Management Education in Brazil: innovation with a focus on the future
Brazil is a young country, with a dynamic, multiracial society. Brazil has been showing over time why it is Latin America’s major country, with one of the world’s most promising markets. The country has a diversified middle-income economy with wide variations in development levels and mature manufacturing, mining and agriculture sectors; technology and services also play an important role and are growing rapidly. FIA Business School has graduated CEOs and business leaders in many industries and has been chosen by European CEO magazine as “The Most Innovative Business School in South America”.
FIA was founded in 1980 as a think tank and research center, studying business and public policy issues. Looking into the future has always been a characteristic of FIA’s approach to management. Profuturo, its Future Studies Centre, was created in 1980 to study the future of fuel ethanol in Brazil. Technological, managerial and social impacts were explored, and the success of this initiative led to futures oriented studies in transportation, biodiesel production, agro-industrial strategic planning, product development for base of pyramid markets, and a host of other management decisions oriented to create innovative business strategies.
As Brazil opened up to international competition in 1991, the Profuturo team launched the first Executive MBA course in Brazil. Besides local research in emerging markets, since 1995 FIA Executive MBA graduates must take two international study trips as part of their program, anticipating the business school trend towards providing a broader global educational experience. Every year since then, large groups of FIA students have taken regular study trips to places such as Europe, China, India, Dubai, South Africa, USA, and other South American countries.
In 2008 FIA launched the International MBAs taught entirely in English. In 2011 the institution launched Americas MBA for Executives, now in its third edition, a joint program with partner schools ITAM in Mexico, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and Vanderbilt University in the USA. Students from all four partner schools study at their home university in the first part of the program, and then meet in four intensive residencies in each participating country, to study, learn about business culture, and perform a real life consulting project in an international company. “The success of these initiatives has allowed FIA to attract international students, mainly from Europe, Asia and the USA”, says Renata Spers, Director of FIA International MBAs.
Another fundamental lesson from the very outset was a strong focus on societal issues, leading to a major emphasis on Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. This has created a lasting commitment to action by FIA students and alumni, who have given back to society by applying their management knowledge to over 650 charitable NGOs in the last 20 years.
Profuturo has sought to develop new approaches to problems that beset emerging markets and take faculty and students to share their views. FIA faculty has been developing, since 1984, scenarios and models that helped Brazilian companies to create products designed for low income people in emerging markets. More recently, Professor Renata Spers has studied the relationship between corporate foresight and the innovation process in companies operating in Brazil. Recent research results show how Brazilian companies have been applying future studies methods in the initial stages of innovation processes, in a structured way and achieving great results and generating competitive advantages, great value and innovation of products, processes and new business models.
In this way, FIA feels that it is helping develop not only capable managers, who are making companies in Brazil more globally competitive, but executives who will bring effective and concrete contributions to a better world.