Great Connections and Warm Nights in Chile

It’s been two weeks since I returned from a week-long international business seminar in Santiago, Chile, but I’m still having a hard time readjusting to the chilly (sadly, pun intended) nights of the Bay Area.

The Clausen Center at Haas sponsors several trips each year; recent seminars included excursions to China and South Africa (each of which lasted two weeks and conferred three credits, as opposed to two for the shorter Chile venture). Of the many fantastic opportunities we get at Haas, these international seminars may be the best.

Our trip was organized by Sebastian Teunissen, who accompanied roughly 20 students (mostly EWMBA, with a few full-timers sprinkled in) on a number of visits to Chilean companies. Many of the visits were brokered by Haas alums in Santiago, all of whom were extremely gracious and generous with their time, insights and connections.

We heard war stories from two entrepreneurs and a VC, cavorted with an economist in the boardroom of the Central Bank, toured a brewery, watched El Mercurio (Chile’s right-wing version of the NYT) being printed, attended a swank A-list party in a castle, visited coastal gem Valparaiso (poet Pablo Neruda’s old stomping grounds), and capped it all off with a private tour and dinner at Santa Alicia winery at the feet of the majestic Andes.

While all of the above scheduled activities were top notch, it was the companionship of my classmates that made this educational odyssey more vacation than school. I made lasting friendships over leisurely meals al fresco in the chic Providencia neighborhood, where we posted up in a nice little hotel with the smallest beds this side of Smurf Village. My good pal Sudeep was my roomie in these diminutive accommodations, leading our peers to affectionately dub us Los Azucares (Azucar Castano y Azucar Blanco), an inside joke that I shall not explain in a family-friendly blog.

Without a doubt, this trip was the highlight of my Haas career. I highly encourage prospective students to plan ahead and fit one of these journeys into the schedule.

With only five weeks to go in my Haas career, I’ll be hard pressed to find another boondoggle as enlightening and entertaining. But that’s OK; we’ll always have Chile.

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