Fiona SeversonEvery winter break the MBA program takes a week long international trip to apply and develop our business skills in an intercultural context. This year, the destination was Santiago, Chile. I’ve never been to South America, so I was excited for the opportunity to explore a new area of the world with my classmates.

Before flights are even booked, the program is hard at work identifying companies with business problems that our cross-functional teams of students can tackle. Every team has a very unique experience on the global trip. Our team worked with GE Mining on a market development project that expanded my knowledge of the industry and added a unique perspective to my time in Chile. Did you know that Chile is the world’s number 1 exporter of copper?

Even before we left for the southern hemisphere, each team was hard at work on their respective projects. Our team was able to establish a connection with our Chilean counterparts at GE Mining right away, but it took some time to develop the direction of the project. Throughout the process, I made sure to ask plenty of questions that would help to clarify the business problem and inform our work moving forward.

Exposure to doing business in an international context was very valuable. Having to overcome communication barriers was a big learning in and of itself! I will definitely plan to extend project timelines when working across language and cultural barriers in the future. Building in time for miscommunication upfront can help to create a tight deliverable that will ultimately have a bigger impact.

On the topic of miscommunication, I do not speak Spanish. It is not necessary to know the language of the host-country to participate in the trip, although it could spare the hassle of learning the hard way in quite a few situations. Although, you might not have quite as many hilarious stories to take home with you afterward!

Jenny and Scott
Scott Peiser (Class of 2016) and Jenny Ulvestad (Class of 2015) ready to enjoy a Chilean feast!
Large Group Chile
The Wisconsin School of Business Group in Chile.