Archive for March, 2011
Last week, a group of MBA students went on an epic trip to Brazil, as part of our International Study Programme. It started in Sao Paulo with visits to Walmart and Natura, amongst others. Then we all headed to Rio de Janeiro, hoping to catch some sun and fun! The days passed so quickly; we had so much to see, so much to do! The one day, which really made the trip, was Friday, 18 March 2011. After a very impressive session with Deloitte, we all got on the bus to go to Vigário Geral favela (slum).
Eve, our guide for this part of the trip briefed us about the place we were going to visit. It was a slum area, known to be a very violent place and a hub for drug dealing. In the past, there have been horrifying instances of gang wars and young children becoming a part of the circuit. With all that at the back of our heads, (and instructions not to click pictures without permission!) we reached the favela.
There we were greeted by a hundred kisses from a woman, who owns a restaurant based in the middle of the favela, cooks all the food herself, is more than 50 year old and still has a dummy pacifier in her mouth, most of the times! The food was delicious! The variety was commendable. Good food and warm hugs from the lady herself made us happy, but none of us knew what to expect ahead!
We were back from Brazil three days ago but I still feel the strong energy of that country. Before getting on the Smurfit MBA International Study Trip, I always thought of Brazil as a home of football and samba with many beautiful beaches and one of the key emerging markets. However, there is actually much more than those in Brazil. If I have to tell everything I have learned from this trip, it would be a lengthy report or say a learning journal which I need to write later on as a part of the course. Nevertheless, there were three things that impressed me most in terms of comparison between my home country, Vietnam which is also an emerging country, and Brazil.
Vietnam mainly relies on agricultural exports and Brazil is our main competitor in many areas, especially the coffee market where we are only second to Brazil. Therefore, my initial perception of Brazil was more of an agriculture-based country rather than a service-based one. And then I was impressed by knowing Brazil’s services now accounts for 66% of the economy while agriculture contributes only 20%. Moreover, most of their population (193 million, the fifth largest in the world) is now living in urbanised areas. For instance, Sao Paulo, our first destination in Brazil, is a huge modern city with 20 million inhabitants.
In addition, I had an expectation before the trip that Brazilian would have many characteristics in common with the Western people as Brazil used to be the Portugal’s colony for over 300 years. However after the trip, it turned out not to be true. In fact, Brazilians are group-orientated and collective. They collaborate in group and compete as a group. These characteristics are very close to Vietnamese ones.
More interestingly, I got a chance to go to an open market in Sao Paulo. It was just a small normal area with many small shops selling foods, stuff and the like. When I worked around, I saw that most of the shops accepted payments by credit cards even if they sold 4-5 Real stuff (approximately €2). I found out later on from the tour guide that almost everywhere in Sao Paulo they do the same. I was very surprised at that time as the number of electronic payment in Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnam’s largest city, is still very small as compared to the cash payment. This has been a challenge in Vietnam hence seeing how Brazil overcame it really impressed me.
- Khoi Le,
Life is just returning to normal after our return from China which was one of the two MBA study trip destinations for 2011.
This tour was an 8 day intensive trip to Shanghai and then Beijing which took in a range of educational, political, business, social and cultural visits and meetings. Between Monday and Friday we visited with a large and varying group of institutions and businesses – the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), the Chinese Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP), Bristol-Myers Squib, Deloitte, Coca Cola University, JWT, Treasury China Trust, Tesco, Motorola, the China Education Initiative, Enterprise Ireland, and Aramark. We also had a climate change panel comprising representatives from orbeo, Azure and Rhodia who are companies in the renewables business at the prestigious Chang An Club in Beijing.
In between the business and educational elements of the trip we managed to fit in a river cruise in Shanghai, a visit to the Birds Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, a walk on the Great Wall of China and under our own steam visits to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City among others and any number of markets, pubs and restaurants in both Shanghai and Beijing.
The group celebrated St. Patricks Day twice, on the day itself in Paddy O’Shea’s pub in Beijing and then on the 19th March at the Irish Ball in Beijing run by the Irish Network China with approximately 720 members of the Irish ex-pat community in China and their friends, this ball is a major social event and is one of the largest in the region. Some other things may have happened too during the course of the trip but it is probably diplomatic to forget them!
The word I heard most commonly to describe the trip was ‘intense’ but this was always said with some satisfaction and not a little awe at how much we managed to fit in.
- Roisin O’Loughlin, MBA Programme Manager
As my colleague said in her blog post, we have just come back from this year’s MBA International Study Trips.
Each year, the Smurfit MBAs choose one of two destinations for the trip which in turn forms part of a module on Doing Business In Emerging Markets. This year, the Smurift MBAs chose to go to China and Brazil.
The Brazil group visited Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in 8 hectic days. Similarly to the China trip, the trip was a mix of educational, business, socal and cultural visits and meetings – but I guess we had the better weather in Brazil!
We first went to FIA Business School for two very interesting lectures on Brazilian economy and culture. Following that we visited the Brazilian stock exchange BM&FBovespa, retailer Walmart Brazil, Natura cosmetics manufacturer, BNDES (development bank), Petrobras the Brazilian oil giant, and Deloitte Brazil. We also met with a number of Irish businesses and business people in Brazil as well as Enterprise Ireland’s Brazil Office.
The social aspect of the trip was a visit to impressive social enterprise organisation Afro Reggae, who work to keep youths living in the slums of Rio out of trouble through music and education.