CNA student amazed by Qatar experience

"CNA-Q is an amazing accomplishment that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can take pride in."

4/5/2009 3:05:28 PM

College of the North Atlantic student Andrew Hibbitts was one of many CNA students who got to experience the Middle East during first annual International Business Case Competition held at the college’s campus in Doha, Qatar in March.

College of the North Atlantic student Andrew Hibbitts can summarize his trip to Qatar in one sentence... in fact, he says, “all I need is one word – wow!”

Hibbitts is currently working towards his Human Resource Management diploma through the college’s Distributed Learning Service (DLS) virtual campus. He already holds a diploma in Business Administration – Marketing obtained at the college’s Bay St. George campus.

He and seven of his CNA peers spent a week at the college’s Middle East campus in Doha, Qatar for the first annual International Business Case Competition from March 9-15. They formed two team entries – one through the virtual campus and the other representing the Grand Falls-Windsor campus.

Leading up to the competition, the students and their CNA coaches were able to take in the sights, sounds and flavours of the desert experience firsthand. “I was blown away!” exclaimed Hibbitts, from his current home in Ontario. “The week in Qatar was jam-packed with activities and socials. I have to say, my favourite part was dune bashing but riding a camel was a close second. We also went to the souqs (markets) and a few shopping centres (such as the Villagio Mall). I am at a loss for words... it was all so amazing!”

While the primary focus of the trip was to take part in the business case competition, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar (CNAQ) made sure all the participants were able to experience a vastly different culture from what they have in Canada. Hibbitts took full advantage of his surroundings and decided that even after leaving Doha he would continue with the learning experience on his own time.

“The most interesting cultural difference to learn about was the Islamic religion,” states Hibbitts. “What a fascinating religion. I brought home a few books that I can’t wait to read.”

The cultural diversity didn’t end there. Rubbing shoulders with students from around the Gulf Corporation Council region provided participants with an opportunity to make lasting friendships and recognize that a student is a student, wherever you go.

“It was wonderful to network with so many diverse groups of people. The students I met from the Middle East were all so friendly.”
Hibbitts stressed that the competition tested more than their business skills, it also tested their ability to function under pressure and tight deadlines, as well as the ability to work in diverse groups. Having taken part in other business case competitions, he said this was the first time his competencies were pushed to the limit.

“It tested my public speaking and analytical skills in a way they hadn’t been tested before,” he said. “This in itself was an interesting learning experience.”

Having represented the college at another international competition (the 2007 Students In Free Enterprise World Competition in New York City), Hibbitts admits there were still some moments leading up to the competition, and throughout his stay, that had him tired, excited and nervous... but that it was worth every moment.

The international competition proved to be very challenging. The 15 teams entered in the competition were presented with three separate case studies and given two-anda- half hours of preparation time before each case was to be presented to the judges. He says it felt like they were constantly “on the go!”

His team finished 10th out of the 15 entries, with the Grand Falls-Windsor team finishing in 7th spot.

After having time to reflect and recover from a mild case of jet lag, Hibbitts says being offered an opportunity like this was the result of the hard work put forward by the employees of CNA and its campus in Doha.

“CNA-Q is an amazing accomplishment that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can take pride in,” he said.

Our very own provincial college system has expanded their brand and image into a highlydeveloped area on the other side of the world. The students and alumni of the college have something to be very proud of.

“I am so thankful and appreciative of the opportunities given to me by College of the North Atlantic.”