Every year, McGill undergraduate students apply for the “Hot Cities of the World Tour,” a 12-day trip to cities around the world spearheaded by Associate Professor in the Faculty of Management Karl Moore. Following the trip’s slogan, “taking the future to the future,” this initiative is an unparalleled opportunity for 30 undergraduates to travel to some of the world’s leading economic hubs alongside one of McGill’s distinguished professors and a dozen McGill alumni.
“[The idea for the trip] started in 2006,” Moore said. “I took 20 McGill students to spend the day with Warren Buffett in Omaha. On the way back from [a visit with] the second richest person in the world, I thought to myself, ‘how do you follow up?’”
To name a few destinations on past trips, Moore has taken students to India, South Africa, Russia, Mongolia, Doha, and Jakarta. Applications are due in October, and Moore selects 30 McGill students to go on the excursion soon thereafter. This year, the selected undergraduates will visit Tokyo, Bangkok, and Phuket.
Suneil Kheterpal (BCom’17) participated in the 2016 tour and views the experience as instrumental to his understanding of South America. Kheterpal travelled to the region and had the chance not only to observe practical applications of economic theory, but also discover a new culture along the way.
“There’s a series of memorable moments,” Kheterpal said. “We travelled to a vineyard to see the different wines of Chile, [visited] a coffee plantation site in Colombia, met the mayor of Bogotá, [and went] salsa dancing outside the old city of Cartagena”.
In an effort to make travel accessible to students from various socioeconomic backgrounds, Moore tries to select a varied range of students. This year, for the first time in the program’s history, the trip is taking two law students and three indigenous students on scholarships. Two-thirds of the accepted students have received financial aid. According to Moore, this attention to diversity provokes new and necessary conversations throughout the trip.
“We do reflections on the trip where, fairly regularly, we split into groups of four and we discuss what we [got] out of what we just heard,” Moore said. “Everyone adds their own view. Students from other disciplines get all sorts of lessons from it because you’re hearing from different people.”
Each year, Moore selects different destinations based on current events and recent economic developments. For this reason, the recent stops on the trips have primarily been to cities across Asia, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Seoul, and Hong Kong, where regional economies are rapidly growing and becoming hubs for financial and business ventures.
“We’re looking at some of the leading companies in the world, both global[ly] as well as locally, to get a sense of how they do business but also how they lead, how they advertise, and how they do business outside of America,” Moore said. “But, [the trip] is not there as a holiday. We meet with CEOs, politicians, journalists, [and others].”
The McGill alumni who accompany Moore and his students serve as mentors and points of contact for students. The alumni simultaneously support Moore throughout the trip and facilitate discussions between students and themselves after the interviews they hold with industry experts.
“The alumni bring maturity, and the students love to talk to [them],” Moore said. “They talk about their careers, where they live, families [….] It’s you in 10 or 15 years, so, it’s thinking about what your life may be like in the next coming years. It’s your chance to explore the life of someone actually doing those thing you’re thinking about.”
The Hot Cities of the World experience offers students a unique alternative to reading week and the opportunity to make connections and learn directly from successful people in the fields that they aspire to work in.
“The one thing you take away is a lifetime of friendships and relationships that you can build off of,” Kheterpal said. “Today, I am in contact with several of the participants that live around the world, [such as] New York, London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, [and] Toronto. These are close friends of mine that I can rely on for both advice and employment opportunities.”