With multinational experience ranging from Singapore to West Africa to the Fraser Valley, Tracey Pham knows a lot about international markets. Now serving the Lower Mainland as an Export Advisor, she brings a wealth of global expertise to her growth-minded clients.

Export Navigator: Can you introduce yourself and your role as an Export Advisor?

Tracey: I’m Tracey, the Export Advisor for the Lower Mainland, serving Vancouver, Richmond, and Delta. I support businesses of various sizes and stages. The majority of my clients are established in B.C. and ready to expand, whether interprovincially or into new countries. I also work with a few pre-revenue companies with strong potential, as well as several businesses that are exporting already. My clients also vary in industry and number of employees. It’s exciting to be able to support a wide range of businesses that are at different stages of their exporting journey.

Export Navigator: What is your professional background, and how did that prepare you to work as an Export Advisor?

Tracey: I started my career in a multinational company in Singapore. In that role, I worked on developing and marketing products in other Southeast Asian countries, mainly Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. That gave me a lot of knowledge about labelling, regulatory compliance, and understanding consumer differences and consumer preferences in different markets. After that, I worked for another multinational company in West Africa, where again I focused on ensuring that products meet consumer needs and are marketed effectively in a West African context.

I moved to Canada in 2014 and did my MBA at UBC. In my last role, I worked with a pet food company based in the Fraser Valley, where I was the head of international marketing. While working there, I supported the company’s expansion to over 35 countries around the world. I learned how to leverage government support and government resources like Export Development Canada and the Trade Commissioner Service. Now, as an Export Advisor, I can help my clients because I understand the international landscape, regulatory compliance, and different market requirements. That makes me a good fit to advise companies looking to expand and grow outside B.C.

Export Navigator: What do you look for in a business to determine if they are ready to grow beyond B.C.?

Tracey: The first time I talk to a business, I look for readiness in a few different areas. The first is the readiness of the company’s founder or CEO. That also includes the personal readiness of the core team leading the business. The second is the readiness of the company itself. To be ready to embark on this journey, I look for a growth mindset, that the company is prepared to navigate growth and the challenges that come with it. The third and final area is the readiness of the product. I look at whether the product has appeal outside of B.C. and if it has the potential to grow. We also examine whether the product or service can be customized and scaled for different markets. I’d say those are the three main criteria of successful exporters: personal readiness, company readiness, and product or service readiness.

Export Navigator: How would you describe your advising style/approach to working with clients?

Tracey: I ask a lot of questions. For me, it’s critical to understand what the founder and CEO’s vision is. To get there, I ask quite a few questions, starting with the business and why they started, but also what gets them up in the morning. What are they trying to achieve? Sometimes, they’ll need to tap into those reasons when things don’t go right. The founder and the core team need to understand why they’re doing this so they can make the right decision at every step of the way. Answering these questions helps to crystallize the vision for the business. Then, we’ll move from high-level to much more detailed questions, like what shipping provider they’re using and if any challenges arise from that.

Through this questioning process, sometimes we find that the original issue they came to me with is just the issue on the surface. When we get in-depth, we uncover many things the business owner may have yet to consider. When I understand the business and the founder, I can provide more holistic advice and elevate the conversation rather than just answering the questions they come with.

Export Navigator: Is there a type of business or client you find benefits the most from the program?

Tracey: I believe that most businesses we work with will benefit from the program in one way or another. When a business is ready to take the first step in exporting,we provide a lot of value because the business is ready to receive our service, and we can give them the help they’re looking for. But even businesses that are quite small or pre-revenue have the potential to scale quickly, especially in technology-focused industries. For businesses already exporting and looking to expand, we can help by connecting them with resources to consider and validate other opportunities.

Export Navigator: Aside from being an export advisor, what else do you like to do in your free time?

Tracey: I have two dogs, so I spend a lot of time with them. Most weekends, we are outside hiking. In the summer, we go camping. They love snow, so we go snowshoeing in the winter. I also love snowboarding, so I spend a lot of time outside. Why not, when we live in B.C., one of the most beautiful places on earth?

Export Navigator: What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Tracey: I would say tap into as many resources as possible. A business owner often does ten jobs at once, and it can be difficult to pause and look at the available support and resources around you. In B.C. specifically, there is a robust ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs. Whichever industry you’re in, there will be some type of entrepreneurial support. I’d recommend taking advantage of those resources as much as possible because, you never know, you might be able to get a grant or some funding. Or, you might be able to receive mentorship or advice from people who have been where you are, which can make the journey a little bit easier. Being an entrepreneur is difficult, but with the proper support, you might be able to accelerate the process.

Learn more

Thinking of exporting? Find an advisor today and discover what opportunities are available to you.