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Much More than Coffee: Valuable Access
and Strategic Insights via EMTM Trip to Brazil

Luck favored the prepared in the case of Paul Lima EMTM’03, who recently accelerated his consulting firm’s growth strategy, in part, due to EMTM’s recent trip to Brazil.

Lima, who helped plan EMTM’s first student-organized overseas outing to Germany in 2003, understands the value of the now-annual Global Experience Program like few others. “I knew we would be visiting with C-level people at the most important organizations in Brazil,” says Lima, principal of Lima Consulting Group, a 13-person web analytics firm based in Conshohocken, PA.

Unlike overseas trips through other post-graduate academic programs, currently-enrolled EMTM students select the destination country each year and, in partnership with participating alumni, also identify and contact the companies they want to visit. “There is a level of ownership and interest that dramatically changes the nature of the experience,” says Jeffrey Babin, academic director of EMTM’s Global Experience Program.

“The opportunity is to really experience the culture of the companies that are playing a significant role in the global economy,” says Babin, senior lecturer for the Penn Engineering Entrepreurship Program and managing director and founder of strategic consulting firm Antiphony Partners, LLC. “Whether someone is still enrolled in the EMTM curriculum or is a graduate, that experience is incredibly valuable for executives.”

In late March, when interviewed for InSITE days after returning from Brazil, Lima was finalizing new consulting agreements with two Brazilian-based multinational corporations. After the official EMTM itinerary was over, Lima held 24 meetings in Brazil with the country’s largest Internet retailers, banks and health care services firms. He also met privately with Danilo Saicali, former CEO of SEMCO, one of the largest firms that helps commercialize other companies in Brazil. “He oriented me as to how to take action on the many opportunities I discovered, and how best to proceed to avoid delays and pitfalls as I ‘tropicalized’ my business,” says Lima. “I never would have had the access to get his advice without meeting him first through the Global Experience Program.”

While Lima’s experience may not be typical or easily replicable, it does point to the strategic value of the Global Experience Program — which is clearly a draw for EMTM alumni. Of the 30 trip participants this year, six were alumni.

Participants in EMTM’s for-credit two-term Global Experience Program obtain an immersion in strategic insights about a particular country and its role in the global economy. They gain exposure to new business strategies or new business sectors, and also get a chance to evaluate potential new business partners or perhaps strengthen connections with colleagues stationed overseas. Some also pursue new business development opportunities in the days before or after the scheduled EMTM itinerary.

The official Global Experience Program itinerary for March 1st through 7th included 16 companies in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in the following business sectors: mining, petrochemical and energy; bio/pharma and health care; finance; information technology; manufacturing, aerospace and defense; and media and telecommunications.

Participants had been briefed in advance of the trip on Brazil’s history, culture, economy, politics and future prospects by Luiz Felipe Monteiro, assistant professor of management at the Wharton School, who holds a Ph.D. in Strategic and International Management at the London Business School, a JD- equivalent degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, plus an MBA from COPPEAD/UFRJ, Brazil.

Tulio Albuquerque EMTM’11, project manager of institutional brokerage trading at Susquehanna International Group in Bala Cynwyd, PA, says, “We learned you need to find a local partner who is reliable, has synergies with your company, and understands both the local bureaucracy and what it means to do business with an American company.”

Albuquerque, who lived in Brazil until he was 18, vividly recalls how people would rush to the grocery store the same day they got paid because prices increased daily, rising sometimes 40 to 80 percent a month. He joined the trip to gather information about the financial system in Brazil and the challenges of operating private equity firms in that country. His company has an interest in establishing a branch in Brazil and believes that this trip may create career opportunities in the future. “The information technology sector in Brazil is well-known for being extremely proficient due to the technical challenges associated with several decades of hyper inflation,” says Albuquerque, whose aptitude for translating Portuguese, was a help to colleagues on the trip.

“The information technology sector in Brazil is well known for being extremely proficient due to the technical challenges associated with several decades of hyperinflation,” says Albuquerque, whose aptitude for translating Portuguese, Brazil’s primary language, was a help to colleagues on the trip.

An estimated 20 to 30 million people have left poverty in the last eight years in Brazil, a transformation attributed partly to the country’s robust commodity exports and also to recent economic and political reforms. Albuquerque recalls how 15 years ago there were no Brazilian multinationals in the world. With EMTM, he says, “we had great access to the top leadership among Brazil’s multinationals such as Petrobras, Vale and CPM Braxis.”

After traveling to China with EMTM in 2008, Zina Raye EMTM’10, client partner, global solutions for Verizon Business, went to Brazil “to gain a clearer understanding of the political, social and cultural dynamics that affect business competition in this region of the world,” she says. “Being able to see and compare the realities of two major global markets first-hand is valuable. It was also great to meet my colleagues at Verizon Business Brazil in person.”

Insights gained from the Global Experience Program are often directly applicable stateside. “The companies we spoke with in Brazil consistently said that foreign companies doing business there need to have a local presence,” says Lima. “Having a local presence likewise makes sense for our new U.S. clients. Our technical staff will now perform more work onsite with new clients during installations instead of working virtually. Having strong relationships at many levels between clients and my staff accelerates technical integration, increases quality and shortens the time it takes to work effectively within our clients’ organizations. Relationships are the goose that laid the golden egg in my business.”

Related Links

> EMTM Global Experience Program


Participants in EMTM’s Global Experience Program obtain an immersion in strategic insights about a particular country and its role in the global economy. The official Global Experience Program itinerary included 16 corporate and cultural organizations in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Company Visits:
The Coimex Group
CPM Braxis
Globo
Janssen-Cilag Farmacêutica Ltda. (J&J)
Net Serviços de Comunicação S.A.
Petrobras
São Paulo Alumni Group
SEMCO
SOFTEX/Fundação Instituto de Administração
UBS Pactual
Vale
Verizon
Vidalink

Cultural Activities:
Instituto Butantã (Snakes’ Institute), São Paulo
Capoeira, Galpão das Artes Urbanas
Corcovado, Parque Nacional da Tujica

“I discovered how best to proceed to avoid delays and pitfalls as I ‘tropicalized’ my business.”

Paul Lima, EMTM’03
Principal
Lima Consulting Group
Conshohocken, PA

“Being able to see and compare the realities of two major global markets first-hand is valuable.”

Zina Raye, EMTM’10
Client Partner, Global Solutions
Verizon Business

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