My Starting Point

Post from María Florencia Kraus, SABF Ambassador 2018.


I find myself once again in front of a computer writing about topics I am passionate about. This time, I am honored to tell all of the world (or at least try to) what three days of SABF account for. I’d like to tell you what my personal journey looked like prior to the event, at the event itself and after the GREATEST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE EVER (all caps intended). That is why I will try to put into words what three of the most intense days of my life were like.

Everything was dull and ordinary. I had been seeking to apply to something new, an event I could apply to. I had abandoned the search when, all of a sudden, while having breakfast before heading to work, I saw one of SABF’s ambassadors on TV. She was explaining what SABF was and what I needed to do in order to be able to take part. Without giving it a second thought, I entered the event’s website and registered without analyzing too much what it was really about.

I arrived at my business and, as I fought boredom, I started reflecting aiming to fully understand what I had signed up for. At that point I felt a mixture of panic and joy, which lead to the obvious question: “Florencia, what have you gotten yourself into?”

Many times we face situations that make us feel awkward, that allow our fears and (self-imposed) limitations to pierce through our comfort zone. Questions such as “will I be the kind of person they are looking for?” or “will I be good enough?” arise and prevent us from putting our skills and talent to good use. SABF allowed me to, among other things, face the “other me” that held me back and to prove myself that there’s nothing that could possibly stop us when the time to go after our dreams arrives.

So, hesitantly and full of doubts, I started writing my essay, trying to put into words everything the chosen topics had triggered in my mind. After reading it several times and having put every last word and thought I could, I clicked “submit essay”. All I had to do was wait. I must confess that each week seemed like a year. When I least expected it, there it was: the long-awaited e-mail was there, sitting in my inbox, congratulating me on having been selected. After that, it was all joy and anticipation for me. Having been selected, you get in touch with the “students’” team, you get to know the rest of the participants, and after packing and sorting out issues regarding transportation and accommodation, you are on your own, travelling to Buenos Aires. Once again, questions race through your mind, only now you’re not afraid anymore: you have become a part of something bigger.

On the conference’s first day, I couldn’t believe I was there. Right from the start I got to know people whom I had gotten in touch with over the internet. The personal stories, as well as the speakers’ presentations, triggered all sorts of ideas, the implementation of which I just couldn’t get out of my mind. The second and third days of the conference were crowded with knowledge, emotions and dreams. Even though I knew it would all eventually come to an end, I wished it would have lasted forever as I knew there were hugs I wouldn’t enjoy again for some time. At the end of the event, you will no longer be sabfers, you will be friends no matter what.

It is very hard for me to pick one single thing that changed in me after SABF. It made me understand that us, youngsters, are the change and that can only be accomplished by working together towards our shared purpose, which is none other than a better world. Also, I understood that although everyone is different in terms of nationality, culture, languages and personality, we are all the same as humans. There are no excuses not to look in each other’s eyes and work together, respecting our differing ideas but building a better world.

Change cannot be accomplished by complaining, it has to be the result of action. It is that idea that drew me to applying for SABF and still guides me today. Any journey starts with one step and taking part in the South American Business Forum was that first step for me, my starting point. It could be yours, too. Do not hesitate to apply.

Launch of SABF 2018

The 14th South American Business Forum edition is coming! With applications already open, students from all over the world can begin to complete their profile and write their essays. To celebrate we remember the launch of this new edition on December 7th.

Federico Cimini, co-director of SABF 2017, started the event with some words about what happened during the forum last year inviting the audience to get involved in what the SABF does. “The SABF was started by ITBA students who were looking for something else.” With this kick-started an emotional day.

“Why do you do what you do?” With these words, Florencia Ravenna, co-director 2014, began explaining her own definition of the SABF and how it changed over the years. She reflected on the importance of seizing opportunities, facing new challenges in life and on the great community that comprises the SABF.

She encouraged the new team commenting “I learned to make difficult decisions” and thanked their families and friends assuring them that behind the great work they will do this year, there are countless opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Without further ado, the co-directors Guillermina Bond and Candelaria Zangari spoke and shared the topics of SABF 2018.

The Power Paradox

In the times we live in, it seems that we are facing ever more challenging decisions that embody ever higher risks. Moreover, these decisions seem to affect a growing number of different spheres in our society. This is the reason why we need to question the way in which things will ultimately develop. From the systems through which we give up our decision-making power to the people who will have the final say in the bigger picture, and the technologies that will make all this possible. How can we be a relevant influence in this excitingly complex process?

In Sync with Technology

Living in times of constant technological change, it is vital to be aware of the machines’ roles in society as of our own. That said, how do we achieve the necessary balance in this relationship so as to make the best of it? What responsibilities are we willing to give up? How much power are we willing to give up to technology? Are we prepared to share it at all?.

Systems Facing Obsolescence

The nature of all the big changes we are already experimenting leads us to question whether the way we think the world works has become futile. How violent of a shift will be necessary for us to adapt to the new shades and challenges of the future? Our hopes of society, the systems that organize it or even our own sense of self-worth could be at stake in the building of this new world.

Leading through Uncertainty

What do we need to be able to lead in challenging and unexpected situations? How can a leader manage to guide people with different perspectives and opposing views in this ever-changing scenario, to a shared goal? Will traditional leadership be enough to face the challenges of the future or will we need a different alternative?

These themes will guide the #SABF2018, which will take place on the 3, 4 and 5 August. The application period will end on April 30, 2018.

Closing the ceremony, the directors thanked the SABF Council, the Board of Trustees and the Organizing Team. They hoped for a great year full of work and effort to create a new and fresh edition of the SABF, with more provocative ideas that invite us to think outside the box.

And now, we anxiously present the organizing team of the 14th edition of the SABF!

Directors (DR): Guillermina Bond and Candelaria Zangari

Fundraising (FR): Catalina Varela (Head), Franco Canova and Augusto Viotti Bozzini

Information Technology (IT): Francisco Delgado (Head) and Agustín Lavarello

Media & Communication (M&C): Francisco Andía (Head), Mercedes Catolino, Bianca Ritorto and Lucas Sanz Gorostiaga

Speakers (SP): Roberto Chá (Head), Ángeles Borracci and Lucía Machicote

Student Relations (SR): Carolina Mondino (Head), Lucila Bettiga, Lucas Demaria, Clara Guzzetti and Milagros Rodriguez Falcón

We congratulate the new team and wish them the best in this year of work that has just begun. And encourage you, students, to sharpen your ideas and prepare your applications. As shared by Florencia, you can not miss out on this great opportunity!

#SABF2017 – Day 3

SABF Games

100 participants, 10 teams. Each one of them was lead by a member of the organizing team, but only one was crowned winner. The SABF Games put to the test some of the ideas discussed on the previous days of the conference. Having fun and working together, we begun the last day of the SABF.

Sam Potolicchio

“What can we do so that people want to get behind our convictions?” From the get go, Sam Potolicchio’s seemingly casual choice of words has us reassessing why we seek to lead. He moves on; “so much of effective leadership is being able to see the world”, he says; a leader must not only look open to ideas coming “from outside one’s brain” but also try to incorporate different approaches and outlooks.

Trouble is we have a knack for trying to hold on to what we know best. We’ve got a “tiny kingdom in our heads” that says we know how, and it can be hard to “get outside of our own thought bubble”. To remedy this, we have to become aware of the “weaknesses of our cognitive structure”, and so Sam’s self-proclaimed purpose is to make us feel “cognitively silly”; an objective he meets more times than we’d like to admit.

Referring to our suspicion of the outside and our “lazy cognition” as essential features of our “tribal brain”, Sam judges them a “toxic combination” and exemplifies the Halo effect. What we see first influences our interpretation of what comes next, bringing confirmation bias to a cognitive level. So how conscious are we of what we do see first? How can we better understand the full extent of our prejudices and our “lazy” brain’s tendency to segregate and classify? How do each of our circles and affiliations limit our perception?

We have to get off autopilot, Sam advices us, and train ourselves to be outside of ourselves. How? The same way we train for anything: methodically. Try to spend time “feeling as if you’re completely out of balance”, Sam suggests; ask yourself, “where can I go to feel uncomfortable?” because “if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing […]”.

P.S. “Be lucky”.

Rob Britton

“I’m back”, proclaims Rob Briton as he adjusts his coat, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. From the beginning, the contagious enthusiasm of his voice has been a fundamental component of the SABF experience; of “dancing around our idea”. It is an experience made possible by the year-long efforts of a team he is quick to thank; “there’s no such thing as too much gratitude, so thank you”, he says, and reminds us that in cases such as this, “[we] can’t pay it back, [we] can only pay it forward”.

Looking at some of this edition’s recurring themes, he recalls some of his fellow speakers’; key ideas. “We are at once extremely the same and extremely different”, he quotes, and “[must] stand up to false realities”. Prejudices, he adds, can only hold us back.

However, it’s not the formal sessions Rob wants to focus on.”Every session, every day, the number of hands raised exceeded the time”, and the ensuing 1 on 1 dialogues and small group discussions were especially valuable. They exemplify a seamless dialogue between people from all over the world, and paint a future where “poco a poco, we will work together”. On that note, Rob wants to hear from the participants. “What are your objectives in life? What will you do differently? How will you stay in touch?” Hand to his brow, he gazes over the crowd; “ok, who’s first?”.

Participants are happy to comply, also taking the opportunity to look back on the conference and share their feelings. With what voice they have left they thank the team and praise their fellow participants; they speak of a home many miles away from home and genuine acceptance. As emotions rise to the surface, Rob reminds us “never [to] apologize for tears”.

He closes the session with some”little piece[s] of advice”, delivered in his usual humble manner. He encourages us to read more, and fiction in particular. On choosing our path, he reassures us that “it’s ok not to know right away” and “to take a while”, advising us not to “stress over it”. As an “airline guy”, he urges us not to”take our wings for granted”.