We heard from their investor relations team on their history, their business model, and their newest investments. We also discussed the challenges in doing business in volatile markets such as Argentina, and the ongoing effects of the drought in Chile.
Following this presentation we met with a representative of Masisa, a fully integrated wood manufacturer that does everything from managing forestry to providing retail outlets where they cut to order for the construction and DIY industries. They have significant operations in Venezuela, so there was a lot of discussion on how these resources are managed (in short - for the long term). It was also a chance to learn about the intricacies of financing on the US market; we were handed a copy of the filing document for their last bond issue - it went to over 500 pages of disclosures. However, all that work paid off - they are seen as a solid investment internationally.
However, I figured that I wouldn't be likely to get a ticket, so planned on spending the evening visiting artisan markets with my fellow classmates. When we passed the Teatro Municipal, I quickly ran in to check whether there were tickets left. In what can only be described as a fantastic stroke of luck, a lady who wasn't able to attend the performance had come in to donate her tickets back for resale, and she offered me her ticket - a front row box seat overlooking the orchestra! Suddenly my plans had changed for the evening. It also meant that I kept alive my tradition of catching an opera every time I travel overseas.
After that it was a trip back to the hotel on the metro; even in the late evening there was still a sizeable crowd, and it felt safe and comfortable travelling around. Back there I enjoyed a different style of cultural experience - watching baseball on the TV and sampling Chilean beer from the Patagonia region.
The next morning it was back to business, with our first stop being Banco Estado, the state-owned bank. Their building is in the centre of the financial district, overlooking the presidential palace. There, we met with a representative of the firm who talked to us about the bank's role in society, and how it is bringing banking services (and particularly microfinancing arrangements) to the Chilean population, particularly in remote and underserved areas. We also were able to talk about how the bank manages both its private, public and government stakeholder base, particularly how it interacts with the government to reinvest earnings.
I think we have all gained a lot from the trip, both intellectually and socially. I've gotten to know people outside of the classroom in a way that I hadn't before, and have discovered a deep respect for them. During the breakneck pace of the academic year, it's sometimes hard to see beyond your own nose in terms of your surroundings, but the GLP helps to remind us of how talented and intelligent the students in the Cox MBA program are. It's a great preparation for the second year and beyond, where our relationships will be as important as our academic performance in taking the next step in our careers.