Students at corporate visits
Me, JC Conover, and Sanjay Tamhane at Itau Unibano (an international bank) in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I am EXHAUSTED! We just started classes again, and I’m still catching up on sleep after a heck of an adventure during Spring Break. I went on a GATE trip. GATE is short for Global Academic Travel Experience, which is a unique elective course. During the in-class portion, we’re exposed to the history, culture, and attributes of doing business in a certain region of the world. Once the course concludes, the class and faculty travel to the region to visit companies doing business in the area, network with alumni working in the region, and immerse ourselves in the culture.

Christ the Redeemer Statue
We saw the local sights in our free time, including the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio De Janeiro.

My GATE trip revolved around Latin America. Over the course of about 13 days, my class traveled to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and then Buenos Aires in Argentina. Fuqua also offers GATE courses on China, South Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. I chose Latin America because of the explosive economic and political growth in the region and the immense opportunities the region will provide over the coming years. In addition, it doesn’t hurt that the weather is incredible and the people are sooo friendly!

Ipanema Beach
On Ipanema Beach (like in the song!) in Rio De Janeiro.

During the 2-week trip, we met with 7-9 companies from all kinds of industries. The companies included Petrobras, Braskem, ABInbev, UNICEF, Itau Unibanco, Votorantim Cimentos, and a few others. In these meetings, we learned not only about the organizations but a great deal about the benefits and challenges of doing business in the region. I have a few key takeaways, including:

  • Talent Shortage – We were given unique insight into the struggles many of these Latin American-based companies face in terms of recruiting talent as their economies are quickly growing. They made it very clear that if we had any interest in working in the region, our services would be welcome!
  • Location of Snoop Dogg's Beautiful video! It is at the base of the Corcovado Mountain (seen in background).

    Relationship Focused – Our company visits all stressed the value of developing strong relationships with their employees and customers. Latin America has always been known for a relationship-based culture and it was interesting to see that in the business setting.

  • Friendly – Everyone was just sooo friendly. These organizations took time out of their days to speak with us about doing business in Latin America and they did it with a big smile on their face and actually said “thank you!” to us!

While the trip is a part of a class and we spent a great deal of time in meetings with various businesses, we also had free time to soak in the wonderful sights and sounds of these beautiful cities. From visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue, to watching Ronaldinho play in a Brazilian Soccer match, to finding the actual shooting location of the Snoop Dogg’s Beautiful video, I can certainly say that we had a fantastic experience. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Brazil and Argentina, put it on your bucket list! You won’t be let down by these amazing cities!