Experiencing Chile

There was an air of excitement in the Atlanta Airport, the Huntsville and Tuscaloosa EMBA classes coming together to learn about the emerging markets of Chile and the culture. As we flew in, we saw the Andes Mountains seem to almost hug the entire country of Chile. As we drove into the city, there was a dramatic transition from run down shacks to the very metropolitan city of Santiago. In the afternoon, we had a tour of the city and there was a blend of old historic, to modern buildings. Our group seemed to be curious about the local fare and what is typically eaten in the Chilean culture. Mote de Husillo was a wheat, tea, and pear drink sold on the streets. Thankfully, it was a drink nobody got sick on.

After our tour, we all had a lovely welcome dinner at a steakhouse, where the two classes really bonded over great food. In the United States, everyone is in a hurry to eat and get to where they are going. Dinners in Chile are a bonding experience, the servers are in no hurry to serve you, and the people truly make it a relaxed moment. You cannot expect to go to any restaurant and be done in less than three hours.

Chile is truly a unique country with the Andes Mountains. Having the opportunity to drive into the countryside, go on a horseback ride, and see the country from a mountainside, just reminds you of how beautiful the world can be and what a blessing it is. The people in the lodge were truly gracious hosts and provided us with a meal fit for kings. They slow cooked lamb over an open fire with their traditional side dishes including roasted vegetables, salads, and the red and brown quinoa. Along with this local fare, we also learned Chileans love cookies and coffee. When hosting guests it is traditional to provide cookies and coffee. The coffee is very different from the US, it is very smooth without a bitter after taste and is served in espresso cups.

On our last full day in Chile we did our company tours to Proctor and Gamble, Banco Estado, and Marinetti. The big surprise was coming into the manufacturing companies and finding out they already had implemented lean production and were incorporating the latest technology to improve efficiency. The other big surprise was learning BancoEstado being a state run bank had no interest in being ahead of their competition. They wanted to have the image of being a safe and stable bank. Their competitive advantage was if macroeconomic conditions should change in a negative way, they would be able to remain more stable over the publicly traded banks. It is a reminder to the customer by saying we are here for you when times get tough. BancoEstado reminded me of how 90% of the Americans conduct their money business, most go into the major banks because technology is up to date and they do mobile banking. On the other hand, BancoEstado is comparable to that of a credit union in the United States because they are slower, but also provide rates lower on loans and are more willing to lend to a higher risk customer. The experience with each company was so neat because each company rolled out their own red carpet for us by providing cookies and coffee at each stop.

Team: Meridian

Will Coulter, Edward Eskridge, Daagye Harvill, Gary Morrison and Jennifer Thomas

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