Another once in a lifetime International Trip in the EMBA books! This year, three cohorts and a handful of eager alum set off on an adventure to not only one, but two exciting destinations - Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru. These developing Latin American nations proved to be the perfect locations for this year's trip with their abundance of cultural and outdoor activities, and growing business landscapes.
The International Trip takes place in a new location each year, but the focus remains the same: immerse students in the international business world and local culture, connect each team with a company for the international consulting project, and solidify the bonds that students have built throughout the program.
Read below to find out what made Quito, Ecuador and Lima, Peru such an outstanding trip!
Quito is a beautiful and historic city surrounded by breathtaking mountain tops and filled with stunning architecture. We enjoyed an action packed five days, beginning with the Quito City Games on day one which allowed us to get acquainted to the city, and to see many of the sites. Our group of 55 travelers split into teams and set off on a custom adventure, with each team hunting for different landmarks and activities along the way. My team enjoyed amazing views while riding the Teleferico Cable Car, a gondola running from the city center up the Pichincha Volcano. Absolutely amazing!
Before diving into our business visits, we spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the city and bonding as a group. We enjoyed a delicious welcome dinner and drinks, and then set off Sunday morning on a challenging but rewarding group trek to the basecamp of Cotopaxi Volcano. The altitude in Quito is no joke, but the sense of accomplishment as we made our way up the mountain was well worth the journey.
Monday kicked off our business visits as we met with a large food producer Proalmex, and heard from the head of marketing while sampling chocolate at Pacari Chocolate. We also had the opportunity to visit the Middle of the World where we tried our hand at a number of challenges and experiments comparing them between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres which was incredibly interesting to see. We finished the day with a beer tasting and a limpia, a traditional ritual cleansing practiced by a curandero specializing in traditional medicine. A number of us were told we were experiencing high levels of stress (no surprises there!) so a spiritual cleanse was well received by many.
Tuesday we had the opportunity to visit AMCHAM Ecuador to get a macroeconomic view of the business landscape in Ecuador, and we also enjoyed a visit with Nestle Ecuador. That night we enjoyed an optional tour and tasting at a local microbrewery, before packing our bags flying to Lima for our next adventure!
Allan Ulrich, Online Class 31
What an experience! It was a pleasure seeing my fellow classmates in person for the first time since orientation. Spending 10 days in total with two other classes and alumni where we shared our experiences and ideas was truly enriching and even inspiring.
The daily schedules were jam-packed with business visits like the Peruvian-American Chamber of Commerce, where host Walter Noceda reviewed Peru’s economic environment and the forces driving and challenging foreign direct investment. Next we met with Eduardo Elias, a Corporate director with textile manufacturer Jeruth, as he explained his company’s manufacturing process and the strategy it uses to manage its international value chain. We also had the opportunity to meet with our International Consulting Project leaders in person. It was amazing having the opportunity to tour their facility and hear about their business challenges first hand before completing our research and recommendations.
Beyond the academic events, we had plenty of opportunities to explore Lima’s eclectic cultural offerings. Between Plaza San Martin and Plaza Mayor are five blocks of shops, restaurants, and cafes bustling with musicians and street performers. Plaza Mayor, Lima’s main square, boasts gardens, Lima’s cathedral, and the Presidential Palace. And lets not forget the food - it's safe to say the entire group raved about the culinary diversity in Lima. We had the opportunity to join a cooking class where we made some of Peru’s famous dishes by blending European, Asian, and African influences derived from Peru’s diverse immigration history. Another night we indulged in a walking food tour of the trendy Barranco neighborhood, sampling delicious food and cocktails and dining in stunning mansions turned restaurants along the way.
On the final day, we couldn’t leave Peru without a boat ride to the Palomino Islands and having the opportunity to swim with the sea lions! That evening we met once more as a complete group for our farewell dinner before half of the group journeyed home, and the other half set off on an optional 4 day adventure to Cusco and Machu Picchu. We dined outdoors at Huaca Pucllana, which sits at the base of the ruins of a 1500 year old pyramid. We reminisced and toasted to the action packed 10 days that seemed to fly by, but at the same time it felt like we had gained a lifetime of experiences. We toasted to each others success, friendship, and the forthcoming completion of our Executive MBAs!
A Once in a Lifetime Trip to Machu Picchu:
As an optional addition to what was already an amazing 10 day international trip to Quito and Lima, 26 EMBAers and I embarked on a four day adventure to the Andes Mountains in Cusco, Peru, to experience Machu Picchu. Our group consisted of both on-campus and online students, some of who had only just met for the first time in-country. Needless to say, by the end of the trip we were no longer separate cohorts, but one unit enjoying this journey together.
Upon arriving in Cusco, we stayed in the Palacio Del Inka, a five-centuries-old mansion in the heart of downtown. The second you step in the door of this hotel you feel immersed in the Incan culture. The hotel is a historic landmark, and doubles as a museum full of original artwork and ancient artifacts. The trip to Cusco included plenty of time to explore the city, as well as visit breathtaking archaeological sites like the Sacred Valley and Pisac before topping it all off with a trek to Machu Picchu.
Just getting to Machu Picchu was an experience in itself! We loaded on to our buses before sunrise for a drive to the train station located in the Sacred Valley. When we boarded the train, we were seated in a glass-top rail car full of panoramic windows for views of the Andes Mountains. Finally, we took a bus up the winding mountain road all the way to the top. The time it took to travel allowed for the excitement to grow within the group for what we were about to experience. None of us had been to this part of the world before, and we were all embarking on a once in a lifetime experience together. I will never forget the first view of this spectacular site as the group stepped through the trail that overlooked Machu Picchu. Experiencing something as awe-inspiring as Machu Picchu changes you, and it creates a bond between you and your fellow cohort members that you will share for the rest of your life. As much as I would have wanted to, I don’t think I would have made this trip on my own. If not for the EMBA, Machu Picchu would remain unchecked on my bucket list.
We all have things on our bucket list that remain unchecked year after year. It is safe to say that visiting a Wonder of the World is near the top of most, but is no easy feat. After this trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu, I will now be revising my bucket list to include not only what I want to experience, but who I want to be fortunate enough to experience it with. I could not have asked for a better group to experience one of the most beautiful sites on the planet, and it seems almost impossible to think we had all only been brought together face-to-face a few days prior.
Read more reflections and perspectives from our 2021 trip to Panama: