Guest Blog Post: Riipen Internal Australian Expansion Project with Senior SFU Students

July 13, 2018

July 12, 2018 -- Hannah Deplaedt, SFU Beedie Business Graduate -- During the summer of 2017, my fourth year at Simon Fraser University, I was enrolled in Cross-Cultural Management, a course that helps students understand the differences involved when engaging in business activities in different countries. With the goal of providing students with real-life experiences, our professor decided to partner with Riipen. Through this partnership the three student groups in our class were matched with Vancouver-based businesses and were tasked with applying course concepts with the goal of helping businesses take steps towards international expansion. Riipen was one of the participating companies and when we were provided with the company backgrounds and our project guidelines, I was immediately drawn to Riipen. As a student majoring in Human Resource Management, interested in pursuing a career in academia, I am a huge advocate for work experience and believe it’s the unique real-life experiences that set students apart. As such, I was intrigued by Riipen’s goals and the opportunities they were providing students, especially those that are not able to participate in a co-op or internship -- the truth is that not all business students exit university with applicable job experience. Riipen is able to help solve this as they pair student groups with companies as they work to solve real business challenges, while simultaneously getting the opportunity to connect with business professionals and receive mentorship.

For this particular project, my group was connected with Emilie Holub, working as Academic Relationship Manager in Riipen’s Vancouver office at the time. After learning more about Riipen, a company with the mission to bridge the gap between school and work through integrated learning projects, we were instructed to provide recommendations on success factors for an upcoming expansion. With plans to grow into the Australian market, Riipen, and more specifically Emilie, was looking for information that would aid in their success. After a number of video meetings, as well as hands-on in-person sessions with Emilie, my group members and I went to work researching and learning as much as we could about this new marketplace. We ended the semester with an actionable report and oral presentation to a number of Riipen employees. Following this, we were provided direct feedback from Emilie and ultimately received industry feedback that was sent back to our professor through the Riipen platform. As a student that stood out during my interactions with Emilie, I was lucky enough to be placed in Riipen’s talent pool which allowed them to monitor my progress through my degree and would log any other projects that I participated in. I believe this project gave me a great sense of what presenting in a work setting is all about and allowed me to get a glimpse of what it would be like to work at Riipen, an opportunity I would not have had without SFU’s partnership with Riipen. I cherish the connection I made with Emilie and the experience I received during my final year. Being able to showcase my skills and professionalism in a realistic, yet relatively low-stake environment, was very valuable to my skill development.

Due to my great connection with Emilie during the semester, I was able to stay in touch which is something I would highly recommend to other students that are given the opportunity to do a project through Riipen’s platform. Who would have known that what started off as the exchange of a few emails would end with a meeting on the other side of the world. Fast forward four months -- I had started planning for graduation from SFU, which involved a celebratory trip to Australia. As a student who understood the value of global connections through my concentration in International Business, I reconnected with Emilie to inform her of my upcoming travels and expressed interest in meeting up with her while I was in Sydney. As my days at SFU came to an end and I headed out on my trip, Emilie and I set a date and place for a coffee meet in Sydney mid-May. It was surreal meeting up with her again on the other side of the world and it was amazing to learn about how the expansion was going after my group had the opportunity to provide our insights on the success factors related to this move.