By Ashok Som, Associate Dean and Director of the Global MBA, who left Venezuela this morning after visiting the International Immersion Project team working with Total in Caracas
The IIP Total-Venuezula is working in one of the most dangerous environments in the World. The five participants are located on the 12th of Torre Corp Banca, Piso 12, Av. Ppal. de La Castellana, La Castellana, Caracas in the offices of Total.
Being fluent in Spanish, Felipe and Esteban are travelling within Caracas and Valencia interviewing stakeholders while Shriram and Mikaël, while working on their Spanish, are focusing on the analytical aspects of the project and Hiroshi is contacting the Japanese business houses in Caracss. Caracas is a dangerous city by any standard, with more than 30 killings every week. The Global MBA students, bracing this evironment, are studying and working on the growth trajectory of the Total Lubricants in Venezuela, a country with political uncertainty.
An most interesting part of Venezuelan economics that they have observed is that the official exchange rate is 1€ to 5.5 Bolivars, but the parallel market rate is 1€ to 11 Bolivars! Which means that when one uses an international credit card they pay double the price for the same goods and services! The Global MBA students are experiencing the realities of doing business in emerging markets: the importance of language, the importance of relationships in business, the importance of communcation and generally surviving in a completely unknown business environment, and deliver.