Each year, second-year students in Wharton’s EMBA program vote on a location for their International Seminar trip. With options including India, China, Turkey and Brazil, it was a tough decision, but in the end both the East and West Coast classes voted on Brazil.
The BRIC country’s position as Latin America’s largest economy and its strength in a diversity of areas such as steel, oil drilling, and renewable energy attracted the students’ interest. During the week-long trip, they visited local and international companies to learn more about challenges and opportunities in the region.
We asked West Coast second-year student Suncheth Bhat, a regulatory manager in renewable energy at Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco, Calif., to talk about his class’ experience in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Bhat said:
“The corporate visits were extremely informative. We learned about why the economy is growing so fast and the challenges going forward. A highlight of those visits was a meeting with the CEO and president of HSBC Brazil who talked about macro-trends and the specifics of working in Brazil vs. Asia. That was very interesting, especially since many students in our class have worked in Asia.
“We even got to meet seven Wharton alumni who are entrepreneurs in Brazil. They explained how they’re addressing gaps in the economy and handling bureaucratic challenges.
“On the social side, the trip was a great chance to hang out and get to know one another better as well as the partners and children who came on the trip too. Spending time with classmates in a different country — learning about the business environment and experiencing the culture together — has motivated many of us to take some global modular courses together as a group because Brazil was such a great experience.
“It also was interesting to see how strong and deep the Wharton network is in Brazil. The caliber of the people we met during the corporate visits was pretty astonishing and many were set up by Wharton alumni. It’s amazing that we were able to go to a foreign country and meet with some of the highest people in their fields. That showed me what being part of this community really means.”
We also asked East Coast second-year student Fidel Santos, a manager for strategic supply planning at Bristol-Myers Squibb in New Brunswick, N.J., to share some of the highlights of his class’ trip to Sao Paulo. Here’s what he said:
“I’d been to Brazil before for a former job and I was looking forward to returning to talk to business leaders and better understand how business is done in Brazil. I wanted to learn how global companies are adapting their strategy to Brazil and how local companies are going to grow into other countries.
“Overall, the experience was great and we really enjoyed the quality of the company visits and the speakers. Our class hit an all-time high this year with 35 corporate visits! Some of the companies I went to included Google, Embraer, Azul, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Camargo-Correa where we heard great insights from business leaders.
“We had a lot of chances to bond with our classmates during outings that were organized each night. The events were numerous with dinners, salsa dancing, and a soccer game, which was a great opportunity to get to better know a very important part of Brazilian culture.”
To learn more about Wharton’s International Seminar in the EMBA program, click here.
Originally published on the MBA Exec blog, November 16, 2011.