Jack McCormick was able to mix business with pleasure at the Junior Achievement International Next Generation Leader's Forum in Halifax.
"I was super honoured to be picked to go," said the 16-year-old Tillsonburg resident. "It meant a lot to me, definitely worth it. We talked so much about so many different issues, I learned so much.
"And it was a great time too."
McCormick was VP of Finance for Bath Treats, Junior Achievement Tillsonburg's 2012-2013 student company, which earned JA London and District's company of the year honours. Producing a value-added product from the combination of crushed Epsom salts, essential oils and food colouring, Bath Treats enjoyed a 980% increase in company shares, turning a $1,400 profit on revenues of $4,000.
"I'd like to do that," laughed JA Tillsonburg mentor Jane Esseltine of Agrospray Ltd. "I'd like to have those numbers."
JA was valuable well beyond the numbers, says McCormick.
"The experience of Junior Achievement can teach you so much more than a classroom," he said. "It's practical, give you the chance knowing what running a business is like, how the decisions you make will impact the future."
Although McCormick's title indicated money matters, his long-term focus is more on strategy.
"Not necessarily the money side, how to make a business sustainable and be successful."
Interested in taking the experience further, McCormick one 320 students to apply to the next generation leader's forum, and one of six from London and District to be successful. His application focussed not only on how he wanted to gain experience to be a future leader, but his level of commitment.
"I really put my all into things I do."
A talented member of a talented Tillsonburg group, McCormick was ideally suited for an international conference with sustainability as a central theme, says JA mentor Lori Van Opstal.
"His strength is in strategic thinking, he already has that. This was an opportunity to refine his skills."
The conference brought 160 future leaders from '10 or 12' countries including China, the U.S., Norway, Ireland, England and the Cayman Islands together at St. Mary's University in Halifax August 21-27. Apart from connecting with like-minded individuals from around the globe, delegates also enjoyed presentations from speakers including Len Jillard, CPO of McDonalds Canada; Jana Sobey, Customer Engagement Director for Sobey's; and Ron Lovett, CEO of Source Security Investigations Inc.
"They were talking about sustainability in communities," said McCormick. "It was both really, really fun and really, really educational."
McCormick's personal favourite was Bruce Poon, Founder and CEO of Gadventures, operator of a multi-million dollar business, who seemingly without effort, raises significant funds for charity.
"A brilliant, brilliant guy," said McCormick. "I was thinking, ‘how can I copy that this guy has done to my life?’"
Delegates were divided into eight groups of 20 and through the week, challenged with creating a sustainable community model as their core project.
"I was one of the presenters for our group," said McCormick, who appreciated not only the knowledge-based opportunities, but also a chance to peer network on an international level.
"The connections I made were very quick connections and will be long lasting."
Heady though the opportunity to hobnob with McDonalds or Sobey's executives and future leaders from around the globe was, it all began at home for McCormick, who is looking forward to another year of challenge and opportunity with JA Tillsonburg.
"You get hands-on experience, that's what it's about, planning for the future and getting experience for the future."
JA Tillsonburg is currently recruiting for the upcoming year, says Esseltine. The business-based extra-curricular organization is open to any high or home-schooled student in Grades 9 to 12. Tillsonburg's chapter meets three hours per week in donated space at the Livingston Centre, beginning this year on October 21.
"Looking forward to another year," said Esseltine.
"Stay tuned," added Van Opstal. "Stay tuned."
JA Tillsonburg is mentored by a local group including Esseltine, Van Opstal, Andrew Burns of Burns-Demeyere, Karen Northgraves and Jesse Goossens; and active partnership with a supportive Tillsonburg Chamber of Commerce.
Additional mentors are welcome to share their experience, says Bev Robinson, President/CEO of JA London and District, "whether it's academic or career based."
Those seeking more information on the organization, or looking to join are invited to visit the website jalondon.org or phone Robinson at 519-439-4201 ext. 225.