Whether it is by tasting new flavors, seeing new landscape, learning about a new culture, understanding a different language or wearing different clothes, traveling is always an enriching experience. That is also the case for CESA students on their 7th semester, who undergo an international experience that shapes their mind as global businessmen and woman. This semester, students flew across the borders of culture and opened their minds to the worlds of China and Chile.
CESA’s vision is geared towards what’s happening currently in the world, and always finding practical ways of embracing it. International corporate visits allow students not only to visualize the concepts they’re learning in class, but also understand those concepts in a different world context. Ever since José Manuel Restrepo is the institution’s leader, international visits and alliances are looking more towards Asia since it’s developing at such fast pace. Latin American countries such as Brazil, Chile and Peru are also power economies with a great deal of corporate examples to follow.
Laura Bermudez, Director of Corporate Visits and Internships at CESA, has traveled numerous times with the students to countries like Brazil, India, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Malaysia, among others. She firmly believes international corporate visits teach students the importance of adapting to an increasingly globalized and multicultural environment, “the world is constantly reinventing itself and so are businesses, in order to be successful you must adapt quickly or else you’ll get stuck and won’t evolve”, she said. From Laura’s experience, international corporate visits help students understand that things are not always going to happen under their parameters and that there is a world out there that they must keep their minds open for.
“Chile was an incredibly enriching visit this year because it is the country that has the most commercial alliances and is investing the most in Colombia” Laura added. Students got to visit corporations with the Colombian Ambassador and learn what he’s doing to activate commerce between the two countries. The fruit, mining, construction, wine, and port industries were among the ones students got to experience first hand. “Students were amazed at the fact that in Chile people are nice, there is no trash in the streets, people respect pedestrians, we are in Latin America”, said Laura, who considers these experiences also help bring examples of social culture into Colombia through these students, who are the future leaders of the country.
Valerie Senior, CESA student who traveled to China this semester, came back to Colombia with a totally different perspective on how business works. For Valerie, “having to adapt to the Chinese culture and feeling like an alien, was hard to digest at first”, she explains, adding that after this experience “I have a competitive advantage to those who have not traveled because I learned how to conduct business and network with the Chinese, which is definitely not an easy task without a first hand experience”. The most important concept that Valerie learned was the wangshu or ‘relationship’. Wangshu goes further than just doing business, “once you establish wangshu with a Chinese, they will do business with you for life, but you must learn how to establish a connection first”. Among the corporate visits in China, were YangJing Beer, and Beijing Automobile Works Co.
From bargaining in a taxicab in China, to watching the operations of one of the biggest ports in South America, 2013’s first semester international corporate visits were experiences that without a doubt strengthened the cultural and business skill sets of CESA students. Watching the best practices of the world happen face to face is an invaluable advantage that will definitely set the students apart in a world where is it no longer enough to know about one’s own culture. More so, learning how business occurs within different religious, political, geographical and cultural contexts is a fundamental lesson in a world where borders are increasingly fading away.