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U of M alumnus Cody Hayden

Alumni POV: The well-travelled student

April 15, 2019 — 

As I reflect upon my undergraduate studies at the Asper School of Business, I am reminded of my initial objective when entering the program: complete a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree. As I understood it, this degree would provide the foundational skills and business acumen to enter the competitive workforce, and I knew early on I wanted a unique student experience.

Academic courses taught us fundamental theories and their application, but with an ever-changing business environment and the increased interconnectedness of the global economy, being agile and adaptable in different environments is key. I thought about the big picture and how I could experience this first-hand.

Travelling abroad: A bridge to new learning

When I was introduced to the Asper Exchange Program at the Asper School of Business I thought this could be the opportunity I needed. I enjoy travelling and have always been drawn to the thought of living abroad. Upon learning about the exchange program, I immediately focused on incorporating it into my studies and was able to complete two exchanges: Leeds University Business School in the United Kingdom and WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallender, Germany. Both universities provided experiences that were challenging and inspiring, and in addition to my numerous personal accomplishments I was able to expand on my business and economics studies.

Broadening horizons, personally and academically

These exchange opportunities allowed me to achieve three core objectives: a willingness to take risks by moving abroad, an expanded learning horizon by being placed in a challenging academic environment, and stretching my personal comfort zone. International learning propelled my understanding and acceptance of diverse cultural perspectives and expanded my awareness of alternative approaches to learning. It also contributed to my own personal development and heightened confidence that extends into the workplace. Finally, my international exchange experiences allowed me to break out of my comfort zone and learn more about who I am as an individual. I gained independence through living and travelling alone, which I believe to be highly valuable in early adulthood.

In addition to the academic and professional benefits of the program, a highlight of my experience continues to be the people I met, places traveled, and the friendships formed that will forever be cherished. Whether studying in Europe or Asia, within a couple of hours you can seemingly arrive in a vastly different culture, which is an exciting prospect. While studying in Europe I was able to travel to nine countries, which is in addition to the many day trips spent exploring local towns and villages. Additionally, I was involved in various student groups to expand on my personal and professional interests – to this day I remain connected and currently represent Leeds University Business School as their alumni group coordinator for Canada.

Three years’ post-graduation, it is clear that I accomplished far more in my undergraduate studies than my initial objective. The decision to move abroad to gain experience in an international setting was fundamental in my undergraduate degree. It was the best decision I made, and is an opportunity I would recommend each student to consider. Having the chance to live abroad opens your eyes to new languages, cultures and ways of living that impacts the way you view the world. It truly is a life-changing experience and I believe the benefits of the program will follow throughout one’s career and life.

Cody Hayden [BComm(Hons)/16] is an Associate with the National Client Group of RBC Royal Bank, supporting a team of senior relationship managers dedicated to delivering a complete range of complex financial solutions to mid-market Canadian-headquartered companies and subsidiaries of foreign multinationals in Canada. Since his student days in Europe, he continues to be an avid traveler having visited 19 countries with planned trips to Iceland and the United Kingdom.

You can make life-changing international exchange opportunities – like the ones Cody participated in – available to more students at the Asper School of Business through a gift to the Hartley T. Richardson Student Support Fund. Learn more about the fund and how you can make a contribution.

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