Why an MBA in Brazil? We asked Sean Carpenter, an American who is currently pursuing an International MBA at the Fundação Instituto de Administração (FIA) at the University of São Paulo (USP).
So, why Brazil?
When I was looking into MBA programs, I wanted to attend a school abroad. I had a desire to work in an emerging market, one of the BRIC countries, but I didn’t have a strong interest to live in Russia, India, or China. When I saw this program, I thought it was a great idea, especially since my undergrad degree from Georgetown is in Latin American Studies. So, I visited the school and talked to professors, and thought, this is a good thing. My goal is, after graduation next year, to find a job, and to live and work here.
My whole thing was, if I want to learn the language and learn the culture, and to learn about doing business in Brazil, I need to be there, live it, and do it. Sometimes, I think people will go to schools in the U.S. or Europe and they come to Brazil to do business, and they just aren’t as successful as they could be because it’s a different way of doing things here.
Having worked in the United States, what are your impressions of Brazilian business?
Having a background in consulting and having had the opportunity to work with many international organizations, I can honestly say that there are several talented and sophisticated people working here in Brazil. There are also great companies that started here, like Embraer, Natura and O Boticário.
In terms of culture – in the U.S., if they say a meeting is going to start at 10:00 – it’s going to start at 10:00 and you’ll get down to business. In Brazil, there has to be a comfort level – so there’s going to be some socializing before the meeting gets started. Just different customs and practices. And sometimes, people may find it difficult if they’re used to working in a different way and don’t have the flexibility to adapt.
What are your classes like? Are there a lot of Brazilians? Or is it international?
All of our classes are in English. The program is 50% Brazilian, and we have people from the U.S., Mexico, India, Italy, France, Colombia, and Peru. So, it’s pretty international. And students from our program are also able to travel to various countries with the Executive MBA Program participants to visit different companies and to take part in classes at local institutions. This year, they’re traveling to China, France, the UK, and the U.S.
As for our program, many of the professors we have are the usual Ph.D. academic, but we also have several professors who are actually working professionals because one of the premises of the program is to interact with people who not only have a teaching background but who also have relevant business experience. You’re interacting with people who aren’t just teachers, but who hold senior positions at top Brazilian and international organizations. We also have visiting MBA professors, mainly from the US, who teach various modules.
Once you step outside of the classroom, you need to have some understanding of Portuguese, because for the most part, everyday interaction with people at the grocery store, or people on the street, they’re probably not going to speak English.
Photo Courtesy: Sean Carpenter