Global Executive MBA: Key Management Challenge in Brazil

Bom dia! Tudo Bem? I was really excited to go on my first trip ever to Brazil, thanks to the Global Executive MBA and Professor Monteiro from INSEAD. We spent one full week in Sao Paulo, with a day trip to Rio de Janeiro in the middle. Unfortunately, I was not able to arrive earlier to spend more time in Rio de Janeiro, contrary to some of my colleagues who enjoyed a VIP tour of Rio led by one of our Brazilian classmates!

Coming back to the country itself, I did not know that much about Brazil except its soccer team - of course - and all the buzz about the recent presidential elections. And my surprise was at its highest when I arrived in Sao Paulo: the city is highly developed and inhabited by very kind and helpful people (I admit, the latter was actually not that surprising).

On the day before classes started, I had the chance to learn about Brazilian street art, walking and chilling around the town. A few of us also spent time walking around the famous Ibirapuera Park, a dense place full of joy, health and life: people were doing all kind of sports, from basketball to volleyball to street soccer to yoga and zumba dancing in the surrounded by cyclers and runners... a really nice place amidst the skyscrapers.

We then proceeded to the Avenida Paulista, the main avenue of Sao Paulo. Again, it was full of people and life including live bands across the streets along with a political demonstration - due to the presidential elections coming up the week after. We took our lunch nearby, where the size of the plates and portions were just huge! Continuing our journey, we then visited “batman alley” located at Rua Goncalo Afonso, a street art road in which it is possible to contemplate, among others, a Mario Bros mosaic from the famous French artist INVADER.

Finally, the nightlife is faithful to daytime: there are lots of buzzing restaurants, bars and nightclubs to go out at night in Vila Magdalena and Vila Olimpia. Despite the fact that Sao Paulo is reputed to be a dangerous city I felt perfectly safe, but it is crucial to stay very alert nevertheless.

Having said that, let’s talk about the academics. Indeed, our primary purpose was to learn about Digital Transformation in Latin America! And guess what… the programme was legen – wait for it - dary! On the first day, we had an in-depth introduction on the Brazilian people, culture and economy. We even learnt a new typical Brazilian word: the jeitinho, which is hardly translatable from a Western point of view (literally: "little way") but according to Wikipedia, it means finding a way to accomplish something by circumventing or bending the rules or social conventions.

Day two onwards was an avalanche of Brazilian company visits and very high quality presentations by digital C-suite executives from the biggest companies in Brazil: UBS and Itau for banking, GOL for aeronautics, Vale for mining, Korn Ferry and McKinsey for consulting, Telefonica for IT, Google and last but not least, an entire half day with Marco Stefanini, the global CEO and founder of Stefanini IT solutions. I was also especially impressed by the Itau’s incubator/accelerator, based in the brand new CUBO building.

INSEAD GEMBA Doing Business in Brazil

It was amazing how INSEAD had succeeded to gather and concentrate so many busy leaders in a full week. In addition to the visits, we were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Executive MBA alumni from Fundacion Dom Cabral, the leading business school in Brazil. Connecting with C-level executives but also working with regular Brazilian professionals was a wonderful experience.

To conclude, the real key differentiator was undoubtedly the excellence and the dynamism of professor Felipe and the perfect organization done by Valesca! MUITO OBRIGADO!