Goizueta MBAs Help Fix the Bolivian Recycling Business

Photograph by Woohae Cho/Bloomberg

On Aug. 3, seven MBA students from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School will travel to Bolivia as part of a project designed to put their skills to work solving a waste problem in the nation’s capital in Santa Cruz. The students will help determine the feasibility of building a more efficient recycling plant and creating jobs in the process.

Five part-time MBAs and two full-time students will spend about three weeks in the country to prepare a feasibility study for Goizueta’s partner, Kimberly-Clark, and present it to company executives in mid-October.

The Bolivia trip is the third overseas journey in the four years that the Social Enterprise @ Goizueta program has existed. Previous trips have taken students to Ethiopia to help reinvent the country’s wine industry and to Honduras to determine if an eye surgeon’s pro bono practice can be expanded to serve more people suffering from cataracts.

In anticipation of the trip, students have spent the summer researching similar projects around the world and studying best practices in recycling. Peter Roberts, a Goizueta professor who leads the global feasibility studies, says the program gives students an opportunity to apply what they’re learning in the MBA program. “I like them to see that the business skills they have are very much portable,” Roberts says.

Tara Sconzo, who will enter her third and final year of Goizueta’s evening MBA program this fall, says the trip will give her a chance to use her Spanish-language skills, learn more about corporate social responsibility, and work with Kimberly-Clark. “Getting that practical experience with a strong company is very important on a personal level,” she says.

Ellen Williams, who manages Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, says that taking part in one of these trips serves students well during the job hunt. “The feedback we’ve gotten is that when [participants] are in an interview for any kind of job, these kinds of projects really give them something to talk about,” Williams says.

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