22 Nov

On Monday, 21 November, The Master was in The Mansion House for the annual awards and graduation ceremony for The Institute of Export and International Trade.

After a welcome speech from Alderman Alison Gowman on behalf of The Lord Mayor, and a superb address from the President of The Institute, Lord Stephen Green of Hurstpierpoint, we saw a remarkable video from Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of International Trade Centre. This was quickly followed by a welcome speech by the charismatic Director-General of The Institute, Marco Forgione, and it struck me that I cannot remember when I last sat through four consecutive introductory speeches, none of which I wanted to end!

Next came the presentations of the awards. Over one hundred students – from recent undergraduates, to individuals who’ve been in their careers for 20+ years – were celebrating their graduation. For the vast majority of the students, learning was conducted online whilst holding down a full-time job, whilst for others graduation will mean a step up the career ladder.

For nearly 30 years, World Traders have presented a special award for Best Overall Qualification in International Trade – a silver salver engraved with the name of the recipient to show off on the day, a framed certificate, and a monetary prize. I was invited to make a short speech before I made the presentation to this year’s winner, David Pena. David has notably received a number of other awards, and with a great sense of humour and ambition, proved to be delightful company. In fact, David is interested in joining us. I set out below his life to date which I asked him to write for this article.

Born and raised in sunny Barcelona, my first lectures involved Jules Verne and Emilio Salgari, helping to ignite a profound passion for travel, history and the excitement of discovering other cultures and places in the world.

This passion fuelled my interests in international relations, trade and languages, and thus I studied business management at university, took French and English official exams to add to my native Spanish and Catalan, and travelled the world as far as I could afford”

My professional career has mainly progressed with the retail sector: from stores to business development, wholesale to licensing – but always with an international focus. Opening new markets for my employer in all continents, setting up stores in Peru, Brazil, US or Japan, and attending trade shows in all corners of the world.

Enrolling in the Level 5 Diploma in International Trade from the Institute of Export was the natural next step for me, and I worked hard to complete the diploma to the best of my capacity. I am honoured to have achieved two awards, including the Prize for Academic Excellence from the Worshipful Company of World Traders.

I look forward to continuing my career in International Trade and fulfilling my childhood dreams.

– David Pena, winner of the Prize for Academic Excellence 2022

During the reception, I met a couple of other World Traders who were there wearing other hats. One individual came running up to me, very excited to see the salver as she was also a prize winner over 20 years ago! The individual wanted to show her daughter – a potential Freeman and Journeyman here!

The Director-General and I will meet in the new year, as it is clear to us both that there is synergy between our two organisations.

A truly enjoyable event, where I met interesting people, banged the drum for World Traders, and learnt a lot about global traders!

Michael Shapiro