Gord Cooper (BA'94)

A day in the life

Gord Cooper (BA'94)


Seventeen years after graduation, I have only the fondest memories of my time at Dal. It has stood the test of time!

The business of foreign relations

Gord Cooper left the East Coast for the Far East, and shifted from international relations to business. But studying political science at Dal provided a perfect foundation for a life living in the tropics, working for one of the most recognizable companies in the world.

The Halifax native has worked for Visa for over 10 years, dealing with new technology products (smart cards, for example), general management (as a country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, and Brunei), and mobile innovation for the company’s entire business outside of the Americas. He has lived and worked in London, Tokyo, and Ho Chi Minh City. Now he’s based in Singapore where he’s the head of Visa’s Emerging Market Solutions.

“Over the last 10 years, I’ve probably done business in 40 countries,” he says. “There have been times when the travel schedule has been a bit ridiculous. I remember once arriving home from San Francisco—I was home for four hours before I repacked my bags and flew off to Cairo. But it’s been great to have the chance to work in so many different places and with so many different cultures.”

It was a homecoming of sorts when Gord first came to Dal. He had done high school in Ontario and desperately wanted to come back to the Maritimes. He was always curious about politics and government—partly because of his father who was once the federal MP for Halifax—but didn’t get interested in international relations until he started at Dal.

“It ended up being the focus of my degree,” he says. “Clearly it was the right move because I may be in the business world rather than politics, government, or diplomacy, but it’s all international relations. Particularly in emerging markets, where business, politics, and the arms of government and regulators are often intertwined in complicated ways. It’s a huge asset to have some formal education in this field. And it all comes down to the professors, doesn’t it? People like Denis Stairs, Gil Winham, and Peter Aucoin—these are the greats!”

Gord has fond memories of his time at Dal, both in the classroom and out. It set him on his course for an exciting career, and it was where he met his wife, Chere Chapman (BSc’94), with whom he has four children. So is there anything he doesn’t miss about his undergrad years?

“I say this with the full acknowledgement that a decade in the tropics has turned me into a wimp,” he says. “The honest answer is walking to class on a February morning.”