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Three hundred students from across Canada had their stereotypes of Calgary shattered during a five-day conference in the city.

The students, who hailed from 30 different universities, were in town for the AIESEC National Leadership Development Conference, which was hosted by SAIT.  The annual event gives students a chance to network and develop their teamwork and business skills.

Court Ellingson, AIESEC alumnus and Vice President of Research and Strategy with Calgary Economic Development, was one of the keynote speakers during the conference. He used his time onstage to share what some found to be surprising facts about Calgary.

“One big thing that really struck me was the fact that Calgary is the most livable city in Canada. That was really, really cool,” said Tania Kwan, who was representing Western University. “Another thing was the fact that the oil and gas sector doesn’t take up as much as I had predicted in terms of the revenue streams.”

While oil and gas is an important part of Calgary’s economy, the primary and utilities industry only (agriculture, mining and quarrying, and oil and gas) make up 31.7 per cent of the city’s GDP. Other industries that contribute to significant economic growth include financial services, real estate and construction (The Conference Board of Canada, March 2019).

But that wasn’t the only thing that made students add Calgary to their list of cities in which to build a career following graduation.

“Finding out how diversified it is, and not only how the green energy sector is improving, but also different aspects of the economy have flourished is incredibly exciting for me.” said Adil Natalwalla, a student from Queens University in Kingston.

The startup culture here, as well as the vast supports available for those looking to bring their ideas to life, were also a big draw.

“Calgary really focuses on startups and providing many opportunities - sponsorships,mentorships and funds -  towards startups,” Alex Antoniewicz, a student from Toronto’s Ryerson University, said. “I can see throughout the city that tech is really emerging as well.”

Calgary’s talent base has accelerated rapidly in the last two decades, and continues to expand by attracting talent from around the world with enterprising economic opportunities in energy, technology, and entrepreneurship.

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