On the Road with the Mason MBA: Chile

This January, 28 students, along with Professors Nirup Menon and Massood Yahya-Zadeh, spent eight days in Chile on the international residency that is the culmination of the Mason MBA experience.

Central to these week-long residencies are the site visits with leading regional firms and executives. The visits provide not only first-hand insight into business practices in say, South America or South Africa—but also spur our students to think more deeply about how and why business gets done every day in every corner of their world.

A field report from Hoan Tchen, Mason MBA

Our first site visit took us to Codelco, the largest copper mining company in the world. Codelco processes more than 30% of the planet’s copper.

Codelco 1

As we entered an impressive room of copper walls, we were greeted by Codelco Chief Information Officer, Marco Orellana. He explained Chile’s storied copper mining history. The industry has sustained their national economy for decades. He also shared details on the high-tech tools and modern robotics that Codelco uses to offset the challenges of the aging mines and increased production costs. We gained incredible insight into copper both as a business and as a cultural entity. I spoke with many locals who mentioned that they were proud of their country’s history of copper and many aspire to work for Codelco.

Codelco 2

Afterwards, we wrapped up the day with an authentic Chilean meal at Como Agua Para Chocolate, (Like Water for Chocolate), a restaurant named after the book by Laura Esquivel. We all got a taste of fresh local Chilean conger fish, learned how to toast in Spanish and enjoyed amazing pisco sours, a popular Chilean drink made of brandy, lemon juice and egg whites.

Our Chile Residency was a great opportunity to gain a local perspective. This experience allowed us to really understand the issues on the minds of the Chilean people and how this impacts the way business is conducted. There are many political and social aspects that cannot easily be understood without being here and experiencing their influence on Chileans. Understanding the norms of a culture, customs and complexities are essential for doing business in a global world.

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Janet Palmisano

Janet Palmisano is a member of the Recruiting and Admissions team at the George Mason University School of Business.

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