M.B.A. Students Visit Brazil and Receive Insight on Rising Economy

M.B.A. students participating in the Doing Business in the BRIC Economies experiential course had the opportunity to visit Brazil this summer.

Seven new M.B.A. students received a head start on their graduate studies with a nearly two-week summer trip to Brazil to learn more about the country’s growing economy. The trip is part of a three-credit experiential course called Doing Business in the BRIC Economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China), and followed last year’s inaugural trip to India.

On May 21, the Lucky7 (as the students referred to themselves in a class blog) and their chaperone Yassir Samra, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and marketing, embarked on the trip of a lifetime to explore the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Manaus, and the Amazon rainforest.

Upon arriving in the city of Sao Paulo, the first day was spent examining the culture of the city and visiting the Paulista museum to hear about the history of the country and how it gained its independence. The next day included a visit to the Brazilian Stock Exchange (BM&F Bovespa) in the city center, the largest stock market within Latin America and the fourth largest equity index in the world.

And as I glance out the plane window, I observe the same stars that I’ve seen in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon, and even back at home. And then it dawned on me that even under one sky, we really do live in a world that is more vast and diverse than I had originally imagined.

“The Bovespa visit showed us how their stock exchange correlates with the United States, and actually something very interesting about Brazil’s is they have a lot of social responsibility for the country as a whole,” says Anne Mahany ’12, a recent graduate who received a B.S. in Management with a minor in marketing.

Immediately after touring the stock exchange, the group visited one of the city’s tallest buildings, the Bank of the State of São Paulo (Banespa), which offers tremendous views of the city and is comparable to New York City’s Empire State Building. The day wrapped up with meeting at the U.S. Consulate General, and the group gained more insight on opportunities and challenges that U.S. companies face when conducting business in Brazil.

During a day trip to Rio de Janeiro, the Lucky7 and Samra had the chance to visit Petrobras, one of the largest oil companies in the world.

“We learned of the many initiatives that the company is undertaking in order to preserve the environment and satisfy the growing demand for energy consumption,” Samra says.

“The most interesting part is how they are going to break under the sand further, deep into the ocean for oil, so they are more sustainable for the future,” Mahany adds. She went on to point out how Petrobras’ sustainable process distinguishes itself from its competitors.

After finishing up the Petrobras visit, they saw the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro and took a train up the mountainside to see the breathtaking Christ the Redeemer statue. The day in Rio concluded with a nighttime cable car ride up Sugarloaf Mountain.

Early the next day, the group departed for the city of Manaus and took a 90-minute boat ride to their treetop hotel, the Ariau Amazon Towers in the Amazon rainforest.

Throughout the four-day visit to Manaus, the group participated in a variety of excursions at the hotel, such as visiting an Amazonian village tribe, a fishing village, and exploring the medical plants in the rainforest.

“We were instructed by our guide, Michael Cartwright, on the various leaves and barks of tree that could reduce, if not cure, different ailments ranging from bruises to diabetes and prostate cancer,” Samra says.

The group also met with the general manager of the hotel to acquire more background information on the hotel marketing plan. The students were assigned an analysis of the Ariau Amazon Towers and developed marketing strategies for increasing awareness and generating tourism to the rainforest.

Since the Lucky7 have arrived home, they have been working as a team to combine their knowledge with a successful marketing plan for the hotel, and continuing to expand their global business skills in advance of starting their M.B.A. studies in the fall.

“And as I glance out the plane window, I observe the same stars that I’ve seen in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon, and even back at home,” Kevin Kenny ’12, a recent graduate with a B.S. in Marketing with a minor in global business studies, wrote in the class blog on the last day. “And then it dawned on me that even under one sky, we really do live in a world that is more vast and diverse than I had originally imagined.”