International kudos for York student

Michael Sefcik (right), a third-year York University student enrolled in the Law & Society Program in the Faculty of Arts, defines interdisciplinary excellence. The 22-year-old is an entrepreneur (he runs his own business called UNA-Card); is an active participant in York’s debating society; wants to eventually work in public relations; was recently honoured for his scholarly work at an international business conference in Cologne, Germany; and can add the title of published author to his résume.

Sefcik’s metamorphosis from student to author began late last year, when he decided to enter the University of Cologne’s international essay competition. After finding the call for submissions on a listserv, Sefcik researched and wrote an essay on the topic of corporate transformation. He drew on his experience as a part-time store clerk at the North York IKEA store.  “IKEA has a newsletter that is circulated to all employees and it gave me an inside look at the corporation. I was able to learn about how the advertising generated by this Swedish company was targeted to Turkish residents. I analyzed the strategies and made recommendations in my paper,” explained Sefcik. “For example, I suggested the company pursue a global online discussion forum to enable employees to share their experience, and to look at cross promotion beyond each store’s traditional geographic boundary to encourage, for example, North York clientele to go to the IKEA store in Etobicoke, Ontario.”

The intrepid York student completed his analysis and submitted his finished paper to the judging committee. Then in early March, Sefcik was notified by the contest judges that his essay, titled “Survival Tactics in an Unpredictable Environment: An Analysis of IKEA’s Corporate Strategies in the New Global Market”, had won first prize in the competition’s international category.

“While sitting at the library my phone rang, I thought to myself, ‘Country code 49…who could it be?’, ‘Hello Michael?… This is Andreas Franke from Germany.… It is my great pleasure to invite you to this year’s 10th WBD in Cologne…’.” recounted an elated Sefcik. “My reaction was controlled, considering it was the library, I attempted to suppress my excitement as not to disturb the other students. I raced to the closest computer to check my e-mail to confirm what I had just been told – indeed it was true! I was one of 300 top international students invited to attend the 10th WBD!”

At the WBD (World Business Dialogue), which took place April 6 and 7, Sefcik got to rub shoulders with some of the world’s premier business strategists and academics. As an added honour, Sefcik was told his paper would be published in an upcoming issue of the WBD’s key magazine. He was asked to keep a diary of his experience in Cologne which key magazine will publish as a companion piece to his paper.

Right: York student Michael Sefcik (at the podium) participates in a panel discussion at 10th World Business Dialogue in Cologne, Germany.

The honours didn’t stop there. While Sefcik was at the conference, he was asked to be one of the presenters in a panel of business experts. “It was almost impromptu,” said Sefcik, “I was asked the night before to prepare a short five-minute speech on the topic of centralization versus de-centralization.” After speaking before the congress, Sefcik received positive feedback from students, organizers and attendees.

Sefcik’s role in the WBD panel discussion, his speech and his paper can be downloaded from the WBD Web site. His speech occurs at the 52-minute mark and has been translated into German. For more information on Sefcik, the WBD and other international activities, visit the York International Web site.