B-Schools Latin America

The lure of a Brazilian MBA

Understanding cultural differences is key to doing business in Brazil and doing it well An American and a Brazilian meet to discuss a business deal. After waiting 20 minutes for the Brazilian to arrive, the American gives a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating the steps needed to execute the deal. The Brazilian is a little baffled. He would prefer to get on with the deal itself, he says, but not before he has taken his American friend out for lunch. Understanding cultural differences such as these is key to doing business in Brazil and doing it well, say the directors of the country’s MBA programs. This means teaching increasing numbers of international business students how decades of rampant inflation and currency crises have left Brazilians unaccustomed to long-term planning, or letting these students see for themselves the importance of workplace networking. The Bric countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – have seen an influx of international applications, with students eager to secure an MBA while submerging themselves in the culture of the country they hope to work in, or form close business ties with. MBA enrolment at the top institutions in Brazil is increasing. According to data from the U.S.-based Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the Graduate Management Admission Test, Brazilian citizens sat for 1,628 GMAT exams worldwide in the 2010 test year, compared with 1,312 in the 2006 test year. But demand is growing fastest among international students. The percentage of GMAT scores sent to Brazilian graduate management education programs by non-Brazilians rose from 8.3 per cent in 2006 to 20 per cent in 2010. Although the majority of these students are already living in Brazil, a different breed of students is emerging: graduates from elite universities overseas...