Love him or hate him, organizers of this year’s International Business Conference at Saint Leo University are only asking people give Tucker Carlson a chance.
Carlson, a popular conservative commentator who hosts the weekend version of “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Channel, is the keynote speaker for the International Business Conference when it kicks off Feb. 19. He will headline a conference focused on innovation and globalism, key components to a business environment connected worldwide by the Internet.
“Tucker is a great personality,” said Adam Shoemaker, an assistant professor in Saint Leo’s School of Business, and the organizer of the conference. “He is very divisive, and people will want to at least hear what he has to say. So we’re asking people to come and decide.”
Carlson is slated to take the podium at the university’s student community center beginning at 7:30 p.m., for a talk that is open to the public whether they’re attending the conference or not.
Shoemaker, however, hopes people do stay the rest of the week, because there’s a lot to learn from panelists who have traveled from around the world to attend.
“We are becoming a global economy, and people have to be ready for it,” the assistant professor said. “If it’s not happening now, then it’s happening in the near future. You can’t count on just your local markets or your national markets anymore.”
Even areas of Africa are finding ways to connect to the Internet, many times building a Wi-Fi infrastructure in places where there isn’t even a way to produce clean water.
“Just the fact they can communicate across the world is helping to change their situation and get their basic needs,” Shoemaker said.
And that market continues to change, where even the dollar is not always the preferred currency. The Saint Leo conference also will feature panel discussions on new ways to trade, like bitcoins. Introduced in 2009, bitcoins are found solely in the digital realm and are created through digital mining.
“It’s an international currency that is not regulated by any country,” Shoemaker said. “We go into how it works and how it’s affecting different global economies.”
Joining the expected 150 attendees is a small delegation from Brazil, a country quickly growing into an economic power because of its increasing exports and viable labor force.
These speakers are involved in a partnership between Saint Leo and Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, designed to try to bring the South American country up to par with others in the global economy, such as the United States and the European Union.
“They’ll explore the parallels and differences in how they teach about business in their country, and how it’s taught up here,” Shoemaker said.
This is the first year Shoemaker has organized the International Business Conference, although he’s worked on the team in the past. The school prefers to rotate chairs, especially since they are taking on the responsibilities while still facing a full workload at the busy school.
Yet, the work is satisfying to Shoemaker, because finding a way to grow in a world business market is the best way to thrive in a world business market.
“It certainly helps to understand different cultures, and at least have an open mind about different cultures,” he said. “You have to have that infrastructure in place, because even if you’re a small company with a Web presence, you could quickly become overwhelmed when the world comes knocking.”
Carlson isn’t the only featured speaker during the event. On Thursday, David Harmon, deputy director and chief human capital officer of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors will be at the podium. Later on, during lunch, Maxwell Stewart of Enterprise Florida will talk about his organization’s efforts in bringing businesses — and jobs — to not just the region, but to the state.
Bill Zobrist will lead Friday’s lunch likely sharing his experiences around a startup he’s invested in. Zobrist works on online and emerging product strategy for Pearson Embanet, an online learning services company that has offices in Orlando, Chicago and Toronto.
The speakers schedule will close Friday afternoon with U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, who will talk about his work on helping businesses in Washington, D.C.
For more information on the conference and how to attend, call Amanda Laffin at (352) 588-8837, or email her at . Cost to attend ranges from $150 to $400, but is free to Saint Leo students.
Saint Leo is located at 33701 State Road 52 in St. Leo.
Published Feb. 12, 2014
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