Global immersions are an important component of all Mason MBA programs. Currently, one international experience is included in the EMBA program, and as of the class of 2014, there will be two week-long immersions. These ‘trips’ combine meetings with business and government leaders with factory/office visits and social interactions. Students gain in many dimensions from these international components. Gaining a better understanding of the business and cultural aspects of the countries visited is obvious. In a greater sense, students also come home with an expanded knowledge of and interest in international business as a whole. And as one of our professors is known to comment, “When you travel, you learn as much about yourself as about the countries visited.”
The following excerpts are from Brett Prillaman, who is currently Project Manager with an elite architect and engineering firm, specializing in embassy market segment. He has served two tours in Iraq. Prillaman is currently an Executive MBA student who traveled with the May, 2012 trip to Chile and Brazil. — Ed.
Regarding the visit to the Casa Del Bosque winery in Chile—“I was very impressed with the quality of the infrastructure, the knowledge of the presenter, especially on the front of marketing, brand awareness, the channels of distribution, and that of the customer. I was also keenly impressed with the unique geographic traits of altitude, temperature, and the use of technology (i.e. crop fans used to keep the grapes to specific ranges of temperature). The wine and dinner were wonderful accents to the trip, the food was good, and the wine was exquisite.”
Regarding the ‘cultural distance’ between Chile and the US:– “I was amazed by how many Spanish speaking people were in the theater enjoying the American (US) culture, jokes, and actors. In talking to a local, one even offered that it is a way that they maintain or hone their English speaking skills. . . . I was definitely awe struck at the power that American pop culture wields on other countries.”
Regarding a presentation by the former Secretary of Education in Brazil—“She effectively illustrated the importance of education, as without education there is no policy, no state, no nation.
If Brazil is to ever truly emerge as a world/economic superpower, it is going to have to greatly improve upon its ability to educate its general population. For me, the value of education had never been so greatly explained, though my experience in Iraq would tend to provide further illustration on how infrastructure and education are critical needs for a country to get up and on its feet economically. “
Trip Conclusions—If I had to make a choice and set a stake for which country I would begin a business in, my choice would be Chile. Chile is more agreeable in trade, tax structure, language barrier, and corruption. However, if I were a capital intensive business, with lots of resources, I may look first at going to Brazil for the opportunity to grow.
This trip provided me with many educational lessons, insights. This trip enabled me to see the mechanisms that need to be in place for a third world or war torn economy to emerge and become dominant. Resources, education, government, and public policy all play a vital role in determining economic strength, which in turn strengthens a middle class and improves the quality of life for all. In the end, it is the ability to hold a job and provide for one’s family which will serve as the bloodlines for peace and prosperity.”
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