Once again, EADA was represented at the Trobada d’Economia de S’Agaró, held in November and organised by Fundación Olof Palme. This edition (number 22), was attended by Agustín Mestre (Argentina), a current participant of EADA´s International MBA programme. During the interview, we spoke to him about his experience at the forum, the issues that were debated and his goals for the future once he finishes his MBA at EADA.
What did you think of the experience?
It was a great opportunity to attend such a particular event and to meet important personalities from the economic and political world. It was also a perfect occasion for networking and getting up to date with current world issues.
The first lecture was on digitalisation. How societies and companies must address this challenge.
I think that in the short term we need to find ways to integrate older and young people alike into the new labour market. In regards to the former groups, we can see that they are being excluded from technological advances and innovations that companies are commercialising. On the other hand, attracting young people to the labour market is more challenging as companies are not yet prepared to offer them what they are looking for.
In addition, I would like to emphasise how much artificial intelligence and digitalisation technologies are going to influence our lives.
I am convinced that it will change the way we work and the way we live. I think we are heading towards a change of paradigm where there won’t be a job as we know today. This will demand greater flexibility and adaptability to the new state of affairs. As Andrés Ortega, the director of the Ideas Observatory, has already said: “We must teach our children that they must learn how to learn”.
Another topic that was brought up was that governments and the population in general need to adapt to the new digital paradigm. What measures do you think should be adopted to achieve this?. This issue is more complicated for governments than it is for companies because they must guarantee the wellbeing of an increasingly diverse and multicultural population, with new social and economic realities. I think that the solution entails including people with know-how who are capable of promoting initiatives that address these new needs.
What do you understand by disruptive innovation applied to digital businesses?
These are always innovations in both new and existing products and services that bring about a drastic change in a specific economic sector. The chief characteristic of a disruptive product or service lies in its value proposition, which is simpler, more economical or convenient than other existing offerings. The key to success for these innovations is that they spring up taking into account what people need or like and offer something that doesn’t exist in the market.
The other big debate was ‘Spain, Latin America, a European perspective. What were the main conclusions?
I would highlight two things. One is the relationship between Spain and Latin America, a necessary relationship, above all for Latin American countries, which see Spain as an entry gate into European markets. The other is the opportunity Spain has to take on infrastructure projects, which Latin America needs in order to position itself as a stronger market and a strong international player.
What do you think of the alliances between Spain and the Latin American market? How do you think they can be reinforced?
I am quite critical about this. I think that neither party gets the most out of this relationship. There are countless examples of situations where one party or the other only seeks its own benefit. Until this state of affairs changes, we cannot talk about an optimum relationship. Spain, and hence Europe, should understand that Latin America needs more investment, because we already have a qualified workforce and natural resources.
As an Argentinean, what do you think are the main differences between business done in Spain and in Latin America?
The difference lies in the level of corruption, which is still very high in Latin America. This undoubtedly has a negative effect on all businesses. On top of this is the heavy tax burden especially in Argentina, which puts a dampener on investing and taking risks, and also limits new business opportunities.
How do you think the profile of Latin American managers has changed in recent years?
I think they have managed to adapt, without feeling pressured, to the crisis situation over these last years. I would say that they live in an almost constant crisis situation. The negative conclusion of all this is that Latin American managers are like “firemen who are continuously putting out fires”. This is worrying because they aren’t able to anticipate the future or simply to draw up a short term work plan. That’s why EADA has a lot of participants and Alumni from Latin America because we want to improve and develop our potential in another context, with different corporate dynamics.
In your specific case, what made you decide to do the International MBA programme?
In the first place, I decided to do EADA´s International MBA programme because of the experience of studying in a cosmopolitan city such as Barcelona, living in a different culture, studying in another language that isn’t my mother tongue and having discussions with people with ideas that are totally opposite to mine. I thought and continue to believe that EADA is the best option because it offers me the experience I was looking for- challenging me every day to move outside my comfort zone.
How do you see yourself five years from now?
That’s the question I have been trying to answer since I began university. When I look back at my previous answers I realise that I am always changing my mind. If I answer it from this present moment I would say that I see myself forming part of a team, maybe leading it or maybe not, that is made up of people from all over the world, discussing ideas and trying to make the world a better place to live in. Another possible future prospect is to start up my own business with some colleagues but with the same objective, to address the needs of society today.
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