- IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Leadership

“The exclusivity of IMD makes it special”

Pedro Augusto Kniphoff chooses IMD to develop his leadership skills
February 2018

Brazil-born Pedro Augusto Kniphoff was looking to expand his horizons. After almost a decade with the food conglomerate BRF S.A., where he rapidly worked his way up from credit to high-level international treasury, he decided that the time was right to start afresh with an MBA.

“After working abroad, including as CFO for the African region, and travelling extensively, I was offered a senior position in Brazil, but I didn’t want to go back, especially in the midst of a crisis.”

The choice of IMD for his MBA came easily to Pedro. The school was highly recommended by two Vice Presidents in his company and the class profile fit his wishes: small and multicultural. He also appreciated the average length of professional experience, which was higher than in other top-tier business schools.

“I preferred to be with more mature students, it made more sense. And I much preferred being in a class of 90.”

After deciding to pursue an MBA and being accepted, he says that the financial support he has received with IMD’s Stewart Hamilton scholarship is incredibly helpful: “I was emotionally happy about being chosen.”

Pedro admits that a career in finance was not his original choice. When he graduated from university with a diploma in international relations, a new and exciting course at the UFRGS (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul) where he studied, he expected the market to be waiting for him with open arms.

But there was no market, so he turned to diplomacy instead because of his love for languages and other cultures, realizing in time that diplomacy was not for him either.

“I needed greater speed of working and didn’t want to wait years for things to happen: I recognized that my profile was better geared to the private sector.”

His introduction to finance came by joining the international food company BRF S.A. where he flourished, eventually learning to deal in hard-core treasury, cash flow management and FP&A, without being either an accountant, or a financier. He was known as “the problem solver”, who could come up with the answers that fit best.

“I don’t like normalcy,” he says by way of an explanation.

Pedro says that he has learned as much in the month he has been in the IMD MBA program than he did over a year and a half in one of the finest post graduate courses that he attended in his own country.

Asked to define what he appreciates most about IMD so far, he mentioned the diversity of opinions and cultures, the level of experience of the candidates and its exclusivity, which, he believes is what makes it special.

“With 43 different nationalities in our class, I really appreciate our exchanges and different ways of thinking.”

“Don’t come looking for theories you can find in books though, IMD is more about acquiring the important subskills that make good leaders.”

Pedro likes being out of his comfort zone and explains that developing his leadership skills after three years in leadership positions is what he aspires to gain, with an eye to securing a position somewhere on this side of the Atlantic.

“I like the challenge of working in very different environments.”
Every year, IMD’s MBA program enrolls 90 mature individuals, with an average work experience of 7 years, broad international exposure and recognized leadership potential. They invest 11 months of rigorous work to acquire a solid and actionable education that is research-based but practice-focused. They work with coaches and analysts to develop themselves and each other. We offer a state-of-the-art career counselling process and access to IMD’s community of business executives and corporate sponsors. At the end, we develop leaders who have a desire to make a positive impact in the world.