The Cattleman’s Club was a most delightful experience. Of course, my steak was superb. My hosts were very cordial. They asked about my business and my analytic processes. It was a rare opportunity to meet and speak one on one with the top level business executives of Buenas Aries. The visit was an unforgettable experience I would never have had without my friendship with Luis Maria.
Luis Maria is from an Italian family. He told me that about forty percent of Argentinians have Italian backgrounds, the result of a mass migration in the late 1800s. This is the kind of background information you acquire when you have time with the people outside of hotels, shops and airports.
Luis Maria is a major figure in Argentina’s management education scene. He is Director of the Human Resources Management program at the University Blas Pascal as well as a lecturer at the Universities of Argentina, San Andres and Blas Pascal. He took me to a couple of his classes where I was able to share my experience as well as hear them describe their views of organizational dynamics.
He’s published two popular books on management and analytics, the latest titled Metaforas del desempeño (Performance Metaphors). In 2017, he organized the first People Analytics Congress and Exposition in Argentina.
Luis Maria and Cecilia are directors of AO Consulting. They focus on competency development, talent management, and organizational strategy and development. They’ve built a well-deserved reputation as leading-edge thinkers in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru.
In my several trips to Buenos Aires, they developed opportunities for me to run training programs, lecture at a university and be the keynote speaker at conferences. All in all, this provided the platform they have expanded into a thriving center for human capital analytics.
I learned early on in my travels there is nothing as important to a successful business venture as having the right people involved. People are the only value-adding asset a company or a venture has. The AO Consulting staff offers software and management systems services from their office overlooking the splendid La Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world. Its name commemorates the date of Argentinian Independence, July 9, 1816. The avenue is five lanes wide in each direction. Plus, it is flanked on both sides by two-lane roads. It runs about one kilometer or three-quarters of a mile through the center of the city.
Tourist. Whenever I have time, I like to travel to various parts of the country I’m visiting. On one trip, Luis Maria and Cecilia took me around greater Buenos Aires, a truly beautiful region. One of the highlights was the harbor area that looks out over the Rio de la Plata. The river at this point is so wide it could be a lake, or even an ocean. There are a number of superb restaurants along the water in Puerto Madero. The most prestigious spot is the Yacht Club. We spent the better part of an afternoon dining, drinking, chatting and enjoying the view out over the water. In late afternoon the setting sun turned the harbor water into a golden platform. It was a magical moment. If you go to Buenos Aires, be sure to be invited there.
Argentina is well known for three regions: Mendoza, the Pampas, and Patagonia.
Mendoza. It’s in north central Argentina, close to the Chilean border. It’s the center of a very affluent section of the country. Its high plains look west over foothills leading to the snow-covered Andes that constitute the western border of Argentina. It’s long been famous as a center of olive oil and wine production. In the last twenty years, its Malbec wine has become popular around the world. Olive oil and wine are major sources of income for the country, earning many millions in foreign exchange annually.
Mendoza is also a tourist center. People come from around the world to climb the Andes. It’s not far from Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas. The vista west to the massive Andes is inspiring. At your feet, you have vineyards and olive groves framed by the snow-covered backdrop of the Andes. While I could admire the Andes I had no desire to climb them.
The Pampas. This is another well-known Argentinian area. It’s a vast lowland that stretches west, north, and south from Buenos Aires. It’s the home of the cattle business, another major export. The central figure of the pampas is the gaucho, or cowboy.
These are a breed made famous by writers in the late 1800s. The gaucho is the national symbol of Argentina. Originally, they were reputed to be brave and unruly, a romantic figure. They also developed a reputation as crafty country fellows. They have a game wherein they ride full speed and try to push a stick the size of a pencil through the eye of a chain hanging just above eye level.
Patagonia. This is the most unique part of Argentina. It is the southern leg of nearly a thousand square kilometers. It’s a wild, rugged combination of mountains, plains, glaciers and unpredictable weather. It covers the southern extremes of both Argentina and Chile. One of the strangest aspects is it was once the home of the largest dinosaurs on the planet. It makes one wonder what the weather was like in Patagonia then.
On its southern tip is Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city. It’s a small, but busy port and the jumping off place for tours to Antarctica. My regret is that I’ve not had time to explore this wild place. Hopefully, before I get too old to walk I’ll return. Argentina has almost everything anyone could want. While the people are not as outgoing as the Brazilians they are very friendly, welcoming and a joy to be with. I highly recommend Argentina.
I want to end the description of my times in Argentina with a story told to me by an American expat at a meeting in Buenos Aires. She claims it is true.