Travel bug pays off for Memorial student with prestigious scholarship


May 27, 2014


Extensive travel experience has won
David Maher a prestigious scholarship.

A Memorial student has won a prestigious scholarship aimed at students interested in international business.

David Maher, 23, is an avid traveller who hopes to one day work in the field of management consulting for emerging markets. He is currently finishing a bachelor of arts (BA) honours degree in political science and an international bachelor of business administration (iBBA) degree from the faculties of arts and business, respectively.

He has received a $4,000 International Business Scholarship from Export Development Canada. Up to 30 scholarships are awarded annually across Canada, 25 of which go to undergraduate or college students interested in pursuing a career or furthering their studies in international business

“I was really pleased obviously when they sent me the email,” says Mr. Maher. “I spent a month writing my letters, getting my references, updating my CV and everything. I put a lot of work and effort into it.”

Mr. Maher has focused his studies on sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently writing the honours thesis for his BA on the effect of oil wealth on political development in oil producing nations in the region.

“I’m interested in the political economy side of politics, which I guess comes from my business degree. I’ve always been interested in the idea of the resource curse, which is this whole theory that oil wealth, having an influx of oil, creates a lot of problems for states economically and politically,” he says. “You can even see it here in Canada – in Alberta and even here in Newfoundland – how it affects our political development.”

Mr. Maher became interested in the African region after spending three months in Tanzania on an internship with Students for Development funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. There, he worked at an agricultural training institute in the role of business and entrepreneurship co-ordinator where he helped develop local businesses and promote a culture of entrepreneurship.

Following his three months in Tanzania, he spent an additional two months teaching scuba diving in Kenya.

“When I came back, I started to focus my studies more on sub-Saharan Africa, just because I think it’s a really interesting region of the world. It’s probably got the most growth potential, sort of the way Asia was in the 80s and 90s.”

Mr. Maher has also spent time travelling and working in a variety of other countries such as Nepal, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“I just started doing it for fun,” Mr. Maher says of his travels. “I was 19 [when I went to Nepal] and it was my first trip without my parents or school, and I show up and was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ It was kind of heavy, I guess. It was pretty crazy at first.”

Mr. Maher says he got interested in the business and politics of foreign countries by reading English-language newspapers in the places he visited.

”You’d read about foreign investment, things like that, so I got interested in international business that way. I just find it interesting how people now, because of globalization, you’re not restricted. If you go to school in Newfoundland and live in Newfoundland, it doesn’t mean you’re just going to work with Newfoundlanders. Even the smallest businesses now are international.”

Mr. Maher hopes to pursue a master’s degree once his studies at Memorial are finished and is looking at universities in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

In the meantime, he’ll return to Malaysia this fall to complete his iBBA degree with the required exchange semester at a partner institution, the Universiti Sains Malaysia. He’ll use the EDC scholarship in part to fund his exchange semester as well as to save for grad school.

Mr. Maher is set to graduate in the spring of 2015, but he’s not sure whether he will immediately go to graduate school.

“The term [in Malaysia] goes from September to January but I have a one-way ticket, so I’m not really sure how long I’ll be there. We’ll see!”

Susan White-MacPherson