Business and Culture in Chile: Our Whirlwind MBA Study Trip

Exclusive company tours include mining, biotech, farming and winemaking

For the first UC Davis MBA trip abroad in almost three years, there was a lot of excitement as we prepared to visit Chile. In all, a diverse group of 19 MBA students from the Sacramento, Bay Area, Online and Full-Time MBA programs took off on December 11 after having studied the country for 10 weeks. 

This International Study Trip course gave us the opportunity to learn about Chile’s leading industries as well as prepare for the cultural and multinational business differences we would experience in person in Chile. 

Prework and Research 

As part of our classwork before visiting Chile, we examined case studies on leading companies and industries in Chile including wine, lithium, agriculture and fishing. Lecturer Julie Morris invited guest speakers from the UC Davis Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center (UC Davis Chile) and ProChile to help us better understand the business landscape of Chile’s economy.

At the end of fall quarter, right after finals, we took off to Santiago, Chile. Ahead of us was a week-long immersion in Chile with meetings and exclusive presentations from business leaders and industries we set up throughout the quarter.

Business—and Tourism

Santiago is a very modern city—with a building that’s a twin to San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower—surrounded by picturesque snowcapped mountains. Chile is like California in many ways, with a long coastline, similar climates and similar industries. One of those industries being wine, which is probably what most of us in this course were the most excited about.

The companies we picked to meet with on this trip represented some of the biggest industries in Chile. We met with copper mining, lithium mining, salmon farming, avocado growers, wine growers, innovative startups and government agencies. We wanted to get a broad understanding of business in Chile and how they do business regionally and internationally. Companies and organizations we visited included Mainstream Power, Betterfly, InvestChile, Albemarle, Consejo Minero, Camanchaca, Fundación Chile, Spora, Falabella, Jorge Schmidt & Cia., Kingston Winery and Movi Wines.

We also took city tours around Santiago, visited the Chilean Human Rights museum, and enjoyed local wine tasting around Chile’s coastal areas. 

UC Davis + Chile Connections

On our first day, we had the opportunity to meet with staff at UC Davis Chile, which focuses on developing applied science and tech services in four agriculture-related areas: bioproducts, smart agro, genomic and genetic technologies, and viticulture and enology. They were helpful in setting up some introductions for our week and gave us our first taste of Chilean wine on this trip.

Throughout the week we had the opportunity to learn about Chilean exports and how many of their companies can compete globally. At Fundación Chile and InvestChile, we saw first-hand how the Chilean government is making it easier for innovation and development as well as helping businesses do business in Chile.

In addition to UC Davis Chile, there were other UC Davis connections on this trip. The CEO of Falabella, Gaston Bottazzini, did his undergraduate studies at UC Davis, and Pablo Zamora, president of Fundación Chile, did his postdoctoral work at UC Davis. The UC Davis network is global, and they showed us wonderful hospitality.

Instagram reel screenshot
Check out our Instagram story!

Chilean Takeaways

Tommy: Having done work previously in Latin America, it was exciting to see classmates’ eyes being opened to the world of business in the southern tip of the continent. For some, it was their first time in Latin America and experiencing the culture and so many types of industries. The course and trip are great opportunities.

Kevin: I’ve always envisioned my MBA experience as including an international study trip, and Chile proved to be a memorable experience. As part of the Bay Area Part-Time MBA program, it was great to meet other MBA students in different cohorts and travel and learn together in a new country.

One cultural norm that I was captivated by was each company’s hospitality and willingness to welcome us to their country. Within each visit, there was an abundance of snacks, drinks and even souvenirs to ensure we felt accommodated and comfortable. As much as we were learning from them, they also wanted us to obtain a positive reputation and sentiment about Chile and provided future opportunities to collaborate. 

Social Media Stars!

One of the highlights was sharing our visits and experiences on the UC Davis MBA Instagram. Throughout each day, we would document the group’s whereabouts and update on the businesses we would be visiting. The reception on Instagram was very positive as our friends and colleagues followed along on our journey. It also allowed both of us to scout out different scenic locations to film and communicate with each other.

We hope we were able to capture the essence of Chile. We encourage prospective students to consider the advantages of the International Study Trip as an exciting highlight of the UC Davis MBA program.

Photo Gallery

Chile Consejo Minero
Visiting Consejo Minero, which promotes the competitive and sustainable development of Chilean mining.
Chile IST2
Our team at UC Davis Chile, which helped us make key connections in agribusiness.
Chile IST3
Hello, Santiago! Our first day in the modern city—with a twin to San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower.
Chile Life Sciences Centers 2
At UC Davis Chile, which develops applied science and tech services in the life sciences and ag sectors.
Chile IST4
Our group at the beginning of a guided city tour of Santiago.
chile winery
Tasting world-class wine at Kingston Winery.
chile tour hard hats
At retailer and wholesaler Falabella, the largest South American department store.
Mainstream Power
Sustainable energy briefing at Mainstream Power, one of the most successful non-conventional renewable energy  companies in Latin America. 
Chile wintery tour
Learning more about the global fishing industry at Camanchaca, which exports fish and shellfish to 50+ countries.
group sunset
Our group was greeted by an amazing sunset at our welcome dinner at El Mestizo in Santiago.
Chile Street Tour
Exploring the culture of Chile on the streets of Santiago.