An Insider's View into an MBA International Immersion

Author: Angela Sienko

Each spring, Notre Dame MBA students have the opportunity to participate in a 10-day immersion trip to China or South America. These experiences combine exposure to the international business environment with cultural immersions that showcase the natural, historical and economic environments of each country.



One of the most significant benefits of these immersions is that students are taken into communities where they gain exposure to international businesses that -- like Mendoza -- “Ask More of Business.” Students interact with local businesses that share the belief that business is a force for good. This year, students opting for the South American immersion traveled to Chile and Brazil. Following are some of the key takeaways from the Chilean portion of the South American immersion.


Chile’s economic overview

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The Chile immersion kicked off with an engaging presentation delivered by highly-respected professor Ariel Casarin, Ph.D., who teaches at Adolfo Ibáñez swear in its new president, Sebastián Piñera, for the second time.shared his insights about economics in Chile and discussed geopolitical issues as Chile prepared toUniversity, one of the top-rated business schools with one of the top MBA programs in the region.


With a general feel for the Chilean economy, students headed to the U.S. Embassy in Santiago to learn more about how Chile works with the United States to help preserve the U.S. job market. The group was briefed by the Commercial Counselor, James McCarthy, about the department’s mission to promote the export of U.S. goods and services to strengthen the U.S. economy, while also maintaining U.S. job security and U.S. businesses abroad. 



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Speaking of strengthening the economy, students heard from another Chilean business, Corfo, which is a government entity whose mission is to improve the competitiveness and the productive diversification of the country. It does this by encouraging investment, innovation and entrepreneurship. Corfo Financing Deputy manager Rodrigo Frias discussed the investment climate and opportunities that exist for business entrepreneurs in Chile. He also shared insights about how Corfo strives to strengthen human capital and technological capabilities to achieve a sustainable and territorially balanced development.


Asking more


Students took one afternoon to visit the Fundación Mi Parque, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve life quality in lower-income Chilean neighborhoods. They do this  by designing, developing and building public “green areas” – regions for playground equipment and space for kids to play in the grass. Working in conjunction with local communities, Mi Parque has completed 289 building projects, created more than 478,216 square meters of green areas and has 31,500 volunteers. More than 471,000 people have benefited from Mi Parque’s efforts. MBA students visited three of the successful projects completed by Mi Parque, which consisted of developing a series of parks in neighborhoods to the south of Santiago.


Balance what we take and what we give back


The visit to Vista Hermosa wasn’t your average trip to a farm. The mission of this Chilean fruit producer is to produce  good, quality fruit and have control of it from its harvest until it is shipped to different markets. It has given special emphasis to the care of the environment, protecting the native flora and fauna, as well as the efficient use of fertilizers and agrochemicals. The visit consisted of a tour of both the farm and the packing plant to better understand the production and fruit export process.




Perhaps one of the most popular visits in Chile was the trip to Viña Undurraga, a winery located on beautiful grounds in Talagante, Región Metropolitan. Students attended a brief presentation at the winery headquarters before getting a thorough tour of the facility, its vineyards and its grounds. After more than 130 years of operation, Viña Undurraga is one of the oldest and a pioneer wine company in Chile with a winemaking capacity of 24 million litres, exporting to more than 70 countries selling up to 1.7 million cases per year worldwide and was the first Chilean winery to export to the United States in 1930. The company boasts two state-of-the art wineries and vineyards totaling over 1,100 hectares stretching across Chile allowing award winning winemaker Rafael Urrejola and his team to develop wines that express the character of each area perfectly.




Away from Santiago, the group headed south to Paine, which is where the company Wenco is headquartered. Wenco is one of Chile’s largest plastics manufacturers and exporters that offers solutions for industry and home. There, students got an up close look at the process involved in fabricating plastic. The visit began with presentations from employees from different areas of specialty in the company, who explained how Wenco has grown and adapted as the demand and need for their plastic products continues to shift. Of special note: Wenco uses very sophisticated (and top-secret) methods of producing their plastic products to ensure they are being environmentally conscious.


Not All Business

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The international immersions are just as valuable for the cultural exposure as they are for the business exposure. And no trip to Chile would be complete without a visit to Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception on San Cristóbal Hill. It was an exciting journey for the group to take the funicular to the Sanctuary overlooking Santiago. This is one of the principal places of worship for the Catholic Church of Chile, holding an outdoor Mass on Sunday afternoons. The statue is an icon of Santiago, Chile. It is notable in particular for a large statue of the Immaculate Conception, which is located at the summit of San Cristóbal Hill, some 863 meters above sea level. Everyone enjoyed the experience--from the visit to the statue, to the view from high atop the mountains over Santiago, to the visit to the Catholic Church, which is built into the mountain, and the funicular ride up and down the mountain.


Learn more about this year's Chilean immersion by visiting