From April 7 through 9, 2017, the MBA Chile conference—the most important meeting of Chilean students abroad—was held at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business for the very first time.

The conference brought together more than 150 people including renowned speakers, students and their families from 18 top universities in the United States, including Duke, Harvard, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, Columbia and MIT, among many others.

The process of choosing the host university for this conference year after year is competitive. Each business school presents its project which is voted by the student body. One of the main reasons why Duke won was for our proposal for unity and integration. Committed to the values that inspire our formation, we proposed an inclusive, diverse and high-quality meeting where families felt fully welcomed and incorporated; where students from all universities could contribute their talents to the organization; and where the topics of discussion looked beyond the business world towards the integral development of Chile itself. So it was. A team of more than 40 people from 10 universities led by Duke worked hard to set up the best possible experience for everyone.

Dean Bill Boulding speaking to a auditorium of MBA Chile attendees

Fuqua’s Dean Bill Boulding speaking during the event

 

Our goal during the three days was to discuss, analyze and look for potential solutions to the main challenges Chile is facing today: how to grow inclusively and reduce inequality; how to foster entrepreneurship and innovation to the next level; how to diversify our productive matrix; how to improve the quality of politics and institutional design; and how to progressively include women in national leadership positions.

To discuss these issues, we had the opportunity to share with 16 exceptional speakers. Among them:

  • Fernando Fischman, the founder of the largest unicorn in Chile—Crystal Lagoons—with whom we talked about the challenges of internationalizing Chilean innovations
  • Harald Beyer, former minister of education, with whom we discussed how to improve the quality of primary education
  • Bernardo Larraín Matte, president of Colbun and business leader, who spoke on the challenges of leadership faced by the company in the face of institutional transformations and new citizen demands
  • Cecilia Pérez, former Minister of Government, who talked about how to stimulate the participation of young people in politics and public service

But we also tried to identify our role as future MBA alumni in facing these political, economic and social challenges Chile faces. In this sense, the MBA Chile conference was an opportunity to consolidate lessons from what we have learned here at Duke and Fuqua: the genuine conviction that together we are much more than each person separately; the importance of doing the right thing, as inspired by the idea of leaders of consequence; and the strong commitment to generate a real impact in our context and society.

MBA Chile was also a unique opportunity to strengthen the ties of over 100 students who will lead the country’s destinies in the near future. This network of influencers, consolidated at Duke, will be fundamental to disseminate the appropriate values that will facilitate the building of bridges between the public and private sectors. We are convinced as an organization of the need that exists in Chile to break this false dichotomy between the world of business and public life. Today, more than ever, citizens demand stronger ethical standards and a greater social commitment from firms. We must be prepared to meet that challenge.

11 students posing in front of the MBA Chile auditorium stage

Some of our student organizers

 

Bottom line, the conference was a success, thanks to the hard, dedicated and committed work of several students from multiple universities led by Duke. In the words of students, speakers and sponsors: this was the most comprehensive, integral and deep MBA Chile conference ever.

I firmly believe that our spirit of teamwork and the pursuit of a transcendent impact on our society has been a strong contribution to consolidate the MBA Chile brand and strengthen our ties as privileged students, which will allow us in the near future to genuinely contribute to building a better country with more opportunities for all.