Doing Business in Brazil: Debra’s Summer in South America!

The UIC Business MBA program offers students exciting opportunities to gain first hand international business experience in both Europe and South America. Participants study alongside international business leaders, develop an understanding of another business and cultural environment, and sharpen their global business skills in an international market - all while earning credits toward their MBA degree. This summer, a MBA candidate Debra Sodimu decided to take this opportunity and enroll in the “Doing Business in Brazil” program.

“Doing Business in Brazil” is a two-week course in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas, considered one of the top business schools in South America. This English-language course covers Brazilian and South American business issues, the political and social climate, national culture, consumer marketing, and Mercosur. MBA students receive four elective credits for participating in the program.

How was your class experience? What courses did you take?

The classes were incredibly interesting, and we covered various foundational topics that were essential in understanding the way Brazil operatesThere were about two seminars each day to cover several topics. Some of the more interesting courses were:

  • Brazil Institutional Environment and Culture

  • Brazilian Capital Markets and Financial Systems

  • Brazil Infrastructure Challenges

  • Brazil Low Income Markets

We also had the opportunity to visit two companies, Natura and WeWork.  Natura is a cosmetics company that reinvented door to door sales, present in Latin America and Europe.  They recently acquired Avon.  WeWork is a company that provides coworking spaces, and being the first of its kind in Brazil has three locations and is looking to help support entrepreneurs in Brazil. 

What countries/cities did you visit during your time abroad?

We were given the weekend to travel, so a group of us went to Rio de Janeiro.  After the two weeks of the program in Brazil, I went to Buenos Aires to visit friends and family.  On our first night in Rio, we went to Carretão Churrascaria, a Braziallian Steakhouse and ironically went to the same place for lunch the next day during our full day tour around the city.  During our tour, we saw the Maracanã Stadium (a famous football stadium), Sambódromo (Rio Carnival happens here), The Metropolitan Cathedral, Escadaria Selarón (the pretty Selaron Steps), Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), and Pão De Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain).    

Which of these was your favorite? Why?

The trip to Rio was an amazing experience and all of us ended up wishing it would have been a longer stay. It was wonderful to see so many beautiful things in the city, and our tour guide gave us a wonderful historical account of all the places that we went to see.  In that, we were able to see his, and many other people’s love for their city and we fell in love as well.

What was the highlight of your trip? 

The highlight of my trip was to be able to experience another Latin American country. We connected with students from other schools and developed strong bonds in no time. Also, we loved the city tour to see important and historical points throughout the city like the first McDonalds in Brazil, Beco do Batman (several alleys that hold art and photo opportunities),  Escadaria Do Patápio (another neighborhood staircase), Parque Ibirapuera (a beautiful park in the city), experience a social justice march that occurred on the main street right in front of our school, and of course enjoy a variety of Brazillian food. Fun fact, Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, so naturally we did not miss the chance to experience amazing Japanese food! 

Thank you to Debra for sharing your experience! Check out some more amazing pictures from her time overseas down below. Interested in traveling abroad through one of our exchange programs? Be on the lookout in our newsletters for our Exchange Program Information Sessions, or contact Scott Schneider