MBA Brazil Study Tour - May 2011
Release Date : June 30, 2011
Despite the recent changes to the MBA program, the International Study Tour has remained one of its key features – great news for MBA students Josh Welz and Justin Enns. With the rest of their class, the two were able to spend twelve days in Brazil last June.
Nick Kokkastamapoulos of the Hanlon Centre for International Business Studies supervised the tour and ensured the students were well-prepared before landing in Sao Paulo. “We had meetings on how to get a visa set up and on culture, and a meeting with Consulate General Sergio Florencio,” Enns recalls.
“They also had international students from the Language Centre speak with us, getting us prepared for some of the minor language things, like saying ‘hi’ and asking what time it is,” says Welz.
And course work from the MBA program gave the students a working knowledge of the Brazilian business sector before the tour. “We had to do a project prior to going, so everybody had to research an industry,” Welz explains. “We did the coffee industry and the alcohol industry and when we were down, we actually met with the people we did our projects on.”
The class visited with major international corporations in Brazil, like the Mosaic Potash Company and Kadmos Shipping Enterprises, but Enns says meeting local entrepreneurs had more impact. “It was interesting to see how they operated with regard to actual first-hand harvesting because it was one of the cultural aspects of the business,” he explains. “The distillery and the coffee farm were great because these were people who made this their life. You could see their passion.”
And although the students also visited with the director of the BBS business school and an ambassador for Brazilian and Canadian trade, the tour wasn’t all business. “Rio de Janeiro has a lot of tourist attractions,” Welz says. “We got to see Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain and a huge flea market in Lapa.” He adds that the cultural highlight was definitely the food. “They do these Brazilian barbeques and throw on all kinds of meat … chicken, beef, pork … It was fantastic food.”
“It combines concepts that we learn throughout the year,” Welz says of the experience. “The biggest thing would be the international end of things. We learned about the barriers between cultures, like language, and what you have to do to develop good business relationships.”
The students found one of the major differences between cultures was in scheduling. “It was a lot more laid back,” says Enns. “We’re all so nine-to-five, but schedules are looser there. I found that interesting. It seems pretty progressive in terms of making sure people work to live and not live to work.”
The ‘emerging market’ theme of the Study Tour left MBA director Noreen Gregor with several options, but Welz says the class was happy with the choice. “In terms of trading, especially with the state of the economy as it is right now, I think Brazil was the best choice,” he says. “And I would go back in a heartbeat.”