Global Experience Week to Rio, Brazil, 2024 CROPPED


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In May, students on our Full-Time MBA and Weekend MBA set off on an unforgettable trip to Rio, Brazil, for their Global Experience Week. Taking place over the summer term each year, the week-long trip is an opportunity for students to expand their understanding of business on a global scale, fully immersing themselves in local organisations and the culture of another country. 

From engaging with local businesses and attending thought-provoking sessions, to enriching cultural experiences that offer a taste of local life, the Global Experience Week is a chance to embrace both professional and personal growth.  

Teresa Gomes, one of our Full-Time MBA students, reflects on her experience to Rio, Brazil, sharing her key takeaways and eye-opening moments from the trip. 

From attending sessions on diverse topics such as digital marketing, fintech disruption, and public-private partnerships, to immersing myself in the vibrant cultural vibe of Rio, every moment was a treasure trove of unforgettable memories. All of it felt like a perfect mix of academic insights and cultural exploration that made this trip truly one-of-a-kind.

The significance of Global Experience Week

Being immersed in Brazil's business environment first-hand was eye-opening and the trip was super valuable for both my MBA studies and personal growth. 

Seeing how the brand, Reserva, prioritised personal connections and crafted spaces such as the Casa Reserva store to be warm 'meeting points', highlighted the Brazilian flair for relationship-building.

And Professor Augusto Sales explained in a talk that, in Brazil, people want to connect with you as a person before diving into business talk. His quote, "it's not what you say, but what is understood" spoke volumes about how context and culture shape communication.  

Little things like these showed me how much communication styles can vary across cultures. Understanding these cultural distinctions has widened my horizon and made me a far more globally minded professional. 

Global Experience Week to Rio, Brazil, 2024
Global Experience Week students embracing culture

Understanding business in Brazil

Stephanie Fleury's awe-inspiring story of launching one of Latin America's first fintechs, Din Din (now Bitz), was a notable experience for me. She spoke about how a casual conversation at a Halloween party in the US, where her friend mentioned "just Venmo me" for her share of the cab fare, sparked the idea to bring mobile peer-to-peer payments to Brazil. Her entrepreneurial journey and grit in overcoming obstacles really resonated with my personal developmental journey to London. 

Another standout was Marcello Povoa's session on digital marketing and innovation in Brazil. Learning how startups such as iFood leveraged network effects to fend off competitors such as UberEats was something I never thought about. 

And projects such as Lagoa Aventuras, which aimed to uplift local communities through eco-tourism initiatives, showcased how businesses could create positive social impact by collaborating with government entities.  

These insights have broadened my perspective on the diverse approaches to conducting business globally. This conveyed the message that success in Brazil's vibrant economic landscape requires a potent combination of innovation, cultural adaptability, and the ability to navigate regulatory complexities adeptly. 

An Expert Session on the Global Experience Week in Rio 2024
Attending a seminar in Rio

Key learnings

The key takeaways from this trip were multi-fold and have left a mark on my approach to global businesses.  

Firstly, the importance of cultural sensitivity and understanding local nuances, as evident from the 'Doing Business & Communicating with Brazilians' session, cannot be overstated.  

Secondly, the power of innovation in driving business success was a recurring theme, exemplified by companies such as Reserva and iFood.  

Thirdly, the need for adaptability and resilience in navigating a rapidly evolving global business landscape was a key lesson. Startups such as Bitz (formerly DinDin) and Pismo demonstrated how fintech innovations could disrupt traditional banking by offering seamless digital solutions tailored to Brazilian consumer needs, while adeptly overcoming regulatory hurdles and complex tax structures. 

Lastly, witnessing the collaborative spirit of public-private partnerships such as Lagoa Aventuras reinforced my belief in the potential of businesses to create positive social impact. This eco-tourism initiative aimed to uplift local communities while preserving cultural heritage, showcasing how corporations can drive sustainable development by collaborating with government entities and leveraging their resources strategically. 

Copacabana Beach in Rio, Razil
Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro

Exploring Rio

Truly immersing myself in the local culture was one of the most enriching aspects of the Global Experience Week, allowing me to connect with academic learnings.

Two standout experiences were participating in a lively samba dance workshop and hiking through the lush Tijuca Rainforest.  

The samba class was an electrifying initiation into one of Brazil's most iconic artistic traditions. And witnessing the incredible biodiversity in Tijuca’s verdant rainforest first-hand exemplified Brazil's commitment to sustainable development. I was enveloped by the landscape of rustling leaves, fauna, and beautiful waterfalls. 

These were far more than just activities; they allowed me to live and breathe the rich traditions, sights, sounds and textures that make Brazilian culture so vibrant. 

Advice to other MBA students

My advice would be to approach the GEW with a growth mindset and a willingness to embrace the unknown. Immerse yourself fully in the local culture, try new cuisines, learn a few phrases in the local language, and engage with the natives whenever possible.  

This trip is not just about professional development; it's about personal growth and expanding your worldview. Additionally, be prepared for surprises and unexpected adventures. Some of the most memorable moments often arise from spontaneous experiences or deviations from the planned itinerary.  

Finally, don't forget to savour every moment and do bring home a bunch of souvenirs to reminisce about your unforgettable journey.

Full-Time 2024 MBA student, Teresa Gomes

About me

From the City of Joy – Kolkata in India, my path to Imperial College London was shaped by a diverse blend of experiences and a passion for finance. After completing my degrees in Economics, I ventured into the fintech world before finding my calling in India's largest public sector bank, State Bank of India. 

When it came to selecting a programme to propel my career growth, Imperial's reputation as a top-ranked university combined with London's position as Europe's financial hub made it an obvious choice. The opportunity to tap into Imperial MBA's global perspectives, practical experiences, and innovative resources proved immensely appealing.