It all started when Alexandru Gavrila decided to invest the money he had earned from doing graduate research.
In 2007, Gavrila, a PhD candidate studying in the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology in Concordia’s Department of Psychology, decided to do something interesting with the money he was receiving. That decision would prove to be the beginning of a journey that would ultimately lead him to participate in a prestigious symposium in Switzerland last spring.
“I figured I might as well do something with it (the research money) instead of just leaving it in the bank,” Gavrila says. “I started investing, and obviously if you start investing yourself, the smart thing to do is read a few books about how to properly evaluate stock. So I learned how to do that and then I realized that it’s great to be able to evaluate a company and a specific stock but if you don’t really understand the basics of economics and how basic economic cycles function, then you’re still going to lose money.”
Gavrila started reading economic journals and looking at current economic trends, using his scientific background to sort through and analyze the data. And he came to a startling realization. “I’m usually a very positive person,” he says, “but I’m afraid to say that from the data I’ve looked at, things don’t look so good for the next couple of years unless world governments start stepping up.”
Passionate about the economy and eager to share his conclusions with those around him, Gavrila began speaking to friends and colleagues about his new research.
“A lot of them are obviously scientists so they’re like ‘Stop talking to me about economics! I don’t want to hear it!’ ” Gavrila says. “Since that wasn’t working, I was looking for outlets, doing little presentations here and there to basically inform people.
“When I got the email from the School of Graduate Studies about the St. Gallen Symposium, I absolutely had to jump on the opportunity to write about this.”
For the uninitiated, the St. Gallen Symposium, founded in 1970 by five students at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, is an annual four-day event designed to foster intergenerational dialogue between the leaders of today and those of tomorrow. Every year, 200 graduate and post-graduate students from around the world are invited to participate in the symposium, which is also attended by entrepreneurs, managers, politicians, scientists and decision-makers.
After entering the St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award essay competition with his paper titled "Unconventional Solutions to Hidden Risks," Gavrila was chosen to attend the 42nd Annual Symposium last spring as a Leader of Tomorrow.
“It was amazing, really,” Gavrila says. “All I was looking for initially was to get to talk to some of the decision-makers and some of the policy-makers and I figured maybe they would have an inside scoop or other data that I hadn’t seen. Obviously I was hoping to get to talk to some of these individuals and I did.
“For the four days you’re there it’s really a full schedule so it’s quite intense, but the amount of information and the amount of interaction that you get during those four days is really unique.”
Applications are now being accepted for the St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award 2013; the Symposium that will take place from April 30 to May 3. The theme of the event is Rewarding Courage.
Concordia’s Interim Dean of Graduate Studies, Paula Wood-Adams, says the theme is perfect for Concordia students. “It’s about encouraging people to expand their horizons, to dig deeper, and go further and I feel that is in line with Concordia’s mission,” she says. “The symposium this year should be particularly interesting and looks to be relevant, in some way, to students from all disciplines.
“This venue also affords them the rare opportunity to mingle with international political and industry leaders.”
Alexandru Gavrila will give a series of presentations to inform students about the symposium and his own experience. The presentations will take place in December at HEC Montréal, McGill, and Concordia.
“I wish I had known about it seven years ago when I was first eligible to apply,” Gavrila says. “I want to inform as many students as possible of the amazing opportunity that attending the Symposium represents, both on a personal and professional level.”
Concordia 43rd St. Gallen Symposium Presentations for MBA students
When: Monday, December 10 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Room MB-4.305, John Molson School of Business Building (1450 Guy Street), Sir George Williams Campus
GPRM 225: Be a Leader in Research - St. Gallen Symposium Information Session
When: Monday, December 10 from 1 to 2 p.m.
Where: Room GM-440.05, Guy-Metro Building (1550 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.), Sir George Williams Campus
Registration: Through the MyConcordia portal under the GradProSkills tab
• St. Gallen Symposium webpage
• View the Leader in Research event page
• MyConcordia portal