Cox Global Leadership Program 2012

In May 2012, four groups of students are traveling to Europe (Frankfurt, Bratislava), Asia (Tokyo, Shanghai), China (Xian, Shanghai) and Latin America (Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo) with the Global Leadership Program at the Cox School of Business.

Latin America: Part 2

by:  Maura C. Bellmio MBA ’13

The second leg of our Latin American adventure was totally awesome.
Although we were a little tired upon arrival in Buenos Aires, we were
immediately struck by the city’s natural beauty (at least AFTER we got
through customs). Our tour guide was excellent, and even before reaching
the hotel she had given us some great information about the city and its
history.

We had the first day and a half off in Argentina, so I think everyone
decided to venture out and see as much of the city’s sights as they could
before we got down to business. Many of us visited the Santelmo Market
(which was only open on Sundays) to see their variety of street
performers and purchase gifts for family and friends. Others visited the
cemetary in Recoleta to see the grave of Evita and the beautiful
cathedral that sits on the property. We also made sure that we
experienced the flavors Argentina first hand through a trip to the famous
steakhouse, “Cabrera Norte” and through a wine tasting organized by one
of our classmates (which was followed by a tango dancing trip).

Our company visits to Banco Patagonia, Bridgestone Firestone, Volkswagen,
Globant, and Pepsi Co taught us a lot about not only how different
business is in Argentina from the US, but also how different it is from
doing business in Brazil. Argentina’s unique economic environment
provides a comfortable environment for some while, for others, it means a
short planning horizon and necessary flexibility.

During the rest of our time off, people made sure to immerse themselves
in the Argentine culture. Some went to see the drum circle show, “La
Bomba,” and others went to several of the many museums the city of Buenos
Aires has to offer.

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Discovering China

By: Stephanie Montgomery

Today has been a whirlwind, but the best thus far in our trip.  Early this morning I got talked into going on a bike ride around the city wall of old Xi’an. Rather than have another helping of breakfast I decided I should go.  It was the BEST decision.  The ride around the old city from up high was fantastic.

We saw the disparity between the old apartments on the inside and the high rises that surrounded the wall.  Strangely, we noticed that all the old apartments had solar panels on top while the newer apartments did not.  One in our group surmised that that is because the buildings on the inside need to generate their own electricity whereas those on the outside are hooked up to the grid.  We should ask about this tomorrow.  (Later we found out that these are solar panels, but are only used to heat water)

Later we visited the Xi’an Hi-Tech Development Zone.  These are zones dedicated by the central government for particular activities.  Samsung just committed to a $7 semiconductor project in the Zone.  It caters to high-talent employees of Fortune 500 companies that they hope to entice to start operations there.  No taxes. Free rent.  Good international schools.  We are meeting with two companies that are invested here – Applied Materials and Micron – tomorrow so hopefully we will find more about the incentives that drew them to the Zone.

This evening we saw the Wild Goose Pagoda, had great Indian food, and shopped in the market beside the Drum Tower.

The Pagoda was beautiful at both night and in the day.  And the Indian food was a nice break from the regular restaurants in this area.  After our dinner we wandered around the Pagoda.  About 50 Chinese people were doing line dancing in the square.  It was very interesting.  There were lots of tourists, but I didn’t see many Americans (the Pagoda is a tourist site for domestic Chinese travelers and for the Japanese).

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It Begins…

By: Stephanie Montgomery

DFW->ORD->PVG… The adventure begins. Before the sun rose this morning 35 of us, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in our bright blue SMU Cox AA GLP polos, made our way to DFW Airport to begin our 10-day adventure in China.  As we walked through the airport and boarded the plane I realized the polos served a purpose other than making us resemble TSA agents – We were marketing the SMU brand.  A multitude of people commented on our group and asked our purpose.  “We are going to China as part of our MBA program at SMU,” we answered. The excitement they had for us brought home the immense opportunity that we all have right now.  An AA flight attendant even stopped me at the back of the plane to talk about this great opportunity and asked me if I had read The Power of One.  No, I tell her.  She tells me that it’s about the impact that one person can make in the world and suggests that I read it.  Our discussion reminds me once again about the purpose of my getting an MBA: I want to increase value in people’s lives.  The MBA is a step in that pursuit, and I wonder how this trip will further that goal.  What will I learn that will make a difference in my career?  What will I learn that will impact how I live my life?

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Something Tastes Atypical

By:  David Garrett Mucha

On both Monday and Wednesday GLP Europe headed over to the food court to experience the lunch often chosen by nearby working professional.  At the far corner of the third floor a collection of food window boutiques was distributed in a semi-circular pattern.  The layout of the fast-food market was not dissimilar to locations at familiar Dallas malls such as Galleria or Willow Bend.  Choices offered included Slovakian and Eastern European interpretations of Italian, Asian, and German cuisine.  Curiously a Mexican restaurant was a choice which included items that were almost entirely non-cognizable to a U.S. visitor.  These items appeared to simply resemble in a basic form rotisseried meat and vegetables placed in a taco shell rather than in pita bread or in open plate form. The Italian restaurant seemed most appealing to the author as well as many others.  Menu options included many permutations of pasta, sauces, meats, and cheeses.  A very popular item was penne pasta verde avec fresh mozzarella and roasted chicken.  This meal was a welcome contrast to the days preceding which involved over-exposure to schnitzel, sauerkraut, and bratwurst.

In Vienna a wider selection of menu items was to be found. Key things of interest were the Radler drink (beer and lemonade concoction), schnitzel, and street vendor kebab and felafel. One of the stops included in the trip of 8 GLP’ers was to a vendor hanging shingle at a train connection point. Mostly everyone requesting felafel from this particular street vendor was amazed at the quality of the dispensed items. It also seemed as if the other attending customers also enjoyed their items, although one should not discount the fact that novelty of the food may have been the primary contributing factor in our decision to make these purchases.  Despite these considerations, the snack items provided much needed sustenance to further fuel exploration of downtown Vienna.  Elsewhere in the city some individuals discovered the high utility value of a Radler drink. This beverage is simply a lighter consistency beer mixed with sweet lemonade.  This item can be acquired for around 3.50 euro at most locales across Vienna, although an individual may wish to not restrict consumption to merely one unit.

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Conclusion of Germanic stage and on to Bratislava

By: David Garret Mucha

At the end of the week the group began the day at Deutsche Boerse and finished at the ECB. The German stock exchange was a non-trivial distance from the Hotel, which we had to cover by foot in about 15 minutes. Upon arriving at DB we were asked to pass a security screening which was less comprehensive than what one would see in an airport terminal. A 50-minute lecture commenced thereafter, which was accompanied by a substantial ebb and flow of Q&A, both from students as well as via the presenter.
After this we were shown the trading floor from the observation deck. Many speculated as to whether the trade technicians away from sight were working diligently or rather playing the latest version of Angry Birds on one of their multi-panel workstations.

At roughly noon we split for lunch.  Most stayed in the immediate area and enjoyed lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants; however, some returned to the hotel to rest. Across from the ECB was an Indian restaurant. Generally, I’m told the prices here were unjustifiably high as the food quality did not hold a candle to what could be experienced at even low-tier equivalents in Dallas.

Post-lunch we were herded into a security line at the ECB. In contrast to D-B, the security screening process was higher. Several unlucky students were subjected to a nice frisking by a very affectionate guard. Names will not be disclosed here.

The ECB event included two lectures.  The first presentation was intended to convey a high level view of the history of the bank, EU, and provide insights into the bank’s decision making process. Following this a research staff member provided an overview of key macroeconomic indicators and discussed his expectations about the next year in terms of inflation rates, bond yields, and GDP growth.  Sensing weakness in the lecturer’s thesis, the MBA’s did not forbear from asking tough questions. After this lecture and the following Q&A, one was left wondering whether the bank was correct in its view of expected macroeconomic outcomes.

That evening the group convened at assorted restaurants and venues near the hotel to unwind from the day. Recommended fare included O’reilly’s Irish and the soon to be updated ‘New Living Room’ perched alongside the river. At the latter the schnitzel was savory- and many discovered the German delicacy of cranberry jam atop a fresh field green salad.

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Day one: Frankfurt, Germany

By: David Garrett Mucha

Arriving earlier than expected, the 767 hit the tarmac at approximately 8:10 am, and proceeded for arrival before the scheduled gate time of 8:30 am. On the other hand, a slight delay occurred as the Frankfurt airport was exceptionally busy handling the wayfare of many European fliers as well as directing incoming overnight flights. Surprisingly, immigration was very quick and the attending officers were very polite.

Within the next 30 minutes, luggage was claimed and the hotel-destined bus was boarded. To the author’s knowledge no one was left behind although there have been rumors of a close call.  The dreadful fear hanging overhead of missing the bus must have worked its magic this time around - although we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed…

Once at the hotel, time is spent checking in; however, only a few students are given the good news that their room is ready.  To pass the time, the group was eager to leave home base and visit the surrounding area.  As disclosed by a timely twitter post, a group of three ran alongside the Main river in order to stretch out now largely atrophied muscles and to get a better view of the land.  One can only begin to surmise the absurdity of this particular outing. Many of us headed toward ‘old town’ and converged onto the promenade. Key sights included several H&M and Zara stores which helped refresh our strategy chops.  A few hundred meters off of the retail promenade were a few open patio
pubs. One in particular- Frankfurt’s Corner Bar, proved to be an enjoyable resting spot.  From the patio one could watch the mix of bankers and other professionals hurriedly march by. The German passers-by closely resembled their American counterparts although attire was noticeably more drab.

Ultimately, by afternoon the 24+ hour day had taken its toll on some and required immediate surrendering to rest. Regardless, GLP Europe continued unrestrained and remained focused on realizing the best that Frankfurt had to offer this day.

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Exploring South America

By: Maura C. Bellmio, MBA ’13

The first leg of our South American tour has been very exciting. Although the 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo Brazil was exhausting (and I think most of us didn´t sleep much), we hit the ground running as soon as we got into the city.

One of our first adventures involved unintentionally walking through an enormous construction site while trying to find a place to eat. What was interesting about the experience was that while in the US we would have probably been chased from the area with shovels and jackhammers, the Brazilian construction workers didn´t even seem to mind our jaunt through their workspace. Some waved, said “Ola,” but absolutely no one bothered to say, “what are you guys doing here?!” Eventually we found a great, buffet-style place to eat around the corner from our hotel that gave us a nice introduction to the Brazilian cuisine.

That evening, a group of us navigated our way through the city streets to find a great restaurant called, “Frageria,” where we got some great Brazilian beef (and meat juice). Also, by this time we had begun to realize how different Spanish and Portuguese really are.You would have thought that we would have figured this out BEFORE getting there, but many of us didn´t. At dinner, we were graciously helped by one the restaurant´s employees with deciphering menu items and ordering our meal.

One of our other adventures in Brazil involved attending a soccer game at the San Paulo Futbol Club. Although some of us were vaguely concerned with safety when we arrived (the stadium isn´t in the nicest of neighborhoods), we ended up having a great experience. The entire group got tickets in the stadium´s upper level where it appeared all of the biggest Sao Paulo fans also sat, and we were right in the middle of the action – some may argue, a little too in the middle of the action during the first half. Our section was almost certainly over sold and people were pouring in even 30 minutes after the game started with nowhere to go. However, the second half of the game was much calmer and enjoyable. LUIS FA-BI-ANO!

Our Sao Paulo company visits to Rio Bravo, Ernst &Young, Odontoprev, and Brookfield provided some great insights into how business in Brazil differs from the United States. The tax and financial reporting standards are incredibly complex. Also, the country´s recent economic growth coupled with the tremendous evolution of the population´s demographics have led to significant changes in how companies do business in Brazil. And, with the 2013 World Cup and 2016 Olympics coming to the country, the government has made huge investments in the country´s infrastructure. Brazil was amazing…can´t wait to give you the down low on our visit to Buenos Aires!

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