In January, 17 Mihaylo MBA students traveled to Argentina and Chile to get a first-hand look at how business is managed on an international platform. The trip was one of the annual study-abroad experiences the college offers to full-time MBA students to help develop their skills as international business leaders.
During the 12-day trip, students met with guest speakers and business executives to learn about the history and culture of these two countries and how businesses succeed in varying political environments.
According to Melissa Lopez, director of MBA and Graduate Programs, there are three important goals for this travel experience.
“First, students need to understand that modern firms operate in a global economy and must thrive across borders. Second, it’s important to understand that different political systems within each nation impact the business community,” says Lopez. “Third, as future leaders, our students need to know how to work with business professionals in diverse communities with unique culture and work practices.”
“The main objective of the trip was for the graduate students to gain a deeper understanding of how businesses in other countries operate and become successful in the competitive global economy,” says Christie Lau ’14. The first stop was in Argentina, where the group met an official government-approved tour guide, who spoke to the students about the rise and fall of Argentinean regimes and how businesses operate in an uncertain economy.
During their five days in Argentina, students met with four different companies. A member of the American Chamber of Commerce Argentina spoke about the nation’s major industries, and Hard Rock Café’s operations manager discussed the restaurant’s corporate history as well as its challenges in Buenos Aires. The group also spent time at both the largest private Argentinean bank, Grupo Financiero Galicia, and the tax division of Deloitte.
Chile has seen tremendous growth over the last 10 years. Over six days, the group visited five Chilean companies and discussed how the country has prospered since the end of the nation’s dictatorship in 1990.
Students met with the American Chamber of Commerce Chile and talked about the organization’s encouragement of entrepreneurship. The U.S. Embassy gave a presentation on the Chile-California Agreement, which promotes collaboration between the countries. They also met with CODELCO and discussed its operation as the world’s main copper producer. Representatives at Fundación Chile spoke about the company’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship among small businesses. The group’s last stop was Viña Tarapacá, a successful Chilean winery.
“One of the most valuable aspects of the presentation at Viña Tarapacá was that the wines made in the year 2010 are sold at a premium price because of an earthquake that year, which changed the fermentation condition, resulting in a unique taste,” says Guxiao Zhou ’14. “Crisis management showed that while the company suffered from the earthquake, it took steps to take advantage of the crisis to minimize losses.”
“Overall, it is interesting to go to these two countries and compare how countries in South America are different and begin to understand the causes of these differences,” says Sophie Yu ’14.
For some of the students in the group, this was their first trip outside the United States, and while students gained a greater understanding of international business practices during this travel experience, they also enjoyed their time together as a cohort. Says Lau: “Many new memories, friendships and skills were developed that could have never been created in the classroom environment.”