Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Latin America: The Land of Opportunity

Clinical Professor of International Business Roberto García introduces the first speaker
at the Doing Business in Latin America conference.
Guillermo Kalen
By Guillermo Kalen, MBA ‘17

Every year, the Institute for Global Organizational Effectiveness (IGOE) and the Latin MBA Association organize an event focused on Latin America. This year we had a conference titled “Doing Business in Latin America," which dealt with the importance of Latin America and the US economy and how to position yourself for a career in the region.

Roberto García, clinical professor of International Business and a member of the Management and Entrepreneurship department at Kelley, opened the event with a very special introduction: Jose Eduardo Claro, a Kelley alum who was a member of the first GLOBASE project, one in which García himself participated, has become a successful program within the business school that helps Kelley form and strengthen its relationships around the world.

Claro, a current Embraco/Whirlpool manager in Brazil, focused his presentation on solving two main questions: What is the importance of Latin America for corporate America? Will Latin American remain important for the US? Jose was able to not only to demonstrate the impact of Latin America on the U.S. economy, but also the opportunities American businesses have in the region through a presentation filled with useful and relevant statistics. For example, Walmart in the U.S. has one store for every 65,000 people, while Latin America only has one store for every 320,000 people. Another great example was Netflix. It has a current household penetration of 36% in the U.S., but only 0.9% in Latin America. He ended his presentation by sharing that there are some roadblocks in the region, but there is also opportunities.

Next, Erick Arnberg gave a presentation. Arnberg is currently a digital strategist at Google with experience in the U.S., Mexico and Sweden. His approach was to compare Sweden, U.S. and Mexico in different cultural dimensions (Hofstede’s theory). He compared the countries in six main dimensions: power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, and long-term vs. short-term orientation. It was very interesting to see that not only did Sweden and the U.S. share some cultural dimensions, but so did Mexico and the U.S. One thing was clear: Mexico thrives in uncertainty, values traditions, and relationships—key things to know when doing business with there.

After a brief break, Herman Aguinis, Founding and Managing Director of IGOE and the John F. Mee Chair in Management, talked about the Institute for Global Organizational Effectiveness; while Eric Johnson, Director of Kelley’s Graduate Career Services, introduced the second part of the conference: positioning yourself for a career in Latin America.

Roberto Cortez, Financial Advisory Services Director at Deloitte (Dallas), shared his experience in restructuring Deloitte South America, and the aspects anyone considering a career in Latin America should consider in order to be successful. The idea is to evaluate both yourself and your destination in geographic, technical, cultural, and both short and long term views. It was a very interesting presentation on how to identify intent and skills, define value, and recognize potential hurdles. Overall, he focused on the diversity of experiences, cultures and needs in Latin America, and its potential for growth and development.

Our last presenter was Scott Dorman, Marketing Director for General Mills in Mexico City and also a Kelley alumnus. Visionary leadership, acting with agility and the importance of influence were his main take-aways from his experience in Mexico. Latin America not only has potential, but is growing quickly.

In conclusion: We learned that Latin America is a place with impressive opportunity, rapid growth and of great importance for the U.S. The best way to be successful is by learning its culture, focusing on relationship-building, and leveraging those experiences and skills to generate value in the region. It was Warren Buffett that said “You can’t make a good deal with a bad person.” So, let’s start to use some Latin American strategies in our future business dealings!

From left to right: Miguel Cruz, MBA'16;  Roberto Cortez, Financial Advisory Services Director at Deloitte; Herman Aguinis, Professor of Organizational Behavior & Human Resources and Managing Director of IGOE; César Sánchez, MBA'16 and President of the Latin MBA Association; Jesús Salinas, MBA'16, Erick Arnberg, Digital Strategist at Google, Sweden; Jose Eduardo Claro, Manager at Whirlpool/Embraco, Brazil; and Scott Dorman, Marketing Director at General Mills, Mexico City

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