Brandon Sun and Shailesh Makharia didn't know much about shrimp before they went to South America this summer, but they do now. The two Eller MBA students - both starting their second year this fall - traveled to the town of Guayaquil, Ecuador to work on a feasibility study for BioCentinela, an organic shrimp farm wanting to cease sending their catch to a processing plant and instead operate a plant of their own. Sun and Makharia took on the sizeable task as part of a program sponsored by the New Ventures program of the World Resources Institute, which works for sustainable enterprise creation in emerging economies.

Together with Don Piper, Eller MBA associate director of professional development, the team visited other processing plants in the region, interviewed plant owners and operators, and studied industry reports, learning all they could about the facilities, workforce, equipment, and production that goes into processing organic shrimp for export to the United States and Europe. While they are still working on the final stages of the feasibility report now, both report that the learning experience has already proved invaluable.

"I have been studying in the States for a while," Sun said. "Going to South America reminded me of the importance of expanding our thinking to a global view and remembering that there is so much need for development in areas with a much poorer standard of living."

Makharia agrees, adding that working abroad brought insights that one can only fully grasp through experience. "Things change constantly," he explained. "In Ecuador, business transactions are always evolving based on relationships. It's critical that you understand the importance and the dynamics of those relationships if you're going to be effective."