Business Opportunities in Brazil

Workshops Review the Outlook for Investors



On the second day of the Global Alumni Reunion, the focus shifted to ISE, IESE’s associate business school in Sao Paulo, for a series of workshops where experts discussed a wide range of issues concerning the Brazilian economy and the outlook for the future.

The workshop "Investment Opportunities and Venture Capital in Brazil," sponsored by Bertelsmann, was moderated by IESE Prof. Juan Roure. The panel was made up of Eric Acher, founding partner of Monashees Capital, Roberto Giannetti da Fonseca, president of Kaduna Consultoria, Richard Lapper, principal, Brazil Confidential, Financial Times and Pedro Vasconcellos, managing director of Bertelsmann Brazil.

Lapper said that the things that make Brazil interesting to investors are its comparative advantage through the range of resources it has, the rise of the consumer market and the spending on infrastructure, not all of which is related to the Olympics and World Cup. "Brazil has become a more balanced economy and is much more inclusive. For all its problems, it’s making great progress," he said.

"Brazil has a crucial role to play in the world economy as a supplier of food and energy," Fonseca said. "The main concerns are how to control debt and avoid inflation, but the banks are solid due to supervision and the financial system is not at risk." Vasconcelos added that "inflexible labor laws and the tax system are a burden on business."

"We are surfing a commodity wave that will probably last another 10 years," Acher said "But we have to think beyond the next 10 years and think 100 years ahead. It’s not a dynamic economy. You don’t see tomorrow’s companies coming through. To create an entrepreneurial culture we need success stories."

The two sessions of the workshop "Building an Excellent Work Environment" brought together Guilherme Cavalieri, director of human development at Serasa Experian, Ricardo Loureiro, president of Serasa Experian, Ruy Shiozawa, CEO of Great Place to Work Brazil, and José Tolovi, president of Great Place to Work Institute.

For Tolovi, the key factor is "the trust between managers and staff, the sense of being involved in a concrete project and camaraderie." Shiozawa emphasized the importance of treating people as people and not as numbers," something he said many Brazilian companies have yet to understand. Cavalieri commented that "without good leaders it’s impossible to create a sense of working together" while Loureiro said that creating a culture centered on the individual had been crucial to the success of his company.

In the workshop on "Global Talent" moderated by Howard P. Schneider, the international economics correspondent of The Washington Post, the emphasis was on the need for employees to feel a bond with the company. "You need to have high emotional engagement in your teams and company," said Anjaney Borwankar, managing director, Asia, of Cátenon Worldwide Executive Search. Iñaki Saltor Camero, managing director of Cátenon in Brazil, said you need "a methodology to compare and analyze candidates in an objective way."

Prof. Nuria Chinchilla added that "there is no crisis of values, but as crisis of evaluation. The values remain but people don't put them at the center of their activities and life."

In the workshop "Excellence in Business Management" moderated by Prof. Juan J. Toribio, Jairo Martins da Silva, general superintendent at FNQ, said that "in post-industrial society marked by the limits of sustainability, the same rules that worked well in the industrial age will not prevail anymore and it’s necessary to innovate." Pedro Melo, chairman KPMG Brazil, said that the current generation of Brazilian executives "have a wide range of abilities because they never shy away from a challenge."

Prof. José R. Pin moderated the workshop on "Learning from Social Entrepreneurship in Brazil" in which Leonardo Letelier, CEO of Sitawi, said his mission was to make a social impact and that’s why he set up the organization. "Social entrepreneurship is becoming more sustainable," he said. Antonio Moraes Neto, co-founder of Vo Capital, commented that "impact investment is practically non-existent in Brazil." Despite many improvements, Brazil is still the 10th most unequal country in the world and "that’s why impact investment is needed."