Reflection 1 - The trip itself, an overview
Within 7 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 Latam and Chile itself provided a foundation for a vast amount of experiences. However, I believe that the under lining 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 Latam market, rather than just Europe, Asia and North America. I aim 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. That is, 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 about 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.