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Brasil ao vivo 2008

Manager's Shadow Project

What is necessary in our global economy is not a dual-mindset – home country and international, but rather a global mindset. We require a mindset that does not begin first by looking at home country opportunities and then to international opportunities. Rather, successful organizations and executives will be those that first think globally. Where is the best place in the world to build the new manufacturing plant? Which country has the best skills for our new service offering? A global mindset answers these questions without a bias toward the organization’s home country. One of the critical steps in developing a global mindset is familiarity and comfort with non-home country settings. Understanding other countries’ economic, social, political and cultural systems is necessary. The purpose of this seminar in Brazil is to aid the students in the development of a truly global mindset. Through a combination of a pre-departure session, company visits, group interviews with managers, cultural activities and an analytical paper at the end, will expose the students to the realities of a huge emerging economy.  Besides visiting the companies working in business fields reaching from the mining sector to the production of dairy products students have the special opportunity to interview executives in small groups to get real world insights on processes and decision finding. The key areas of interest are International Human Resource Development and Global Marketing and Communications. The project could not have been put under way without the great financial support of Mecuri Urval Northwestern Switzerland, who instead of inviting a lot of customers to celebrate their 25th anniversary in Switzerland decided to invest the respective sum of money into a project dedicated to managerial education. We would like to thank Daniel Probst, Director of Mercuri Urval Basel, and Philipp Stäuble, who came up with the idea, very much for that tremendous support.

Diary “Brasil ão vivo 2008” (15 to 27 November 2008)

written by students of the Master of Science in International Management 2008-2010

The group

17 Students out of the 35 Master of Science in International Management at the FHNW and two of their professors from the School of Business, Thomas Bürgi and Rolf Meyer, were discovering Brazil from a cultural, historical and primarily economical perspective. The study trip is part of Professor Bürgi's “Manager’s shadow project” course with the aim to obtain insight on how international managers function in the real world.

Under the excellent organisation of an FHNW Alumni, Marco Carrino, who has also studied in Brazil during his FHNW Bachelor in International Business Management and has work experience in the country, the group is experiencing the amazing and unforgettable virtues that this rapidly growing BRIC nation has to offer.

Through international relations with our partner University in southern Brasil: the University of Caxías do Sul (UCS), cultural events (such as delicious meals, a concert and sightseeing activities), educational company visits and most importantly, carrying out structured interviews with managers of both local and international organisations, the students are able to gain knowledge of how international business is done in Brasil and abroad.

Day one and two (15/16 November 2008, Saturday/Sunday): meet and travel

After a long trip from Zürich, transiting through São Paolo, changing airports and finally flying to Caxías do Sul in the south of Brasil, we arrived fairly exhausted. Spirits were quickly heightened when we were driven to the beautiful country home, perched on the hills outside Caxías where close friends of Marcos’ – the parents of Carolina Zardo, a Brasilian exchange student at FHNW - invited us to share an excellent traditional dinner that was enjoyed by all.

Day three (17 November 2008, Monday): UCS and Brasils’ wine country

The following morning, we met Professor Luciane Stallivieri, head of International relations and Professor Sergio Lovato, economics and strategy specialist at UCS and learned about the University and the various campuses and possibilities offered to students. We were given an economic overview of the southern region of Rio Grande do Sul, Brasils’ growing economic strength.

FHNW and UCS students: Sabrina Poletto and Dayan Lazzaretti that have studied in Basel met to exchange ideas and visit the UCS campus in Caxías. Also, a delegation of eight academic professionals from different universities in Mexico was present. These professors and/or administrators were completing the third week of training to obtain their IGLU certification, which made exchange even more interesting and international. Both parties were introduced to the traditional local “Gaoucho” culture through a lunch hosted by the board of directors of UCS, where customary music, food and dance were to be seen, tasted and heard.

The afternoon was spent in the beautiful Vale dos Vinheros a valley to the south of Caxías where a wine cluster has developed. The association of producers, counting for 32 members, gave a brief introduction of the history as well as the current situation of Brazilian wines. Established in the area by Italian settlers in 1875, vines remain family owned and a selection of red, white and sparkling wines are made for local consumption and export. The producers are currently in the process of receiving a “controlled appellation of origin” (AOC).

The group was then invited to visit the Miolo winery which uses 15 different kinds of grapes and yields approximately four million litres per year. After a brief tasting, we were hosted by the Villa Europa - Hotel & Spa do Vinho- located across the main road. Here we discovered the splendid property that is part of the chain Accor and one of the only four franchisees of the French spa concept named Caudalie, where all treatments are based on products derived from the grape.

To end the day, our delegations were invited to attend a performance given by the UCS orchestra in the campus theatre. The concert was mainly for engineering students and the theme was “An orchestra as an organisation”. We learned about the different sections composing the orchestra and were told about the distinct instruments and their various sounds. Throughout, we were shown how all the elements, thanks to serious preparation, strong coordination and a little help from the director, can come together to achieve something remarkable.

Day four (18 November 2008, Tuesday): Rio Grande do Sul, driving Brasils’ economy

The first visit was to the production facility of a diversified portfolio brand: SOPARNO. Created in the 1950’s, the company was originally building accordions and has since then become a global player, producer of hardware (door/pad-locks, keys, handles etc.) and a number of other products of daily use (thermos cans, coolers and electrical fuse elements). In the afternoon, the cardboard box section of the pulp, paper and cardboard producer TROMBINI opened its doors to us. Here, we were shown how paper is turned into cardboard sheets that are then cut and printed on according to customer requests. Both of theses businesses are family owned and have proven outstanding growth over the years. Thanks to theses visits and the interviews, our group experienced two very different management styles and structures of Brasilian firms.

To end the day, we drove to the airport of Proto Alegre approximately two hours inland. From there, we flew to Sao Paolo’s impressive Congonhas airport on the local equivalent to European Easyjet: GOL. Sao Paolo is the economic heart of Brasil and is home to approximately 18 million people, one of the three largest cities in the world.

Day five (19 November 2008, Wednesday): Nestlé's Brasilian Market

On the fourth day at 11.00 a.m. we visited Nestlé’s head office in São Paulo and as a part of the introduction of the company we had the opportunity to see the fascinating garden inside the company compound and the architectural beauty of the building. After taking our lunch in the Nestlé restaurant we arrived in the 24th floor to meet the managers. Mr. Fabrian Dietrich made a presentation about the foundation of the company, products, and strategies of the company and the financial aspects of the company. It was stunning to hear that Nestlé is regarded as a genuine Brasilian company, and not as a Swiss company, by most Brasilians. Mr Dominik Hug presented about chocolate production and the market in Brasil. Mr Fàbio Megid about the consumers, promotional strategies, consumer behaviour, and the income levels of different classes in the Brazilian community and Mr Iian.K presented about the biscuits market in Brasil. After the presentations the Brasil ão vivo group was split in to two groups to interview the managers about their careers, experiences and skills. Around 4.30 we left Nestlé and arrived in our hotel. A group dinner was planed by Marco in a beautiful restaurant to taste a delicious Brasilian dinners and experience their hospitality.

Day six (20 November 2008, Thursday): A day at the Stock Exchange

As the the 20 November is a public holiday in São Paulo, 12.00 was the official meeting time. During the morning some went to the São Paulo Zoo and some had the opportunity to catch some sleep and recover from their journey. The president of the Swiss chamber of commerce, Mr Stephan Buser, took charge of the rest of the day.  On the way to the city centre he spoke about his career, about his role and his function within the Swiss Chamber of commerce located in São Paulo. We spent around half an hour discovering the city centre, and arrived at the stock exchange market of Sao Paulo: Bovespa. The visit was focused on introducing us to the history of the company and on how the stock exchange works. We had a 3D video and an oral presentation, as well as a simulation of a client contacting the broker for a stock acquisition. They introduced us to how buying stocks in the past functioned versus how it works nowadays. In the evening, we had a good lunch in a Japanese restaurant.

Day seven (21 November 2008, Friday): Mecuri Urval and the Blue Ocean

Our main sponsor Mercuri Urval Northwestern Switzerland organized a workshop for all of us, conducted by Mercuri Urval Brasil. The main theme presented by Prof. Dirk Thomaz Schwenkow covered the strategy implementation for companies and focussed on identifying visions for the future. The main theory used was the Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

Our six hour journey by bus to Rio-de- Janeiro was interrupted by a visit to Johnson and Johnson. A brief presentation about the history, foundation, production sites, environmental issues and marketing strategies was presented, followed by a production site visit. From there on we continued our journey and arrived about 11.30 p.m. in Rio-de-Janeiro.

Day eight (22 November 2008, Saturday): Pão de Azúcar

A guided Sight-seeing tour of Rio de Janeiro led us to the famous Christ statue and the Pão de Azúcar. Rio de Janeiro is a fascinating city, offering stunning contrasts between different lifestyles and incomes. It is not easy to cope with the fact, that people in favelas lead a life marked by utmost poverty.

Day nine (23 November 2008, Sunday): Relax and reflect

Out free day was used to relax and reflect. Our discussions among subgroups covered economical and socio-political topics as well as very private ones. They helped tremendously towards creating group spirit.

Day ten (24 November 2008, Monday): The factory of dreams

A visit to TV Globo revealed a lot about Brazil and its culture of telenovelas. TV Globo is the largest audiovisual production company in Latin America. The Globo Production Centre (GPC) is a vast studio complex with indoor and outdoor filming sets located outside Rio de Janeiro. Its impressive studios were presented by Mr. Flavio Ferreira, PR delegate of the Public Relations Division. Ms. Duda Pereira; Head of the Public Relations Division, presented the main activities of TV Globo. She pointed out the vast impact TV Globo has on Brasilian lives. The telenovelas are an important ingredient of Brazilians' everyday life. The TV set is on during the whole day. Commercials are very often being heard, not seen. The Manger’s shadow interview with Ms. Duda Pereira, who is an MBA graduate from the American University in Paris, provided very good insight into the set of skills needed to manage successfully in Brazil. A guided tour of the studios, indoor and outdoor filming sets led us to fishermen's huts and important streets - all of them fakes that served as the stage and background for important Brasilian popular telenovelas. TV Globo functions as a dream factory, a factory that wants to emphasize its social responsibility. In the telenovelas as well as in other audiovisual products, ideas are promoted to better the lives of millions. They cover economical, socio-cultural and health issues.

The late afternoon was reserved for yet another Manager’s Shadow interview with Mr. Neube Brigagao, the General Manager of Windsor Plaza Hotel in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. The Hotel has 137 rooms and employs 190 Brazilians plus a few people from other south-american countries. The manager pointed out that setting rules and regulations and implementing them in a sustainable manner were very difficult in Brasil, especially in Rio de Janeiro.

Day eleven (25 November 2008, Tuesday): Drilling for oil and connecting fibers

Our company visit to Petrobras provided a lot of valuable insights into Brasil’s biggest company which is currently present in 27 countries. In 2007, Petrobras was rated the world’s 7th biggest oil company with shares traded at stock exchanges, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW), a publication that divulges the ranking of the world’s 50 biggest and most important oil companies.

Among the highlights of the visit were a presentation of the company and its activities by Mr. Izeusse  Braga; Head of International Marketing Communication, but even more valuable to us were the concurrent Manager’s shadow interviews with Mr. Izeusse Braga; Mr. Renato C.T.Marques de Oliveira; Sales and Marketing Manager and Mr. José Augusto Carrinho Antonio; Human Resources’ Knowledge Management Manager.

Diamond is located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. It is a worldwide leader in supplying high precision fiber optic solutions and has been serving successfully in several markets for over 25 years. Its headquarters are located in Switzerland, and Diamond stands for Swissness at its best. Diamond is known as a dynamic and innovative company, able to carry out reliable, customized components and equipment in fibre connecting, in response to the increasingly demanding customer requirements. Diamond can count on an extensive international distribution network with 9 subsidiaries and over 40 representatives. Diamond Brasil is one of the 9 subsidiaries with 35 employees. The General Manager Mr. Mike Lütolf, a Swiss citizen who has been working in Brasil for 20 years, pointed out the challenge to find people in Brasil prepared to work according to Swiss standards. Three concurrent Manager’s Shadow interviews with Mr. Mike Lütolf, Mr. Alvaro Acosta, Sales Manager of Diamond Brasil, and Mr Andreas Stuker, another Swiss citizen working in Brasil as Operations’ Manager of 4-Star South America (A Tourism and Travel Management company), revealed some differences between Brasilian and Swiss management. The Brasilian managers pointed out that Brasilians could learn a lot from observing and experiencing Swiss organisation skills while the Swiss emphasized their learning progress with regard to flexibility. They were thankful to be able to cooperate with successful Brasilian managers, who are renowned for being extremely flexible.

Day 12 (26 November 2008, Wednesday): VALE is mines

Vale is a global mining company headquartered in Brasil, with a workforce of over 100,000 employees, including outsourced workers. The company was presented by Ms. Hanna Meirelles, International Recruitment and Project Manager, followed by a Manager’s Shadow interview her. She underlined the requirement for a female manager to adopt many of the typically male characteristics such as assertiveness and communication style in order to make one's way up to the top. Ms. Alessandra Gadelha, CFA, Executive Coordinator of Investor Relations, gave a most valuable insight into the life of a successful female manager, a mother of two, who has to combine the role of a family manager and mother with a managerial function at VALE. The latter role requires a daily presence at the company from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.  Our last day in Brasil ended with a flight from City Airport of Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo and a subsequent flight to Zürich, Switzerland.

Day 13 (27 November 2008, Thursday): Back to Switzerland  We would like to thank our Professors, Marco Carrino and our main sponsor Mercuri Urval for an unforgettable experience, which will undoubtedly contribute to our career as hopefully successful and socially responsible international managers. We have been able to experience Brasilian hospitality, warm-heartedness, openness and friendship in companies and our partner university UCS alike.

Dear Brasilian friends, thank you very much!

Students of Master of Science in International Management, November 2008

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