Emerging Leaders discover Emerging Markets – Mellie Chow
Doing business in Brazil is hard!
Our class embarked on studying emerging markets and rounding out our Kellogg-Schulich Global Strategy Project (GSP) course by landing in São Paolo. We had always perceived São Paolo to be a city defined by Soccer, Samba and Steak. We were not fully equipped for experiencing the challenges of doing business in Brazil. We encountered first hand that navigating business in Brazil is not for beginners. Despite being a market with high growth opportunities, it is also accompanied by a very complex environment that requires specific know how to be successful.
I was excited about the GSP as it was an opportunity to apply concepts from our managing globally course, immerse myself in an emerging market and directly engage with the market abroad through partnership with Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC). The School organized several events that enabled immersion into the business, culture and social context, including Cubo (an incubator to foster innovation and entrepreneurship founded by Itaú and Red Point Ventures). We met several startups including Finck, MasterTech and Cloud-accounting, and enjoyed a Natura company visit and the taste of Brazil at the Mercado Municipal. But the most memorable event was the Samba close-out dinner which enabled additional networking outside of our regular classroom environment within a Brazilian soulful flare.
Our project teams provided direct exposure to the marketplace through coordination of meetings on the ground and daily re-grouping to adjust to the emerging market context. Daily survival to say the least!
A few key lessons were learnt through our GSP experience: in Brazil relationships are critical; there is a large delta between primary and secondary research due to human or cultural issues; hierarchy is well respected; there is a large untrained workforce; and Brazil can be counted on for incredible hospitality. Fundamentally Brazil it is a country full of paradoxes.
Now I’m off to my last Global Elective and to reunite with the Kellogg-Schulich Global Network for the final time before the completion of my EMBA program.