After an amazing two weeks in South America, followed by a week of intense dodgeball competition, it’s time for a quick recap of our trip.
The final few days in Santiago were spent doing some site visits at local businesses including one of the major ports – the San Antonio Terminal International. Because of Chile’s geography, most goods are shipped in to the country and then transported by train or truck to other areas, making the ports a crucial piece of the economy. The San Antonio port is privately run, with a public port adjacent to it and a competing port in Valparaiso to the north. Interestingly, the company has implemented a system whereby trucks waiting for cargo are guaranteed turnaround times of 60 minutes or less otherwise the port will compensate them financially. Once a truck has been on site for 30 minutes, they are placed in the red zone and are closely monitored so that the 1 hour deadline can be met. This provides San Antonio with a competitive advantage over other ports where trucks may be waiting for hours to have their cargo loaded, without compensation.
Another business we visited on site was Colgate. We heard from their General Manager about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Chile, particularly within the confines of a company who prides itself on product consistency across many different markets. As with other businesses, supply-chain sentiments were echoed here since the company does not have production facilities in the region. Nonetheless, Colgate has a strong presence in Chile and in recent years has moved to become the market leader in oral health care.
Our final day in Chile was spent at an eco lodge at the foothills of the Andes where we had the option of horseback riding, rafting or trekking. We then reconvened for a last group dinner before heading our separate ways the following morning. Eleven of us chose to stay in South America for an additional week and had a fantastic time seeing the sights in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Overall, the trip was a great learning experience for us and provided insights to doing business in an emerging market that we could not have duplicated in the classroom.