Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spotlight: Kelley Emerging Markets Experience Argentina

By Emily Josephson, First-year MBA, Marketing


The stunning view in Mendoza
Kelley offers many international opportunities, and I recently returned from an amazing two weeks as part of the Emerging Markets Experience Argentina program, The trip was the culmination of a seven-week course to learn about how the country’s political and economic history and environment impacts business. I chose this program to gain a new perspective on international business, and with many company visits and conversations with Argentines and ex-pats, I got a true sense of the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the beautiful and complex country of Argentina.

While in class before the trip, teams of students researched the various companies to delve into the issues we learned about when it comes to doing business in Argentina. With constant challenges of intense government involvement, surging inflation (with a large gap between the official rate… and reality), balance of trade regulations, and a turbulent economic and political history, the Argentine businessmen and women have developed incredible resourcefulness to navigate through these issues. These themes came through at each of the companies we visited.

Kelley MBA at the Staples headquarters in Argentina
The lively city of Buenos Aires served as our home base for much of the trip and most of our company visits. We spent time with Staples, Dow, Eli Lilly, Globant, Medtronic, and Ernst & Young, hearing from executives about their first hand experience doing business in Argentina, and also engaging in Q&A. What was most striking was the matter-of-fact acceptance of these challenges, and translating that to creative problem solving to make successful business possible. In response to a student’s question about the risk of inflation, the straightforward response of “It’s not a risk – it’s a fact!” brought these concepts and theories into sharp focus.

After a casual lunch in the hip, colorful neighborhood of Palermo Soho, we spent the afternoon with a mobile app start-up sharing our ideas with the entrepreneurs. In the true spirit of Argentina, we learned about the wine industry and business of vineyard ownership with Vines of Mendoza company.

Having the opportunity to spend two weeks in Argentina, and experiencing the country after learning so much about it in class, is an opportunity I am thankful for.  While I gained a new perspective on international business than what I originally sought, I did so while learning to dance the tango at an authentic tango club, sipping malbec, walking the streets of Buenos Aires, dancing to a live improve drum show, volunteering for a day at an orphanage, and exploring a new country with my Kelley community. 


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