On August 29, 2016, the IESE Full Time and Executive MBA´s got a deep dive into doing business in South America at the São Paulo overseas module course. This year´s module was the most interesting yet as it took place during a very interesting time in the history of the country.

“The module was conducted during one of the most interesting weeks in recent Brazilian history: The final vote of (former) President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment happened during the module.  This event provided a particularly interesting backdrop against which to discuss the challenges of doing business in Brazil.” said Professor Paulo Rocha e Oliveira, Sr. Lecturer of Marketing and Production, Technology and Operations Management in IESE and the driver behind the São Paulo module.” 


Overseas modules are IESE elective classes for 2nd year students taught in our New York or São Paulo campuses in the fall term. In the spring term, students can enjoy similar electives in Shanghai or Nairobi. The modules can last up to two weeks depending on what courses you decide to take. To learn more about the New York module from this year, visit our Blog Post titled “IESE MBA´s Take Over New York.”

The first week of the São Paulo module is a whirlwind of knowledge from the local market. Students had access to two classes: Business in Brazil and Marketing in Latin America.

SPIn the Business in Brazil course, students addressed the answer to the question –  Is Brazil an attractive place for business? Students were given the tools and resources to answer whatever variation of this question most interested them. Should my company sell our products in the Brazilian market? Should I start a company in Brazil? Could I have a successful career as an executive in a Brazilian company? Should my company buy from Brazilian suppliers? These are just some of the questions students were asking themselves and their classmates.

The Marketing in Latin America course focused on some of the misbeliefs around marketing across countries in the region as many assume they have more in common than they really do.

The course was aimed at students who wanted to develop skills in:

  • Developing brands and launching new products and services adapted to local / regional needs
  • Understanding cultural differences and market connotations of adopting regional strategies.
  • Challenging the myths of emerging market customers and consumers
  • Developing and implementing successful demand generation strategies
  • Adapting business models and going to market strategies to an environment where informal business has an important participation
  • Marketing of talent – addressing the cultural and business impact of sports marketing and analyzing the viability for marketing initiatives in this context
  • Identifying the challenges of Latin American companies seeking to develop and capture opportunities beyond their region and or country of origin

In the second week, students had the opportunity to actually have some hands on experience by participating in the IESE Brazil Field Project.  The IESE Brazil Field Project consists of hands-on consulting projects in which MBA students have the opportunity to work in small teams with Brazil-based busineSP2ss leaders. The student teams help solve problems that Brazilian companies are facing with the ultimate objective of recommending new solutions that will be implemented to make a actual difference in the companies.

Professor Rocha explained to us the types of projects the students worked on this year along with the most recent innovations to the program.

The Brazil Projects module continued the trend of mixing NGO/Social projects with projects in for-profit companies.  The highlights were the Embraer project, in which students got to visit an airplane production line and advise the company on strategic issues concerning their innovation policy and the social project and Instituto Semear, in which the IESE student team helped that organization become more effective in helping low-income students attend university.

The most successful innovation to the module was in the way the company visits were structured.  Students visited the companies in small groups, and their hosts at the companies were (mostly) IESE alumni. Students got to choose the company they wanted to visit, ensuring a good fit with their interests.”

Second Year student, Larissa Campos dos Santos and Brazilian national, got a lot from the module even though she is from Brazil.

“The module was super interesting! During the first week, we got the chance to visit a couple of companies that are doing a great job in Brazil and also hear speeches from experts in many different topics. In the second week, we did a project for a company, in my case, was Embraer. It was fun not only to do the project, but also to be inside the company and visit their production line! ” 


Want to experience the Sao Paulo moduel for yourself? Check out this short video!

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Jessica A. Smith View more

Associate Director, IESE MBA Admissions

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