Wal-Mart Brazil executive credits IMD experience
Marcelo Vienna of Brazil believes his Executive MBA at IMD earned back in
2001 served as the roadmap for career advancement with the world's leading retailer - Wal-Mart. He hasn't stopped
utilizing IMD as a platform for knowledge. In June 2008 Vienna participated in the Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) program and he regularly engages in learning with
colleagues from his Executive MBA class.
Vienna possessed a strong background in retailing, acquired in the start up of Wal-Mart operations in Brazil
and in consulting with Accenture, prior to taking on his Executive MBA at IMD. But he wanted to take his career to
a higher level and complete the circle of his development by working in an operational role. Upon completing his
Executive MBA, Vienna was promoted to various managerial positions in Wal-Mart Brazil ranging from retail to human
resources. He was recently promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the Wholesale Division. Vienna credits his
Executive MBA at IMD for personal development and instilling in him the thirst for continuous learning. These two
attributes have been pivotal for Vienna in his roles with Wal-Mart.
"The program helped me to better understand myself and my abilities," he said. "I was constantly challenged and
exposed to different topics in the course of discussions with my peers and through the various assignments.
Consequently, I was able to better learn how to learn. In a company like Wal-Mart, we need to always seek
knowledge and new ideas, and IMD has been influential for me in this process."
Vienna was just 32 years of age when he started the Program for Executive Development (PED), a prerequisite for
enrolling in the Executive MBA. The average Executive MBA participant is 38 years of age. Ironically, Vienna had
the choice of enrolling in either the MBA or Executive MBA program at IMD. "As I had a newborn child at home, the
Executive MBA gave me the flexibility that was necessary at that time in my life," he explained.
Discovery Expeditions to Ireland, China and Silicon Valley provided unique learning on global issues for
Vienna. Seeing the successful Irish economic model up close through dialogue with stakeholders and visits to a
range of companies in Dublin enabled Vienna to gain a perspective applicable to Brazil's current status as an
emerging market. Vienna was able to see the importance of transferring company culture into a country culture in
Shanghai. This correlates to Wal-Mart's recent strategy of allowing for localization of stores based on the
The Silicon Valley expedition was a source of career impact for Vienna through a deep dive into IDEO, one of
the world's top product design firms. The deep dive focused on IDEO's methodology for brainstorming and rapid
prototyping. Using the same process in his current role with Wal-Mart Brazil, Vienna developed the cash &
carry, a type of operation within the wholesale sector in which goods are sold to professionals from a wholesale
warehouse operated on a self-service basis. He is now exporting many ideas to the expansion of cash & carry
"The hands-on assignments during the Executive MBA equipped me with tools that I could bring back home to
Brazil and utilize at Wal-Mart immediately," he said. "Cash & carry is now in its third year. It has been
important in fostering a culture of innovation for us at Wal-Mart. We need to grow it internally, but also venture
into new challenges abroad, particularly as Brazil becomes more of a global player."
Running a model during the Executive MBA program based on low cost competition in which Vienna analyzed "profit
or growth" and "cost or differentiation" dilemmas also offered deep insights. "My Executive MBA helped me
understand how to run a cost efficient business that is relevant to the customer yet different than the
From Discovery Expeditions to assignments and interaction with peers, Vienna feels the entire program gave him
the tools to succeed in his current managerial role. In conclusion, he stated, "I would not have been able to take
on the different challenges that I face everyday in my job had I not come to IMD."