Category Archives: International Consulting

An Unforgettable Adventure – Jeremy Sebastien

“Shanghai was my first trip to Asia and I approached the situation with an open mind and excitement to experience a new adventure. From the time that I got off the plane, Shanghai was complete sensory overload. The smell of food, the people, and the sounds of motorbikes honking as they drive past are omnipresent. There is an undeniable energy present in the city.

I have been fortunate enough to travel to other parts of the world. As an American, it is relatively easy to navigate most areas because of a clear western influence and common usage of English. Shanghai was different—in a good way. Not much English is spoken and the written language does not have any recognizable characters. When the journey started, I felt like a fish out of water. It didn’t take very long to feel at home in China.

Shanghai is an interesting blend of modern and ancient. The city is extremely cosmopolitan. A walk through Xintandi could make one feel like they are in New York City. Nanjing Road—with its bold neon signs and endless shopping—draws people into the spirit of the city for an evening stroll with no destination in mind. On the other hand, I would walk down that same road first thing in the morning and was amazed at how the main street looked like it was from the future, but the alleyways that branched out looked like they hadn’t been changed in centuries.

We had a job to do in Shanghai. The client that my team worked for was an up-and-coming agency that had a young staff and bold ideas. From d ay one, the company treated us as their own. They took us out to lunch and always made sure that we felt comfortable in the office. We were even invited to an after-work event and the invitation was extended to the rest of the Intersession group. We played dodgeball and laughed all night. It was one of the most memorable nights of the trip.

Our client gave us the freedom to explore ideas for the project. It was exciting to be a part of a newer firm that allowed its employees to act in an entrepreneurial way. It was also exciting to see that China is a growing and interesting place to do business. The country is expanding its reach and it was interesting to see the almost endless potential.

The study abroad program was one of the reasons that I decided to attend USD. My experience exceeded expectations. We were put into a new environment with a new culture and a new company. With that framework in place, we had the opportunity to take what we wanted from the trip. I came into the experience with the objectives of learning a new business culture and stepping out of my comfort zone. I wanted to take on an intellectual challenging project while experiencing life on the other side of the world. I left with much more than I wanted. I left with new friends, a broader global perspective, and an adventure that I’ll never forget.”

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (because I’ll be back soon) – Cat Nilsson

“My trip to Buenos Aires will be difficult to summarize in one blog post, as it was two weeks of exploring, learning, and adapting to a place full of life and fun people. First, I’ll start off by saying that Argentina, or even Latin America, usually isn’t at the top of a traveler’s list, but after experiencing all that the country has to offer, I would have to say: think again. Buenos Aires, Argentina is a bustling metropolis that is made up of a blend of traditions and cultures, namely French and Italian influences. It is known as the “Paris of Latin America”, and for good reason – the architecture is reminiscent of many of the buildings that you would find in Europe and the options are endless for whatever type of food you could want. Argentina has a lot of character, and there are many different places to explore in order to find your niche, whether it be in the trendy Palermo barrio where there are charming cafes, such as Cafe Oui Oui and Artemisia, trendy boutiques and fabulous upscale restaurants, such as Don Julio and Las Cabras, and upbeat nightlife (safe to say that Rosebar was a frequented establishment), to Recoleta, known for its famed Cemetery housing the remains of Eva Perón, a women’s rights and labor activist in the late 1940s to early ’50s, also known as the “spiritual leader” of the country, and contains two of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Cumana (the gnocchi is the most amazing thing ever) and El Cuartito (famous for its ‘fugazetta’ aka cheese and onion pizza), or to La Boca, a neighborhood smack dab in the center of Buenos Aires’ slums, but is the most colorful and inviting area in the city.

As a group of undergraduates, MBA, and MSGL students, we all began our trip by being taken on a city tour just mere hours after stepping off the plane (in order to help us adjust to the time difference) that showed us a lot of the main highlights mentioned previously, besides Palermo. We were able to slightly get our bearings and see what the city has to offer, as well as the places we would want to go back to. Upon the completion of the tour, many of us decided to go out for an early dinner in the neighborhood of our hotel, Retiro, a quiet yet classy area that includes Calle Florida, a street filled with bustling students from the nearby university and many shops and restaurants.

The first few days included our initial class meetings, a tango night, a wine tasting lecture, and sleepless nights (due to countless naps taken throughout the day). I took the Negotiations in a Global Business Environment taught by the relentlessly entertaining couple duo, the Barkae. The course as a whole was excellent and I would highly recommend anyone to take a class or a seminar in how to negotiate, as it is a life skill that is so important, especially for women in our society. Women are at an automatic disadvantage when it comes to negotiating, as we are perceived as being subordinate, docile, and forgiving. My main takeaway from the course was that in order to combat this issue, it is imperative for both men and women to know that this is prevalent and women are just as capable to lead, if not better, as we actively listen, value others opinions, and try to build consensus more often than men. The simulations also were very pertinent to what happens in real life and were vital to the learning process throughout the course of the class. The tango night was probably one of the best nights that was a part of the program set up by USD, as the performances were impeccable and visually amazing. It truly felt like you were a part of the tradition and the emotion emitted from the dancers was undeniable. We also were treated to a wine tasting lecture that was highly enjoyable and we were taught all that we would need to know about how to correctly try wine, as well as were able to taste two white and two red, plus a champagne, that are indigenous to the Latin American region.

After giving a brief overview of what the program & trip entailed, I want to go back to my favorite place in the whole city, Palermo. We decided to go on a graffiti walking tour of the neighborhood, where our tour guide transported us back in time to when Argentina battled into becoming a democracy, which is what “street art” was born out of. The most intricate of all the graffiti, in my opinion, was a mural of Frida Kahlo, painted outside of a club called “Fridha” with an ‘h’. It included real gems as her jewelry and she was depicted as the epitome of a hipster. There was another interesting piece of graffiti that looked completely different at first glance, since it had a lot going on, but actually made up an image of a tiger peering down at you. After going on the tour, my classmates and I had a much greater appreciation for the history of the struggle many of the citizens have had to go through and for the art that they use to demonstrate their passionate feelings.

A few other adventures worth highlighting that my classmates and I embarked on were visiting the San Telmo market, the MALBA (the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires), and El Ateneo Grand Splendid. The San Telmo Market was an eclectic assortment of artisan made goods, paintings, jewelry, leather bags and wallets, soap dispensers, and trinkets galore. The market goes on for miles and miles and is hugely popular to attend on Sundays, attracting an insane amount of tourists. We happened upon a cafe called Coffee Town in the center of the market located inside a converted warehouse that served up a mean cup of coffee and delicious brunch, that I am always craving. Throughout the mess of vendors and visitors, there are street performers either singing or dancing the tango. The MALBA was a modern art museum that showcased Frida Kahlo and Picasso, amongst other famous Latin American artists. Many of the art installations had a deeper meaning (or so we thought they must, since some of them were pretty strange) and it is a must see if you are either an art enthusiast or like to interpret wacky paintings and sculptures. Furthermore, El Ateneo was originally an opera theater transformed into a large bookstore containing Latin American classics and a cafe. The bookstore is beautiful and grandiose. The picture that I am providing really doesn’t do it justice, as it is so much more awe inspiring in person. It was perfect to visit the bookstore as a slight study break, as well as set up shop at a table in the cafe to study, all whilst listening to opera music in the background (which could get loud at times, but we tried to embrace it).


All in all, the trip exceeded all of my expectations in the way that I was able to be surrounded by a vibrant and rich culture with a great group of peers that I am lucky enough to now call friends, as well as could learn more about myself inside and outside of the classroom, through both the negotiations and exploring one of my new favorite cities, Buenos Aires. I hope to return sometime in the future, but for now, I’m grateful for the lasting memories that I have made and will continue to have for a lifetime.”

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Social Entrepreneurship in South America

Timothy Mullen and his MBA class took the opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, examining the prominent role of the cultural and social environment in regards to business and entrepreneurship. Please enjoy reading about Timothy’s experiences and perspectives.

“Our USD MBA went truly global early in 2016, with a group of us electing to travel for coursesmullen2 offered in South America. Argentina was the destination for a course in Global Entrepreneurship followed by Rio De Janeiro where we undertook a team based consulting project for real businesses. Argentina was particularly enlightening as we got much closer as a student body, living under the same roof in close quarters, sharing the same frustrations with taxi availability and exploring all the culinary and cultural nuances of our unique location together as a group. Even if by the end we couldn’t face another empanada or religious cut of beef for weeks to come, we were all so thankful for the experience.

The journey of discovery began when Dr. Meyskens set us the task of reading Bornstein’s “How to Change the World” and it set the tone for what was to be an amazing voyage of societal reflection throughout the inspirational excursion. David Bornstein through his book “How to Change the World” (2007) really opens the readers mind to the possibilities social entrepreneurship presents through business for social innovation on a global scale. It was an incredible read filled with heart-warming tales of idea champions struggling against adversity mullen1both systematic, economic and social. Bornstein uses ten case studies of individual social champions to strengthen his views about what defines a success and how the Ashoka organisation in particular, plays a role in developing small scale ideas into world changing visions with notable results. I think the book in general opened my eyes up to the kinds of innovative work individuals (in often really trying geographical regions) were performing, towards their own respective causes. Some of the struggles these individuals have overcome to render completely rewarding and often thankless results is astounding and often tugged at the heart strings. I was thrilled to learn about Ashoka’s individual based funding model recognizing elite contributors. I will keep with me, from this point forward, the six qualities of social entrepreneurs particularly a willingness to self-correct, and try to apply those principles to future strategic plans I try to enact whether socially beneficial or otherwise. I highly recommend anyone interested in civil sustainability or innovation pick up this book for a great timeless read or inspiration.

mullen3Following on from our exploration of the book we were fed valuable classroom insights into the social inequality currently facing Argentinians in their everyday lives due to a failing economy and job and welfare shortages. We visited and heard from many organisations in the Argentinian business landscape each championing a cause to correct social inequality. We were inspired by the likes of the Alamo co-operative employing those of less means to recycle and collect trash for sustainable employment, Idel who were training mentally disadvantaged adults by providing them with social training and employment possibilities, Acinder, a large steel corporation and the voluntary efforts they promoted through direct programs and government liaising and the almost militant worker groups at La Base and Chilavert printers championing the voice of the downtrodden.
mullen4We were further equipped with entrepreneurship tools and tasked to apply them to a venture of our own invention. Armed with a social entrepreneur geared business canvas model, the lean start-up philosophy and funding options and scaling principles for social ventures, we were ready to develop our own concepts. Wanting to better understand the class division and with an avid interest in healthcare already, our team decided to see what we could propose for healthcare in the Argentinian slums. I was really keen to understand the lives the residents and pitch our idea to the people who lived there to see if they recognised benefit. Filled with curiosity and a desire to help myself and the professor did a private tour of Villa 31 led by a mullen5volunteer evening school (Casa Abierta) teacher who lived there. She explained that our assumption that slum residents wanted to elevate themselves out of that living situation was somewhat misled. Most of the residents had moved to Villa 31 from the likes of Ecuador and Paraguay, as Buenos Aires in fact was a positive move even if it was the slums where they ended up. They weren’t looking to educate their children with the dream of ever leaving those communities but instead continue to work tremendously hard to make their communities a comfortable, viable and healthy lifestyle choice for all. It was share economy in the rawest form, they owned their predicament and weren’t seeking handouts, pity or sympathy. The slums were much more civilised than expected with running water, power, telephone coverage with internet access, security and functioning businesses. Issues remained like a lack of on-call emergency health services, police corruption and crime and drug proliferation, but these weren’t enough to dissuade the residents of Villa 31 from their intention to remain there and better their life in the slum. The professor and myself were even shown an adult evening education centre which was self-funded and volunteer steered, and we were also told of sewing co-operatives which had been developed recently. It was a very positive experience completely transforming my opinion of class inequality in Buenos Aires.

Our team’s concept MedRed was a non-profit healthcare app for the slum areas. Villa 31 had recently built a little medical room regularly attended by volunteers inside the slum so as to bring health care to the residents rather than have them walk up to one hour to the nearest facility, but it was manned to a schedule not around the clock and required one particular medical professional to champion the cause. Together with the adult evening school, he had begun a program of education for medical technician volunteers living in the villa who had access to the room and could perform minor duties. Our idea was to develop an app to connect those volunteers with a virtual network of logged in, on-call health professionals who would mullen6volunteer from local hospitals medical schools and universities and other practices. In the event of an alarm, the app would connect the volunteer with the professional to pseudo triage and treat the patient any hour of any day. Basically, an uber for volunteer doctors and their advice to the volunteers. The plan then was to expand the volunteer program and app to other slums in Argentina and then possibly the other slums of the world. Potentially a paid service for a GP on call could be rolled out to regular citizens in those countries to help fund the expansion. Our app concept was met with supportive praise from both the residents of the villa and the Argentinian business mentor whom we had to pitch it to and we felt rewarded that we’d developed a tangible solution to a very real issue.

I’m unsure as to whether our successful pitch will ever lead to a manifestation of the app in the real world, providing residents with a better standard of healthcare coverage, but nonetheless our journey to Argentina was tremendously rewarding and eye opening. We learnt much about ourselves as a student group and left inspired by real community efforts and ventures we’d both read about, visited and interacted with. It was amazing to learn that innovation in business didn’t have to be confined to the realms of efficiency and cost, but, all in all, I hope to remember that fantastic commercial opportunities exist outside of the regular “for profit” business world to strategize and innovate for real social change and balance.”

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Overcoming Brazilian Stereotypes and Language Barriers

Alex Henley completed her practicum experience abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was able to overcome her fear of the city’s stereotype as being unsafe, as well as her frustration with the local language, in order to enjoy Rio for the bright and vivacious city that it really is.

Before I left for Rio, everyone told me to be incredibly careful. I was very nervous about being mugged. I was told not to wear much jewelry, as people would come up and grab a necklace off of you. While I wore a watch to work during the day, I would only wear earrings out at night. I always kept my purse on me, with my hand holding the bag as well. That being said, I had no negative experiences in Rio and I was very cautious even when there were a lot of people around. I took the advice of not going anywhere alone and to take cabs instead of walk at night. During the day, I would go places alone, like to the store, pharmacy, shop, café, or an ATM. However, I also wish I did know more Portuguese. The language barrier was probably my biggest frustration. I know Spanish and English, but when I tried to explain this to the locals, they would just keep speaking in Portuguese. Fortunately, most restaurants have an English menu, so you kind of know what you are ordering.

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During the city tour, we saw Sugar Loaf, the Christ statue, the Cathedral, and the Santa Marta Favela. Taking a guided tour through the favela was life changing. Just like with Argentina, where I also partook in my practicum, the disparity between the rich and the poor in Rio is apparent. While walking through the favela, we were able to purchase art made by the locals in order to benefit the community. I would not recommend trying to navigate a favela alone. The Sugar Loaf was my favorite, as the views were absolutely incredible. We went on a rainy/cloudy day, but I still enjoyed every moment. We also went inside the Cathedral and the stained glass windows were absolutely beautiful, a site worth seeing for those that appreciate the timelessness of artwork.

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I probably had acai or a fresh juice once a day. The produce in Rio is so fresh, so I highly recommend that you take advantage of it while you are there. Rio is known for its steakhouses, known in Portuguese as churrascarias. I recommend you go to Churrascaria Palace. Although pretty expensive, the restaurant has exceptional service and side dishes. We also went to Pavao Azul and I ordered the bean stew, or feijoada, and was incredibly satisfied. It is a small, hole-in-the-wall type of place where the locals go, but it’s totally worth a try, even if there is a wait.image014

I also loved the beach in Rio, although it rained most of the time we were there. However, when you go to the beach, make sure you have cash, as everything you could possibly need you can find for sale at the beach. There are people carting around everything, from drinks to sunscreen, snacks to swim suits. Also, trying the street food is a must, even if you are not the biggest fan of fried foods!

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During the practicum, my patience was tested on many levels. Brazil, along with many other countries, is much slower paced than the United States. Nothing happens quickly, even in business. We spent a lot of time waiting for our client because they were behind schedule. I would say just be prepared to wait and don’t expect business transactions to happen overnight. I would also suggest checking in with your client and teammates regularly. I would say this is very important in order to stay on track and make sure that everyone understands what is expected of him or her. Also, because of the language barrier, we would sometimes misconstrue some of the things that the Brazilians said, because it wouldn’t translate into English in the intended way they wanted. Be comfortable with asking questions in order to clarify what is really meant.

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Tanda Extendida and the Dominican Republic

Tiffany Hynek completed her post-practicum reflection on her experience in the Dominican Republic and passionately describes the adverse situation that the private school system is facing there.

Tanda Extendida, the policy changes affecting the public school system in the Dominican Republic, have created a huge threat for the K-12 Christian private schools to which Edify and its microfinance partners, Esperanza and Aspire, provide loans. I was assigned to a team of University of San Diego graduate business students who were hired by Edify and its partners to travel to the Dominican Republic to help find solutions for these private schools. The schools were seeing high loss rates in their retention of students and teachers who were believed to be moving to public schools, due to the apparent rise in public school education levels and higher teacher salaries. The issue became apparent as we met with Edify, Esperanza and Aspire staff who shared their high levels of apprehension with us. They were concerned that with tuition beginning to leave the private schools, it would be increasingly more difficult for their clients to make loan payments and the availability of faith-based private education would decrease.

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Lunch meeting with Esperanza’s CEO

After hearing about the issues concerning our clients, we headed out into the field to visit thirteen private schools and hear the concerns of the principals and directors of these schools. These individuals largely echoed the concerns voiced by our client’s staff members: students were rapidly withdrawing from the private schools in order to access free education at the public schools, teachers were leaving in order to gain higher paying jobs at the public schools, and loan payments were going to be harder to make with less tuition coming into the private schools.

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Visiting K-12 Private Christian Schools

At this point, our team decided it was important for us to meet with the private school parents to find out their opinions on education, as they were the major decision makers in this situation. We were able to meet with a number of parents who shared their concerns about safety, nutrition, and discipline. Many of the parents had attended public schools as children themselves, but were concerned with the level of safety in the public schools where there were often 50 to 60 children for each teacher to both watch and educate. They were also concerned that the teacher to student ratio in the public schools made it impossible for teachers to discipline their students. However, due to the Tanda Extendida regulations, the public schools were now offering free breakfast and lunch programs for the children, which was very enticing for many of the parents whom we were able to speak with.

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Fernando Silva interviewing private school parents

At this point, our team recognized the importance of the situation and we needed a solution. We realized that the public schools had a huge benefit that the private schools were missing out on: economies of scale. For example, the public schools were able to purchase cheap meals from suppliers for their students because they were purchasing thousands of meals per day. However, the private schools would only be able to purchase a couple hundred meals per day, therefore losing out on bulk discounts. We realized that in order to compete with the government supported public school system, the private schools needed to work together to form a trade association.

Through this trade organization, they could work together to create benefits of economies of scale, learn from each other’s best practices, and create large scale marketing campaigns. We were able to contact food suppliers who were interested in working with a trade organization of private schools to supply affordable meals to a number of private schools. At this point, we were able to develop the beginnings of a food program for interested schools. This would not only help them remain competitive in the new market conditions, but it would also help to provide the much needed nutrition to their children. We presented our idea of the trade association and accompanying programs to CEOs and staff members of Edify, Esperanza, and Aspire, who loved the idea and wanted to move forward with the creation of the trade association as soon as possible. Our team is looking forward to also presenting our findings and recommendations to the CEO of Edify, and longtime supporter of USD, Chris Crane.

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

10 Must-See Attractions in Buenos Aires

MBA Student Xiaoyu (Grace) Pu recently participated in the Buenos Aires study abroad program. She took advantage of every opportunity to explore the city and experience the Argentinean culture, and was kind enough to share her list of the top 10 places to visit while in Buenos Aires:

1- La Recoleta Cemetery 

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La Recoleta Cemetery is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It contains the graves of very notable people, including Eva Peron (the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952), and a granddaughter of the French conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

2- La Boca

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La Boca is a wonderfully colorful neighborhood right next to the old port of Buenos Aires. Its multi-colored houses and taverns maintains the community’s tango tradition, football passion, and Italian roots.

3- La Casa Rosada

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La Casa Rosada is the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina. The characteristic color of the Casa Rosada is baby pink, and is considered one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires. The building also houses a museum, which contains significant objects relating to former presidents of Argentina. If you have seen Madonna’s movie, “Evita,” you don’t want to miss the La Casa Rosada.

4- Calle Florida 

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Calle Florida (Florida Street) is an elegant shopping street in Downtown Buenos Aires. It is one of the city’s leading tourist attractions. In the evening, the pace is invigorated as street performers flock to the area, including tango singers and dancers, living statues, and comedy acts. Its variety of retail stores, shopping arcades and restaurants is of great interest to foreign tourists and business travelers.

5- Palermo

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Palermo is a vibrant neighborhood located in the northeast of the city. The neighborhood’s walls are covered with paintings. Containing various boutique stores and bars, it is now the hottest place for the young generations to explore.

6- Señor Tango

IMG_1259 This traditional Tango show takes place in the old community, Barracas. The performance utilizes cutting-edge technology, displaying a monumentally entertaining array of light, color and sound. Forty artists and performers will offer you the best of traditional Tango. The central theme of Opera Rock Evita will surely get to your heart.

7- Recoleta

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A classy residential and commercial district complete with French-style buildings and art nouveau constructions, Recoleta is one of the most expensive and elegant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and amongst the most popular for tourists. Its central square, Plaza Francia, is surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and other touristic landmarks like the Del Pilar Church, the Palais de Glace and the University of Buenos Aires Law Faculty; alongside the plaza stands the famous Floralis Genérica – an immense steel statue in the shape of a flower, whose petals open and close depending on the time of the day.

8- Don Julio Restaurant

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Don Julio is a very famous restaurant in Palermo. Here, I had the best steak ever in my life. The building’s origin dates back to the 19th century, with the interior walls lined with empty wine bottles, converting the rustic space into a welcoming wine sanctuary. Diners from around the world leave their personal mark signing the labels of the great Argentine wines with handwritten messages. Check out our USD MBA wine bottle!

9- Makena Cantina 

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Makena Cantina is a club that houses a live band. The bar is built on three levels – the ground floor for dancing, the first-floor balcony for relaxing and socializing, and the stage on a mezzanine for anything in between. Sunday night is the regular gig for the band, “Afro Mama Jams.” These guys are a soul/funk/R&B/hip-hop collective, with a core of regulars and many guests musicians. On the whole, they are fantastically talented.

10- Slums

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If you didn’t visit the slums, you couldn’t say you have visited Buenos Aires. After seeing all of the fun places, it is essential to see the depressing side of the city as well. These settlements consist of small houses or shacks made of tin, wood and other scrap material. There’s no sanitation system, though there may be water pipes passing through the settlement. Electric power is sometimes illegally taken directly from the grid, which are perforce accepted by suppliers. Go see the slums, it will make you cherish more what you have.

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

International Practicum: iPai in Shanghai

MBA student Emily Lapp recently traveled to Shanghai, China for an international consulting practicum. These are her reflections:

MBA students burn incense at a temple in Zhujiajiao

MBA students burn incense at a temple in Zhujiajiao

“Just prior to my final semester in the University of San Diego’s MBA program, I decided to participate in an international consulting practicum during the 2016 intercessional period. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded a plane and, 13 hours later, touched down to greet the new year in a new country: China. An often discussed but frequently misunderstood country, China is primarily known for being heavily populated (almost 1.4 billion people) and a chief export partner to the United States; many products sold here in the US are produced within China. Yet, most Americans have never been to China and lack firsthand experience of the country. While studying the history and culture of a country can improve one’s understanding, there is little that can compare to firsthand experience. Given China’s significance as a growing nation with an ever increasing role in global business, I decided a trip to China would significantly aide in my understanding of global business by exposing me to both daily life and business in China.

MBA students attended the first auction held in iPai’s new office in Shanghai.

MBA students attended the first auction held in iPai’s new office in Shanghai

The company selected for the China practicum consulting project was “iPai,” an American-owned auction company in Shanghai. Our group was divided into two teams and assigned topics. My team’s job was to identify opportunities for improvement in the company’s organizational structure and work flow processes. While our professor was on-site to oversee the project and provide valuable feedback, we were entrusted to set meetings with the client, organize our efforts and ultimately, decide what recommendations would best assist our client. The project was much more open-ended than a typical MBA assignment and the timeline much more condensed. Not only did my team have to take care to accurately assess the company’s current situation and ensure we effectively communicated with our client to understand their desired outcome, but we also had to quickly assess the strengths of each team member while making time critical decisions as to how best to tackle the workload. Being in a foreign country, far away from the normal resources of USD and working for clients whose Chinese employees spoke little English, added to the project’s complexity. In the process, I learned a great deal about cultural norms in China, particularly related to organizational structure, and took away many tips for doing business in China. In the evenings, after a long day of work, our team was able to get out and enjoy the wonder that is the city of Shanghai.

MBA students and faculty visit the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai on a city tour

MBA students and faculty visit the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai on a city tour

After an intense ten days of working on the project, it was time for our final presentation to the client. I was eager to share our team’s hard work and, after the presentation concluded, felt a great sense of satisfaction. I knew our work for iPai was not just academic in nature, but would actually be used to further develop and grow the company. I truly enjoyed putting the skills I’ve learned during the past two years of my MBA program to great use for a company. I found the entire international practicum experience to be incredible. I know for a fact that it has greatly contributed to my personal understanding of the world and further enhanced my global mindset. I highly recommend an international practicum to all MBA students. I can promise that you will not regret it!”

To check out more student experiences, visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Ahlers Fellow Matt Oney: The Dangers of Growing Too Big, Too Fast

“Navera, a start-up in San Francisco, recently tasked me with determining the viability of expanding their product internationally. The team wanted to find out whether potential revenues would outweigh the costs of adapting their product to fit a few select markets. To give you a bit of background, Navera works in the healthcare space, creating fun, user-friendly cartoons designed to help consumers better understand available healthcare options. It’s a really cool product, and they’ve seen great success within the US. In the everlasting pursuit of increased revenues, they’re looking to offer additional language support to target native Spanish-speakers.

I began by determining the potential market size that would be opened up by offering Spanish support. After Mandarin, Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the world, so there’s huge potential here, right? With over 400 million speakers and official language status in 21 different countries, Spanish could offer Navera the opportunity to tap into markets all across Europe, Africa, and South, Central, and North America.

I split the potential expansion into two different categories: (1) international expansion into Spanish-speaking countries in EMEA (Europe and the Middle East), and (2) Mexico and LATAM (Latin America). Everything looked great for EMEA. There are about 38 million native Spanish-speakers there, with only three varying dialects, all primarily located in Spain. Mexico and LATAM weren’t so bad, either. There are about 221 million Spanish speakers in the emerging economies within this region. And the rapidly rising population and income in these areas will only lead to greater demand for healthcare. The product fits, and the market is huge. Awesome!

However, the issue is there are so many variables to take into account before jumping into these markets. For one, the way healthcare works in the US is incredibly different from these countries. There are tons of government regulations and compliance codes, which we need to be familiar with before launching the product. Not to mention a severe lack of brand awareness, local Sales and Business Development teams, and cultural differences to take into account. Quite simply, launching internationally would be a huge task, on top of Navera’s current work domestically.

Scaling back, I decided to look just at the Hispanic population in the US. Sifting through the US Census data from 2015, I found that the market here, too, is huge. 62% of all Hispanics in the US predominantly speak Spanish at home. A huge number of these people simply can’t speak English fluently, and there really is a need for Spanish support here. Cutting the data down, I found that 5,500,000 of these Hispanics are over 18 (check), not fluent in English (check), and earn a salary (check), making them eligible for health care coverage through their employer.

I started to believe we should start expansion domestically. Navera had previously stated that they wouldn’t consider international expansion unless they were guaranteed at least $25M in revenue, which was starting to look bleak, given the major differences in healthcare internationally, compliance factors, operating costs, and cultural factors. Starting small, adapting the product by offering standard Spanish support, and targeting these 5,500,000 native Hispanics will give us a good benchmark of how successful this project could be.

The biggest thing I learned, through this research, was that you can never get ahead of yourself, especially when looking internationally. The market for selling to these overseas markets is undeniably huge, and very profitable. But the costs (mostly in terms of time and complexity) far outweigh the benefits, in the short-term. In this case, it’s smarter to start small, test the product within our current US market, and take it from there.

There I had it. I organized my findings and recommendations, presented them to the Head of Marketing, and helped to reinforce their decision to focus on the US market first. The biggest thing I learned, through this research, was that you can never get ahead of yourself, especially when looking internationally. The market for selling to these overseas markets is undeniably huge, and very profitable. But the costs (mostly in terms of time and complexity) far outweigh the benefits, in the short-term. In this case, it’s smarter to start small, test the product on Spanish speakers within our current US market, and take it from there.

Throughout my time working on this project, the team was incredibly supportive of me, offered me an abundance of internal data and information to use, and truly seemed to appreciate the findings that I provided them. Their international expansion hasn’t been terminated by any means – we’ve just taken a more cautious, measurable approach toward growth.”

Read more student blog posts about our Ahlers Fellowship and study abroad opportunities!

Visit our website for more information about study abroad.

10 Must-Do Experiences in Munich

Rebecca Johnson in Munich

This past summer, Rebecca Johnson (USD MBA student) participated in the Munich & Athens study abroad program.  She took advantage of every opportunity to explore the city and experience German culture, and was kind enough to share (in her own words) her list of the top ten things to do while in Munich!

This list will be especially helpful to students interested in traveling to Munich this intersession for the international practicum course!

 

1.   Visit the Beer Gardens

The Beer Gardens are famous in Bavaria for their fun, easygoing atmosphere. The English Garden (“Englischer Garten”), one of Bavaria’s most popular gardens, is a large public park in Munich. People ride bikes, walk their dogs, lie in the grass, have picnics, swim in the water and drink beer there.

Munich Bike Tour SU15

 

2.   Do a Bike Tour

On a bike tour, you will experience Munich like a local! Munich is the second most bike-friendly city in Europe (behind Amsterdam). You will learn about the symbolism, customs and traditions while getting some exercise, fresh air and having some fun.

 

 

Munich Square SU15

 

3.   Walk around Marienplatz

This is the center of the city, where many people gather daily to shop, walk around, eat or enjoy the scenery. One of its famous forms of entertainment is the clock in the center of New Town, which has wooden figures that come out 3 times per day.

 

 

Munich BMW SU15

 

4.   Visit the BMW Museum-

This museum gives you the opportunity to see how BMWs are made and what processes are followed to develop a vehicle to prepare it for its intricate inspections before it is released to its new owner. BMW has a long history of developing its quality vehicles. You will learn all about the history and the evolution of their cars.

 

 

5.   Take a Tour of Dachau

Dachau is 10 miles Northwest of Munich and was one of the first concentration camps established by the Nazis in Germany. This camp was intended only for political prisoners. A tour of Dachau will give you a close look into the devastating history of concentration camps in Germany under Hitler’s reign.

 

6.   Tour the Residenz Munchen

The Residenz Munchen is a palace-turned-museum which used to be the Wittelbach residence and was opened to the public in 1920. This visit will give you a glimpse into the lives of former rulers of Bavaria, including apartments, ceremonial rooms and chapels. There are also works of art and sculptures from the 16th through 19th centuries.

Munich Beer Garden

 

7.   Drink a Beer and Eat a Pretzel at an Augustiner

This is a traditional pass time for locals and tourists alike. Any local Augustiner in Bavaria will have a few varieties of beer, which are commonly paired with a snack, such as pretzels with mustard. There is often live entertainment, such as traditional German music with traditional dancing.

 

 

Munich Dress SU15

 

8.   Wear Lederhosen or a Dirndl

Where else could you get away with wearing leather shorts with suspenders and high socks or a cute girly dress with an apron and braids? This is a fun way to accessorize while enjoying German Culture to the fullest. During Oktoberfest, this dress is commonly worn to celebrate the German way of life. It is especially fun if you plan to do some dancing!

 

Munich River Surfing SU15

 

9.   Watch the River Surfers

This is something you might not believe until you see it. River surfing has been an enjoyable activity in Munich for many years. Many famous professional surfers from the U.S. and Australia have visited Munich to experience this unique form of surfing. It is a creative way these athletes are able to experience their sport even far from the ocean’s waves!

 

Munich Fish SU15

 

10.   Eat Traditional Bavarian Food

German food is unique and delicious. You must bring an appetite, as this food is not light! Apple strudel, wiener schnitzel (thin, boneless cutlet of veal), spatzel (noodles), wurst (sausage) or bratwurst (fried sausage) are all delicious and should all be sampled while in Munich.

 

 

 

Want to read more student experiences?  Check out our Study Abroad blog page!

Visit our website for information on the upcoming Intersession 2016 Munich Practicum Program.

Closing the Gap: An American Experience with Argentine Economics

In January 2015, graduate student Elizabeth Tanner participated in the intersession course (Global Entrepreneurship for Social Change) program in Buenos Aires, Argentina and got a first-hand look at Argentine economics, including a growing wealth gap, which has been affected by both domestic political and financial instability starting in the 20th Century.

One of the ten wealthiest states during the 19th Century — a result of prosperous trading with European countries, flowing immigration and rich natural resources — Argentina began going through political and financial stability, as did much of the world, during the two World Wars. Add in political instability, degenerating fiscal policies and a domestic currency crisis in 2001, and socioeconomic inequality rose immensely.

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The closing dinner for the students in Buenos Aires; Elizabeth Tanner is second from the right.

Fast forward to 2015, Elizabeth Tanner was able to see and experience how Argentinian businesses are working to decrease that gap. “The role of business and entrepreneurs [is] in finding solutions to the wealth gap, creating and providing sustainable jobs, and improving the social climate in Argentina… Many business and entrepreneurs are taking an active role in driving social change through business initiatives. We witnessed this first hand through site visits during our course in Buenos Aires,” said Tanner.

Outside of the classroom, the participants went on numerous site visits to companies and organizations who are directly modeling their company goals and practices towards helping decrease poverty and grow the middle class. Tanner commented, “I was most impressed by Fundación Avina. We visited their Argentine headquarters in Buenos Aires… At Fundación Avina, they are addressing social challenges by creating sustainable profitable ventures. We learned about their efforts in Argentina. In the slums of Buenos Aires (and every metropolitan area globally), there are a subset of people who create income by picking through garbage and reclaiming the valuable and reusable waste… Waste pickers are an important part of our society [as they] are preventing landfill and assisting in achieving environmental sustainability and reclaiming commodities.” However, because they are working informally, their rights and leverage concerning wages. Fundación Avina, in response, has created cooperatives that unite the workers and enable them to get higher wages. On the legal end, the philanthropic group has worked on pushing public policy to formally recognize these workers.

View of Buenos Aires at sunset from the hotel.

View of Buenos Aires at sunset from the hotel.

Overall, Tanner’s experience has shown her how many businesses around the world are concerned just as much, if not more, about the ethics surrounding their practices and goals as they are with their bottom line. “The Golden Rule is moving to the forefront of many entrepreneurial efforts globally and businesses are prioritizing social responsibility. In addition, individuals and businesses are recognizing that sound business models and sustainable revenue flows can benefit social initiatives in creating long standing change,” Tanner said.