Thinking the world of Sask. resources

Business students hear of reputation we’re developing


Stephen Halabura, president and CEO of Concept Forge Inc.
Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix

One local geologist believes Saskatchewan’s prosperity relies on going back to the future.

Stephen Halabura, president and CEO of Concept Forge Inc., shared his knowledge about this province’s resources with business students Friday at the University of Saskatchewan.

“For 30 years there was information being kept,” Halabura said. “Nothing was happening. It’s been a whole generation that stayed frozen. That’s why the resources stayed in the ground.”

Halabura, along with a team of researchers from Anglo Potash, are responsible for revealing historical documents that showed what a trove of potash the province was sitting on.

It wasn’t until Halabura visited the third floor of the Geodata branch in Regina in 2005 that he was able to find what he calls a treasure chest – data from individual potash drilling projects showed the extent of the resource.

“I began looking through all the records of exploration projects from the 1960s. It was all there. It said everything,” Halabura said of the exploration plans shelved in a dusty back room. The government requires all exploration companies – going back to the turn of the 20th century – to file all of their exploration material.”


The team found records that showed a vast network of resources covering most of the province. The research was the impetus for the Jansen project, which became the basis of BHP Billiton Ltd.’s entry into the global potash business. Today, Halabura is telling business leaders and youth around the world about Saskatchewan’s mineral riches.

On Friday, Halabura told youth at a Global Vision luncheon to take risks and be fearless.

“I’m a 20th century guy,” he said. “I’m not going to be the destiny of this province. (Youth) are going to be the destiny of this province.”

Global Vision brought Halabura in to share wisdom garnered from his aggressive career starting businesses and consulting for global companies.

The organization helps young Canadians become more business savvy.

In the audience listening to Halabura was Aaron Lingrend, who recently left Saskatchewan to pursue a degree in international business at Carleton University in Ottawa. Lingrend says although Saskatchewan is still battling stereotypes outside its borders, it’s a province many eastern Canadians are talking about.

“In my studies at Carleton, Saskatchewan was one of our main topics,” Lingrend said. “Between potash and our rich agriculture sector that we have, people are taking note.”

Global Vision has selected the native of Watrous to represent Saskatchewan on a trade mission to Malaysia and Indonesia in August. Lingrend will tell people about the province’s agriculture sector.

“I think I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneur bug,” Lingrend said. “Learning about international relations, learning about how Canadians can promote business within the global economy, this is what I hope to take away from this experience.”


Sarah Guinea, a member of Global Vision who travelled to Malaysia in the winter of 2010, organized this year’s event. The recent graduate of the Edwards school of business is moving to Calgary this fall to article for Deloitte and Touche. She says many of the experiences she learned while participating in Global Vision programs helped her realize her future.

“There are just things you can’t learn in a classroom,” Guinea said. “How to make a cold call, how to speak in front of a crowd and even how to network are things Global Vision introduced me to.”

This summer, Halabura will be taking the message about the province’s lucrative stash of resources to Europe and China.

“Now, global business leaders look not to Canada first, and then Saskatchewan via Alberta, but Saskatchewan first.”

A Dream Realized: Hanlon Centre For International Business Studies officially launches

Thursday, February 4 wasn’t an ordinary afternoon at the Edwards School of Business. The official launch of the Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies was celebrated in fine style, complete with a Chinese New Year theme. Red Lanterns hung from the ceiling, international flags draped the perimeter of the Edwards Reading Room, and there was even a traditional Chinese Dragon Dance to begin the afternoon’s proceedings.

Prominent business leaders and politicians, faculty, and students overflowed into the hallway. Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos was almost speechless as he approached the podium.

“You can always invite people and hope that they are going to show up and support your endeavours, but this was overwhelming,” said Centre Director Kokkastamapoulos. “I think it says a great deal about the importance of the Hanlon Centre in our community.”

An estimated crowd of over 200 people included notables such as Business School Donor Murray Edwards, former Premier of Saskatchewan Lorne Calvert, Honourable Don Morgan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Executive Director of STEP Brad Michnik, radio show creator Prosperity Saskatchewan’s Eric Anderson, and a long list of Saskatoon’s business leaders and politicians. All showed their approval of this new initiative. The unofficial guest of honour was the man behind it all: Ted Hanlon. Hanlon is a U of S alumnus and also the donor of $2 million dollars for the creation of the Centre.

“This is the time, more than ever, for our students to learn the importance of international studies,” said the soft-spoken Hanlon. “I’m so impressed with the students I have met so far who have been a part of this. I’ve already seen a couple presentations and all I can say is, wow.”

The Hanlon Centre for International Business will be made up of many elements: academic scholars, business liaisons, and students who seek to develop future business leaders and educate them on international business. As part of that, there will be interactive learning forums, workshops and seminars, local and international internship programs, and sponsorship available for other related activities. Daphne Taras, Dean of the Edwards School of Business, realizes the potential in this new initiative.

“Every student in business needs to be polished. You can know business fundamentals; you can learn things in a classroom, but it doesn’t work if you don’t get the sophistication. I think this International Centre is a diamond-polishing operation for our students.”

And there’s no mistaking the eagerness of the students. A throng of Edward School of Business students looked on excitedly; you could see the international opportunities that lay before them dancing in their eyes. Bryan McCrea, a recent graduate of the Edwards School of Business, just enjoyed a successful deal on CBC’s hit show The Dragon’s Den. He knows first-hand about international experience leading to a successful business.

“When you get outside into the global community you realize just how much there is out there and how good we are here in Saskatchewan,” smiled McCrea. “An opportunity like this, for our student entrepreneurs, is invaluable.”

USSU President Chris Stoicheff echoes McCrea’s thoughts. He also realizes the opportunity created for the students of the U of S.

“A Centre like this opens so many doors for the students of the U of S and allows for a much more global perspective,” said Stoicheff. “From the USSU’s perspective, we’re going to do everything we can to encourage students to get involved with the Hanlon Centre.”

Honourable Don Morgan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, had these thoughts on behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan.

“If I could offer you one piece of advice, it would be to think globally. For years the people of Saskatchewan have worked very hard within our own borders; now we are showing the rest of the world what we can do,” said Morgan. “Our people work hard, have a spirit of volunteerism, and take risks.”

Lorne Calvert, former Premier of Saskatchewan, couldn’t find enough good things to say about Ted Hanlon, the U of S, and all those involved in the creation of the Centre.

“In my view we’ve always been global traders. It’s not just about understanding business but also understanding the realities of culture. We’ve shifted focus from buying and selling to also engaging,” said Calvert. “To see the commitment of the Hanlon family, the School, its faculty, its leadership, and this student body, this is very rewarding to see this happening,”

And perhaps it was fitting that every attendee to the event was given a Chinese New Year gift, a Canadian dollar chocolate, wrapped in ornate red paper with the message, “All one’s dreams come true.” One gets sense that as Ted Hanlon looked on proudly, his dream finally came to fruition.

“There are three principals I live by that will never change: hard work, natural ability, and good luck. In this fast changing world if you stick to all three of these things you will enjoy a great amount of success.”