May 2008

Canadians Abroad

A love for his homeland, eh!

By C. Hersey

The beauty of mining: Southern Copper Mexicana de Cobre

Trekking around the world is a dream many people share. Meeting new people, learning new languages and experiencing different cultures can be very rewarding, but often work obligations get in the way of such exciting adventures. However, there are those lucky few that have a job that takes them to the four corners of the world. Although Pete Lahucik, market area manager, international, at Norcast Castings in Toronto, has been around the world and back many times, Canada still ranks number one on his list of favourite countries.

An avid collector of frequent flyer miles, Lahucik was born and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He spent eight years in mining operations before joining MOLY-COP Canada in sales and marketing, where he worked for 20 years until June 2006. At that time, he moved to Toronto, Ontario, and joined the crew at Norcast Castings, a global supplier of premium quality mill liners and grinding media. In his current position for Norcast in marketing and product support for domestic and international customers, he often finds himself working by day and travelling by night to be more efficient and make the best use of his time. “It’s much easier to sleep on a plane at night, even if it is not business class,” he said.

Although he works in the head office in Toronto, he notes that his current travels in North America and around the globe take up 60 per cent of his time. “Many international trips keep me away from Toronto for about two to three weeks at a time,” commented Lahucik.  Some countries outside of North America he visits on a regular basis include Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ghana, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, various parts of Europe and Russia, just to name a few.

“Travelling and working abroad is very interesting and an excellent life experience, yet tiring at times. You have to get rest when you can and take vitamins daily,” Lahucik stated.

There are some definite perks that come with his travels. “Meeting with people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and listening to them talk about their own families and their way of life is quite an intriguing eye-opener. “And the food! Different types of food from all around the world. In South America, for example, the atmosphere is extremely relaxed and the people are so cordial, and they only eat dinner after about 9:00 p.m.”

Of course, with the good comes some bad, and as all experienced travellers know, the process isn’t always so smooth.  The shots, pills and immunizations that are required for travel into some countries are not very pleasant. Then, there’s the jet lag, fatigue, time zone changes, bad weather, flight delays, cancellations and the waiting around in airports.

The cultural differences aren’t always easy either. Political unrest and the adaptation to a completely different way of doing business can be difficult to deal with. Traffic can also be a nightmare. “This one time, it took nine hours to drive 300 kilometres in Ghana, West Africa — due to bad roads and street vendors there’s just massive traffic congestion,” recalled Lahucik.

With all the ups and downs of travel — literally and figuratively — Lahucik somehow still manages to keep it all together. A job such as this is not for the easily stressed or those who like a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five schedule. You can tell from his demeanor that he is pretty easy-going and loves his job with Norcast and his customers and new friends around the globe. The biggest lesson he learned during all his travels? “Never take for granted what we have here in Canada,” he said. Although he recognizes that Canada is not without its flaws, and loves what he does and the travelling that goes along with it, his heart still belongs to the maple leaf. “Without a doubt, I live in the best country in the world,” he stated emphatically.

Sometimes, a small glimpse into the lives of others can be the best medicine for restoring a healthy sense of national pride. “I sometimes wish that I could take people with me on my trips, just for the experience. I’m sure that they would have a much different view on how things are in our homeland; we have it so good in Canada — much better than most of us could ever imagine.”

Lahucik is proud to be a Canadian and always has a maple leaf luggage tag on his briefcase and suitcase. “Everyone around the world loves and respects Canadians. They see that tag and want to meet me and ask questions.” He is always willing to tell people about this great country and how proud he is to be Canadian.

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