Two weeks ago I made my first ever trip to Chile. The trip enabled me to meet and engage with a number of wonderful individuals who are working hard to help us expand our FITTskills international trade training program in Latin America.
As a first-timer to Chile, I have to say what I like most about the country is the people. I just love their Latin American personalities, which tend to be professional and respectful, but also warm, open and full of life!
I arrived in Santiago in the afternoon on November 4th and was greeting with sunny 30 degrees Celsius weather. By the evening the temperature had dropped to about 15 degrees, but this was still warmer than what I’d left behind in Ottawa.
FITTskills developments in Colombia and Chile
Our FITTskills program is already being taught at the Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá, Colombia. And by this spring, our courses will start being delivered in an evening-class format to professionals in both the private and public business sectors in Santiago, Chile at the Universidad de Chile.
The University is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. Nearly 40,000 students attend the five different satellite campuses and several experimental stations situated across the country. The plan is to eventually expand the evening program and incorporate FITTskills into the school’s current full-time international business master’s program.
Down to business in Santiago
On the morning of the 5th, I met up with Carlos Ronderos for breakfast. Carlos is a partner at Ronderos y Cardenas S.A.S., the Colombian consulting firm we’ve teamed up with to help deliver our FITTskills program in South America.
Carlos is very committed to getting our FITT training into the region. His company has been assisting us by translating our FITT program-material into Spanish as well as by helping us make some invaluable local connections.
After breakfast Carlos and I headed over to the World Trade Center Santiago. We met with the General Manager Matías Pérez and his colleagues Francisco Gutierrez A. and Jéssica Baio Freire. It was great to hear that they’re very interested in FITTskills, and that they support the Universidad de Chile with their delivery plans for the program.
We then visited the University, where I had the pleasure of meeting Olga Lucia Lozano F. and Doris Lopez Giral in person for the first time. I’ve exchanged emails with both of these ladies as they’ve worked to spearhead the implementation of FITTskills at the University. Doris works as a professor, and is very keen to start incorporating more practical and usable skills and knowledge development into the University’s programs. This is where her interest in FITT and the FITTskills program comes in.
We ended the day at the Canadian embassy in Santiago, where we met trade commissioners Peter Furesz, Brenda Wills and Evelyne Coulombe. We updated them on FITT’s activities and plans in Chile, as well what we’re currently doing in Colombia.
There’s a lot of interest from the embassy with respect to doing speaking engagements at the Universidad de Chile once the FITTskills courses start being offered.
It will be our pleasure to keep the embassy in-the-know going forward so that we can foster connections between the embassy and the international trade program at the University.
International trade training at the Universidad de Chile
On Wednesday, the University set up a mini-conference for me. I had the opportunity to speak to individuals from the public and private business sectors in Chile, as well as some of the school’s faculty members, about FITT’s international trade competencies. I discussed what these competencies are, why they’re so important for individuals working in global business, and our latest integrative trade competencies developed through the research we finalized this year as part of our International Trade Workforce Strategy.
There was a lot of interest from the audience, and I was able to answer some great questions about the competencies and our training program.
After the conference, we had time to chat more with University faculty with respect to how they can start delivering the FITTskills program. We had a couple of suggestions whereby R&C in Colombia will send several of their instructors to the University to deliver training, but also to provide train-the-trainer sessions for local instructors. This will enable us to familiarize local instructors with the FITT material as well as our teaching methodologies.
Later in the day, a colleague of Carlos invited us to have a special lunch with several individuals from the Banco de Chile. I met with Christian Schiessler, Director, and Francisco Garces G., who sits on the board. Both were interested to hear about our current activities in the country, and were very supportive of our plans for the future.
Looking ahead to more FITT activity in Latin America
It was certainly a whirlwind two-day trip, but I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to visit Chile. I’m looking forward to building on our relationships with our new FITTskills delivery partner and contacts, and I’m excited to continue expanding the FITTskills program in Latin America!
Have questions about FITTskills in Latin America or have comments about the Colombian or Chilean markets? Leave them for me below!