Settling into Santiago
Sixteen adventurous Quinlan graduate business students and two professors (Dr. Reilly and me) are assembled and orientated to our new week-long home in Santiago. This alternative Spring Break is part of the study-abroad course, Management 475, Cross-Cultural Aspects of International Management. So far we have had great weather (85 degrees and sunny) and wonderful tours with historical commentary about the architecture and beauty of the city. We can see the Andes from our hotel, and will explore them as well as the coastline later in the week.
It is Monday, and this morning we visited AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Chile to learn details of international trade and an overview of the business environment in this thriving emerging South American economy. Much of the produce and fish we eat in the U.S. comes from this country, which is about twice the size of California. Beyond the fertile central agricultural valley, however this skinny country houses amazing geographic diversity. To the north is the world’s driest desert, while in the south volcanos, lakes and glaciers are found. To the west is the Pacific coast and to the east the rugged Andes Mountains.
We are on sensory overload as we hone our observation techniques. Students are focused on understanding and comparing specific sectors for their group projects (public libraries, supermarkets, transportation and wineries), while attempting to comprehend the historical, political, legal and cultural nuances that influence the micro and macro-environments. In addition, they are alert to innovative sustainability initiatives. One surprise was the nearby Intercontinental Hotel with an exterior skin of sodded grass, an initiative designed to regulate the interior temperature and conserve energy.
Later today we are meeting with representatives of Groupon, an international branch of the Chicago mother ship. After that we will hear about an entrepreneurial start-up La Bicicleta Verde from U.S. expat Peter Murphy. The day will conclude with a three-hour ride on Peter’s “green bicycles” through the city, ending at a local watering hole where we will be treated to a cocktail party.
As the week progresses I will document more details. In addition, our Quinlan students will be contributing their take on the experience and their investigations of specific topics. Meanwhile, please know that we will be applying liberal amounts of sunblock and enjoying the beautiful weather, food and companionship in our temporary home.