MBA@UNC Global Immersion: Buenos Aires Day One

MBA@UNC Global Immersions are offered four times a year as unique opportunities for students to travel to major international business destinations with their fellow classmates, participate in engaging discussions with their professors and elite industry leaders, as well as apply what they have learned to real-life problems they now have the knowledge to effectively overcome. At the Buenos Aires immersion, MBA@UNC students participated in a track focused on navigating the Argentinian market. Throughout the first day, MBA@UNC students learned about the economic history of Argentina and how to do business in the country, as well as how to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit. 


Session 1: Doing Business in Argentina

 

The first day of the Buenos Aires immersion began with Ariel Fleichman, Partner with Strategy& with a base of operation in Argentina and Chile, and a member of the firm’s People and Organization Strategy practice. He has extensive experience working with clients in the financial and telecommunications industries, and has participated in projects throughout the region.

Fleichman began by explaining the rich trading conditions in the last 100 years of Argentinian history, due to its wealth of natural resources and the talent of people. He continued by speaking on the current state of affairs in terms of inflation and how the new President Macri is changing things within his first 100 days in office. He ended the session by taking questions on topics ranging from the Blue Rate of currency exchange to the political climate of Buenos Aires.

Session 2: The Amazing Economic History of Argentina

The morning continued with a deep dive into the Argentinian economy with Professor Gastón Utrera, founder and President of Economic Trends, a company that produces economic analysis, statistics, and research. Professor Gastón Utrera has taught macro and micro economics at various universities, including José Giai Business School and Universidad Nacionale de Córdoba.

Professor Utrera opened his session by showing the “electrocardiogram” of a healthy economy, versus the economy of Argentina, as well as showing the American inflation rate over the last hundred years versus the Argentinian inflation rate. He opened the floor up for discussion by asking what the immersion students would do to smooth out the radical business fluctuations they were seeing, then explained how the inflation rate keeps rising in the country. A cycle of alternately increasing prices and salaries, along with the swinging of the national debt, from surplus to deficits contributes to the extreme ups and downs in the economy.

Professor Utrera ended his session by listing the many business opportunities in Argentina, including agricultural commodities and food production, natural gas and oil, the automotive industry, tourism, and real estate, among others.

Session 3: The Entrepreneur’s DNA

In the afternoon, Professor Chris Bingham led the students through a session designed to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit. Professor Bingham, who is the area chair of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and a Phillip Hettleman Distinguished Scholar, began by asking students to rate themselves on various entrepreneurial skills:

  • Questioning
  • Networking
  • Observing
  • Experimenting

Professor Bingham then walked students through each of the four core entrepreneurial skills to demonstrate the power of each. To illustrate the importance of the discovery phase, Professor Bingham tasked students with designing the perfect vacation for one another, without asking any questions, to find out how closely they can get to the idea getaway. Then, trying again, partners were able to ask probing questions in order to find out what was actually the perfect vacation.

The networking skill was demonstrated by utilizing the power of the MBA@UNC network, even just within the 135 students at the immersion. Three students who are interested in transitioning careers described their desired jobs to the room and saw how many potential connections could be made through their fellow students.

Professor Bingham then provided examples of how innovative companies and entrepreneurs used observation to enhance their products.

Lastly, students were tasked with building the highest tower possible with only 3”x5”notecards. The team that built the highest tower was able to accomplish the task by experimenting with how much weight the towers could build – early and often.

The second half of the entrepreneurship session concluded with a panel of Argentinian entrepreneurs that spoke about their successes and challenges in taking businesses from ideation through realization.

Dinner and Tango Show at Tango Porteño

At the end of the day, MBA@UNC students were able to take in some of the sights of the city, and visited Tango Porteño for dinner and an Argentine tango show.