MBA Students Explore Growing Businesses and Economy in Mexico City

Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Through Lake Forest Graduate School of Management’s (LFGSM) Global Focus Program, 15 students spent the Winter 2 term studying the Mexican economy and the week of January 25 in Mexico City. This immersive program offered the students an opportunity to focus on the Mexican business environment using a two prong approach: an innovative and flexible framework of traditional classroom experience coupled with a structured in-country experiential learning.

LFGSM Business Leader Faculty™ member, Founding Partner of Dynamic Solutions, and Mexico City native Juan Rocha led the group of MBA students throughout the week in Mexico City that consisted of business related events and courses, research, lectures, and business site visits.

“I had taken students on two previous Global Focus trips to Chile and Colombia,” said Juan, “and felt that Mexico would be a great country to visit next. Being from Mexico, I would also be able to advise on companies to visit and cultural tours to do.”

Juan noted that even though Mexico is the U.S.’s neighbor, most people who travel to Mexico go for vacation and are not aware of the immense culture and growing businesses, so it was a wonderful opportunity to have a group of students engrossed in a new city and economy.

“The trip was a real success,” Juan said. “Direct emergence into the Mexican culture and business and an economy that has been doing very well was important for the students to experience. They now understand how Mexico is being managed—and on top of that, Mexico City is a very cosmopolitan and growing city, including shopping, technology, and finance.”

To prepare for the trip, the MBA students researched the history and culture of Mexico as well as its business background and current landscape through articles, videos, and class discussions. Learning about Mexico City’s businesses and economy was extremely important because the students were able to determine how a company might fare entering the marketplace.

The LFGSM students were then divided into two teams to build a consulting project providing an overview on how each company would perform in the Mexican marketplace. One group explored the prospects for DynaTrap, a Chicago-based company that produces insect and mosquito traps to trap and kill mosquitos, moths and other insects without the use of pesticides or chemicals. The other group represented Beachwaver, a rapidly growing Libertyville-based beauty company that produces an innovative line of hair tools that includes curling irons to help women create red carpet ready hair at home.

During their week in Mexico City, students toured the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, enjoyed a cultural tour of Teotihuacan and visited Grupo Modelo and Medtronic Mexico for business discussions. They also were further briefed on the state of the Mexican economy and business affairs, which informed their consulting projects.

Jillian Elder, LFGSM MBA student and Director of Enterprise Location Intelligence at Walgreens, was a part of team Beachwaver and said that the experience in Mexico as well as the business lessons learned were invaluable:

“I have traveled extensively nationally and globally for work and fun and love to learn about other cultures. Our global experience was focused on creating a plan to enter Mexico with a new consumer product. As this was a real company with a real growth strategy question, our recommendations could materially impact the success of a company. The in-country company visits were invaluable to help us understand the environment of doing business in Mexico.”   

Elder, like the rest of her classmates, embarked on a challenging yet rewarding journey where they not only learned about a country’s culture and way of business, but also how to effectively collaborate with a team.

Understanding how to take lessons learned in a classroom and implement them into a real business experience the way these students did through their consulting projects, introduced them to the thought process, strategy, effort, and teamwork required to launch a company in a new market.

“The Global Focus course was a highlight of my program at LFGSM,” said Jillian, who also serves as the President of the Geographic Society of Chicago. “The people, the exposure to a different side of Mexico, and the challenge of the project assignment came together to make an educational and joy-filled experience.”

LFGSM Global Focus trips are available to MBA students and alumni. To learn more about LFGSM’s Global Focus Program, visit the Global Focus page on our website.

Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D.

Dr. Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D. is Chief Academic Officer and Vice President at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Bryan has a breadth and depth of experience in multiple higher education institutions that includes direct responsibility for accreditation, faculty relations, and program and curriculum design and development, as well as virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face program delivery, admissions, marketing, and sales. He is a member of the School’s Leadership Team. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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