Monday, August 10, 2015

Finishing Reflections

Carlos Robles

My last entry will be a reflection of the progression of the project in the two countries I worked in over the last three months.

I started by working two weeks in Mexico City. These first two weeks were a bit of a slow start since I was getting used to the city and trying to find a place to work, as well as develop a work plan that would allow me to complete the research objective.  I could not find any contacts to interview during this time in Mexico City, but I was able to find some valuable information regarding the changes in the Mexican bankruptcy law after 2000 as well as a lot of background information on bankruptcy practices.  After the first two weeks flew by, I headed to Argentina for nine weeks hoping to be able to interview local experts about these processes.

I had never been to Buenos Aires before, so I was really looking forward for the opportunity to get to know the city and learn as much as possible about its history, as well as the research objective. My favorite part of the project was the high level of independence I had, because it allowed me to work from different coffee shops around the city and get to see and experience the many things that this beautiful place had to offer while working toward the project.

My host was the Universidad Astral IAE Business School in the outskirts of the Buenos Aires. Similar to my time in Mexico City, my first week and a half in Buenos Aires included learning a lot about how to get around and where to go to get some work done.  Once I was able to get in touch with the people at IAE, I was able to set up a schedule that allowed me to work more diligently on the project. They gave me my own work space in the area where the PhD students worked, and I was able to meet some people that way, as well as ask for their insights on any questions I had.  Everyone was extremely welcoming and accommodating, and I felt really comfortable there. 

Universidad Astral IAE Business School Campus in Buenos Aires
Another view of the IAE Campus
Once I was more acclimated to the city and my schedule, I was able to enjoy weekends to do various cultural activities, such as museum visits, explore local restaurants, go to concerts, and (my favorite) weekly Tango lessons at a local coffee shop. 
To say I enjoyed my time in Buenos Aires would be a huge understatement. I think being by myself in such a beautiful, yet calm city, coupled with all I learned along in the project really helped me feel like I grew a lot both professionally and personally. 

Around my fourth week in town, I made a really valuable connection with a prominent law firm in the city. My interactions with two of the lawyers from this firm created a lot of opportunities to meet important contacts that provided incredibly useful information about the restructuring practices of the companies we were interested in.  Through that connection, I was able to interview the former CEO of Fargo, which is one of Argentina’s most important food companies, but was eventually bought out by Mexico’s Bimbo.  Also through that connection, I was able to attend a Boca Juniors game. This was especially great because those games are actually closed off to members only, and tourists often have to pay 150 USD and up for a “tour” and game package, and I didn’t want to do that.  But, since I developed a good relationship with the lawyers at the firm, they let me borrow their box seats for one of the games!

Watching the Boca Juniors games in Buenos Aires
On top of the interactions with people, the process of getting information about the project from different contacts was thrilling; I had very few connections, so every time I talked to someone I was eager to ask them to further introduce me to people knowledgeable on the topic.  Thanks to that, I was able to set up interviews with former CEO’s, Professors, and lawyers who were directly involved in these processes, and who worked with the companies we were interested in learning about.
Back in Mexico
After being in Argentina for nine weeks, I had a week left to work in Mexico City, and luckily I was able to make a connection with a professor in Buenos Aires my last week there who put me in touch with two of Mexico’s most knowledgeable lawyers and professors in the topic of Mexican bankruptcy and debt restructuring practices.  With a lot more knowledge about bankruptcy proceedings and a better understanding of the history of the impact of economic crises in Latin America, my conversations with these two gentlemen really left me wishing I could have spent more time researching bankruptcy practices in Mexico. I say that because, on paper, Mexico has a very good bankruptcy law, but on practice, it falls short of being effective due to the high levels of corruption and ignorance of the proceedings in court.

Reflecting back on my experiences, I am really thankful for the way both countries welcomed me. I already miss the amazing steaks and wine I had in Argentina and also going to Tango classes on Sunday evenings.  Mexico also left me with a great sense of nostalgia, especially after being away for so long.

My experiences in both countries helped me realize I want to pursue a career that allows me to travel and work on projects in Latin America, and they also allowed me to realize how adaptable I can be and that I can thrive in very different environments.  Because of that, I am extremely happy I was able to be a WDI Fellow this summer and I look forward to this upcoming year and to what will come after graduation.


No comments:

Post a Comment