“Enlightening,” “engaging” and “unforgettable” are just some of the words University of Guelph students are using to describe the WACE Global Challenge, a program now available to students through Experiential Learning

The WACE Global Challenge is an opportunity for university students from around the world to work as management consultants, helping small businesses and organizations tackle challenges. WACE is an international organization of professionals dedicated to developing, expanding, branding and advocating for cooperative and work-integrated education programs. 

This week, as five U of G students embark on a new WACE Challenge adventure, two of their colleagues — Payal Mehta and Ethan Evans — say their recently completed WACE projects provided invaluable enrichment to their studies.  

Both were among the first U of G students to take part in the four-week-long WACE Global Challenge, an experience they say was excellent preparation for an increasingly multicultural, multidisciplinary and collaborative working world. 

“For me, the WACE Global Challenge was a great opportunity to develop the hard and soft skills that are vital to career success,” Mehta says. 

Helping small businesses around the world tackle challenges

A head and shoulders shot of a woman smiing for the camera
Payal Mehta

As an international student from Mozambique earning her master’s degree in environmental science, Mehta says her focus on environmental policy and sustainable development was complemented by the hands-on experience she gained in digital marketing, team management and other areas that amplified her ability to advocate for environmental causes.  

“I also developed cross-cultural competencies and honed my team building and communication skills, fostering a stronger client relationship,” she says. 

Mehta led a five-person group comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from Thailand, United Kingdom and Ghana in various fields including data and actuarial science and engineering. 

Via the Practera learning platform, they were tasked with making strategic recommendations to Hiraya Therapy Centre in the Philippines, home to a group of therapists working to introduce and popularize Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, an autism-focused therapy.  

Together, they analyzed the problem, divided tasks —research, competitor analysis, technology integration, marketing — and produced recommendations aligned with one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aimed at improving health and well-being for neurodivergent people and others with special education needs. 

“As the project leader, I learned as much from delving into the details of the project as from interacting with my colleagues,” Mehta says. “The friendships and social connections I made worldwide improved my intercultural awareness and made the experience unforgettable.” 

Learning team-building and communication skills

A man poses for a photo while standing against a wood slat wall
Ethan Evans

Evans, a fourth-year management economics and finance co-op student, heard about the WACE Global Challenge through colleagues in the Guelph Consulting Group.  He decided to, “seize the opportunity to think collaboratively with people around the world.” 

As the only business student on a team of six arts and science undergraduates from Vietnam, Kenya and the U.K., Evans led his team through the challenge of helping New Zealand charity, Māia Health Foundation, achieve sustainability by building their capacity to receive donations from the public. 

Evans’ team equipped the organization with technical and marketing tools to make its regular donation process more efficient, decreasing its reliance on occasional corporate donations. 

They introduced the organization to social media and radio campaigns, advised leaders on outreach to educational and religious organizations and recommended a system for collecting and tracking public donations. 

“I valued the opportunity to collaborate with students from other cultures, to appreciate the way they approach and resolve business issues,” Evans says.  

Preparation for an increasingly multicultural world

While his teammates welcomed his proficiency in business concepts, Evans sharpened his problem solving and persuasive communication skills and learned how rewarding it is to be in service of others.  

“I used the aspects taught at the Lang School of Business and Economics to use business as a force for good and look beyond profitability, to appreciate all aspects of a business. In a word, the WACE Global Challenge was enriching,” he says. 

The next round of the four-week challenge begins in June. Interested students can learn more on the Experience Guelph website.  

Evans recommends the WACE Global Challenge to any student looking to build on planning and time management skills and keen on developing learning, leadership and cultural competencies.  

“Engaging with the WACE Global Challenge is a great idea,” he says. “It is a creative and engaging way to navigate the social and cultural differences in today’s increasingly diverse world.” 


Janet Doner, Experiential Learning