Take 32 of your favorite Sternies, ship them halfway across the world with an administrator and then introduce them to complicated socio-economic and -political business environments. You’re bound to get some interesting stories. Sure, eating, drinking and learning were on tap for participants in this spring break’s DBi Argentina, but so too were tango lessons, popcorn economics and a whole bunch of discussions over the largest pieces of cooked meat you could possibly imagine.
Partnering with Buenos Aires’ Universidad de Palermo and its Dean of Economic Sciences Gabriel Foglia, students in South America were treated to key lessons, including the ways in which a country’s history, politics and social value structure can influence how business must be done in an economy prone to tumultuous times. But to offset the relative difficulty of understanding this complex ecosystem — and perhaps due to some travel lethargy — the group’s first excursion after a morning lecture and a tour through the vaunted Recoleta cemetery was a trip to Tango Porteno.
Tango, a dancing style thought to be originated in Argentina and Uruguay, has become a defining cultural export of Argentina to the world. So it only seemed right to learn from the best. Walking away with diplomas after a 45-minute lesson (much faster than the other diploma we all hope to receive soon), the group was then treated to a night of steak, wine and dancing. This would end up becoming a recurring theme during the trip.
After a busy Tuesday morning lecture covering the broader implications of doing business on the entire continent, the group spent the rest of the day exploring the city. Even better was Wednesday, a dream day for the burgeoning wine aficionados among the group. A morning panel discussion covered the complexities of winemaking and distribution, particularly as it relates to Argentina’s Malbec, one of the fastest growing varieties in the world. Not satisfied to simply talk about wine, the group bused to a wine tasting venue where meats, cheese and bread were plentifully supplied and the group tasted some of the region’s finest work.
Having recovered from another day of wining and dining — something NYU Stern does especially well — Thursday morning held in store three lectures from the positively-paced Buenos Aires startup scene. The founder of RFID maker Telectrónica, the founder of popcorn giant Biggys and a marketing executive from recycled good producer Leaf spoke about the valuable startup community in the greater Buenos Aires area, showing that despite the relative uncertainty baked into the Argentinian economy, good ideas were always worth sharing and pursuing.
The group was then treated to a trip well outside the boundaries of Buenos Aires to Groupo Estisol, a manufacturer of paper and styrofoam goods, including those movie theater-sized drink cups you might find covered in your favorite comic book hero or sports star’s face. While the floundering economy had hurt their business significantly, the group led us on a tour of the production line that was still pumping out environmentally friendly paper goods and housing material, which were more affordable and sustainable.
To cap off a successful week (and following a successful trip to one of the world’s foremost Victorian steampunk cocktail speakeasies on Thursday night) the group took a trip to the legendary Bombardero, the home of soccer club Boca Juniors. Situated in the heart of La Boca Barrio, the picturesque and colorful tourist attraction in Buenos Aires, the stadium is a symbol of community. The team’s CFO walked the group through financial statements and strategies for keeping a sports club afloat during tough times and also gave us a stadium tour that delivered a rare inside look at the operations of the club.
While the week-long trip was jam-packed with activities, site visits and steak eat-outs, the message of Buenos Aires was clear as day: anything was possible, as long as you kept up the positive attitude and the country in your heart.