Freedom with Responsibility. Trust. Excellence. Commitment. Authenticity.

Clearsale-picture-1Written 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.

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Our client’s People Development Manager walks us through their organizational culture.

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.

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A mural depicting Avenida Paulista near our apartment; the building with red pillars is the Sao Paulo Museum of Art.

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

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An Avenida Paulista building decorated as a basketball hoop during the NBA Finals.

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.

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The Sales, Marketing, and Intelligence teams gave us a very friendly welcome during our first week in the office!

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!

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…Complete with team member Reggie Davis being tossed up in the air!

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!)

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Day Uno in Mexico and salaUno

Team salaUno is comprised of Thomas Chuang, Stephanie Lai, Aarti Shetty, and Shailendra Srivastava. salaUno is a high-volume eye clinic in Mexico City exemplifying the Haas defining principle, beyond yourself. Co-founded by Haas alum Carlos Orellana (MBA/MPH 2010), salaUno is a for-profit social enterprise that seeks to eliminate needless blindness by providing low-cost cataract surgeries. We are developing salaUno’s value proposition for ophthalmologists. 

After a red-eye flight, we arrived in Mexico at 5:30 am, astonished that we could transport ourselves in merely four hours to a foreign country completely different from the U.S.

Alvaro Peon Sanchez (EWMBA 2014) graciously invited us to stay at his parents’ house in Cuernacava, a beautiful city in the outskirts of Mexico City. When we reached the Sanchez home,  a traditional Mexican breakfast of chilaquiles was waiting for us! It was such a dreamy morning with the rain pitter-pattering on their gorgeous lawn. After breakfast, we then moved to the living room where our resident musician Stephanie played the piano, as Alvaro’s father sang Broadway show tunes.  We then went to the Cuernacava market, where we bought silver jewelry, which is popular in Mexico.

Robert Brady Museum

Alvaro’s mother, Beatriz, took us to the Robert Brady museum, which houses an eclectic collection of religious, folk, and ethnic art, including oil paintings by Frida Kahlo.

Robert Brady Museum

After visiting the local grocery store to buy ingredients to cook dinner for our generous hosts, Aarti, a 2-Michelin star chef, led the charge in the kitchen.

Cuernavaca Grocery Store

 

Aarti Cooking

943568_10100874408400351_502204112_n Cooking at the Sanchez House

After a great home stay at the Sanchez home, we traveled to Mexico City, salaUno’s headquarters. Our first day at salaUno began with an all-hands Monday meeting. Everyone took turns to introduce themselves, and very soon we realized that we were the only non-Spanish speaking people there! We began our work with four  back-to-back interviews with salaUno doctors. It was great putting faces to many e-mail interactions that we’ve had in the last few weeks. We validated some of our initial hypotheses, and some new ideas also surfaced. Carlos later took us for a tour of salaUno’s three buildings, where we witnessed the patient flow through the busy hospital: http://youtu.be/Csy9xFFc7rU

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salaUno Doctor

 

Quality Service and Delivery

At 2 pm, which is normal lunch time in Mexico, we went out to lunch with Carlos to an Argentinian cafe, where we ate hunks of meat! Lunch apparently is the big meal of the day here. Carlos, who embodies confidence without attitude, encouraged us to question the status quo at salaUno. After lunch, we re-convened and analyzed our interview takeaways using Post-It notes. Thank you PFPS! We are now ready for our Round 2 of interviews tomorrow.

Our experience in Mexico has been exciting and fun so far! The only glitch is our inability to communicate in Spanish for the most basic life necessities! As students always, we’d love to learn from you. What are some Spanish phrases that will help us get around these next two weeks?!

Gracias, CAL!

CAL