B E YO N D C L A S S • by M arianne S koczek
MBAs on the Ground in Latin America Two Worlds Apart: Argentina & Chile “The trip’s biggest surprise? Argentina’s out-of-control inflation and the government’s efforts to hide it. Everyone sees it, but no one talks about it on the record. Long-term planning is two weeks; a year is unthinkable.” —Wil Agatstein
Photos courtesy of Wil Agatstein
ARGENTINA AND CHILE: Two countries that share a common language and climate but remain worlds apart. As Chile flexes its economic muscles, Argentina struggles. Following 10 weeks of intensive classroom preparation, last March, 18 UC Davis MBA students traveled to Buenos Aires and Santiago accompanied by Wil Agatstein, executive director for the Center for Entrepreneurship. Their goal: new insight into international “Visiting such contrasting trade and the distinct twists in each country’s countries highlighted the business environment. impact that political and “With their very different experiences, Chile and Argentina provide a great perspeccultural values have on tive in today’s uncertain global economy,” business dynamics and economic performance.” said Agatstein. “Our International Study Trip immerses students in many facets of a coun—MBA Student Monica Giovannetti try, teaching that culture matters, that history matters and that governments matter. Our students return home better prepared to become global business leaders—and as better citizens of the world.” Back-to-back meetings with executives and entrepreneurs, government officials and business leaders showed the MBA team how the countries are weathering the global economic storms; encouraging innovation and entrepreneurism; establishing markets for critical exports; and emphasizing the economic importance of health care.
(from top to bottom) Ship It: The UC Davis team at Valparaíso, home to Chile’s biggest and most commercially important seaport—and the world’s 16th largest in terms of tonnage moved. Shipping containers are transferred under tight security to ZEAL, a customs staging facility. Argentina’s “Wall Street”: The team negotiates the busy streets en route to the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, and on the floor of the 157-year-old exchange. Entrepreneurial Fire: The MBA students learned how Start-Up Chile is attracting earlystage, high-potential entrepreneurs to bootstrap their ventures—and then go global. The government-back incubator aims to convert Chile into the definitive innovation and entrepreneurial hub of Latin America. 36 • W I N T E R 2012