I was born and lived most of my childhood in the city of Fortaleza, a sunny coastal city in northeastern Brazil. My father raised my brother and I practically within the offices and factories of our family business, a company over 80 years old that operates mainly in the wheat milling, real estate and renewable energy sectors.
At 17, I moved to São Paulo for university where I graduated with a degree in Marketing. Since then, my career has been built through the areas of sales development, go-to-market and marketing. I worked for about 5 years in my family business and in other consumer goods companies. Prior to my MBA, I was working at EY as a consultant, mainly on projects related to corporate governance, another topic that has always attracted me a lot.
How I ended up at IESE
In the years leading up to my MBA, I was supporting an intense agenda of reorganizing my own family’s corporate and family governance. We are currently preparing the succession from the second to the third generation, which I am a part of, and this is a gradual subtle process that demands resilience, empathy and emotional intelligence from all parties involved. I had already acquired relevant work experience but felt that an MBA abroad could provide me with more knowledge and tools needed to progress in my career and lead my family in the challenges that the future may bring. My father supported me from the beginning, precisely because he did not have the privilege and opportunity to think of a step like this during his professional life.
Thus, I started to do more detailed research on schools that would be a good option for me. Among the most important criteria I considered were: 1) An MBA from a world-renowned school 2) A diverse cohort, in terms of backgrounds, cultures and geographies 3) An organizational culture that incentivizes spirit of service and promotes collective well-being. After reflecting on these, I would say that IESE was a very natural choice for me. The case study methodology and the fact that I would have the opportunity to live in an amazing city like Barcelona were also criteria that made the decision much easier.
My MBA Life
I remember that the whole process of moving and starting the MBA was a bit overwhelming for me. The uncertainties and stress were significant: we were in the middle of a pandemic, moving from country to country and starting a new academic routine was quite intense. On top of that, I had just gotten married and was moving to Barcelona with my wife.
Nevertheless, the welcome and support I received from the entire IESE community was extremely reassuring.
I found in my classmates an invigorating mosaic of different cultures, perspectives and ambitions that have constantly challenged me to bring out the best of myself in everything I set out to do.
During the first terms, the challenge of preparing for interviews and summer internship processes, fulfilling academic expectations, and enjoying a little social life (important to keep you sane) was a real juggling act. IESE opens up many opportunities and possibilities ahead of you and it is important first to make a self reflection of your priorities and possible scenarios in terms of career and life aspirations in general. For me, this step was fundamental and should not be dismissed.
Hence, from the beginning, I sought to take advantage of the networking that the MBA offers and participate in the initiatives that I knew were important for my career planning in the medium-long term. I talked a lot with my veteran colleagues and ended up taking leadership positions in professional clubs such as the Consumer Goods Club and LATAM Business Club. I also had the privilege of being nominated as the president of the Family Business Club and collaborating with other students who share an interest or background in this area.
The Family Business Club
Since the beginning of classes, I had thought about getting more actively involved with the Family Business Club. Learning and exchanging experiences with people who have gone, or will go through, situations very similar to mine and are also starting an MBA is an opportunity to open up horizons and better understand which paths make the most sense to me. Indeed, in the MBA Class of 2022, students who have a background in Family Business make up approximately 10% of the entire cohort.
The mission for the club is to provide a platform for Family Businesses stakeholders to create a strong network and grow by learning from each other in a cleverly guided manner.
We aim to do this through bi-monthly lectures and workshops, with highly renowned consultants and executives to educate us on topics such as corporate governance, conflict management, succession planning and other subjects relevant to family businesses, no matter the size, sector or location! We want to welcome all students who have some kind of connection with family business, not even needing to be part of one, and we believe that this qualified networking is one of the greatest assets the club has to offer.
The club is also fortunate to have the support and mentoring of Professor Heinrich Liechtenstein. Professor Liechtenstein specializes in entrepreneurial finance, management of wealth and governance of entrepreneurial families. He teaches “LAND – Landing on your Family Business”, a second year elective course aimed at students who have a family business and want to start preparing a succession process, or their “landing plan” in their business. Every student is also introduced to a potential mentor, designated from a select group of IESE alumni. The course culminates in the Family Business Conference, an event featuring world-renowned speakers and opportunities to discuss learnings with students’ families and relatives.
Next steps and advice for future applicants
For my summer internship, I was fortunate to work at Johnson & Johnson Brazil, on a corporate governance project for the Strategic Market Access area at Janssen. It was a very interesting opportunity to work in a new sector with applicable learnings for my future, both as a shareholder and as an executive. In addition, I also worked in the formulation of the business plan for the commercial use of the COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil, a very intense and enriching experience.
Currently, as I start my second school year, my priorities are to reconcile my post-MBA professional life with the responsibilities and challenges that my family business brings. In this sense, the conversations and mentorships of some professors, as well as the exchange of experiences with fellow Family Business club members have helped me a lot. In fact, knowing how to balance your priorities and build scenarios and alternatives that work for you is a very valuable skill throughout this whole journey.
My advice to future applicants is precisely this: take a considerable amount of time to get to know yourself, your priorities, your goals, and what paths make sense to you considering your life purpose. Coming to the MBA having already considered these thoughts is a way to save energy and time for what really matters. Trust the process and – I can’t stress this enough – enjoy every moment: the good ones, the challenging ones, the bad ones… In the end, you’ll miss each one of them.
Pursue your dream MBA! Take these next steps today: