Ten years after a period of recession and Latin America has struggled to sustain economic momentum. The fiscal crisis, political uncertainty, the fall of commodity prices, and insufficient public and private investments are just some of the problems it faces. But, in general, the region is trying to get back on track. Regional GDP is expected to have expanded 2.0% annually in the second quarter of 2018, a notch above the first quarter’s 1.9% increase.
Latin America has its struggles, but it possesses a number of assets that make it an attractive market. It’s blessed with an abundance of natural resources, 35% of its population is middle class and its inhabitants score higher on happiness than other continents – demonstrating that money can’t buy it all.
Maybe this atmosphere of contentment plays a significant role in the way business is done here. Around 80% of the companies are family owned and Latinos stand out by their resilience and capacity to operate in unstable business environments. Recently, startups and innovation have flourished in big cities. Ever heard of Mercado Libre? It is like the Latin American Amazon, an e-commerce company, which is currently in the Nasdaq-100 index.
No doubt, these attributes have caught the eye of developed countries. In times where protectionism is growing elsewhere, some Latin American governments have committed to trade and investment liberalisation. This has made the region an attractive destination for FDI, as has happened for China, which is now a key partner. Certainly Latin America is not in its golden years, but it still has a lot to offer. However, the threats it is exposed to cannot be ignored.
In terms of competitiveness, things are looking gloomy: a total of nine LATAM countries lost ground in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018. The continent needs to attract more private investment, efficiently manage state resources, and promote the efficient adoption of digital technologies.
At the same time, we exist in a VUCA environment. For those not familiar, the acronym stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, and refers to the challenges organisations face today. We live in an increasingly changing and overwhelming world, that is why we need proactive talent, able to face uncertainty. Right now, Latin America requires internal and external leaders to bet on this side of the world, but not everyone is up to the challenge.
A global business school with a Latin American perspective
INCAE Business School is a private, non-profit, higher-education organisation devoted to teaching and research in the fields of business and economics in Latin America. Since its inception more than five decades ago it has been educating leaders, executives and entrepreneurs, who have gone on to innovate and develop sustainable and successful organisations.
The school ensures world-class education through its programmes, which follow Harvard’s Case Study Method and include business simulations, panels with experts, design-thinking workshops, experiential learning, entrepreneurs labs, and action-learning projects. Its innovative range of programmes, world-class faculty and outstanding graduates have consistently contributed to its position in prestigious lists, including in the Financial Times, which recently placed INCAE 11th in the Americas and 29th worldwide in its 2018 Executive Education Rankings.
The full-time MBA programmes are for young professionals looking for an immersive 14-month experience. The MBA Latin American Leadership has two intakes per year (February and August) and allows students to focus in areas such as sustainability, marketing, operations and technology, finance and economics, and entrepreneurship. The MBA Global Perspective starts in August, and teaches the best business techniques for both developed and emerging nations. It is taught in English, and offers a variety of exchange and dual degree opportunities with more than 34 schools around the world.
Also, the Executive Education department offers five executive master’s, 51 open programmes, 40 corporate programmes, and 44 online programmes. It has a portfolio that mirrors the internal structure of most companies, offering a high quality educational solution to people at every stage of their career, from high potential to C-level executives who are looking to develop the necessary competencies to face global business challenges. The Executive Master’s are part-time degree programmes with specialisations in operations and technology, finance and business analytics, as well as the internationally renowned executive MBA. Each of the degree programmes has a modular design, where students come to class for a week each month. This part-time format makes all of the Executive Master’s the perfect alternative for busy professionals who can not leave their full-time jobs.
INCAE collaborates with top business schools in North America, Europe and Asia for both degrees and non-degree programmes. The school maintains academic partnerships with Babson College, McDonough School of Business, McCombs School of Business, Yale University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California (all in the USA), and St. Gallen University (Switzerland), Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (China and USA), and Esade Business School (Spain). It has also worked with leading firms, including Cargill, Kraft Heinz, EY, Pricesmart, Adidas, Millicom and Walmart.
In 2017 more than 11,000 people from more than 20 countries participated in on-site and online programmes, which are taught by an elite faculty comprising a select group of professors who have graduated from top universities around the world. They all have published research, books and other material in areas such as sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation.
INCAE also brings progress through its research centres. The Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS in Spanish) allocates resources for research, data analysis and policy promotion. The school has teamed up with the Social Progress Imperative in Mexico and Central America to develop the Social Progress Index (SPI), and with the World Economic Forum to contribute to the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018. Both are sources of valuable information for universities, governments and companies. INCAE is proud of its role as an active participant in the promotion and implementation of new policies that will improve the region’s well-being.
The school’s mission has never been more important. It will keep working towards Latin America’s development by educating leaders in key sectors. To be recognised as the “Best Latin American Business School of the Year” and “Excellence in Executive Education” by this magazine is not only an honour, but a motivation to keep making a difference and an opportunity to extend an invitation to those European executives to explore Latin America’s possibilities and help us develop the region.