Bissett School of Business

Mount Royal student makes a big impression at global summit

Michael Batas presenting Justin Trudeau with a book.

Global Vision Junior Team Canada ambassador Michael Batas speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2018 Leaders and CEO Summit.

Michael Batas, a first year student at Mount Royal University, quite literally discovered the world on Facebook. It was there that he learned about Global Vision and a trade mission to China and Hong Kong. The discovery would open doors that would see Batas travel the world representing Canadian youth.

Global Vision describes itself as a not-for-profit organization that provides young Canadians with experiences and education to create brighter futures for themselves, their communities, the country and the communities around the world. This has been true in spades for Batas.

His journey with Global Vision began in the summer of 2018, when he was chosen to be on Global Vision’s Junior Team Canada (made up of 20 students nationwide) to go on a trade mission to China and Hong Kong. Batas was supported by Enbridge, Bombardier Aerospace and Tourism Calgary. He describes the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime as he met with companies, incubators, members of government, trade commissioners and the consulate.

In the fall of 2018, Batas enrolled in courses at Mount Royal. Asked why he chose Mount Royal for his post-secondary education, Batas said, “I live in the southwest so accessibility was a great feature, but more than that Mount Royal is a small university with the quality of a big university.”

The once-in-a-lifetime trip to Asia made him an ideal candidate for the next international opportunity. Batas was selected to be on the Junior Team Canada that would be part of the Voices of the Future program at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2018 Leaders and CEO Summit in Papua New Guinea in mid-November. Many heads of government attend the Summit.

To be part of the trip, Batas needed to fundraise $6,000 for his expenses. True to his belief that Mount Royal offers a supportive learning environment, the Bissett School of Business provided $2,000 in funding. At the Summit, Batas represented Canada and spoke to the importance of investing in international coalitions and the rise of artificial intelligence. His remarks garnered a standing ovation.

Asked about how Canada is perceived by the international community, Batas said, “They think we are a country with strong principles of democracy, but because we are not a big player we’re often caught in the middle.”

From the tremendous experience, Batas came away with his own observations.

“My big takeaway is that while Singapore will have flying taxis within the decade, half of Papua New Guinea has no cell service or fresh water,” Batas said. “While it’s important to move ahead, we must also close the gap among the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. How can we invest across border where the gaps are so big? How can we put aside egos and look more collectively?”

The first few months of 2019 provided another set of fascinating learning experiences.

As a member of Student Energy’s Mount Royal University Chapter, Batas was part of team that organized the SevenGen Indigenous Student Energy Summit in January. Two hundred Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada explored how to unite communities, build relationships and break social barriers in the energy conversation.

One month later, Batas again represented Canada as a Junior Team Canada Ambassador on a trade and development mission to the Lima province of Peru. The team represented Canadian businesses and institutions interested in opportunities in this area.

Then in March, Batas participated in the Arctic Youth Ambassador Caucus in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The goal was for youth from southern and northern Canada to discuss issues facing isolated Canadian communities and efforts in reconciliation.

“I’ve been travelling internationally to break down barriers,” said Batas. “On this trip I got to see more of Canada’s own backyard and how much stigma there still is between the north and south. There are huge opportunities to enrich domestic integration.”

Looking back, Batas said there is no way he could have had the kinds of experiences he did over the past year without Mount Royal’s inclusive culture. “There’s strong support in and out of the classroom for students to reach their potential. The Bissett School of Business was willing to invest in me personally and then invite me back to share what I learned.’

While studying in the class is important Batas explained that it is hard to get a sense of the disparity in the world until you actually see it. “Sometimes I feel like the western world is in a kind of smoke screen,” said Batas. “We’re protected from the big issues in the rest of the world.”

Looking forward, Batas is in decision-making mode, choosing to go on a path toward policy studies or business and administration.