I’m in Argentina for spring break! I’m here because I’m participating in a Strategic Planning Practicum, so I’m not just here to relax and bask in the sun. I’m here to work, to learn, and to give back.
The Strategic Planning Practicum is a 6-credit course that takes place over two academic terms. Through the course, I’m studying an organization in detail, including a hands-on, international experience and I’m learning how to develop and produce a strategic business plan. Working in a team, five of us are developing a market entry analysis for an American healthcare company based in North Carolina that is entering the Buenos Aires market. There are 2 other teams at Fuqua working on similar projects – one involves creating a marketing strategy with a company that manufactures synthetic wine corks, while the other involves an implementation strategy with an IT company in India.
Research & Background
During the first term of the class, I got to know my teammates and our client. We determined the project scope, conducted secondary research, and developed an initial hypothesis for the project. Over the course of the term, we had formal classes, participated in bi-weekly team meetings, and held weekly phone calls with our client to guide our research and prepare for our trip to Buenos Aires. My team also:
- Wrote a formal problem definition memo that outlined our project scope
- Researched the Argentinian healthcare system through secondary sources
- Conducted phone calls with various healthcare professionals who are familiar with the Argentinian market
- Scheduled meetings with local healthcare executives to take place during our spring break in Buenos Aires
- Delivered a midpoint presentation to the client with information about the Argentinean health care market and areas to further investigate
- Outlined our final paper
After completing all that, we took off for Buenos Aires. We just finished our first week, most of which was spent meeting with local healthcare professionals including executives at Argentinian and multinational pharmaceutical companies, doctors, and Argentinian healthcare regulators. We discussed the market, gaps in service, regulations, and our entry strategy. Over the course of 6 business days, our team participated in roughly 28 meetings with healthcare professionals! Although the days have been quite busy, this visit gave our project a new feel since we could see, hear, and discuss the pros and cons of our ideas with the local executives.
Argentinian Hospitality & Insights
Additionally, these executives are very gracious and have shown us great hospitality. Not only did they give their time to discuss the Argentinian healthcare market with us, but they also seem genuinely happy to meet us and are very willing to help. They were happy to discuss anything that we were interested in – similar business models, pros and cons of our ideas, Argentinian laws, and the best local places to eat and drink. Moreover, we’ve also received various unexpected and appreciated “gifts” including Argentinian chocolates, laptop sleeves, sunscreen, cell phone chargers, and more.
After we return to Durham, we’re going to refine our entry strategy based on what we learned from our primary and secondary market research. In April, the project will culminate in a formal presentation to company executives and a written paper for our professor.
Thus far, this project has been great for a number of reasons: I was able to travel to Latin America, practice my Spanish, learn about the healthcare field, and most importantly, work on a project to gain real-world experience before my summer internship!