Robert Fanciullo (B’23) on Consulting with an Argentinian Vineyard and Exploring Different Work Cultures
Robert Fanciullo (B’23) is a student in the Undergraduate Program studying finance with a minor in government at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. This past March, Fanciullo traveled to Mendoza, Argentina, as part of McDonough’s signature Global Business Experience (GBE) trips.
McDonough undergraduate students have the option to participate in a GBE course where they take part in consulting projects with Fortune 500 companies and startups to learn about how businesses operate in different parts of the world. Working in small groups, students partner with executives to find solutions that address complex business challenges.
Through Fanciullo’s recent GBE experience, he worked with an Argentine vineyard to evaluate the potential for an import-export business in Mexico that would facilitate distribution onward to the United States. Fanciullo shared some of his favorite experiences while traveling abroad and what he learned through working with an international client.
First, tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you choose to pursue your undergraduate degree at Georgetown McDonough?
While deciding which undergraduate program to attend, Georgetown McDonough stood out from the rest due to several factors. Most important was the university’s commitment to its Jesuit values. Coming from a Jesuit high school in New York City, continuing in the Jesuit tradition was one of my distinct criteria for college choice. McDonough combines both the Cura Personalis mantra of the university along with one of the strongest academic undergraduate business programs in the country. Alongside values and educational caliber, McDonough boasts one of the nation’s strongest alumni networks, which is a critical factor in order to succeed in internship and job searches. Ultimately, choosing to study at Georgetown was a perfect culmination of both my personal and professional values.
In regard to your GBE, what was the main objective of your project and what did you hope to accomplish?
When initially connecting with our client from Argentina, our team was tasked with assisting the vineyard in establishing an import-export business in Mexico to facilitate imports into the United States more efficiently. We actually ended up recommending a different strategy and I think the client vineyard is changing plans as a result.
What were some of the main takeaways from your time working on the project both on campus and in Argentina?
As opposed to the way that business is handled in the United States, Argentinian work culture is starkly different. While working with our client, we discovered that business in Argentina is handled in a very informal manner, which changed the way our team interacted with our client and presented our findings. Overall, we created a strong final deliverable for the client due to our ability to work across cultures.
Walk us through one of your days in Argentina. What were your favorite experiences of the trip?
One of my favorite experiences during the trip was our first client meeting and then a hike and dinner in the mountains. While Zoom meetings are a great method for communicating across large distances, nothing is better than meeting with people face to face. We walked our clients through the final deliverable outline and addressed their last-minute concerns.
After our client meeting, the class gathered for lunch, where we had a traditional Argentine Pork Milanese — a fried cutlet symbolic of the country’s deep Italian heritage. Then, we headed off to our mountain hike in the foothills of the Andes. We ended the day with dinner overlooking a vineyard and the Potrerillos Reservoir before heading back into Mendoza.
What did you learn while abroad? Was there anything, both professionally and academically, that surprised you?
One of the crucial lessons I learned while abroad is the way in which cultural perceptions permeate all activities within a society. This applies to both the professional and academic nature of business dealings with our client as well as with our student guides at the University of Mendoza.
How important has global travel been as it relates to your time at McDonough?
Because COVID-19 limited travel opportunities over the past few years, it was especially important for me to participate in a global experience during the remainder of my time on the Hilltop. The GBE course was the perfect fit, with travel planned during our spring break and the bulk of the coursework completed before we left for Mendoza.