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Nov 06, 2018

A Crash Course in Chile

I am definitely grateful that we were able to see how Chile has been shaped, how that has influenced the now and how it will influence the future.

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Reflection 1 - The trip itself, an overview

Within seven days, all 11 of us had experienced varying parts of Chile and had come to understand what doing business in Chile was like. While the trip itself was extremely tiring and intense, I would not change a thing. We were faced with daily opportunities and challenges, ranging from navigating the streets and ordering dinner to networking and discovering new methods of completing tasks. Our group dynamic was undeniably perfect, all of us were able to quickly and coherently fit ourselves into our group roles. Varying expertise of Latin America and Chile itself provided a foundation for a vast amount of experiences. However, I believe that the underlining experience, being awesome, was consistent with everyone.

The overall nature of the trip being “go, go, go” meant that everyone was constantly overloaded with new culture and knowledge. The Grange school providing four Chilean students helped to slow things down and bridge the gap between foreign land and home. I believe that our week-long guide {Craig} allowed us to see the best and worst parts of Santiago and Valparaíso, meaning that true knowledge was able to be sourced, rather than a tourist focused facade.

I also think that the bombardment of businesses throughout the trip allowed all of us to develop a strong understanding of how Chilean business works and how we could relate our new-found knowledge to our YES businesses back home.

All in all, the trip itself was unforgettable and has most certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities within the Latin American  market, rather than just Europe, Asia and North America. I am certain that one day, I will return and put my new knowledge and experiences to the test.


Reflection 2 - Business culture within Chile

Throughout the LATAM/YES trip to Chile we visited businesses, with the aim of understanding how Chilean business culture works and the challenges a SME would face if it were attempting to enter the Chilean market. As we went from business to business a clear picture began to form. To make the picture relatable I often compared it to what I know about New Zealand business culture. When making these comparisons I noticed the following differences.

    1. In Chile business relationships are initially based around friendship. i.e. you will talk to someone over lunch at least twice before even talking about business.
    2. No one will ever directly say no, they will always make excuses or say that something is possible.
    3. Family is everything in Chile, this is noticeable everywhere, from marketing and branding to hours that people work.
    4. Be patient. In New Zealand there is a certain degree of expectation around the timing of things and how long someone should take doing something. In Chile that number should be at least doubled if not tripled. This is primarily due to the fact that in Chile, people work at their own pace and have little concern for the impacts it has on other people, unless of course it influences their own business.

These four key characteristics differ from New Zealand slightly, primarily because they are all extreme versions of the same values.

In conclusion, Chile is similar to New Zealand in many ways. I believe it differs mostly due to the fact that values remain strong and traditional is a massive influencing factor. In New Zealand, the casual nature leads to different outcomes and results in values being more flexible to change.


Reflection 3 - History of Chile and its politics.

The very first day in Chile was one that was filled with history and politics. Our tour guide presented Santiago as a city in is rawest form, he sparred no detail and told us the whole, passionate story of how corruption, greed and treachery shaped Chile in the latter half of the 20th century. Before our trip, I believed Chile to be a typical Latin American country - its politics weren’t perfect and maybe it had a monarchy until the turn of the century, but never did I imagine it being the home to such a brazen cue that involved the President’s own Air Force bombing him in his palace. The tour guide also told us stories of how influential people ‘mysteriously died’ with no official cause of death still to this day. It gave the day and the trip a sense of realism and brought the whole experience back to the ground. While it was something that not everyone enjoyed hearing, it was something everyone needed to hear, it gave us all the insight that New Zealand is an extremely safe place, not just for our wellbeing but politically. I really enjoyed this part of the trip because it showed us what Chile had been through, what the people of Chile had been through and most importantly, the true nature of things. It allowed us to truly answer the challenge and gave us the opportunity to ask the right kind of questions.

All in all, I am definitely grateful that we were able to see how Chile has been shaped, how that has influenced the now and how it will influence the future.