For St. George’s University’s Renée La Touche, participating in the 2016 X-Culture Symposium last month could not have gone any better. The Grenadian-born, third-year International Business student in the School of Arts and Sciences not only won a spot in the competitive selection process from a pool of over 4,000 candidates but also won the award for Best Elevator Pitch at this year’s competition. Judged by nine business professionals individually, Ms. La Touche had to present a 60-second sales pitch as to why she should be hired using on-the-spot feedback to improve her pitch each time she met with a new judge, all without the use of cue cards or additional notes.
“It was an honor to get advice from actual entrepreneurs and people who are in the industry. These were international business owners who spoke about what is expected of us outside of the classroom,” said Ms. La Touche. “This experience really taught me how to be adaptable in a fast-paced, high-pressure situation. I also learned valuable networking skills.”
After a second round of grueling competition, Ms La Touche was chosen as one out of 50 students to attend the X-Culture Symposium aboard a cruise ship. She was placed on a five-person international team that included students from Germany, Peru, Canada, and the US. Ms. La Touche and her teammates collaborated virtually for 4-6 weeks prior to the conference with some additional time allotted on the cruise ship to finish up their report working face-to-face. On the last day of the conference, all teams presented their findings and recommendations to SYKES executives and X-Culture professors, with awards presented to the winners.
“The best part of this experience for me was getting to interact with people from many different cultures,” stated Ms. La Touche. “There were students there from 29 different countries, and I learned about their culture and I got to share my own.”
The X-Culture Symposium is co-organized with the Academy of International Business USA Southeast Division and sponsored by SYKES, one of the world’s largest multinational companies specializing in business process outsourcing services and IT solutions. Held twice a year, the four-day conference includes an International Business Competition, meetings with entrepreneurs, academics, and community leaders, as well as access to all Academy of International Business Southeast conference events, including scholarly presentations, panel sessions, professional development workshops, and networking and social events.
The conference took place on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Brilliance of the Seas, which departed Tampa, Florida, and traveled to and from Cozumel, Mexico. Ms. La Touche professed to her mentor, SGU professor Dr. Reccia Charles, that she would “make every minute of the experience count.”
“This event was phenomenal,” Ms. La Touche said. “It not only taught me how to work well with others but I also got to listen to some of the world’s leading international business scholars, who spoke to us about what we had learned in the classroom and now got to apply in real-life scenarios.”
Ms. La Touche is expected to complete her undergraduate degree next December, and plans to attend graduate school in Washington, DC, to pursue a master’s degree in international governance and politics. In the future, she hopes to work for the Organization of American States or the United Nations, to become a politician, and hopefully the first-ever female Prime Minister of Grenada. Ms. La Touche was also offered a coaching position at the next X-Culture Symposium, which will be held in Washington, DC.