Attracting Foreign Investment to Costa Rica


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The Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE) kicked off our business visits during our stay in San Jose, Costa Rica. CINDE, founded in 1982, has been around for 32 years. CINDE operates as an NGO to attract foreign investment to Costa Rica. The visit to CINDE revolved around a presentation that was open to discussion and questions allowing a comprehensive understanding of the business as well as Costa Rica’s position in the global economy. 

The 40-employees are effectively promoting Costa Rica abroad by securing foreign investment from over 100 businesses. The value proposition that Costa Rica offers include a proven track record, qualified work force, strategic location, excellent business climate, quality infrastructure, and quality of life. Over the years Costa Rica has move from goods such as bananas or coffee to value added services such as services, advanced manufacturing or life sciences. 

A diverse number of businesses have been attracted to the service sector including, UPS Supply Chain, Amazon, IBM, LL Bean, Hewlett Packard, Curtiss Wright, Proctor and Gamble, Bayer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and many more. Advanced manufacturing businesses include  Eaton and Panasonic, while life sciences include St. Jude Medical, Baxter Healthcare and Hospira. 

CINDE arranged for our group to visit Samtec, a company headquartered in United States, with manufacturing in Costa Rica.  The Costa Rican facility has a noticeable organizational subculture, and it was noticeable that the employees were happy to come to work during the shift change.  It is excellent to see that the CINDE is able to attract these advanced manufacturing jobs to Costa Rica.


Making a Mark with Spring Consulting Projects


This semester we completed seven real-world consulting assignments with four major companies – BraskemGEAlcoa, and PPG Industries.  In January each client tasked their respective student team with a real-world challenge .  After semester-long research, meetings, and prototyping the final client presentations wrapped up last week.  Each team is extremely proud of their final deliverables, and one client shared that they were left “speechless” by the group’s work.  Having the ability to sit at the table with business executives and discuss pressing issues within their industry is an educational experience that not all programs have the ability to offer.  


Student Spotlight: Stephen Sumpter

Before Duquesne: Steve recently spent time in Ethiopia as a US Peace Corps volunteer.  Steve has also shared his love for music and business in Spring Grove School District and South Western School District. For his undergraduate degree, Steve attended Westminster College where he majored in business administration and music.

Why Duquesne:I choose the MBA Sustainability program because it is a more environmental and people focused program than many other MBA programs.  Additionally, I knew I wanted to be in Pittsburgh and Duquesne has the best peace corps fellowship in the city.

Beyond Duquesne: After graduation, Steve is interested in project management, specifically in the areas of supply chain or sustainability.  Also, Steve is interested in becoming a small business owner leveraging his passion for coffee and MBA toolkit.



Corporate Governance and Responsible Investing at BlackRock

by Blair Schoenborn

Duquesne Professor Connie Bentzen invited our cohort to join her International Finance class to hear a guest lecturer from BlackRock speak about Corporate Governance and Responsible Investing.  With $4.1 trillion invested in more than 7,000 portfolios, BlackRock is the world’s largest asset management institution.  Jack spoke about BlackRock’s Proxy Voting and ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) Investment Integration services.

The Process  BlackRock’s Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment (CGRI) team partners with portfolio managers to integrate ESG issues into their investment strategy.  This happens in a three-step process:

1)   Research and Issue Spotting – This is driven by their internal guidelines for research and meetings with clients and companies to determine issues and management of those issues, respectively.

2)   Review and Engagement – This involves in-depth research leveraging the expertise of portfolio managers and engagement with the company in question as necessary.

3)   Vote Execution – BlackRock votes with one voice, meaning through meetings and review of research they are able to come to a decision for the vote; all votes are reviewed by an oversight committee both monthly and quarterly.

As a student of sustainability in business operations, and especially in finance, it was interesting to hear how the world’s largest asset management company is successfully integrating environmental, social, and corporate governance issues into their portfolio management strategy.

As an individual, and a novice investor in the stock market, it was also enlightening to learn of the power that a proxy voting system can have in influencing governance and responsible investing.

Overall, it was an eye-opening and thought-provoking lecture.  Visit BlackRock’s website to find out more.

Student Spotlight: Lixuan (Violet) He

violetBefore Duquesne: Violet joins our program from Jieyang, China; however, she has also lived in Leeuwarden, Netherlands and Guangzhou, China.  She attended Guangdong PZ College of China where she majored in financial management.  

Why Duquesne: “I choose this program because it is fast and new.  I liked that it the program was one year, and also that it focuses on sustainability.”

Beyond Duquesne: Upon completion of the program, Violet is looking for a job in the consulting area.  Lucky for Violet, this program allows us to gain hands on consulting experience, which will make her well prepared for any position in the area of consulting.

Networking with Forbes Fund Executives

The Forbes Fund and Duquesne University are located in Pittsburgh; however, it took a cross-country trip to make the connection.

The Forbes Fund, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation, focuses on strengthening the management and policy-making capacity of the nonprofit sector.  I came across the Forbes Fund on the Net Impact site before the conference, and we had the opportunity to get to know President Kate Dewey and Director of Innovation Garrett Cooper in San Jose.  Kate and Garrett share the Net Impact common vision of impacting society through business practices.  They are optimistic about what our generation will accomplish.

This encounter reminded me how valuable networks can be – including student, alumni and professional organizations.  Our Net Impact chapter is excited about creating a productive new partnership.   Kate and Garret will be joining us and leading an idea café at Net Impact meeting next semester!

Green Gamification

You have probably heard of NikeFuel and FitBit, the gamification devices that promote healthy living.  Have you considered using gamification to promote sustainable behavior?

At the Net Impact conference, I attended a presentation by Ashok Kamal, co-founder and CEO of Bennu, a leader in green social media marketing.   He talked about applications that work with cars like the Ford Fusion and Nissan Leaf to understand a car’s impact on the world.  Other examples of gamification are hosted on intranets to help the company engage employees in sustainable choices.

Kamal thinks that sustainability should be encouraged through “fortune, fun and fame, not blame and shame.”  This quote spoke to me, because I see call for regulations as blame and shame.

To learn more about Bennu, visit this website:

Student Spotlight: David (Dave) Buczynski

Before Duquesne:  Dave joins our cohort from Germantown, MD.  Dave completed his undergraduate degree at Duquesne University majoring in psychology and philosophy.  After receiving his undergraduate degree he worked as a mental health counselor for Mercy Behavioral Health.  After one year, he decided to make a career shift.  Dave began working as an eligibility screener for three years for NCO Financial at UPMC Shadyside Hospital.

Why Duquesne: “The concentration on sustainability, the fact that it’s a one year program and the overall focus on ethics.”

Beyond Duquesne: Currently, Dave’s interests lie in business ethics, supply chain and organizational behavior.  His goal is to pursue a career in one of the fields after completion of this program.

Net Impact Conference Reflection


2013-2014 Net Impact Leadership Team

Throughout my life, I have wanted to be in a high impact role where I could have a positive effect on individuals or society as a whole.  Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Net Impact conference in Silicon Valley.  Net Impact is an organization focused on creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world.  This organization’s mission parallels my personal vision, and I am very thankful that our MBA program sent our Net Impact Chapter officers to this inspiring conference.

At the conference, over 3,000 students and professionals came together with a shared vision to act as change agents through business.  Conference speakers were volunteers from prominent organizations, including: Starbucks, Sprint, SAP, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Timberland, TOMS, Nestle, Walt Disney, Best Buy, Target, etc.  I found myself among companies that shared the values that I hold dear to my heart.

The conference affirmed that, through business,  I will be able to impact society – whether through sustainable supply chain solutions, corporate citizenship initiatives, social entrepreneurship or  as the corporate “intraprenuer” who promotes culture change.  Regardless of career path, I plan to be a change agent just like the other attendees.  It was exciting to find that I am not alone.

Founder’s Day Celebration!


Business Classroom 1920

On October 7th , professors and students came together to celebrate the Palumbo Donahue Business School’s 100th birthday at a Founder’s Day Celebration. Dean McFarlin’s speech highlighted how far the business school has come since its inception in 1913. At the time, Duquesne had only one building – Old Main.  The business school, the first of its kind in the region, began with three professors and fourteen students in an office building a couple blocks down the road; a road shared with carriages drawn by horses.

Dean McFarlin also noted that even in 2013, we are often recognized as an early adopter, which is illustrated through the MBA Sustainability program that past Dean Al Miciak helped begin in 2006. Just recently, Corporate Knights ranked this program #1 United States for “integrating sustainability into the academic experience”.

Through innovative classroom techniques and practical simulations, our MBA students are ready to tackle the challenges facing the business world today and in the future. The Palumbo Donahue School of Business prepares for the next 100 successful years of educating and transforming students through business education from a higher perspective.

For more on Duquesne over the past 100 years, a centennial book is available for purchase.  To order, visit here: