GoAbroad Interview

Ian Mackern - Program Director

Ian Mackern - Program Director

Ian has an engineering degree, but he has been working with startups for the last five years. As program director, he manages the team and business, and makes sure everything works organically. He is in constant communication with new providers and is always trying to make things a little better.

How did you get introduced to Road2Argentina?

I got to know it by chance, as one of my startup class’ tutors was the former owner, and at least three other people from the Buenos Aires ultimate frisbee scene turned out to be somehow involved in the company as well. Many parts of my life seemed connected to Road, so one day, tired of the typical engineering office job, I followed the clues and got to knock at Road2Argentina door.

Road2Argentina participants

At the Group Dinner

What do you think makes Road2Argentina stand out from the crowd?

Its energy. We are a great combination of Argentines and foreigners trying to make Argentina more well-known. We are living this country from lots of different perspectives and know there is a lot to offer the rest of the world. We are humane and friendly people, we can adapt to your needs and make you feel welcomed.

How does your business experience working for start ups help you in your role with Road2Argentina?

Road2Argentina is in constant change. We are a small business that needs a boost of new energy every six to 12 months. Startup life is very similar, you rely a whole lot on the connections you make and in keeping yourself updated to what's happening around you while you keep developing your own ideas.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

It’s never the same. I start at 9 a.m., so I’m always well rested and in a good mood, I’m the annoying singing kind. I’ve always got some email time to make sure everything is working smoothly outside the office. There are also a few check-ins with the team, a little report viewing, a few calls and meetings outside the office, and of course lots of planning.

Eco-building with mud bricks in Argentina

Learning from the Pro - Eco-Building with mud bricks

How do you ensure every internship placement is a success?

The key is to put some time into knowing our partners. We’ve established some requirements to choose the best organizations, but you can’t leave it to papers only; we always have a meeting at the workplace to get to know the company, the neighbourhood, the facilities, and most importantly the people. The third stage is to have a constant feedback from the Roadies and the company in order to keep improving the program.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Probably admitting when we’re not able to find the best fit for some participant. We work very hard to make our programs as flexible as possible and develop relations with new companies every week, but sometimes we just can’t make it on time. I feel we fail to deliver our vision when this happens. That's why we always try and be prepared!

Of all the opportunities you provide or have provided in the past, what is the most unique placement you have been able to provide a participant with?

There have been quite a few. But the last one I really felt proud about was an internship about using sewing as a tool to develop mothers inside an impoverished neighbourhood. It was very specific, but after a few weeks we found a match and the Roadies had the time of their life. We’ve also just finished developing our “premium intensive” placements, which are really quite unique here in Argentina. We’ll have our first participants in 2016!

What is the biggest benefit of internships in Argentina, in your opinion?

You get a great combination of things done at once. To start with, you get the international work experience, which looks great on your CV and connects you with a whole bunch of new and interesting people. But you also get to know the Latin American and Argentine culture, and how it interacts with your way of conducting business and lifestyle decisions. You obviously also get lots of Spanish, a great tool for any globalized person, and of course lots of fun times in Buenos Aires.

Ian Mackern at the Road2Argentina office

A day at the office

What makes the Road2Argentina team extraordinary?

Our energy. The team is a vibrant combination of young native and foreign globalized amazing people. I’m honoured to work with such fun and honest good people. Its really easy working or having fun with people you can trust everyday.

What do you love most about your job?

The mission to transform lives and introduce Latin America to the world is really very rewarding in the medium to long term. But of course the team makes it super easy to come to work every day.