Student Voices: Getting the Global Experience in Sáo Paulo

by on November 17th, 2012

As part of the MBA@UNC program, all students attend at least two Global Immersions — high-impact experiences that merge learning and hands-on collaboration with networking. These weekend courses are held in cities around the world and each course is tied to the immersion location. Intense and broad in scope, every immersion weekend I attend leaves me with more in my toolkit than I had prior to attending. But beyond that, they are just fun!

I was initially drawn to the São Paulo Global Immersion for its topic: “Leading and Managing in a High Growth Environment” With the number of multinational corporations increasing, many business leaders find themselves competing in environments that vastly outpace anything they have dealt with in the past. I knew that the material presented would be relevant and instructive. The São Paulo immersion weekend surpassed my expectations.

Our schedules were full from the moment we arrived on Thursday. In the evening, we enjoyed a welcome social featuring Dean Jim Dean and local alumni. On Friday we attended two lectures which provided us with an economic overview of Brazil and insight into how we can cultivate talent in a high-growth environment. Because the São Paulo immersion group of 37 students was smaller than my last immersion group of 88 students, I had the opportunity to really get to know the other students. I  also reconnected with six of my cohort members and other friends I had made during the previous immersion I attended.

We spent the bulk of our time learning consulting frameworks and putting our new-found knowledge to the test through MBA@UNC’s first case competition. After meeting our new team members, we immediately began breaking down the lengthy case into its component parts. Though our group brainstorming session was technically over in the early evening, many groups continued their discussions over dinner.

We continued at an earnest pace on Saturday as the groups met over breakfast. After seven hours of collaboration, everyone was ready to present their cases to the judges. For me, the highlight of the case competition was watching the enthusiasm with which everyone approached the case and the creative solutions they applied. With six groups competing, no two presentations were alike. The competition was intense, and the final two teams faced off in front of Tarek Farahat, president, Procter & Gamble, Brazil, and the protagonist of the case. The icing on the cake came when my group won overall. (Go Team Stealth-Bombers!)

After a long weekend of hard work, useful takeaways, and plenty of pao de queijo, I was once again impressed with my MBA@UNC Global Immersion, and I left with a truly unforgettable experience. Up next: Chapel Hill in December!

About Ana-Laura Diaz: Ana-Laura is currently a practicing attorney living in the South Florida area. After attending UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate, she received her J.D. from the University of Miami. Her love for all things Carolina and the desire to expand her horizons led her to the MBA@UNC program, where she continues to be “Tar Heel bred.”

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