UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
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Global Business Project provides unique access to corporations and business executives in Brazil

As Brazil’s global economic influence grows, companies doing business in and with Brazil are playing an increasing role in UNC CIBER’s Global Business Project (GBP).

“As the Brazilians are fond of saying, Brazil is no longer a ‘sleeping giant,’ but rather very much ‘awake’ and a very important mover and shaker in today’s world,” says GBP program director Lynne Gerber.

“In addition to being the world’s sixth-largest economy, Brazil is a vibrant democracy, has achieved energy independence and is one of the world leaders in alternative energy exploration/generation. Brazil is also sponsoring the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016,” says Gerber.

In 2013, seven of 12 GBPs will be with companies in or doing business with Brazil. The other five are split among China and India.

GBP is an action-based learning course for MBAs that pairs senior executives from international corporations with MBA teams from around the globe to address real-world challenges. Teams work virtually first in the United States, then on the ground in Brazil, China or India.

Cherise Barsell, a second-year Kenan-Flagler MBA, says the GBP offered an opportunity unlike any other in business school to hone her management skills.

 “Working with fellow MBAs from different business school showed me the differences in style and curriculum between individuals and universities. I learned how to identify the strengths and weaknesses of my team members and how to more effectively manage client relationships,” says Barsell, who worked for Grupo RBS, a large media company in southern Brazil in 2012.

“Our team’s challenge was to reverse declining revenues for TVCOM, a local broadcaster, and we worked directly with top management to restructure their revenue management. Our recommendations were well received and many have already been implemented,” says Barsell.

While GBP students gain international business experience and an opportunity to work with talented MBAs from diverse backgrounds, GBP companies gain a fresh, high-quality perspective on business challenges from the world’s best and brightest MBAs.

“Our experience with the GBP was very worthwhile,” says Fabio Piltcher, director of marketing for the Canoas branch of AGCO South America, located in Canoas, Brazil. AGCO is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment. The GBP team was assigned to help strategize merchandising of AGCO apparel, an important aspect of AGCO branding.

“We provided our team of students with a well-defined project that was already in progress, which provided them with the opportunity to develop their consultancy skills in a real-world situation. In return, they brought academic insight to the project. And because this was their only assignment, they could bring a more aggressive approach to the project. It was a two-way street that was valuable to the students and to AGCO,” says Piltcher.

Other GBP projects included a challenge by Amgen, the largest biotechnology company in America, to develop a new supply chain strategy after acquiring a company in Brazil. LORD Corporation challenged its GBP team to identify and document key hurdles and requirements for an acquisition in the oil and gas segment in Brazil. And GE-South America used GBP MBAs to investigate options for entering alternative energy production in Brazil, resulting in recommendations for an optimum strategy and timeline roll out.

Monsanto, PPM Syngenta, P&G and Teevo also participated in the Brazil segment of the GBP program in 2012.

Since its inception in 2008 through 2013, 88 Kenan-Flagler students and 65 companies will have participated in the GBP. More than a third of the companies have engaged teams for multiple years and several have extended internship and job offers to MBA students as a result of their positive experience with the GBP.

The GBP is held each year from mid-March through May, with some pre-project work conducted in February. Students interested in the 2014 GBP may begin applying in September 2013.

Students interested in knowing more about GBP should contact GBP program manager Debbie Williams at drw@unc.edu or (919) 962-8840.

Prospective clients should contact program director Lynne Gerber at mlg@unc.edu or (919) 962-2684.