In May of last year, Spanish businessman José López Gonzalez, responsible for the small- and medium-sized company portfolio at Bankia, Spain’s fourth largest bank in assets, came to São Paulo to take a course called Brazil: A View from Inside. The one-week intensive course was part of an executive program he was taking at one of the most renowned learning institutions in Spain, IE Business School.
To him, Brazil is one of the best-poised economies to face challenges in the current economic cycle and Latin America’s main development engine. “Besides expanding my professional experience, the course brought me closer to my clients who are developing new business in Brazil,” Mr. González says. Including him, the first edition of the course was made up of 23 foreigners.
Rodrigo Amantea, executive education coordinator at Brazil’s business school Insper, says the program was developed for foreigners interested in getting to know the Brazilian market and who want to do business in the country. In 2012, the course had one inaugural class and for this year, two editions are expected. “Now, along with the agreements we have with international schools that send their students to take the course here, we are going to offer the program directly to the public.” The need to create the program, he says, came from contacts with foreign learning institutions requesting a course for its executive education students. “This demand is coming mainly from the economic contraction in Europe and all attentions turned toward Brazil,” he says.
Just like Insper, most business schools in the country began to recently offer executive-level courses directed to foreigners and focused on Brazilian reality.
Also last year, Brazil was included in the international masters’ degree route, through Escola Brasileira de Administração Pública e de Empresas da Fundação Getulio Vargas (Ebape/FGV): The International Masters in Practicing Management (IMPM), co-founded by Henry Mintzberg, currently one of business’ biggest experts in management.
“Exposing Brazil is the big motivator of [the country’s] insertion in the program,” says Alvaro Cyrino, vice director of Ebape/FVG, headquartered in Rio. According to him, classes approach issues such as carrying out big ideas and overcoming hurdles in an unpredictable environment with institutional voids. Along with theory, executives visit national companies to better understand how they do business in an environment fraught with infrastructure difficulties. Begun 15 years ago and directed by experienced professionals, the IMPM is divided into five modules. During a year and a half, students travel around the five host countries of partner institutions: England, Canada, India, China, and, most recently, Brazil.
In a slightly different line of study, Ebape/FGV also begins to integrate, this year, the International Masters of Management (IMM) Executive MBA. It’s a global program geared toward leaders with over ten years of experience, which brings together seven business schools from around the world.
In a slightly different format, Ebape/FGV closed a partnership last year with Spain’s IE Business School, which sent a group of MBA students to take a module about Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Wharton has done the same for three years. Mr. Cyrino says these classes are made up of students interested in understanding the Brazilian market in view of the country’s potential. “In general, they take elective classes that last one or two weeks. It’s a customized program, discussed with the partner school.”
Eighteen students from 14 countries took the inaugural edition of the course. The institution held a study with students to determine to where the trip would be. “Brazil was quite solicited,” says Julia Sanchez, executive director of IE’s MBA Internacional. “The country attracts students as it is an emerging market, with swift economic growth and offers good job opportunities.”
Besides those who arrive via agreement with international programs, Ebape/FGV hosts individual students who come to do an exchange program in Brazil. Last year, there were 75, more than twice those from two years ago. Mr. Cyrino says that the school receives even more requests from those interested without the support of another school, but says the school is at its limit for receiving this type of student. “They have realized that understanding the Brazilian market gives the executive a vanguard position,” says the vice director.
Business school Iese, also from Spain, took on a similar strategy to its competitor IE. In the second year of the school’s full-time MBA, students choose a location outside of Spain to take an optional module of the program. These executives have had the opportunity, since the 2011/2012 academic year, to come to São Paulo to get to know the Brazilian business environment. Alternatives are New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Nairobi. In the first edition, 18 students chose Brazil. In the following academic year, 2012/2013, the number rose to 28.
Brazil’s Ibmec has also bet on the strong and growing demand of foreigners interested in getting to know the Brazilian market. Rio de Janeiro’s unit will start to offer, this year, the Doing Business in Brazil program, with the first class scheduled to begin in March. Besides the country’s economy calling foreigners’ attention, Fernando Schuler, general director at Ibmec, highlights particularities of the city of Rio de Janeiro, such as the 2016 Olympics and the oil and gas and infrastructure sectors. “In view of this scenario and the city, specifically, we have gotten many requests from overseas schools and institutions who want to get to know the Brazilian business environment,” he says.
The Ibmec course is concentrated in six areas: Brazilian economy, finance and banks, geopolitical analysis, legal aspects, macroeconomics and demographics, as well as cultural aspects and their interference in doing business in the country. “Proposals flooded in from abroad and we didn’t have a program structured to meet this demand,” Mr. Schuler says.
Last year, International Business School (IBS) from São Paulo, started a similar program, called Brazil – Economic Outlook. The first edition of the program had nine students. For the next class, which goes from January 28th to February 7th, there are 15 confirmed students, and for July, a new group is expected, which already has 28 students enrolled.
“The students don’t live in Brazil and are in search of work or business here,” says Ricardo Britto, founder and general director at IBS-SP and course coordinator. “Starting this year we are offering this same format for foreign professionals who are already working in the country,” he says.
Easp/FGV, headquartered in São Paulo, is a pioneer in receiving foreigners interested in the Brazilian scenario. “The school has been receiving students from overseas since its creation. We have had a class formatted for this public since 2001, though, says Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello, director of the program also named Doing Business in Brazil, offered by the institution in São Paulo.
The program lasts one to two weeks includes all-day classes with teachers from the school and guest speakers, visits to companies and socio-cultural activities. The public, according to Mr. Mello, is made up of MBA students who come to the country as part of the course they are taking abroad.
MBA students from international schools are still most of those interested, but there is a new profile with growing participation in the program, according to the school’s directors: groups of executives – from one single foreign company or several companies, but from a single country – who arrive here wanting to know more about Brazilian reality. Mello cites a group of Swedish executives that has come recently, representing companies from the country, like Scania and Volvo, and a group of 40 oil and gas company managers from the French company Total.
According to the director, the number of foreigners in Doing Business in Brazil has doubled since 2010. Last year, there were 500 participants and for the first half of this year there are over 250 enrolled. “Brazil still has a favorable perspective in foreign eyes,” he says.
Source: Valor International