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#international: "In Mexico, the real deal is to know people"

For the third time Professor Jorge Pedroza visited our Business School Pforzheim in December. In the Interview with Felix Fürst he talks about his home country Mexico, gives reasons for a semester abroad and explains what international economics and the football World Cup have in common.

Prof Pedroza, you arrived from Mexico a couple of days ago, so how do you get along with the German winter?
Well, it’s not easy. Every morning when I wake up I check the weather in my home town Monterrey in northern Mexico. The first day it was -2°C here and 27°C over there. But I brought a good coat and some warm clothes with me.

Your work concentrates on advertising and you’re lecturing about consumer psychology.  Where do you see the biggest differences between the consumers in Mexico and in Germany?
You see, consumers become very much alike all over the world in terms of consumption. We buy different things but the process is kind of the same, the needs are kind of the same. But I would say food is one basic difference, we in Mexico like hot and picante food and I have a hard time to get good sauces over here or to get real Jalapeños in a supermarket.

Many students from Pforzheim spend a semester abroad in Monterrey. Besides the spicy food, what are the best arguments to study at your home university?
Our university, the Tecnológico de Monterrey, is the largest private university system in Mexico, it has 30 campuses all around the country. And it is considered the best private university in Mexico in terms of good rankings. I encourage students to learn the language, get to know the culture, visit the country. Thus, you get lots of advantages and learn how we do things in Mexico. Studying abroad is really important, especially if you’re in an international marketing program as most of my students here. You cannot be an international marketer if you haven’t lived in another country. You need to understand that cultures are different and people work in different ways in different countries and you need to really understand that your culture is not the entire world and that there’s no culture better than the other one, they are just different.

Speaking of learning, you taught in the US, South America, Denmark and many other places. What did you learn from these international experiences? 
I learned that there are totally different systems. In Denmark, everyone gets paid for studying whereas at Monterrey Tec you have to pay, so most of our students are wealthy. Studying at Monterrey Tec is really good for networking. That’s why they get jobs before everyone else and they get the better jobs because they know how to do things, they have the skills but also, they have the connections. Germany and maybe the US are knowhow countries, you invent things, you design cars. But in Mexico, the real deal is to know people.
And I learned that, nowadays, you have to be part of an international economy if you want to do good. You cannot isolate yourself like Cuba or North Korea, you need to be part of the economic system to have progress for your people. Monterrey Tec for example is good because we compete international. The Mexican football team always loses against the Germans because they only compete internationally every four years at the World Cup. Apart from the World Cup they only play against the Caribbean countries and the Central American countries, so we’re the kings of the region. But when we come to the World Cup we have to face the Germans and well, we haven’t beaten you in 30 years. But the point is: To become better, you need to be open, you need to compete internationally.

You don’t only work for Monterrey Tec, you have also been leading an advertising agency.
Yeah, but I have to confess that I am not doing that well. I used to have the largest agency in town but the digital marketing thing is really killing me. You don’t need a big infrastructure to serve a big client anymore. So, one-man-agencies come and compete with you and take clients from you. Big agencies are really having a bad time, all over the world.

With all this work in the university and in the agency, is there still time for leisure time?
Yeah, you know, one thing I don’t have time for is research, I have no publications. Most professors have like one hundred research papers but I don’t have to do that because in Mexico, publication was not as important as it was in the United States or in Europe. We are now aware of the importance of doing research and new professors are being required to do that but my generation wasn’t.

We talked about globalization and internationalization – What’s your most important advice you can give to students in these times?
Sometimes, I find my students to be too concentrated on reading marketing books and I just told them that you need to read literature, read books, go to concerts, you have to broaden your mind, especially when you’re into marketing, I don’t know about Germany, but I can tell you about Mexico, that we are losing that. My father was a journalist and my house was full of books, so I read a lot. And I would say that I got more from those readings than I did from reading all the marketing books in 45 years.
Another thing would be: Don’t stop learning. When you graduate, you’re just beginning. You need to keep learning and never stop being curious about things. And I think that’s the whole point of education: To help the students to become fuller persons. It’s not that you just teach them something and you grade the exam, you need to question them, tell them to be curious and question theirselves, question their beliefs, examine them.
We live now in a world, that is becoming disaggregated because of the internet, we live in a world with fake news, so you need to have a critical spirit, that’s what I think you need to do. 

Thank you, Prof Pedroza.


Founded in 1943, the university Tecnológico de Monterrey belongs to the largest private university system in Mexico. Tecnológico has 30 different campuses, amongst others in Monterrey, Mexico City and in Guadalajara. By innovative education models like a strong emphasis on online education, Monterrey Tec succeeds to maintain its high quality of education which is also represented by several accreditations such as AACSB, AMBA or EQUIS. Students can choose from among many programs and schools like business, engineering, IT or communications.