By Liana Sterling (INT ‘20)
On March 4th, my International Business and Macroeconomics class had a visitor from a Montreal company called Solotech. Solotech is a company that provides production equipment such as lighting and sound tools to big name companies and shows. They’ve done lighting and sound for names like Britney Spears, P!nk, and Cirque Du Soleil!
Our visitor was named Pierre Vende, one of the main salesmen dealing with the communication with the Central/South American region. His job is to create connections and spread the word of the company throughout those Latin-American nations. He’s worked deals with Cuba, Venezuela, and more. Pierre speaks fluently in French, Spanish and English, giving him the ability to travel and work closely with his clients in both Central/South America and Montreal.
We started off the talk by discussing Pierre’s past of living in France and taking study opportunities all over the world throughout his college years, and how that influenced his desire to work internationally. We talked in depth about some of his most challenging cases and how he sometimes has to plan ahead and adapt to different cultural norms. This came with part of the lesson of culture within business. Along with that, he threw at us some of his favorite advice he’s gathered throughout his time working in international business
Pierre explained to us one of his biggest projects which was providing services to the government of Cuba. He described to us the insane amount of negotiation that it took to finalize the deal. The project revolved around the Cuban Government wanting to expand their news networks in an effort to make the networks more accessible to people and businesses all over the nation. He described one of the biggest challenges as gaining trust from the nation, as Canada is in extremely close proximity with the United States. We discussed how sometimes business and politics work hand-in-hand sometimes making it difficult to work through, but as long as you keep up to date with world news, you should know the basics of what to say and what not to say. We talked about the Latin-American deals being hard due to the determination within the culture. It is a part of the world where negotiation will be your best friend.
By the end of the night, we had talked about Pierre’s biggest moments and some of his most difficult ones in international sales. He told us that sometimes one must sacrifice one thing in order to secure or achieve your main goal, implying that the advice works in terms of business but also in terms of life. We talked about patience and resilience within business, and listening to your gut. The lesson taught me to never back down because others are telling me to, but to look around and assess your opportunities. Pierre’s presentation not only gave the class insight on what it’s like working internationally, but also what it’s like in the workforce in general. The lesson became about communication and being one step ahead of a client’s needs. In the end, I learned that my opportunities are limitless, and to keep working towards my dreams, as they could be right around the corner.