Global Discovery: Visiting Chile and Argentina

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Global Discovery, an academic experience that is part of the FT MBA program, is one of the highlights of the 2nd year. All students go abroad for two weeks to better understand business experiences around the world. This year, students could go to Chile/Argentina, China, or UAE/Oman. I was able to go on the Chile/Argentina trip, and without a doubt, spending two weeks between those countries was not enough time!  Even though we were in each country for only a week, we were able to immerse ourselves into the Argentinian and Chilean cultures quickly.  We truly enjoyed and appreciated everything they had to offer.  Everyone that we met from both countries was extremely kind, helpful, and hospitable. The desert climate was so welcoming to our Midwestern, frozen bodies that we didn’t want to leave!

View of Santiago

The above picture is of Chile’s capital, Santiago. It has the infrastructure of most American cities and maintained a very clean appearance almost everywhere we went.  There were so many sights to see throughout the city…this picture was taken from atop San Cristobal Hill, which has an amazing statue of the Virgin Mary at its peak, pictured below.

Statue of Virgin Mary

While the landscape and city had so much to offer, our purpose for being there was through the Global Discovery program. The program has both on campus classes prior to departure, as well as a two-week international, immersive educational experience which allows students to better understand business entities, non-profits, and government organizations in ‘emerging market’ economies.  We certainly were able to experience the business environment through 17 site visits that we made to fully comprehend the challenges that exist within each country. Below are some images from our site visits:

From left to right: B-Eco startup incubator (Argentina) | Fonseca Tannery (Argentina) | AMCHAM (Chile)

From left to right: B-Eco startup incubator (Argentina) | Fonseca Tannery (Argentina) | AMCHAM (Chile)

It was eye opening for us all to see what it can be like to live and work in such changing environments. For Argentina, there are significant challenges in how the country will deal with a state level debt default, devalued currency, and a large poverty rate. A large transition is in process in Chile, as the country seeks to find a way to diversify away from its mining background through improved educational opportunities and federally supported entrepreneurial programs. These challenges in both Argentina and Chile were made so much more real by us as students being able to interact with those who are dealing with them and seeing firsthand what the business and political climates are like.

The Global Discovery program truly is integral to the full time MBA experience. We were able to learn so much about foreign economies and how business operates on a global scale.  For our group, which was one trip of three total (China, UAE, South America) within the Global Discovery program, we learned so much about Chile and Argentina, from our preparatory classes led by Professor Seth Werner, the site visits coordinated by Student Affairs representative Sarah Woessner, as well as all the locals that we met in both countries. We also surprisingly learned much more from each other as students than anticipated, as 38 of us shared in the experience together and discussed the concepts that we encountered throughout the trip. We carried our community strength from Minnesota to both Argentina and Chile.

Below is a picture of our entire group at our last site visit in Chile, the Kingston Vineyard.

Huge Group of Carlson Students in Kingston Vineyard