This was the result of many months of preparation for the class of 2012, which recently returned from representing four Canadian companies in the Brazilian marketplace.
The consulting mission consisted of 24 EMBA candidates and four faculty members, who traveled to Rio de Janeiro on April 20 with the objective of generating new business opportunities for represented Canadian client companies. The primary intent of the mission was to assist in either growing the represented companies' Brazilian footprint or investigating the potential entry to the Brazilian market.
The upcoming wireless infrastructure enhancements required for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics proved to be a well-suited match for one company. An interview with Alberto Blois, director of RioSoft - a not-for-profit organization within the Rio technology sector - provided powerful insights into the wireless industry.
The team discovered that the simplest of things such as 'tweets' from avid soccer fans could create endless bottlenecks in the congested Brazilian wireless infrastructure. After meeting with Brazilian stakeholders initiated by Telfer EMBA candidates, the company was able to forge meaningful relationships and will continue the discussions to capitalize on the wireless opportunity in Brazil.
The interview with Mr. Blois, as well as interviews with other stakeholders, also gave numerous insights into what is required to access the Brazilian market.
Relationship building is critical in Brazil, as is overcoming the language barrier, given the population predominantly speaks Portuguese.
A significant investment of time is required to build relationships in Brazil - especially in Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Blois emphasized that much of his professional network originates from the alumni of his university, a network that he continues to nurture and leverage.
They also underscored the importance of understanding the "Three Brazils" - Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the rest of the country. Foreign companies often focus on the first two "Brazils" and ignore the third, where lucrative opportunities in the infrastructure industry is evident.
The trip to Rio de Janeiro came at an optimal time in showcasing that Canada-Brazil relations are more than just the four clients companies accompanying the Telfer program. Canadian Governor General David Johnston, accompanied by 30 Canadian university presidents, was also in Brazil exploring interest in enhancing international education links between the two countries.
Several Telfer students attended the governor general's speech at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro on April 25. The theme of Mr. Johnston's speech on 'diplomacy of knowledge' between Canada and Brazil through its student populations reinforced the importance of learning how business is conducted within Brazil.
It also reiterated the value of Canada's bilateral relationship to build, retain, cultivate, nurture and ultimately share knowledge. The speech underlined the Telfer EMBA candidates' decision to explore the Brazilian market as a part of their international consulting project.
It was interesting to note Canada wasn't the only nation exploring the Brazilian marketplace in April. A chance encounter with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro gave Telfer students the opportunity to explain the purpose of their mission and highlight their particular focus on wireless infrastructure for the upcoming 2014 and 2016 events.
Mr. Panetta acknowledged the need for a strong wireless infrastructure for the upcoming international events and reiterated United States' commitment to offer advice and resources for supporting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
- By Greg Matthews, Telfer EMBA candidate