The Indo Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC) and the Consulate General of Canada hosted a unique, one-of-a kind evening to discuss “Doing business with Canadians” on 30 August. The invite promised that it would be no run of the mill event. “We will not talk about investment, we will not talk about immigration, we will not talk about taxation, we will talk about what really matters, the people,” it stated. Held at Arsha Consulting’s new office, the evening stayed true to this promise.

What was pleasantly coincidental was that the four speakers of the day, Renato Cudicio, CEO of Arsha Consulting and Chairperson of ICBC, Bangalore; Stanely Gomes, Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner, South India; Kamal Kumar, Business Development South Asia for L-3 WESCAM and Bhargavi Venugopal, Senior International Trade Consultant, Arsha Consulting, all touched upon common points in their discourses. This, without having discussed their speeches before!  But their words rung true and summarised Canadian work ethics. They each spoke about their experiences and learnings gathered from working with Canadians. They reiterated that the Canadian work culture included the qualities of efficiency, gender equality, flat hierarchy, punctuality and a lack of ostentation. It is an inclusive culture that welcomes and enables diversity to thrive. The country supports and coexists with two different and distinct cultures in its regions – English speaking Canada and the French dominant Quebec region, providing both advantages and challenges in business.

“For most of us from India, we have a few typical images of Canada – the cold and the snow, maple syrup and of course the Indian connection,” said Bhargavi Venugopal. To these images she added the cuddly image of the beaver, Canada’s national animal which she said best embodied its spirit and culture. The beaver was made an official symbol of the sovereignty of Canada in 1975.

This Canadian symbol isn’t a grand and aggressive animal, instead it’s a humble and hardworking bucktoothed mammal! The beaver makes the best of the resources available to it to build a strong and remarkable fortress. What is also impressive pointed out Venugopal is the animal’s motivation in its project, it does it to protect its family from the rising waters as well prepare for the harsh winters. In the same way, Canadians make the best of the resources available to them. They are motivated by a spirit of camaraderie and commitment to their families and communities.

The speakers also stressed that for those doing business in Canada it’s important to appreciate its distinctness. Assuming Canada to be just like America or Europe is a mistake best avoided. As a market the expectations and needs in Canada are unique and understanding this is an advantage when doing business.

Renato Cudicio said that planning was an important aspect of the Canadian life. To survive the harsh winter, historically Canadians had to stock up and prepare well in advance. It is a skill that helped them not only survive the winters but also develop strong and trustworthy commitments that would last a cold season. So Canadians like to build dependable relationships that stand the test of time, an expectation that is true in business as in life.

The discussions were a learning experience for those looking to do business in Canada and learn its culture.  Needless to say, it blended perfectly with cocktails that followed to make for a great evening.

Elizabeth Raj | Blogger - Arsha Consulting

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