Each year, IMD Business School Executive MBA cohorts get to trek to far-flung emerging markets as part of the Discovery Expedition. After absorbing the vibrant cultures of India and Vietnam, the EMBAs are set to explore buzzing business hub Brazil this month from the 8th to the 14th of April. 

Guided by knowledgeable faculty and local business leaders, they will study the country’s economy but also Brazil’s society. Trips to companies abound, and an exploration of the cultural, economic and political context in which they operate. 

The purpose of the trek is to beef up their knowledge of global business and translate that new-found learning into their own companies back home, wherever that may be. 

In April the EMBAs will visit São Paulo, Brazil’s vibrant financial center and one of the world’s most populous cities, with famed cultural institutions and rich architecture. They will go to São José dos Campos, the air-space “capital” of Brazil economy, and will have the opportunity to visit the local technological park and Embraer. They will also explore Rio de Janeiro, with its sprawling favelas and raucous ‘Carnaval’ festival. 

But the EMBAs will not be there to sample the touristic sites (though there will be time for that) — they will take lectures, crack case studies and enjoy company visits, interviews and a tackle final team assignment. 

On April 12 the class will visit Shell and meet a VP of the deep-water oilfields, home to the oil spill disaster of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. They will also explore innovation in Brazil from the perspective of local tech pioneers such as Movile, known as the “Tencent of Latin America” for its suite of online and delivery services. 

Brazil’s big export markets, including sugar and ethanol, and agribusinesses will also be explored via presentations from executives from the industry and related associations, including the CEO of UNICA. 

During the week, the cohort will also meet local alumni for a networking session and a presentation by Prof. Carlos Braga on the topic “Donald Trump and the world economy.” 

The IMD Alumni Club Brazil is a bustling community of graduates working in the region that is led by Diego Barreto, who leads business development of Ingresso Rápido, the marketplace leader of live entertainment ticketing in Brazil. 

A final challenge awaits the EMBAs in Brazil. The cohort will be asked to assess and solve a management issue of a local company. 

Each EMBA team was assigned a Host Company in January with whom they have been working with for the last few months, on a key strategic issue or opportunity for the Host Company in Brazil. The teams will meet with their Host, and also with customers and other stakeholders while they are in Brazil. Then, on the last day they will present their analysis and recommendations to senior managers from the Host Company, based on the data they have gathered and their analysis. 

Then they will outline an action plan of conditional moves that management can execute via a presentation to their “client”. 

When the EMBAs are not deep in case studies and management challenges, they will take in Brazil’s warm climate and culture, including sipping cocktails at Copacabana Palace.