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Pepperdine MBA Class Skype Greece, Argentina Dignitaries

Going far beyond traditional classroom lectures, Pepperdine University's Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) MBA program at the Graziadio School of Business and Management hosted dialogues via Skype on the Greek and Argentinian economies with former Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos of Greece, and former two-time Minister of Economy Domingo Cavallo, Ph.D., of Argentina. Minister Cavallo also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and president of Argentina's central bank. The presentations were followed by candid question-and-answer sessions  that tied lessons from the economic crises of both countries to present-day global challenges.

"The discussion with the former Argentinian minister was especially impactful for me. By walking us through the last 20 years of fiscal policy in Argentina, the minister was able to show how sound fiscal policy sets the country on a track for sustained growth, but when short-sighted policies are implemented, growth stops and capital providers flee as rising inflation devastates the average wage earner. A textbook example of Economics 101," said current PKE student Jim Freitas, Boeing's 737 Fleet Support Chief. Minister Cavallo provided "fantastic insight into the Argentinian economy over the past two and a half decades," concurs fellow student Ned Curic, chief technology officer of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), North America. But for PKE alumnus Robert Radi, president of CUSV Strategic Ventures and candidate for La Quinta City Council, leadership lessons from Minister Cavallo were the real takeaway. He especially appreciates that "Dr. Cavallo's remarks were effective in providing a pragmatic historical overview, along with refreshing overtones of candid self-criticism with regard to his monetary policy. Leadership is cemented in substance, not in mere formalities, an aspect not lost in Dr. Cavallo's words." While some found Minister Cavallo's words memorable, others, like student Mark Borao, managing partner for Media & Entertainment Services at Ernst & Young, were most struck by Minister Roussopoulos' candor and "display of emotional vulnerability when he spoke not just of the economic challenges Greece and the European Union (EU) are facing, but the challenges posed to humanity, quality of life, and value systems as citizens continue to face high unemployment and rising taxes." PKE alumna Noelle Nguyen, whose company, American Love Affair, originated as a PKE capstone project, shares a similar sentiment: "Minister Roussopoulos' remarks made clear he's optimistic about Greece's current path toward progress, but he did not shy away from acknowledging the tragic human costs of the European sovereign-debt crisis. I was pleasantly surprised by his deep concern for human welfare."

Hoping that Greece will learn from Argentina's economic collapse of 2001-2002, Minister Cavallo expounded, "Miranda Xafa (Chief Economic Advisor to former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis) and I tried hard to counteract the advice of Nouriel Roubini and, to some extent, Paul Krugman, for Greece to exit the Euro and reintroduce the Drachma. I used the Argentinian experience to explain that that would be a disaster for Greece." The minister has an ally in none other than Pepperdine Professor Demos Vardiabasis: "A return to the Drachma would put private companies seeking financing in a challenging position when the EU's reserve currency is the Euro, and Greece's government itself would have a difficult time borrowing in the Drachma based on its track record," warned Dr. Vardiabasis. Indeed, Dr. Vardiabasis and Minister Cavallo not only see eye to eye, but plan on pursuing a productive relationship by which to advise Greek's current government. The event was facilitated by Professor Demos Vardiabasis, Ph.D., former Economic Commissioner of California and chair of Executive Programs at Pepperdine University. This month, the Presidents and Key Executives MBA program will host Kevin Madden, senior advisor and strategist to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, and press secretary for Bush/Cheney '04 and House Speaker John BoehnerSource: Noelle Nguyen