Spring 2011

Published by UCLA Anderson School of Management

Sample features provided here. Click to download the entire issue (PDF).

Bridging the Gap

For their Global Access Program (GAP) field study project, a team of UCLA Anderson fully employed MBA students worked with Footbalance, a Finnish company that creates shoe insoles designed by a physiotherapist. The firm's goal was to enter the highly coveted North American market, an essential next step in their plans for expansion. The result wasa successful strategy that led to a lucrative contract with Road Runner Sports. Complete article >

Q and Anderson

Sebastian Edwards, Henry Ford II Chair in International Management, responded to questions about his new book, "Left Behind - Latin America and the False Promise of Populism," providing a region-wide political and economic overview. Complete article >

A Rising Force in Global Markets

While they share a common heritage, the varied group of nations that make up latin America are also a study in contrasts. having made substantial progress in many ways over the recent past, there are promising opportunities in the region's untapped possibilities, but considerable challenges remain. From a variety
of perspectives, UCLA Anderson experts share their understanding of our neighbors to the south in the following feature article.

One of the often-cited common concerns is poor performance on measures of education. in part because of Latin America's proximity, UCLA Anderson has a natural interest in its success and has chosen it as one of the regions on which to focus for forming mutually beneficial partnerships. As the latest step in furthering the long-standing ties, UCLA Anderson is proposing to establish the Global Executive MBA for the Americas program. A dual degree would be offered in conjunction with Universidad Adolfo ibáñez, which is located in Santiago, Chile, and considered to be one of the top MBA programs in the region. Truly international in scope, classes will be conducted in Los Angeles and Santiago, along with Miami and São paulo, Brazil. Complete article >

Getting to the Top

When transitioning into senior management, different skills become of primary importance in these leadership roles. Understanding and developing appropriate abilities is required in order to make a smooth transition from doing to leading. This article is the second in a three- part series that will be completed in the next edition of Assets, with the final step of creating a career action plan to achieve career success. Kathryn Ullrich, associate director of alumni career services, shares insights into this process from her book, "Getting to the Top: Strategies for Career Success." Complete article >

Blazing a Trail for Those who Come After

Robert Amaro (MBA '10) serves as a role model for Latinos who aspire to a career in business management. Attracted to UCLA Anderson by its culture of valuing diversity and the fine reputation of its finance faculty, he hopes to advance in his banking career. However, remembering his roots as a "farm kid," he also seeks to encourage others through his involvement with professional associations. Complete article >


Bridging the Gap
UCLA Anderson Team Keeps Footbalance on Course to the United States

By Paul Feinberg

When Patrik Louko leaves his native Finland for one of his frequent business trips to San Diego, he sometimes just shakes his head and smiles - considering that he gets on a plane in sub-zero temperatures and debarks into Southern California's paradise-like climes. But it's not just the temperature that warms Louko, it's also the reception he and his company, Footbalance, have received in the United States.

That reception - and later success - he believes would not have been possible without the efforts of a UCLA Anderson Global Access Program (GAP) team, whose efforts were crucial to the company's expansion into the lucrative - and essential - North American market.

Footbalance, a company that customizes and mass markets shoe insoles, is the brainchild of Erkki Hakkala, a Finnish physiotherapist specializing in podiatric medicine. In his own practice, Hakkala became frustrated by the length of time it took to produce comfortable orthotics (aka corrective shoe inserts) for his patients. Like a true entrepreneur, Hakkala developed a superior method for creating these insoles with a technology so fast and easy to use that he came to believe the process could be converted to a retail environment. The whole procedure is so simple that Louko, chief executive officer of Footbalance North America, said most of the training of retail store personnel deals with teaching them how to make sales, as opposed to instruction on how to make the inserts.

The company first took its technology from its original medical setting to a retail setting late in 2006 with a deal to test the product in three Intersport stores. Intersport is the largest sporting goods chain in Europe with outlets across that continent, as well as inroads in Asia and other outposts across the globe. The initial Footbalance trial was such a success for Intersport Finland, the company decided to expand the concept to every store in the chain.

The company then decided to take the product into the essential U.S. market.

Enter GAP

It's an understatement to say that Louko is bullish on UCLA Anderson's Global Access Program (GAP).

When company founder Hakkala first approached Elwin Svenson, who, as executive director of GAP, is one of the key contacts and recruiters of companies participating in the program, along with Bob Foster (MBA '65), GAP's director, Svenson felt they were not yet ready for what GAP could offer. A year later, Footbalance again requested consideration, and this time, they were accepted.

The Global Access Program is the field study portion of the Fully Employed MBA Program (FEMBA) curriculum, providing students with a real-world opportunity to apply the tools and lessons learned at UCLA Anderson. Students perform extensive primary and secondary research and work closely with company representatives to develop an investment-quality strategic business plan for their clients. In addition, as students who are also gainfully employed, GAP team members bring their own professional expertise to their projects, adding a secondary level of benefit to GAP company participants.

Footbalance's original GAP team - Bryan Banta (FEMBA '09), Renato D'Angelo (FEMBA '09), Howard Kwon (FEMBA '09), Thai Le (FEMBA '09) and Scott Lem (FEMBA '09) - were given two tasks. Lem, currently the chief accounting officer for Ares Capital Corporation, recalled that the team "was charged with developing a U.S. market strategy," along with writing a business plan. As it happened, among his contacts at his investment company was the president of Road Runner Sports, a retail chain specializing in running shoes and apparel.

"Our participation in GAP landed us a multimillion dollar deal with Road Runner Sports, and that's been an awesome partnership for us," Louko said. "It was a huge thing for the evolution of our company, and without being in GAP, it never would have happened. The actual, concrete deliverables provided by the GAP team, which included a world-class business plan, really helped us attract attention from some of the leading investors in the world."

Rapid U.S. Expansion

Lem explained the perspective from the other side. "We were doing fact finding and information gathering, and the investment firm where I worked had contacts at Road Runner," he said. "Although we had looked at it as a potential investment, nothing ever materialized, but we kept in contact. Through that connection, we scheduled a meeting with the president and founder of Road Runner, just to look at the feasibility of what Footbalance was trying to do. We weren't trying to sell them on the idea. But before the meeting was even finished, they were interested in testing the product. It turns out they were looking for something exactly like what Footbalance offered and had already looked at some alternatives."

After what Louko described as a quick meeting, Footbalance and Road Runner entered into an agreement, and just days after the team delivered their final GAP presentations, Road Runner installed a Footbalance unit in its No. 1 store. Less than a month after the final GAP presentations, the units were in all 20 Road Runner outlets. Getting the deal with Road Runner had far-reaching impact on Footbalance. As a result of its successful entrée into the crucial U.S. market, the company's value increased.

"I want to emphasize that a lot of different elements of the GAP team's plan and research really helped our case for the company," Louko said. "The company's value and potential was made very convincing, and these were key elements that helped us raise $10 million in financing. Because we got Road Runner Sports, the value of the company skyrocketed, and our product was proven, because we were suddenly successful in the United States."

Extending the Successful Partnership

Today, Footbalance has over 350 points of sale, selling custom orthotics on three continents in 12 countries. They are on track to quadruple sales, while selling eight times as many insoles in North America. Footbalance once again engaged a UCLA Anderson GAP team - this time to formulate a strategic plan for expansion into the lucrative U.S. medical market.

Footbalance's second GAP team recommended a two-pronged approach that included the company building brand recognition in the medical world through relationships with physical therapy clinics and medical centers, followed by developing a fast-scaling market through retail clinics and comfort shoe chains. At this writing, Louko said Footbalance is strongly considering entering the U.S. medical market, but due to their fast growth in the sports segment, their focus will remain on the athletic retail market for the time being.

"Our second GAP experience was as good as the first," Louko said. "Our team was of the highest caliber, and they provided a very good business plan. When we do start to roll out into the medical arena, the GAP market entry plan will be extremely valuable."

Comparing the value derived from his GAP project with the work of professional consultants, Louko added, "In the past few years, I have bought a million euros worth of consulting, so I understand the value of consultants. Working with UCLA Anderson students was a really good experience. They are all very motivated. It's not like when you hire another outside consultant, and in many cases, you are not their only or even best customer. The GAP teams were really interested and wanted to get the best outcome for the company, instead of getting the best outcome for billing."

Louko's fondness for his GAP teams and what they were able to accomplish together is obvious. The variety of viewpoints the team members brought was something he thought was crucial to the success of the projects.

"We had great teams, and I don't know if we could find this diverse expertise at any consultancy," Louko said. "We had someone from finance, an auditor, a mechanical engineer who designs fighter planes, one person from marketing, a vice president of sales at Fox Studio and one person from pharmaceuticals. The combination was just incredible and well-rounded, so all the aspects of business operations were covered. In terms of return on investment, the GAP program has been nearly infinite, maybe even 10,000 times more value added to the owners of Footbalance."

Q and Anderson
Sebastian Edwards on the Economic History and Future of Latin America

By Paul Feinberg

In his new book, "Left Behind - Latin America and the False Promise of Populism," Edwards shed light on the region's political and economic histories - sans the magic - providing readers with a region-wide view of where Latin America has been and where it might be going.

Sebastian Edwards, professor of global economics and management at UCLA Anderson, has said that the economic history of many Latin American countries reads like a novel authored by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in possession of a certain "magical realism." In his new book, "Left Behind - Latin America and the False Promise of Populism," Edwards shed light on the region's political and economic histories - sans the magic - providing readers with a region-wide view of where Latin America has been and where it might be going. As Anderson plans to launch its latest degree program, the proposed Global Executive MBA for the Americas, Anderson's Henry Ford II Professor of International Management sat down with Assets to discuss "Left Behind" and the economic future of Latin America.

As Anderson plans to launch a new executive MBA program in Latin America, we've been talking to everyone from administrators to faculty to alumni working in the region, and there is a fair amount of excitement and optimism regarding its future. But when reading your book, it gives the feeling you were not as enamored with opportunities there as others seem to be. Is that accurate?

Well, the book is written with a long-run perspective and a sense of reality. It covers, in one way or another, over 200 years of Latin American history and looks into a more distant future. And when you do this, you cannot fail to conclude that Latin America is not Disneyland. The region provides opportunities and challenges, but it is not a sure bet. What we - at Anderson and, more generally, at UCLA - certainly want to do is contribute to dealing successfully with this challenge through our educational programs and a mission to train managers and executives.

And it's not as if Latin America is a singular monolith - we're talking about a number of different countries.
Of course. It's a very diverse society. There are countries with a failed state, where there are no institutions, where corruption is rampant and where two years after an earthquake, (Haiti) people are still desperate. Then you have another country (Chile) that suffered a much worse natural disaster, and it wasn't in the news three months afterward, because they pulled themselves together. From Haiti to Chile, from tiny Honduras to Brazil - it's an extremely diverse region.

The point I make in the book is that, during the last decade or so, Latin America solved half its problem - that of a very unstable macroeconomic environment. The region's history is replete with currency crises and triple- digit inflation or inflation in the thousands, which is very hard for us to imagine. That is gone. We now have stability. Currency values are predictable. Inflation in almost every country is single-digit; in some countries, it's even lower than in the United States.

With stability, you can plan ahead. The problem with inflation is that prices keep going up, so you don't know the costs that you - as an entrepreneur - will face. And you don't know if the prices for the goods you're selling are going up because there's generalized inflation or because the goods have become more attractive in the marketplace or because they are more competitive. The price system is supposed to provide signals that allow firms to react and change their behavior if needed. Inflation takes away that fundamental property of the prices, which is to transmit signals. And inflation is gone; currency crises are gone, which is one part of the equation.

And the other half of the problem?

There are tremendous challenges to getting the other half of the equation right. Now Latin Americans have to become really productive, so they can compete successfully in the global marketplace. They need to expand the range of their exports and diversify away from commodities. In order to do this better, management practices and techniques are needed. That's where UCLA Anderson comes in. We're going to train good Latin American managers and make them excellent, the best in the world. Then the potential of the region is going to become a reality. Having said that, I have little hope for Venezuela, Nicaragua or Bolivia. The problem is that these countries' political leaders are implementing populist policies and are trying to kill the market through the elimination of competition. There are also systematic violations of property rights.

What are the greatest challenges facing the region as its various countries attempt to become productive?

In different countries, different problems are the more salient ones. Moreover, they change through time. Five years ago, for example, the drug trade was an irritant and an annoyance in Mexico. Today, it's the central social and political issue.

If I were to think of a single problem that presents itself throughout the region, it's the dismal quality of the educational system. The problem with education is that it's hard for voters to evaluate. When, as a result of trade openness, people realized that the quality of goods produced in Latin America was low, they
did what they had to do: they stopped buying local goods and began importing them. So, local producers were forced to improve quality, and now the goods produced in Latin America are as good as those you can import.

If you are a middle-class parent, who do you compare your kid's educations to? Also, you can't import education. The best Latin American country does poorly on international standardized tests. The quality of education is very poor, and teachers' unions stand in the way of any truly innovative reform. And that's a very serious problem.

What will the next 25 years look like in Latin America?

I venture to say in the book that there will be a three-tiered Latin America. First, there will be a group of countries that will basically continue to fail and do very poorly. These are mostly the countries that insist on taking shortcuts and not implementing modern pro-market, pro-competition and pro-transparency policies. If you don't have competition, there will be no innovation. If there's no innovation, there will be no progress. These are countries that currently have populist regimes.

Then, there will be a core, middle group of countries that will move forward but at a rather mediocre rate. That means the gap between these countries and the more successful countries in the world, in terms of growth, will become even wider.

Then, there will be a small group of countries that will do very well and will increasingly distance themselves from the rest of the region. That group is going to include Chile, probably Costa Rica, maybe Peru and hopefully Brazil. What is needed in Brazil, since they finally got rid of inflation and instability, is that they become truly competitive.

Here, Edwards re-enforced his belief that education reform is essential for Latin American countries - like Brazil - to truly become competitive and fully participate in the world's economy. Citing statistics from "Left Behind," he noted that, in a 2006 international educational survey of standardized tests in science, only six Latin American countries chose to participate, and all fell into the lower half of the survey. Brazil, for example, ranked 51st out of 57 countries.

What would happen if Brazil went from 51st to, say, 35th?

That would take a generation. A generation ago, Latin America started in earnest to go back to the markets, after long dictatorships that varied from country to country. Unfortunately, at that time, no serious efforts were made to improve the quality of the educational system.

If these countries had started to focus on education the day they returned to democracy, today they would be in a position to start harvesting the fruits of that investment. It does take a long time, but education is fundamentally important, because it changes people. Not only does it add marketable skills but also it changes people's culture and their approach toward innovation and productivity. That is the most important thing about it.

Along with education, what else does Latin America need to become competitive over the next generation?

Most Latin American countries have a rather low savings rate. The problem, of course, is that countries need to save in order to finance investments. And investments are required in order to add to the capital stock, buy new generation machines and improve infrastructure in a way that matches the needs of the country.

In addition, in order to grow in a sustainable way, workers' skills need to improve through time. That's where education comes in; better skills require a modern, efficient and effective educational system.

Finally, economic growth requires innovation. That is what we call productivity growth.

If one takes a long view, a one-generation perspective, there is a question mark on whether a large number of Latin American countries will be able to deliver on all three of these requirements for growth. Those that do it will succeed and become members of the exclusive club of overachievers. The challenge, of course, is to get as many countries as possible moving into the upper tier.

If Chile, Brazil and Costa Rica are doing well in 25 years, to what extent do they pull the rest of the region along with them?

I think that if enough countries actually move into the upper tier, and this upper tier does very well, then there's going to be a positive spill- over effect.

There's likely to be an imitation effect. People in the "so-so" group will ask what the successful countries did and will try to follow their path. In that sense, benchmarking is very important. One of the points that I make in the book is that a successful Latin American country should stop comparing themselves to the region itself. Why be satisfied with having a better educational system than Colombia, where, because of the war and the drug trafficking, many schools can't even open? It is not so hard to be the best Latin American country. For some time now, I have been arguing that the Latin American countries should benchmark themselves with Australia, New Zealand and Canada, advanced commodity exporting countries. And that can make a huge difference.

A Rising Force in Global Markets
The Diverse Economies of the Latin American Region Offer a Potent Mixture of Challenges Still to be Met and Potential Waiting to be Realized

By Paul Feinberg

In his recent book, "Left Behind - Latin America and the False Promise of Populism," Sebastian Edwards, UCLA Anderson's Henry Ford II Chair in International Management, referred to the region as "the eternal land of the future." Perhaps the designation contains a touch of irony.

Despite recent years of economic success, Latin America as a whole historically has lagged behind much of the world in any number of key economic and societal indicators. From runaway inflation to government corruption, from poor public education to a lack of industrial production, Latin America has been a region noted for its unfulfilled potential.

However, as Edwards detailed and others now believe, Latin America may be ready for a turnaround. Without denying that numerous problems still exist and that the type and severity of those problems vary from nation to nation, there are now reasons to believe that a number of the region's countries are poised to seriously compete economically on a global scale.

A Shared Heritage Expressed in a Variety of Cultures

Latin America spans two continents and includes nearly 20 countries. Each of those nations is unique, so what is true for Brazil is not necessarily true for Mexico, and what is true for Chile is not necessarily true for Uruguay, Venezuela or Columbia. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that these Latin American countries share an historic Iberian culture that includes religion and language (Spanish and Portuguese).

In his book, as Edwards considered the future, he grouped the countries into three clusters. First are the populists, which include Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Next, a smaller group, including Chile, Brazil and perhaps Mexico, will embrace innovation and productivity on the road to prosperity. And finally, a group that includes many of the Central American nations will likely hover in between, where their governments understand what changes are needed to bring about a more productive economy but are lacking in the political ability to bring about the necessary reforms.

No matter where the particular country falls in this spectrum, education is one of the universal qualities in need of improvement to ensure a prosperous future. Compared to the rest of the world, Latin American nations (when they choose to be measured) consistently rank near the bottom on educational achievement. The usual surveys, while focused on the accomplishments of school-age children, also reflect the performance of college-level education and beyond.

Indeed, post-graduate education is where UCLA Anderson sees a great opportunity to expand its global reach and contributions in a region full of potential. While the school has had significant historical ties to Latin America, new programs and relationships are creating a powerful expansion of the UCLA Anderson community in our hemisphere. For example, in response to the needs created by economic growth in many Latin American countries, UCLA Anderson is proposing to launch a new executive MBA program aimed at developing leadership among professionals whose business interests span the Americas. Known as the Global Executive MBA for the Americas, this new program would be offered in partnership with Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (UAI), which isconsidered to be one of the top MBA programs in Latin America today. This latest "global EMBA" would complement a program that the school has delivered for over six years, known as the Global Executive MBA for Asia Pacific, offered in partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Assessing the Opportunity in the Present Situation

At the 2010 Latin America Conference, produced in part by the student-run Latin America Business Association, the assembled speakers were cautiously optimistic about the possibility of economic growth in Latin America overall. There was concern about the chances of some Latin American countries becoming more forceful players on the field of international business.

Speaking at the conference, Francisco Gil Diaz, executive president for Mexico and Central America at Telefonica Mexico Movistar and member of UCLA Anderson's Board of Visitors, took pains to remind attendees that, "Latin America is heterogeneous, impossible to typify." In addition, he emphasized that even those countries "in the middle" were in a different league than Chile. He also noted that there are some basic geographic issues facing the region as a whole, such as its large jungles and a lack of rivers that could provide aquatic transport to make travel between nations more efficient.

However, Gil Diaz did see some positive signs, including treaties that countries like Mexico and Chile have in place, which have lowered tariffs and opened up trade. He also noted there are some encouraging indications from Mexico that are not usually measured by gross domestic product. These include longer life spans, expanded access to private schools, increased meat consumption and an additional seven million homes built over the past few years, which he said was "a reflection of stability and low interest rates."

Referencing the recent global financial crisis, Gil Diaz also said there were some lessons learned, which include that flexible and stable exchange rates and open economies, like those found in Mexico and Chile, are preferable. His remarks essentially reflected the ideas found in Edwards' book, including how Latin American countries that get inflation under control and engage in free trade with the rest of the world stand a better chance of achieving prosperity.

Also at the conference, Ricardo Lopez Murphy, formerly minister of defense and briefly minister of economy for the Federal Government of Argentina, predicted that Latin America will "have a good decade, even in Argentina." Lopez Murphy said that as the world economy recovers, the Latin American economies will recover. "Some of our countries are a fantastically good risk," he said. "Argentina is a good risk. Chile has no debt, and its assets are higher than its liabilities."

Lopez Murphy also advocated for Latin American economic integration. "We have integration, because we are correlated," he said, noting again the shared language, historical context and beliefs. He views these commonalities as making it easy to integrate the region's nations, though it is not as easy with the rest of the world. Lopez Murphy does not suggest that Latin American countries ignore the global marketplace but rather that they seek mutually beneficial economic relationships with other Latin American countries to build upon.

Robert Spich, senior lecturer in global economics and management at UCLA Anderson and faculty director of programs for the school's Center for International Business Education and Research, offered his perspective. "Latin America's location on the Pacific Rim is again making it a region of increased global interest because of its resources and commodity products," Spich said. "Asian business activity in this region is driven by their resource hungry growth strategies. However, in addition to their population size, the emerging market countries of Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico now provide lucrative markets for sophisticated global products and investment. Latin American governments are increasingly interested in diversifying their economies beyond being resource providers. Thus there is an increased interest in foreign direct investment and technology transfer to create higher added value products. This allows them to escape the disadvantages of price swings and inherent instabilities of commodity markets. Brazil and Chile are good examples of countries following this development policy that has been successful in East Asia."

The view from the Trenches

Scot Rank (MBA '89) is the president and chief executive officer of Walmart Mexico and Central America, a publicly traded subsidiary with 68 percent of its stock owned by Walmart Inc. The company has a $50 billion market cap and is the second largest company on the Mexican stock exchange. His responsibilities include general oversight of the direction and bottom-line results of the business. He spends much of his time looking out for the interests of his shareholders and Walmart's supplier communities. His company's territory includes Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, having acquired Walmart Central America, a one-time private venture, in February 2010.

Whereas professors, politicians and policy- makers focus on the macro-issues facing Latin America, Rank and Walmart see the micro- view by doing business day-to-day, seeking opportunities to capitalize on the region's growing economic possibilities. Walmart's broad scope provides Rank with an across-the- board view of a number of potential markets. He emphasized the use of market segmentation, citing their six different retail formats, which is very different from the U.S.-based company. They include Supercenters and Sam's Club, their region's largest chain of supermarkets, a chain of clothing stores, compact bodegas and smaller hypermarkets geared toward emerging consumers. Rank also oversees a restaurant division and a non-retail bank.

"Our businesses are geared toward different segments of the population, and we've exploited that," Rank said. "There has been a lot of evolution in our business over the last 10 years."

Rank's company also entered new geographic markets. Once focused only on larger cities, their various retail outlets are now found in small towns, essentially the opposite of how Walmart expanded in the United States. Rank's position also affords him a view beyond Walmart's borders, and he has some general thoughts for those with plans to do business in Latin America.

"I think if you're considering Latin America, emerging markets will be growing faster than developed markets," Rank said. "Growth means more opportunities, whether it's in an established or new company. In addition, corporate social responsibility is really taking hold in Latin America quickly. My personal point of view is that Europe is the leader, and Latin America is on pace to catch them. That's exciting too, because it's not just about operating businesses, it's about Latin American business embracing responsibility."

The Need to Confront a Common Challenge

Along with great potential, Rank also sees the same commonly cited challenge for the region. "If we look at places like Mexico and Central America, the major issue holding us back is education," he said. "It may not be the case in Chile and maybe some other countries, but it's a big deal in central and northern Latin America. In fact, it's the biggest thing, even compared with the political uncertainty in parts of the region."

On education, Edwards is in full agreement, noting that measuring the quality of a nation's education differs from measuring the quality of their exportable goods. Historically, Latin Americans imported refrigerators from Spain or China, because those produced locally weren't very good. Eventually, local manufacturers were forced to improve their products to stay in business, and as a result, people started buying locally.

"The problem with education is that, if you are a parent, who do you compare your kid's education to?" Edwards said. "Education is not something that you can import."

Edwards explained that Latin American countries avoided exposing their children to standardized international measures. When they did and found they performed poorly on a global scale, they tended to limit their comparisons to other Latin American countries. Edwards pointed out that being first in education among Latin American countries does not mean your children are educationally competitive with the rest of the world. Improving education in the region is difficult, with a number of obstacles. Among those are teachers unions that resist change and policy- makers, who choose not to focus on education because they seek immediate results and the benefits of educational reform are usually not seen for a generation.

Working to be Part of the Solution

UCLA Anderson's proposed new Global Executive MBA for the Americas program would certainly have its own positive impact by developing leaders for emerging markets. It would be delivered in partnership with UAI, which is based in Santiago, Chile, with operations in Miami. Students in the program would earn two MBAs (one from each school) and would become alumni of both schools. Courses would be taught in English by UCLA Anderson and UAI faculty in rotation among four international locations: Miami, Los Angeles, Santiago and São Paulo, Brazil. The unique format would be divided into six quarterly learning modules, each two weeks in duration at a given location, so participants can stay in their jobs and immediately apply what they learn from the concentrated delivery. Upon completion of the six modules, participants would finish their degree in 15 months.

While the proposed program will be new, UCLA Anderson's involvement in Latin America is not. For years, a variety of school activities have reached into the region, from Global Access Program field study projects done by fully employed MBA students to all forms of educational trips and visits made by faculty and staff. UCLA Anderson also has successfully recruited students from all over the region and has thriving alumni organizations in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. In addition, numerous alumni find themselves carving out successful and influential careers in Latin America for companies based both inside the region and in the United States.

Two individuals at UCLA Anderson will provide leadership for the new global EMBA. Dominique Hanssens, Bud Knapp Professor of Marketing, will serve as faculty director, and Bob Pettit (MBA '89) will act as executive director. Pettit, formerly executive director of alumni relations for the school, believes that UCLA Anderson's proposed new program would provide an education that is unmatched in the hemisphere today.

"I'm very excited that we have chosen Miami, São Paulo and Santiago in addition to Los Angeles. These four locations really define the region," Pettit said. "Our program would offer a great balance of perspectives, Pacific/ Atlantic, as well as Northern/Southern. If you look at these cities on a map, you can see how we have really captured the essence of the region."

Pettit also noted the uniqueness of the potential new program. "Nobody is doing what we are doing," he said. "We are taking this opportunity to develop the kind of leaders who can realize the productivity and growth that Sebastian refers to in his book."

Helping to Stake a Claim on a Prosperous Future

Alejandro Ruelas-Gossi is professor of strategy and the faculty director on behalf of Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Operating on the UAI side, he has been instrumental in the planning for the dual MBA program and would be part of the faculty. Educated in the United States, he also believes that this program would fill a need for Latin American executives not met by those who travel to the United States to study.

"I got my degrees from M.I.T. and UNC- Chapel Hill, and when I returned to my home country, I realized that many things I learned did not apply here," Ruelas-Gossi said. "My MBA was not applicable to my reality. Not every country would be like the United States. The experience of this program would be a mix of the best of UCLA and the best of UAI, the best of the developed economy paradigm and the best of the emerging economies paradigm. It's a true collaboration; the best that I've seen. Everyone is committed to doing something together as equals."

Pettit explained the program's goals. "We're looking for candidates that have at least 10 years of work history and significant responsibilities anywhere within the Americas," he said. "You could be working for Citigroup in New York, Deloitte in Mexico City or Pfizer in São Paolo. If your career trajectory pertains to the region, then we think that you could be a very interesting candidate for the program. Bringing together a mix of people who have common interests but with different perspectives creates a really great learning environment and a strong network."

Walmart's Rank believes the proposed Global Executive MBA for the Americas program has a real opportunity to make a difference. "I think the timing is fantastic," he said. "Emerging markets will continue to display a lot of growth, and Latin America is a great place to expand UCLA Anderson's reach. The school can contribute a high quality of graduate education not easily found in Latin America."

Anderson's Edwards concurred when he articulated the new program's mission. "We intend to train the best managers in the world, and that will help Latin America meet their challenges," he said. "The easy thing to do is go to a country or a region that is going to make it anyway and just share in the fruits of success. We are going to Latin America, because it's a challenge. They are ready to take off, beginning to take off. But it's not a foregone conclusion, and it's not going to happen automatically. However, it is going to happen, because we are going to help."


Getting to the Top
Understanding and Developing Leadership Skills Needed in Senior Management

By Kathy Ullrich (MBA '92)

 A UCLA Anderson alumnus with a top role in corporate development shared his experiences in moving through middle management: "I can strategically analyze any deal, and I am great when it comes to working with bankers to close deals. I have no problems communicating at executive levels on these transactions, but I am absolutely in over my head when it comes to managing my new team. I am working more hours than I did in investment banking and am buried. I feel like a complete failure. Should I just relegate my career to being a great analyst?"

Since he had ambitions beyond that of an analyst, this executive needed to learn how to let go of details and how to communicate with people other than bankers. His team did not have the same drive and motivation that the bankers did. He needed to use effective language with enough information to convey his messages in order to achieve the desired results. He also needed to learn how to motivate the team to reach objectives and how to delegate work, trusting them to handle specific elements.

This executive is not unlike others who reach leadership levels without role models or training to be effective in their jobs. The knowledge shared by executives in the Getting to the Top® career development programs illuminate the skills needed as you progress from doing to leading in your career. I organized these skills into a career pyramid (see right).

While UCLA Anderson graduates are familiar with some of these skills from the MBA curriculum, others are not as obvious. Let's learn more about why they are deemed important by senior executives.

Strategic Vision

Chief executive officers set the company vision, but functional executives also have a role in setting a consistent vision for a team, product or customer-focused solution or service. Then, executives must align their teams with the vision through constant and consistent communication.

While at UCLA Anderson to accept the John Wooden Global Leadership Award, Fred Smith, chief executive officer of Federal Express, talked about the company's vision being guided by People-Service-Profit. Take care of your people, who provide service to customers, who return profit to the company.

During the evening awards ceremony, a FedEx delivery person arrived at the event with Smith's award. I had a chance before the ceremony to talk with him, a graveyard-shift worker at the Los Angeles airport. I asked him how late night employees stayed motivated. His response, "Well, it's all about taking care of the customers and making sure their packages arrive on time." It sounded like Fred Smith talking about the company vision and culture. Employees working the graveyard shift live the company vision. That's alignment throughout the organization.

What role do you play in developing a vision, and how well is your team in alignment with this vision?

Customer Perspective

In an element that may be less obvious, executives emphasized how understanding customers - external and internal - drove success in functional roles. One participant shared how, in the early days of Intuit, the company did focus groups for Quicken and, for two years, ignored data showing that consumers were using the product for home-based businesses. With the oversight corrected, the small-to-medium business segment now accounts for half the company's revenue.

Proctor & Gamble's customer philosophy is: You stand for election every day with your customer in two ways, when they choose to buy a product and when they use it. Getting to the Top® executives discussed the importance of focusing on the complete customer cycle, so consumers will continue to use the product. For example, eBay stands for election by their customer with every click, so the company ensures that every experience online is a good one.

Who is your customer? What do you do to understand your customer needs? How do you bring the customer perspective into your job?


Executives shared the exponentially increased importance of communication skills at the more senior levels in an organization. Andrew Gengos (MBA '91), president and chief executive officer for Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals, said, "It is remarkable how poorly people communicate. It is easy to distinguish yourself by demonstrating that you can think and speak clearly."

Determining how your messages will be received by your audience is the crucial starting point for any communication. Beyond distilling thoughts and the basics of verbal and written communications, the skills needed include listening, communicating up and down and across, influence and persuasion, as well as other advanced forms of communication.

Continuing to share his forte in communications, Gengos imparted some of his wisdom on listening, "'Sunshine' is a communication trap executives need to watch out for. As you move up to more senior positions, you get more 'sunshine' from people who share information with you. You need to do a reality check and really listen to people. They may be trying to tell you that something is wrong, but if you are not listening, you will just see the 'sunshine'. Listen hard, and watch body language; ask the right questions. Then keep your composure, so that if they are honest and deliver a controversial answer, you do not 'shoot' the person, or you will continue to get more 'sunshine'."

What are your areas for improvement in communications? How can you work to develop these skills through classes and practice?

Team Leadership

The UCLA Anderson education emphasizes teamwork, grooming students to be future group leaders. The Getting to the Top® participants mentioned several areas of team leadership that are important to master: hiring the best, developing the team, delegating and empowering, motivating and firing quickly.

Entrepreneur Bear Barnes (MBA '02), chief executive officer of TerraTrim, shared some unusual company-specific methods he has used to motivate teams of blue collar workers. "My first business was hiring students and training them to paint a house. I would put one guy on each side of the house and tell them whoever covered the most ground got a beer at the end of the day. At Starving Student Movers, we explained to our employees that people are fragile when they are moving, and if you make it a good experience, you can really help them get through the process. Then at TOMS Shoes, where we give away a new pair of shoes in Argentina or Africa for every pair we sell, most employees were there for the cause, and we actually had to rein them in to get them to do their job."

One dimension of team leadership had a high degree of consensus. Almost every chief executive officer said that their biggest mistake was not firing soon enough when needed. Citing countless examples, chief executive officers said that if a person is not working out, fire them right away.

What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to growing, leading and inspiring a team? What can you do more effectively as your career moves into leadership roles?

Distinguishing Skills

As you advance from doing to leading, some skills, specific to your career, will require mastery, rather than delegation. For example, business development requires mastery of negotiation. Steve Kuo (MBA '96), managing partner for The Digital Path, said, "A multimillion or billion dollar transaction is very complex. It is not really taught in business school. To get to this level in business development, you look for progressive experience in doing it."

Trish Halamandaris (MBA '92), vice president of marketing for Outlook Amusements Inc., explained that in marketing you need to understand the business economics and measure results. "I know people go into marketing thinking it is a soft skill; it is not. Know the numbers. You are only going to move up in marketing if you understand the business and deliver your profit and loss contribution every year."

What are the distinguishing skills in your functional area at which you must excel?

In conclusion, think through the leadership skills important for your advancement, especially those needed to succeed at strategic vision, customer perspective, communications, team leadership and your field's distinguishing skills. Which one or two can you work on developing now to improve your career prospects?

Included in this article are excerpts from Ullrich's book, "Getting to the Top: Strategies for Career Success," which is available at Amazon.com. The third and final part of the series, "Implementing a Career Action Plan," will appear in the next edition of Assets.

Blazing a Trail for Those Who Come After
Robert Amaro Serves as a Role Model for Latinos Who Aspire to a Career in Business Management

By Justin Tang


Robert Amaro (MBA '10) followed a path to UCLA Anderson that had plenty of challenges along the way but also included its share of encouragement and support, both given and received. He demonstrated tremendous perseverance in order to transition from growing up as a "farm kid" in Fresno, Calif., to earning an MBA. His inspiration came from his father, who was the first in his family to graduate from college, and Amaro graduated with honors from California State University at Fresno in 2002.

Sometime later, Amaro was working as a vice president at Citi in the middle market commercial banking group. In his family's eyes, he was undoubtedly a success. However, he wanted to pursue an advanced degree to continue his education in finance, giving him more opportunities for career advancement. So keen was he to continue learning that he would leave Fresno at 5 a.m. to attend all-day business conferences that started at 9 a.m. in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, Amaro's family did not immediately share his vision and were more concerned about the costs involved. "It was hard for my family to understand why I would want to quit a steady job where I was well compensated only to go deeper into debt," he said. However, given his promising career, three different graduate business schools accepted him, including UCLA Anderson. One even offered him a full scholarship to attend. His family was ecstatic, and they assumed he would go where he was given the most financial aid.

However, Amaro leaned toward attending UCLA Anderson because of the school's fine reputation, especially the quality of its finance faculty. What solidified his decision was a phone call from Linda Baldwin, assistant dean for diversity initiatives at UCLA Anderson. She showed Amaro a few of the advantages that the school could provide in terms of a supportive community, giving him a list of some names from the existing network of Latin American alumni who he could contact.

"For me, the deciding factor was being reached out to by Anderson's community and talking to the alumni," said Amaro. "I realized that it wasn't ultimately about the money for me. It was about the long-term benefit and what I was going to be able to achieve by getting my education at UCLA Anderson in an environment where diversity is valued."

Amaro's decision to attend UCLA Anderson turned out to be the correct choice for him, and financial support came his way as well. He was the recipient of the Parsky Family Fellowship and the Charles E. Davidson Investment Management Fellowship. In addition, he received scholarships from the UCLA Graduate Opportunity Fellowship Program, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

Amaro looked for opportunities to help others along the way. When it came time for his Applied Management Research field study project, he sought out a means to give back to the Los Angeles community. He decided to work for Upward Bound House, an organization that helps homeless families rehabilitate their lives. It was one of his most memorable experiences at school and earned his team the Edward V. Sedgwich III Memorial Award for producing written reports of exceptional quality, clarity and persuasive analysis.

"I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization, so I could do something meaningful," Amaro said. "Working on the project with my first-year study group gave us the advantage of having had the team-building process already in place. We were able to use what we had learned to do some good in a real- life situation, specifically creating the operations model that showed where the families are in the different stages of the process."

Amaro now works as a vice president for JP Morgan Chase in the middle market banking division in Los Angeles. Though he is just beginning this new phase of his career, his achievements have already brought recognition. He was named among the "rising stars" in the fall 2010 edition of Hispanic MBA magazine, something he hopes will help to inspire others to follow their dreams as he did.

For Amaro, his career ambitions and helping others are directly connected. "I went back to school to expand my career options, and I plan to become a senior vice president in five to seven years and, eventually, a bank executive. As a banker in the middle market, defined as companies with revenue of $20 million to $500 million, I help provide growth capital so those organizations can develop new products and create job opportunities."

In addition, Amaro continues to actively serve as a mentor for Latinos through professional associations. While in school, he worked with the Riordan Fellows Program, which provides training to help prepare underrepresented young professionals to competitively apply and succeed in top business schools. Now, he is the vice president for the Anderson Latino Management Alumni and the vice president of education for the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

"When we gather in our meetings, the first thing we talk about is family," Amaro said. "And I think of the other members as part of my extended family. For those who come from a similar background, I think about how I can help them and continue the process of advancement for future generations."



Anderson Assets welcomes input from alumni and the UCLA Anderson community for letters to the editor, articles, or ideas on themes.