As a Trade Advisor within the Exporter Outreach Group (EOG), I have the privilege of speaking to Canadian companies on a daily basis as they navigate through the world of exporting. It’s a fantastic role as we get to learn about all kinds of Canadian businesses – and each one has an amazing story behind it! In just one day, I could be chatting with an east coast lobster fisherman, an Ontario manufacturer and a Vancouver-based IT company. Every day is different.

6:45 a.m. - CBC radio 2

A month ago, 6:45 a.m. would be time to mash the snooze button on my alarm. But with a shiny new newborn, Ethan, the snoozing is less frequent. First move of the morning is caffeine: assembling coffee for me and tea for my wife, who is surviving the frequent night feedings. Then “E” and I enjoy our lounge time: listen to Raina on CBC Radio2, check my phone for upcoming meetings and finishing the coffee.

8:15 a.m. - The journey in

During Ottawa’s non-snow days, my commute is a gorgeous scenic bike ride along the river from the west end, using segregated bike lanes, before turning under the Export Development Canada (EDC) building to the bike cage. In the non-bike friendly weather on this day, my walk is like a survival hike through the Arctic Circle. The wind makes my eyes water and then my tears freeze to my face.

8:45 a.m. - Dispatch

The EOG team has a general inbox where questions from Canadian businesses come in, and we dispatch these inquiries across the team. Today is my day to dispatch the leads. This means that I assign all the inquiries we have received and divvy them up among the team of Trade Advisors. Some examples of the types of questions we receive are:

  • What is the process to export to India?
  • What do I need to know about duties or tariffs to sell products to the U.S.?
  • How do I insure an export contract for a shipment I’m sending to Australia?

10:30 a.m. - Incoming

Answering the phone is really a throughout-the-day activity, not just 10:30 a.m. Most phone numbers out in cyberspace that are associated with EDC come through our team and ring to all of our desks.

Strangely, my first call every morning this week has been a fax machine. Nothing wakes you up like the robotic screech of a fax machine in your headset.

We also handle the chat function of our website. Companies surfing the EDC site can open a dialogue box to message us with questions. Ideally these conversations are moved to email or phone to better understand the exporters’ needs and how we can help them.

1:00 p.m. - Gym

Lunch time! I take my lunch a little late to avoid the rush down in the gym. For me, this is the best way to break up the day and get away from my desk. Plus we have Joe Rios as our leader, who is a marathoner and fitness instructor, so there’s no shortage of motivation to get away from our computer for a run or workout during the day.

2:00 p.m. - Lead generation

Back at my desk, thanks to the morning set up, I have a packed calendar of calls throughout the afternoon. This is the best part of the job: connecting with Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs. With each call, I’ll learn about the business, what they do, where they are thinking of exporting or investing, and how we can help.

One of my favourite prospects today is a goat farmer in Alberta. He saw an opportunity to prepare halal meat for a new immigrant population in a neighbouring community. While meeting with his buyers, the farmer came to realize his customers also wanted to prepare their own meat, but home slaughter is not permitted in Alberta. So he would rent out space on his farm for families to slaughter and prepare goat meat.

This caught the attention of the provincial government, who invited him to help redesign the dated legislation around home slaughtering. His clients, also appreciative of his efforts, have connected his farm with buyers in their home countries. The farmer is now also looking at opportunities in exporting lentils. An example of a micro exporter with an amazing story, we were able to help him through our “Export Help” program.

3:30 p.m. - Team meeting

The EOG meets twice a week. On Mondays we draft out our plan of attack for the week and on Thursday we reconnect to update the team and adjust our efforts where necessary. This is also a good space for us to share interesting stories and unique company scenarios so we can learn from one another. We also take a moment to recognize exceptional work. For example, the weekly John StocktonAward, named after the greatest NBA playmaker of the 90s, goes to whichever team member has set up their teammate for success. The team will also review targets and look at how we are trending. The team works well together, highlighting what is working helps us drive results – as was evidenced by a very successful 2017. Efforts are under way to keep that momentum rolling in 2018.

4:30 p.m. - Lead gen take 2

Even though my afternoon coffee is basically cold grit at this point, I can usually connect with a couple more companies, especially those in the western time zones. A good use of this time is walking an interested exporter through the registration process of Select Credit Insurance (formerly Trade Protect). This is an EDC solution that helps ensure companies are paid by their overseas buyers, taking on some of their international business risk. It’s an online insurance program where companies can manage their own policies and apply for coverage on a contract by contract basis. Though it’s an easy registration, most prospects feel more comfortable having a Trade Advisor walk them through the process, and we’re happy to help.

5:15 p.m. - Home

After a busy day, I always try to finish up by doing some final planning or research in preparation for the next day. Then it’s time to catch the bus and reconnect with the family at home.

Words of advice for Canadian businesses looking to grow internationally:

Talk to us! Reach out to the Exporter Outreach Group and we’ll get you the information or the EDC connections you need to go and grow internationally: