Since I love travel and adventure but never wanted to leave UVA for an entire semester, I was excited to experience McIntire’s January-term course consulting for wineries in Mendoza, Argentina. For two weeks, our 30-student class traveled the countryside and tasted local Argentinian food and wine, hiked the Andes, zip-lined across rivers, and spent a day relaxing at a countryside spa. However, between the fun events, we diligently worked to solve the local wineries’ business challenges, conducting daily site visits. Our consulting engagement was entirely student-led, as we organized the client calls, led the discovery process, and presented our final recommendations to the client.
McIntire prepared us well to consult in a foreign country with a different language and technological challenges. In particular, the Integrated Core Experience (ICE) Communication course stressed the importance of being concise and upfront. Taking this course allowed us to carefully formulate precise questions that pinpointed the root cause of the winery’s issues. We also employed our honed McIntire skills by evaluating our winery’s current business model and assessing where we could add value most productively. Similar to our ICE projects, we had a fixed period of time to build out our recommendation and wanted to play to the company’s strengths while prioritizing the most pressing issues. In particular, our team worked to improve automated data entry, thereby allowing the winery’s operations manager to focus her time on more critical winery issues like delivery and shipping logistics. Finally, we used our data visualization skills developed in McIntire’s Information Technology courses to produce meaningful financial visualizations and charts that executives could use for production decisions and present to stakeholders. Both McIntire and Engineering students took this course, and the blend of student skills resulted in impressive client recommendations.
It is hard to choose a favorite memory from this trip because I enjoyed every second. As much as I loved rafting, hiking, zip-lining, wine tours, and group dinners, one of the most rewarding parts was our client presentation and witnessing their satisfaction with our work. All of the teams made a significant impact in only two weeks. Most importantly, though, I will remember the trip for all the new friendships I formed. The Argentinians were always gracious and hospitable, my fellow travelers were adventurous and funny, and our professors were consistently helpful and supportive. Traveling together forms bonds quickly, and I look forward to continuing these friendships on Grounds. Thanks, McIntire, for the trip of a lifetime!