DC’s Working Across Borders initiative unites students and businesses from all over the world

After three months of online collaboration between Durham College (DC), nine other international institutions, and more than 500 students worldwide, the Working Across Borders (WAB) 2020 project has finally come to an end.

Grouped into 115 teams, masters, post-graduate, bachelor and post-bachelor students, including 112 participants from DC’s International Business Management and Project Management post-graduate certificate programs, worked together to develop business solutions.

The DC students, overseen by project coaches Rogier ten Kate and Dr. Dustin Weihs, worked alongside fellow learners with American eco-friendly company Seventh Generation which produces cleaning and personal care products. Seventh Generation is a part of Unilever that owns brands such as Dove, Nestle, PepsiCo, etc. Each team had to research the business environment, competition and sustainable development level in one of the eight countries where the Seven Generation is present or planning to enter the market.

“I was completely blown away by the content and the quality of students’ work,” said Hanneke Willenborg, chief marketing officer, Seventh Generation. “Everyone did a fantastic job of using the theoretical frameworks. Even I learned a lot about how students deployed them! The competition between the WAB teams was really impressive!”

The WAB initiative started four years ago, intending to connect students worldwide, and has been growing since that time, attracting new clients and institutions. This year students from Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Slovenia, Russia, Finland, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Canada presented their ideas and sustainable business solution.

“This experience is extremely beneficial for all parties involved,” said ten Kate, who is also the global learning facilitator at DC. “Students get to work for a real client and learn to be part of a multicultural business team. It also improves their knowledge of globalization in the current workplace and creates a great case for their portfolios. At the same time, the client has an opportunity to collaborate with young global minds to explore business perspectives to achieve the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”

The project coordinators are planning to attract new institutions from South America and Africa to become a part of the WAB to cover each continent and become a truly global initiative striving to influence the business world’s future in a sustainable way.

“For now, we have only one client for all of our teams,” says ten Kate. “In the future, we would like to see maybe three or four companies participating in the project at the same time for more diversity. We are looking for companies from different fields that are driven by sustainability to help and support them in their business journey.”