What we learned from Costa Rica and Guatemala…

Each year, our cohort embarks on two study abroad trips.  In February, we traveled to Germany.  In May, we traveled to Costa Rica and Guatemala.  The learning from the trips are evident in this video.


Duquesne MBA Students “Make laughter an epidemic” for critically ill children in Costa Rica

photo 2“I was thrilled to use my MBA skillset to help an organization that impacts so many families with so few resources,” said Nick Monzo, an MBA student from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after participating in a service project designed to bring joy to hospitalized children and their families in Costa Rica.

Monzo and his 28 classmates traveled to Central America as part of a required global economics course in Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability, a program ranked first in the United States and eighth in the world for integrating social, environmental and financial responsibility. On May 16, the students served as pro bono consultants to HospiSonrisas, a not-for-profit group affiliated with the National Children’s Hospital in San Jose, and presented a strategic plan to “Make Laughter an Epidemic” by launching a foundation to generate funding to entertain sick children and grant wishes to those with life-threatening illnesses.

“Never have I been more humbled by selflessness and compassion as I was by HospiSonrisas,” said Rebecca Bykoski, after watching volunteer clowns ease anxiety in the oncology and outpatient areas of the children’s hospital. “I’m so very grateful to leave a legacy that will bring joy to suffering children and their families throughout Costa Rica.”

“To find people who want to help to change the world and believe in someone’s dreams is incredible,” added Daniela Vides Cordoba, founder and president of HospiSonrisas.

Faculty trip leader was Diane Ramos, who also teaches the live consulting courses that anchor the MBA and engage students in solving complex real world problems. Accompanying her were Pavel Yakovlev, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and William O’Rourke, J.D., executive director of the Beard Institute at Duquesne University. “Our students delivered a viable plan for overall operation of a foundation — including governance, marketing, fund-raising and administration — while living our university’s service mission in Costa Rica,” said Ramos.

The Costa Rican segment of the study trip included interface with a range of multinational, not-for-profit, governmental and academic leaders and a behind-the-scenes investigation of the burgeoning eco-tourism and medical tourism industries. Students also traveled to Guatemala where they worked on a potable water field project and learned about Peace Corps initiatives with John Patrick Gibbons, an alumnus of the program and former Peace Corp Fellow at Duquesne, who works on impact investing in Central American in his current role as a finance officer at USAID.


Conquering Fears in Costa Rica

By Katherine Summers


For 23 years I have been afraid of heights. When we were in La Fortuna we were given the opportunity to either go on a canopy walk or go ziplining. I decided that if I was going to face my fears I should go all out.

As we were strapped into our gear I was having second thoughts but told myself I would probably only be in the Costa Rican rainforest once so I had to do it! It was the most amazing experience of my life! I am so proud of myself for facing my fears, and thankful to be in an MBA program that allows these opportunities!

Learning to “Think Big” with Leo Burnett

With a communications background, I was in my element during our visit to Leo Burnett Costa Rica. Over the weekend, the agency had won various awards, including “Agency of the Year” and “Best Work in Show”! The following video highlights their campaign that won the “Best Work in Show”:

While I am not from Costa Rica this video touched my core – congratulations Leo Burnett on an excellent campaign with humankind at its core!

Now you are asking what is this humankind philosophy? “Humankind is not about advertising or brand propositions or selling products.  It’s about people and purpose.   It’s an approach to marketing that serves true human needs.  Everything that LB does for brands is designed with human purpose in mind.  A brand without a purpose is one that will never be understand or embraced by people.  A brand with purpose can be a true agent of change and transform the way people think, feel or act.  A brand with a true HumanKind purpose can change the world.  LB’s dream is to be the best creator of ideas that truly move people”.

Our visit allowed us a glimpse to see how Leo Burnett is able to develop communications with the humankind philosophy at the core.  The integrated research, design, and implementation process allows Leo Burnett to help their clients connect with customers, and foster a two-way conversation.  This visit came at a perfect time since we just finished a marketing class with Dr. Luchs last week!


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.

Summer Study Trip – Central America

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 11.09.39 PMSince our cohort began the MBA Sustainability program in August, we have been chomping at the bit to find out where we would be going on our summer study trip. Last week, Diane Ramos announced to the cohort that we would be traveling to Central America.  Specifically, we will be heading to Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Our schedule is jam-packed with a variety of learning experiences in both locations; however, in Costa Rica we will be focusing on the following projects:

In Guatemala we will be taking part in field-work on the potable water challenge in Guatemala with EcoFiltro & USAID.  Of course, our trips involve a variety of other learning experiences, with time to engage in the cultures of the countries.  Our cohort is extremely excited to tackle the live learning in Central America!