I had the opportunity to visit South America for the first time as part of the MBA International Study trip. Narcos, Machu Picchu and football were few of the things I knew about South America. This International study trip was my opportunity to have a real taste and feel of the continent, while also understanding a different culture. This helped me to link the theoretical knowledge that I learnt in the MBA programme, to its market application in an unfamiliar country. The main reason of doing an International MBA was to obtain a global experience. This trip added the icing on the cake.
Santiago is one of the most developed cities in South America. However, it is also a city which lies in a highly active seismic zone, as earthquakes in Chile are a routine occurrence. I was astonished to find that the Chilean infrastructure is so strong and dependable and that the Chilean people are unperturbed unless an earthquake measures higher than 6.5 on the Richter Scale. I also had the opportunity to visit one a non-profit organisation- Fundacíon Vivienda, which makes temporary houses for earthquake affected people. I fortunate to meet with to Miguel Mora, the Operations Director of the firm. We discussed on how we could make use of the residing materials from the houses.
We also met a lot of renowned speakers like Nicolas Verdesoto, who manages investor relations at Banco Estada, the State Bank of Chile. He explained the Chilean economy and its fiscal policies. We had the privilege of visiting one of the finest vineyards in the world- Vineyard Veramonte in Casablanca and of course, we bought some bottles for ourselves!
After a few exciting days in Chile, we flew to Lima, Peru for the second leg of our journey. And guess what, we met the CEO of Vivo Air, one of the cost leaders in the Aviation Industry. He spoke about the history, the company strategy going forward, their beliefs and how being a cost leader gives them a competitive advantage.
This trip also gave me the opportunity to visit one of the leading textile manufacturing firms in LATAM. I had never been to a textile manufacturing factory before. Eduardo Elias, the Director of the firm, provided us with a great insight into the process of making clothes. We also visited his industrious factory and the textile testing centre.
We stayed back in Peru for five more days to understand the LATAM culture. We explored the cities on our own experiencing the nightlife, the remains of the Incas civilisation and the natural beauty that South America possesses such as Machu Picchu and the Rainbow Mountains.
Orientating and managing cultural differences is an essential part in a manager’s work life. As an MBA graduate, it becomes essential to learn how to conduct business in a completely different environment with a variety of cultures. Furthermore, it becomes vital to understand how to harness the theories learnt during the MBA to accommodate the cultural diversity in an International setting.
Finally, I would like to thank the Smurfit MBA Office for providing us this opportunity, my group who accompanied me to make each and every day special, Karan Sonpar for his speed dating networking tips, Thom Strimbu for capturing these wonderful pictures and the tour organisers for making this trip a memorable experience.
Himanshu Kamat, MBA FT 2017/18