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#international: "Like taking a break from Lima"

Luis Chávez Bedoya

Prof. Luis Chávez Bedoya, PhD, from Lima, Peru, visited Pforzheim Business School in November and December 2018. He taught “Fundamentals of Financial Mathematics” and “Investment Controlling” in the International Study Program (ISP).
In the interview with Lia Sophie Wilmes, the Peruvian professor talks about his first visit as a guest lecturer in Pforzheim, explains his fascination for numbers and why international working and study experience is so valuable.

Buenos días Mr. Chávez Bedoya, it is your first time here in Pforzheim. How is your impression of our Business School so far?
To be honest, I am really impressed! Here at the Business School I am mainly teaching undergraduate exchange students, who are taking part in the International Study Program. At my home university ESAN in Peru I am mostly in touch with MBA students, so the teaching experience here in Pforzheim is very different. I have noticed that my students here have a very good level of English. And even though I am teaching relatively complicated topics, they are doing really well. The students seem highly motivated. I also think that the faculty works a lot and everyone is very engaged, for example they take the accreditation of AACSB very seriously, which is great. They have a clear mission regarding their contribution to the students and the educational system, so I am pretty impressed.

In Peru, you teach at the Business Graduate School of ESAN University.
What are the differences between university education in Latin America and Germany?

In Peru most of the really good universities are private and the majority of the public ones are not that good. So I am really impressed that public universities in Germany are of such a high standard. When I compare Pforzheim University with ESAN, my impression is that German students have more freedom studying. At least in the Bachelor’s courses I teach, the students can decide if they want to attend classes or not. It is much more flexible than in Peru and a lot of things are up to the students.

You teach and do research in the field of quantitative finance. How do you manage to get students interested in that topic?
I try to make them realize that at some point in their lives they will need to have a certain knowledge about finance. Eventually they will buy a house and need a loan, so it will be necessary to understand exactly how the financial world works. The students also need to have an idea about the world of finance when they make investments, for example when buying stocks and bonds. Depending on their decisions, they are going to win or lose a lot of money. So if I teach students mainly interested in topics like Marketing or Human Resources, the best way to engage them is to show them the useful side to mathematics. On the other hand, my students, who are really interested in mathematics, like to apply its concepts to something more observable in everyday life. So there are different motivations the students have.

You received your PhD in the United States and also taught there for a while. Do you think nowadays the international working experience is important?
Not only international working experience, but international experience in general is incredibly valuable. I like to encourage all students, who have the opportunity to go abroad, to do it at some point of their career. It is not only about the subject you study, but about everything that comes with it: The country’s culture, people you meet abroad … Those experiences open your mind and help you look at things from a different perspective. I think that international experience, both studying and working, is extremely important. The more international experience you can gather early on, the better your career opportunities will be.

In Peru your university is located less than 10 kilometres from the Pacific. Do you miss the sea and the good weather while being here in the Northern Black Forest?
It is very different here, that is right. In most parts of Peru we don’t experience any changes in the weather, due to the proximity to the equator. So it is really nice to see these differences and experience how weather can affect the peoples’ lives. What I also really like about Germany at this time of the year is all the Christmas decoration in the streets. In Lima we celebrate Christmas in the summertime, so this is very exciting.

Compared to Lima, Pforzheim is very small and calm. How do you get along here?
For me being here in Pforzheim is like taking a break from Lima. It is a really big city with over 8 million inhabitants. Going from one place to another can be very tough and sometimes takes hours. I always drive to work and as the traffic is so chaotic, those 45 minutes per way are frequently very stressful. But here in Pforzheim I take the bus and don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a parking space – I really enjoy that.

Have you already learned some German? If so, do you have a favourite word?

My new favourite words are “Gut und Günstig” – something qualitatively good but affordable, like the food in Pforzheim University’s canteen.

¡Muchas gracias por la entrevista, Señor Chávez Bedoya!

The ESAN University was founded in 1963 and offers numerous Bachelor’s programs, mostly in management and engineering. In its Graduate School, which was the first Graduate School of Business in Latin America, graduates can receive PhDs and Master’s degrees in pretty much all the management areas. ESAN is a private university whose main campus is located in Lima. Apart from the capital, the university has many other locations in different parts of Peru. For ten of its programs ESAN is accredited by AACSB.