Eller MBAs Investigate Privatization in Brazil and Argentina
Eller MBA students enjoyed the local sites, such as
Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain
in Brazil, in their trip to study privatization in South
By Liz Warren-Pederson
As part of the international trip required of all Full-Time Eller MBAs, first-year students Victor Eggleston and Alejandra Yeomans joined a group of fellow students to spend part of their holiday break in South America, soaking in the culture and meeting with companies to find out, first-hand, how business operates in Brazil and Argentina.
“I had not been to South America before, and it was great to experience the cultural differences from North America,” said Yeomans. “The global business trip was a very good opportunity to be exposed and understand the social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions in the companies that we visited.”
“South America appealed to me because of its economic success in recent years,” Eggleston said. “I also served as a missionary in Costa Rica from 2000 to 2002, which made me feel like I had an idea of what ‘South American’ was. But I wanted to see how it had evolved over the past eight years.”
Eggleston entered the Eller MBA after launching a successful career as a landscape designer and salesman in Southern California. “I was at Steven Spielberg’s house in Malibu weekly, and I did a large beach restoration project for a former president of Disney at his home in Malibu,” Eggleston said. The Brigham Young University - Idaho graduate was putting his horticulture degree to use, but he was also using his minor in business.
“I had a great job, and the fundamentals in landscape were helpful, but I realized that what really set me apart were the things that I had learned in my business classes. And I wanted to learn more,” he said.
Yeomans holds an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from the UA. “I worked in automation, production of medical devices, and sales,” she said. “But I also wanted to understand how these companies were managed.”
One semester in, she’s already acquired a knowledge base in finance, accounting, managerial economics, and business strategy. Eggleston added that the trip’s timing – one semester into his MBA – provided critical background. “The trip solidified the idea of the ways in which business is becoming more and more global,” he said. “It was also helpful to see the various strategies of the companies and they ways that they operate. I was excited to get an inside look into some prospering companies.”
“We visited companies in the telecommunications, energy, medical, and IT industries,” Yeomans said. “During the visits, the presenters gave us overviews of their industries and as well as their corporations, and then they went into specifics of how the privatization efforts were leading to a more efficient management of their companies.”
The visit to Brazilian telecom Oi was a highlight for Eggleston. “It was amazing to hear its success story and how it accomplished things that would likely not happen here,” he said. “Due to the aggressive marketing campaigns, the company gained a competitive advantage by offering ‘unlocked’ mobile phones, and practically eliminating phone contracts, like the ones that we are locked into in the U.S. Oi’s campaign was so successful that it became the market leader and even negotiated with Apple to offer the only unlocked iPhone in the world.”
Corporate visits aside, both Eggleston and Yeomans enjoyed staying at the Copacabana in Brazil, where they also saw the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado Mountain. “I've seen it in a lot of movies but I had no idea how big it really was,” Eggleston said. “The view of Rio from up high was incredible.”
“As a whole, the trip was very valuable,” Yeomans added. “It not only gave us an international business perspective in different industries, but also exposed us to different social, economical, political, and cultural environments.”
Read about Eller MBA student Bill Wood’s experience in South America on the Eller MBA Blog.