Written by Anna Braszkiewicz, Reginald Davis, Anik Mathur, Risa Shen and Nolan Chao
Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.
These were among the ten core values that our IBD client, a Sao Paulo based tech firm, harbored as a part of their organizational culture. In our first week in-country, we sat down with the client’s People Development Manager to learn more about these values and why they were so important to the organization. Our team was impressed by how much our client emphasized the principle of “professional-in-a-person”—the concept that a professional career is oftentimes a large part of a person, but that people tend to separate the two once they are in the office. As a result, our client’s organization also wanted to cultivate the “person” and ensure that employees could truly be themselves. There were many affinity groups across the organization—ranging from video games, music, crafts, dance, and writing—to breed this personal development.
IBD is no different with respect to a “professional-in-a-person”. Throw five Haas MBAs together in a conjoined Sao Paulo studio apartment for three weeks in a country they’ve never been in, and add a management consulting project for an international client on top of it—the two worlds are bound to intersect! So today, we’ll tell you about a typical day of our life in Sao Paulo—as both a professional and a person.
Although June is actually winter time in Brazil, the weather is still quite pleasant. I’d usually start my day off with a short run through the city on Avenida Paulista — often described as the “5th Avenue” of Sao Paulo. It’s filled with stores, museums, and cafes, and is one of the most bustling streets in this massive, sprawling city. It was a fascinating way to see the street art and architecture that Sao Paulo is well known for. In the morning, the team would all cook a light breakfast together and then take a cab to the company office.
It was then down to business when we arrived at the office. Our project was scoped towards market entry selection and implementation. Our client had recently expanded to a new office abroad and was looking for further opportunities to harbor their international growth and capitalize off of their new location. Once we arrived on-site, our day would often start with an internal interview, ranging from Sales to Marketing to Product.
We would also talk with agencies helping to
coordinate the Foreign Direct Investment activities for both Brazil and our target country markets. These officials were great resources in underlining the importance of differences in business culture, and providing information about location strategies, business regulations, and trade patterns. It was great to hear multiple perspectives about internationalization strategy to test our hypotheses en route to our final recommendation
One of the big cultural differences our Haas classmates had told us about for Brazil was that lunch is a big deal! Lunches often are over an hour long, and the city is full of lanchonettes (“snack bars”) and “pay-per-kilo” buffets to fulfill your culinary desires. Some days were more special than others; Wednesday, in particular, is known for serving feijoada—a hearty Brazilian stew made with black beans, beef, pork, and sausage and typically served with a huge plate of rice.
After that, we’d synthesize our insights from the morning and seek further market research on foreign markets and the industry statistics within those markets. A large focal point for us was combing through multiple research sources to derive the correct data insights. The client’s industry featured a host of white papers and information, but oftentimes had contradicting points—a large part of our role was to carefully verify the data. Finally, after hours of research, it was time to head home!
After riding home through the hectic Sao Paulo traffic—sometimes up to an hour long—we’d either make a group dinner in the apartment or go out and try a restaurant in Sao Paulo. Another common culinary delight in Brazil is a churrascaria, or steakhouse. It would typically be served rodizio style “all you can eat”. Talk about a filling meal!
After dinner—if the rodizio wasn’t enough to send us to a food coma—we’d relax back in our flat—catching up with friends from home, watching Netflix, playing cards, or relaxing on the rooftop pool of our apartment. Before we knew it, it was time to sleep and get ready for the next day’s journey. Bon noche! (Good night!)