By Andrea Wood, first year PT MBA student at the DC campus.
Our week-long global experience in Professor Bennet Zelner’s course, “Doing Business in Chile,” began with immediate immersion on our first full day with a cross cultural learning activity and scavenger hunt, how to shop like a local at La Vega Central market. We were divided into randomly assigned teams with an intermediate to advanced Spanish speaker from the cohort as the team lead and a local guide from the walk, bike, and wine Chilean tour company, La Bicicleta Verde.
Each team was provided a list of locations or stores inside the vast colorful market to photograph or fresh ingredients to purchase during the allotted time. Following completion of the scavenger hunt, teams gathered at Huelquen winery to try our hand at creating two items we came to see frequently during the week, pisco sours, a traditional Chilean cocktail, and pebre, a Chilean condiment resembling salsa, made from spices, olive oil, tomatoes, and other vegetables.
View of the market stalls in La Vega Central market, the perfect location for a cross cultural learning activity and scavenger hunt in Santiago.
With only one full semester of coursework completed, the global experience contained a few revisions to the second year experience, primarily switching from the consulting project to a company brief and video presentation of a particular company with a group of peers. Our group was selected for Fundación Origen, a sustainable education center, offering a unique opportunity for at risk youth to study at the agroecologial school, learning not only about agriculture and the effects of agricultural practices on the environment, but also about the whole self, bettering oneself for a peaceful, fulfilling life.
The success of the school is demonstrated in its zero percent dropout rate, revealing the commitment of the teachers and administrators to the mission of the organization and the students who enroll. The research aspect of the global experience course created excitement for our group as we anticipated visiting the school and learning more about their other projects, including the Peace Institute and Villa Virginia Hotel.
Upon arriving at Fundación Origen we saw beautiful fields with vegetable gardens, chicken and goat pens, and mountains in the background. At the end of the tour of the facilities, our cohort enjoyed a delicious meal made from many of the ingredients found on site, including goat cheese and fresh greens.
Exploring the farm at Fundación Origen.
While I greatly enjoyed visiting the organization our group had researched, further excitement came when learning about the other companies through videos prepared by our classmates prior to our arrival in Chile and through the company visits or guest lectures. The other companies included Tasty Beat, a prepared foods grab and go restaurant, which many of us tried one evening for dinner; Banchile, a Chilean bank and financial services company; Karun Shades, creator of wood framed sunglasses, originating from fallen Patagonian trees; Mondelez International, a snack food company; Agrosuper, a producer and distributor of pork, poultry, salmon, and processed foods, which we visited for a tour of the facilities; Verano Capital, a renewable energy developer; and Kingston Vineyards, a Chilean winery located in Casablanca, which was a beautiful location for the farewell lunch.
After hearing from professionals from each of these companies, our class gained insight into some of the challenges of doing business in Chile and the growing industries and new opportunities in the country, including Start-Up Chile, which is an entrepreneurship and innovation promoter through the Chilean government.
Relaxation and learning at the family ranch of Kingston Family Vineyards in the Casablanca Valley.
The last day and a half was spent in Vina del Mar and Valparaiso, coastal cities with a unique artistic culture. The walking tour of Valparaiso immediately revealed the differences between the capital city of Santiago and the seaports, taking us along winding cobblestone alleys, passing local artisans and jewelers, and up graffiti streaked stairways, eventually leading to panoramic views of the hills and the water.
Graffiti and colorful houses spotting the neighborhoods of Valparaiso.
This short visit to the coast marked the end of the global experience as a cohort; however, a few of us continued our Chilean adventure to Patagonia, complete with treks, a glacier tour, and horseback riding.
The beginning of our Patagonian adventure.
Andrea Wood is a first year part-time MBA student in the weekend program at the DC Campus. She works as a Financial Analyst at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Prior to moving to the Washington, D.C. metro area, she completed a dual master’s at Carnegie Mellon University in arts management and the University of Bologna (Italy) in innovation and organization of culture and the arts. Previously she worked in marketing, communications, and graphic design. Andrea is intrigued by data and people analytics and is excited to expand on this knowledge base through experiences at the University of Maryland.