italian fashion students learn what it means to be a Canadian

Jul 31, 2012

Visiting Italian fashion students from the Università Bocconi were given a guided tour of iconic Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew

Business students from Italy spent July in Vancouver as part of a unique collaboration between SFU’s Beedie School of Business and the Università Bocconi – and were given a crash course in Canadian culture as part of their visit.

The visiting students from Bocconi, located in the fashion capital of Italy, Milan, and regarded as Italy’s top business and economics school, were paired with SFU students from the “Business 492: Management of Fashion Companies,” class as they learned about the global fashion industry.

To mark Canada Day the visiting students attended a seminar on Canadian culture, chaired by Sam Thiara, Associate Director, Undergraduate Alumni Engagement at the Beedie School of Business. A trio of guest speakers from varied backgrounds were on hand to share with the students what being Canadian means to them.

The panel of speakers comprised of Riaz Meghji, Breakfast Television co-host, CityTV, Terry McEvoy, Canadian Images Pogrammer, Vancouver International Film Festival, and Beverley O’Neil, owner of O’Neil Marketing and Consulting & Numa Communications Ltd. and citizen of the Ktunaxa Nation.

The speakers shared with the students insights and experiences unique to their own lives, offering a diverse perspective from a First Nations view as the original Canadian, to someone with an immigrant background, and finally on what it means to live in a dual language and cultural society. The session also explored how Canadian culture has developed through the media and arts and outlined problems faced by Canada in retaining its identity.

The Bocconi students spent the rest of their time in Canada learning about the BC fashion industry and gaining an understanding of the strategic, organizational and managerial features of fashion companies, both in the luxury space and in the mass market. They also visited leading fashion design companies, Vancouver’s own Lululemon Athletica and Dutil denim, as well as iconic Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew.

“We are very lucky to have had such a diverse range of excellent speakers share with the visiting Bocconi students what being Canadian means to them,” says Rebecca Rytir, International Coordinator, Beedie School of Business. “The support we have received from the Vancouver fashion industry and the widespread interest from students has been really exciting. We are grateful to Bocconi for bringing this amazing course to SFU and are currently exploring opportunities for joint research and executive education programs tailored towards the creative industries with the Università Bocconi.”

This year marks the seventh year SFU has hosted the Bocconi Campus Abroad program, co-offering courses in Marketing, Human Resource Management, Finance, and, for the past two years, Management of Fashion Companies. The program offers both the Bocconi and SFU students the unique opportunity to compare practices in Italy and Canada.  The Beedie School of Business and Università Bocconi also have a long-standing student exchange program.

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