In an increasingly global economy, international experience for Indiana University MBA candidates comes from hands-on work in the field as much as the classroom. A group of students, led by Dr. Phil Powell, travel to Peru to help local entrepreneurs tackle business challenges using cutting edge business practices. The Kelley MBA GLOBASE initiative provides a unique social enterprise experience by partnering with Peruvian businesses to make a global impact.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some very cool projects

After a long and very productive week, our trip to Lima has come to an end…I am sitting at the airport waiting for my plane to start boarding and thinking about all the cool things we went through this week. Phil has already blogged about the great contacts we made and the new opportunities that are waiting for us, so I guess it is my turn to write about the companies our students will potentially be working with next March…Jessica, a young entrepreneur that started a web design firm in Peru, then found an opportunity to expand to the US and is now working on starting a new handbag business -unique Peruvian designs manufactured by artisans in 2 local communities. Miguel and Diego, 2 young entrepreneurs in his late 20’s that started a paprika business a few years ago…at the beginning of 2010, they got money from the Interamerican Development Bank to develop a robot that will increase harvesting capacity and now want to commercialize it…pretty cool, huh? And lastly, Pilar, who ventured in the food segment and started selling jams, olives, salad dressings -among other Peruvian delicacies- in the local market…suddenly she realized she could expand to Europe and has done it with great success. Her sales have increased in such a way that she is now looking at investing in building her own manufacturing plant…quite impressive!

My greatest takeaway was to feel the passion that these young people have for their businesses and their country. It is great to see how committed they are with their community and how much they care for their employees and their families. Their positive energy and optimism is contagious and made us feel we definitely want to be part of it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Expanding the Kelley School's footprint in Latin America

In addition to scoping details for our GLOBASE return in March 2011, our mission has been to move forward on a possible online executive certificate program for middle managers in Peru. The focus of the certificate is "How to do business in the United States?" and is inspired by a one day conference led by Kelley faculty and hosted by the American Chamber (AMCHAM) of Commerce in Peru during our last GLOBASE mission in March 2010. In concept, the certificate involves five short courses (6-8 weeks in length) delivered online through Kelley Direct - Marketing in the U.S., Building Supply Chains in the U.S., Managing Cultural Differences between the U.S. and Peru, Negotiating and Business Law in the U.S., and Risk Management. Most importantly, the courses would be in SPANISH. Funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development would subsidize the difference between Kelley's cost of delivery and the willingness to pay for such a program in the Peruvian executive education market. Our partners at AMCHAM are helping us work with the Embassy to enable monies for such a project.

If this certificate becomes a reality, two years of success with GLOBASE (and the efforts of Professor Roberto Garcia and student leadership teams) will have made it happen. The Kelley brand will continue to expand in the region and enhance our ability to attract top MBA students from Latin America. The Kelley School’s recent establishment of the Institute for Global Organizational Effectiveness will also help efforts. Led by Professor Herman Aguinas, the institute will match graduate students with projects that solve management problems for companies in Latin America.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Credit for GLOBASE Peru by the Obama Administration

From left to right: Alex Preacher (Deputy Director, Office of South America, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce); Phil Powell; Unknown sidekick - probably a spy from jealous Purdue; Judy Lau (Peru Desk Officer, International Trade Administration); Ana Silva; Roberto Garcia (international business professor at the Kelley School); and Omar Sayan (American Chamber of Commerce in Peru).

The photo above comes from a Monday night reception with conference participants. At that event, Alex and Judy (see above photo) from the Department of Commerce informed us they had discussed GLOBASE in meetings with members of the Peruvian President's cabinet. To the Commerce Department, GLOBASE is the perfect vehicle for U.S. assistance to Peru and the rest of Latin America. Deployment of MBA teams contributes to private sector development in economies still weaning themselves from state enterprises. A focus on small enterprises serves the poorer sectors of the economy in a way direct foreign assistance cannot. Interaction with MBA students also solidifies economic and cultural ties with Peru, a country with whom the U.S. has a free-trade agreement.

Through the week we have met other American Chamber delegations from Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Ecuador. Expression of interest by all in hosting a GLOBASE presence speaks to the public relations power this instructional model brings to Indiana University and the Kelley School. I cease to be amazed by the benefits that GLOBASE demonstrates in so many ways. The MBA office and the rest of the school now move forward to fully capture the power and value of a truly innovative way to deliver global business, entrepreneurship, leadership, and consulting education.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflections from Jogging in Lima

The last two mornings I joined Ana and Roberto on a 6AM run. The air is crisp and the streets are deserted as one of us says "Vamos!" and we start the pace together. The combination of U2 in my ear buds, unfamiliar (but enjoyable) sights and smells of Lima, and a run in tandem with my two IU colleagues is quite surreal and stimulating - it is one of many privileged pleasures of traveling for the Kelley School.

Soon, though, each member of our close trio hits their own sustainable pace and we leave each other's company. Yours truly falls behind Ana and Roberto, both of whom have run for many years and who know better how to manage the breathing, pacing, and balance (and have better shoes) required for the art of jogging.

I could not help but equate these dynamics to MBA graduation. Everyone leaves Bloomington with the same knowledge and hard skills. Analogously, I know how to put one foot in front of the other just like Roberto and Ana, and in fact, I can choose to run faster than they do when we start. But in the end, I fall behind.

From the same graduating class, why do some get ahead in satisfying their dreams and others fall behind? Just as good running depends a jogger's internal ability to breathe and pace her speed, moving forward in an organization (and moving the organization itself forward) has everything to do with a manager's quiet capacity to build the confidence and optimism of those around her. If she just depends on hard skills to move her career forward, then her jog that is her career suddenly becomes a walk as she fights the cramp that is unbalanced relationship with those in the workplace -- just like the cramp in my side that stopped me yesterday as I watched Roberto and Ana jog around the corner not to be seen again until the hotel.

At its foundation, GLOBASE is an experience designed to develop those soft skills needed for professional success. And what better place to do it than in Peru where small businesses are hungry for the hope teams of Kelley MBA students can give them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our Monday - Words from the President of Peru

Last night we shook hands with Peru's foreign minister who hosted a reception at the Torre Tagle Palace (built in 1715). The American Chambers of Commerce from Ecuador and Guatemala immediately sought us out to pitch their ability to host GLOBASE teams from the Kelley MBA program. Our success in Peru has gained notoriety within the U.S. Embassy and among other American Chambers in the region.

Our day started with an energetic and optimistic speech by the President of Peru. He has faith in his country, hope in the innovation his citizens can drive, and pride in the millions of Peruvians lifted out of poverty by recent economic growth. He gave credit to the types of small entrepreneurial businesses for whom Kelley MBA students consult during their GLOBASE experience.

We met our first client candidate for 2011. It is a digital communications startup run by a young women entrepreneur. Her GLOBASE team would tackle the unique challenges of growing an IT company in an emerging market (where IT infrastructure cannot be taken for granted). Her fluency in English would also make interaction easier with the student team.

Our last meeting was a visit to the Centrum Business School at the Catolica Universidad de Peru. On the cutting edge of social entrepreneurship instruction for MBAs, Centrum has an innovative curriculum which makes GLOBASE-type projects a required part of many courses. Ethics, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility are regularly weaved into material presented by faculty from all disciplines. Centrum wanted to know the ins-and-outs of making GLOBASE work, but we learned more from them than they did us.

Because Peru is a vibrant economy that exudes hope and opportunity, it is a natural laboratory for experiential learning targeted for graduate business education. I am proud Kelley is a part of it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Latin Business Culture Can Teach U.S. Firms

100% immersion in a foreign business culture is the most valuable learning experience offered by GLOBASE. In Peru, students must first build a rapport with the client firm or organization before they “get down to business” and discuss details of the project. Clients want to first talk about a student’s family life and personal interests. The line between personal and professional life is blurred in Latin America because managers want to know exactly with whom they are dealing.

In Latin America, the priority placed on relationships instills loyalty (both from employee to manage and manager to employee) and a sense of personal place in the organization. This type of solidarity allows organizations in Latin America to drive performance and productivity in ways unfamiliar to U.S. employers. The U.S. workplace is mostly transactional with a common attitude of “don’t waste my time talking about your personal life”. In Peru, listening to a boss or employee talk about their personal life becomes an investment in instead of a liability to the enterprise. This is one refreshing fact that draws me to Latin America as a management scholar.

A culture which emphasizes personal linkages makes Latin organizations much less lonelier places to work than their U.S. counterparts. The next time a U.S. company complains about a lack of employee loyalty, they should look south for a “back to basics” lesson in human resource management. This is a lesson GLOBASE Peru participants take back to Bloomington – a lesson that could not be learned within the confines of a classroom.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Social Behavior, Economics, Airports, and Airplanes

In 48 hours I’ll be on a Delta Airlines plane bound for Atlanta where I’ll catch my connection to Lima (Ana is flying straight from Mexico City to Lima returning from a vacation with her family). I’m not usually an obsessive person, except in airports and airplanes – and when I’m obsessive, the observant economist in me (and therefore the questionable part of my personality) comes alive.

It begins at the security gate. “Mr. Powell, please remove your jacket, shoes, belt …” – geez, how far does this have to go? I even had to surrender my glasses one time. The incentive is simple here – fewer clothes mean fewer hassles (and therefore lower airport transiting costs). I am thinking sundress, flip flops, and a ridiculously small handbag is the optimal solution, but an option I can’t exercise for obvious reasons.

Why are people so anxious to board the plane even though they have an assigned seat? The answer is undefined property rights. If you get on the plane early, you get first dibs on storing your bags in the overhead compartments, even if it’s not the compartment above your seat. Squatter’s rights goes to those who best position themselves so they are first to the door when their boarding zone is called. Charging for carry-on bags would solve this problem, and make life at the gate feel less like a kennel full of dogs waiting to be fed.

And what’s the deal with armrests? -- yet another problem of undefined property rights. Has your seat neighbor ever claimed the whole armrest and contributed to your claustrophobia? Shouldn’t the upper half of the armrest go the person in the left seat and the lower half to the person on the right seat? Even in the 21st century, the only way to protect your armrest claim is through brute force and physical positioning.

Those of us with a social conscious take into consideration the costs our choices impose on others. Thus, we seek to be good citizens on the plane. This temperament forces a dilemma on a long international flight when your seat neighbor is sleeping, you have a window seat, and your bladder is full. At what point is the social cost of waking your neighbor worth the personal benefit of restored biological comfort? I’ll let some Nobel Laureate figure that one out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Onward again to Lima on Saturday … to plan for 2011

It is June, which means it is time to lay next year’s foundations for GLOBASE. In 2011, the Kelley MBA GLOBASE program returns to Peru and boldly expands to two new countries – India and Ghana. This summer, each faculty and staff leadership duo travels to their assigned country to scope projects, strengthen relationships, and prepare a cutting edge in-country experience for students. They will blog about their interesting travels and encounters.

Jim Wahlen (my predecessor as MBA chair and member of the accounting faculty) and Pam Roberts will lead the charge in India while Sheri Fella (member of the management and entrepreneurship department) and Kate O’Malley will be our pioneers in Ghana.

And that leaves us two for Peru … the ever-so-graceful Analilia Silva and a hyperactive economist from Tennessee.

To the enterprise, Ana brings years of Fortune 500 corporate experience (both in the U.S. and Mexico), a Kelley MBA, Spanish fluency, and success in building the Kelley brand in Latin America as part of the MBA Office team. Ana and I had the pleasure to accompany Professor Roberto Garcia as he led the last GLOBASE trip to Peru this past March.

Ana and I are supported by a wonderful student leadership team – Rocio Ortiz, Sen Zhao, Caroline Storey, and Matt Hutchens – who have already mapped the two week schedule for next March, negotiated great hotel rates, and identified potential enterprises with which student teams could work.

Ana and I begin an interesting adventure in Peru on Saturday. We, along with Professor Garcia, will represent the Kelley School at a conference organized by American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America. Impressed by two years of success in Peru, the U.S. Department of Commerce invited us to attend and tell conference attendees about the GLOBASE educational model. The presidents of Colombia, Honduras, and Peru are scheduled to speak – so we will be among influential company.

Beyond the conference, Ana and I will touch base with our in-country partners – the American Chamber of Commerce in Peru and the Lima Chamber of Commerce – and visit businesses and nonprofits who might make great clients for our student consulting teams this coming March.

Join us for interesting updates and insights from Lima … we promise to keep you entertained.