Gaining Momentum and Continuing Forward

Portuguese Language Lab continued ahead this past week with a focus on being courteous with strangers while building on the introductions learned the first day of class. For any new students coming to the class, I made sure to review the conversation learned last week along with any unfamiliar vocabulary words.

Students listen and repeat phrases and words  in Portuguese

Students listen and repeat phrases and words in Portuguese.

I found from feedback from students that allowing for thorough understanding and continued repetition was more helpful, so I tried to structure the second class with as much verbal practice as possible. Having a hypothetical conversation between multiple people for example, is an excellent way for my peers to hear how language may be used between Brazilians in Manaus.

A written conversation for students to practice in front of the class.

A written conversation for students to practice in front of the class.

Although a concern I have is incorporating different activities into the classes, the short timespan available and need for repetition have resulted in the visible improvement from a pre-constructed conversation. For the next three classes, students can expect our time to be focused on pronunciation and communicating as clearly as possible.

New arrivals to the Language Lab practice asking how to get around in an unfamiliar place.

New arrivals to the Language Lab practice asking how to get around in an unfamiliar place.

I ended the class around 8pm and brought out snacks that would perhaps lighten the mood and give all an idea of everyday tastes experience in Brazil. A trip to a local Brazilian market the day before allowed the class to be briefly immersed in an aspect of Brazil’s culture. Even as I passed out food, I received shouts of thanks or as Brazilians would say “obrigado”, which demonstrated the effectiveness of our practice sessions.

Students enjoy Brazilian treats at the end of class while conversing.

Students enjoy Brazilian treats at the end of class while conversing.

My goal for each class if for students to walk away each Wednesday being able to remember at least one aspect of the class. So far, the class has improved from the very first to the second in the flow, so hopefully the trend continues for the benefit of the students.

Goiaba (guava) juice with Guaraná (Brazilian pop) and light wafers filled with strawberries, coconut, dulce de leche and peanut butter.

Goiaba (guava) juice with Guaraná (Brazilian pop named after a local fruit) and light wafers filled with strawberries, coconut, dulce de leche and peanut butter.

 

Infrastructure Needs to Talk: EMGL Blog October 28th, 2014

This week for our Emerging Market Global Lab class to Brazil, we had the honor and privilege of presenting to Mark Locker, who works for The Ohio Department of Transportation. Each group focused on the transportation and logistical concerns when exporting a product to Brazil; the feasibility of using dry ice to preserve perishable and time-sensitive frozen vegan burgers as well as the advantages and disadvantages to flying the goods by airfreight in comparison to shipping by boat.

Mr. Locker offered invaluable information that was specifically relevant to the product of a particular group. He spoke at length about the future capabilities of 3D printers and how some companies are making them competitively priced with regular printers. He also touched upon how baby formula is a key product to export especially to emerging markets like Brazil because the native population has increasing concerns about the health and wellness of their babies. Mr. Locker talked about the insurance required to export a product to Brazil along with which Incoterms the exporting company chooses as a brand new company exporting to a foreign country.

Incoterms stands for International Commercial Terms and they are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) that are widely used in International commercial transactions or procurement processes. Incoterms state what costs the exporter will cover as well as what the importer will cover. As a new exporter, it is wise to take on most of the responsibility and pay for majority of the exportation costs if possible. This is because the exporting company needs to establish a strong relationship with the importers before they negotiate new Incoterms.

3D Printing Group

3D Printing Group

Only three of the five groups gave their presentations because after each group presented, we got a myriad of suggestions regarding our logistics and transportation plan. This proved to be very helpful because every week for the last 4 weeks, the groups have been giving micro “check- in” presentations about one certain topic regarding the exportation process, such as legal considerations, transportation concerns, or a market overview. Even though doing a new presentation on a completely different subject every week is a lot of work, the groups have enjoyed the fast-paced atmosphere because it is very realistic to what a real-life job could be like in the corporate world.

Luna Burger Group

Luna Burger Group

We spent the last portion of the class with Mr. Locker talking about why transportation and infrastructure are imperative to grow the United State’s economy as well as other countries’ economies. The students were shocked to find out that over 60% of CEO’s in the U.S. had never been to a port where his or her goods were being exported; they did not even know the process of getting their own goods to another country. This is why what we are learning is so essential to our future careers; we will be able to offer assistance with the complicated export process and provide reputable references where the company can find more information regarding exportation. Even some very successful companies do not have a solid handle on the help services available when exporting a good.

In the last few minutes of class, Mr. Locker handed out some fun baseball “transportation” cards with essential facts about the presence and future of transportation and freight in Ohio specifically. One would never guess that Ohio is the 7th largest exporting state in the country or that they are 4th in the country for the value of the goods shipped. Ohio has robust rail lines and is ninth in the nation for how many rail tons are moved in one year. In regards to air transportation, it is projected that 1.3 million tons will be flown out of Ohio by 2030.

It is clear that knowledge about transportation and logistics is a major stepping-stone for a company wanting to expand internationally, and if they do not take the time to learn about these essential topics, the transportation stepping-stone will turn into a tumbling roadblock. Mark left us with these powerful words of advise, “The infrastructure is here, it just needs to talk.”

Mark Locker talking to groups about transportation and logistic concerns when exporting a product to Brazil.

Mark Locker talking to groups about transportation and logistic concerns when exporting a product to Brazil.

First Time Teacher

Since I was eighteen I have been studying Spanish seriously, but last year while I was studying for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina I gained a great interest in Brazilian culture. Everyday that I was abroad, I was asked if I was Brazilian due to the lack of an Afro-population in the country and I was finally given the opportunity to take a Portuguese in the local university. I immediately fell in love with the language and have since taken it upon myself to become fluent in the next few years.

So when I got the opportunity to do an Emerging Markets Global Lab specifically to Brazil, it was a chance that could potentially combine my language abilities along with international  business and trade. In preparation for the trip to Manaus, Brazil which occupies the Zona Franca or Free Trade Zone, I was given the opportunity to teach my peers survival Portuguese.

Students gathered at the first Portuguese Language class

Of course I accepted and on October 22nd, I was teaching my first Portuguese language class to business students with no knowledge of the language. It ended up being a great first experience and I was even lucky enough to invite four natives of Brazil to observe while also assisting in pronunciation.

Three students from Emerging Markets class (to the right)  practicing conversation with an international student from Brazil (to the left).

Three students from Emerging Markets class (to the right) practicing conversation with an international student from Brazil (to the left).

Topics covered included: overview of the Portuguese alphabet where students viewed videos from Youtube and practiced spelling their names individually. I was then able to create a simple conversation that went over basic greetings for students to practice in front of the class like the phrase “Qual é o seu nome?” which means “What is your name?”.

Two students practicing an introductory conversation for their field study to Manaus.

Two students practicing an introductory conversation for their field study to Manaus.

I will admit that my expectations were set extremely high as I felt that students would aspire to deeply understand the language, but as I remember my first time learning a new language, it took much time, so I was able to learn that slowing down and allowing students to catch up would allow for a greater experience.

Individualized attention and feedback

Individualized attention and feedback.

For future classes, I just hope to improve little by little in teaching students the importance of language and perhaps diffusing preconceived notions held by other countries of Americans being unknowledgeable about other cultures. The skills learned in Emerging Markets will be invaluable.

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish: EMGL Blog October 21, 2014

The way one views a situation is like looking into a fish bowl; the perception and attitudes change as one moves to a different side of the bowl. From the left side, one might see deadly piranhas and a cluster of algae-sucking snails, while from the right side one might see a golden treasure chest and schools of rainbow fish. David Wilson, a lawyer at Kegler Brown, made this analogy between fish bowls and people’s viewpoint on a situation. He cautioned the students of the EMGL to take a global perspective on the world and try to understand where the other countries are coming from. It is easy to look at countries using protectionist measures to guard their producers from foreign competition and excessive imports and think this is wrong without realizing that many countries implement these practices, even countries that one would not think of.

Students watching other groups' presentations

Students watching other groups’ presentations

This advice proved very beneficial to our Emerging Market class because we were giving 5- minute presentations on the legal considerations an exporter must consider when exporting a good to Brazil. The considerations from group to group varied due to the diversity of products being exported. Groups exporting food products had to focus on labeling, ingredient and health requirements, while air conditioning units and 3D printer groups had to focus on obtaining multiple technological licenses to export their goods. After hearing all five groups present, the class realized that the requirements and procedures when exporting a product, especially to Brazil could be a long and arduous process with many obstacles and roadblocks along the way. Even with 20 undergraduate student brains’ researching legal considerations all week and contacting experts in this field, many essential steps were left out of all of the groups’ presentations. This just shows the in-depth knowledge one needs to acquire before exporting and even though it seems daunting, once the process is completely understood companies can benefit greatly from expanding their brand internationally.

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After each group gave their 5-minute spiel, two lawyers from Kegler Brown, David Wilson and Marcella Gurgel, were there to provide us with insight and advice about what we should do moving forward. Ms. Gurgel is a Brazilian native and offered valuable knowledge about the Brazilian legal system. She touched upon how the Brazilian legal system differs from the US and that is more formal. Due to the Civil Law system, Brazil has a plethora of laws and they can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on who is reading them because words have diverse meanings to different people. This has major implications for businesses because they need to strictly comply with the laws. Laws are subject to change, so it is essential that a business always review the new laws. Mr. Wilson offered very beneficial information as well; he encouraged us to find the best way to export our goods through trade treaties between certain countries to capitalize on the tax reductions included in these treaties. He also mentioned that a US export has to be cleared by the Department of State, Treasury and Commerce and the exporter should plan ahead to compensate for delays in registration. Mr. Wilson commented on the different ways to get the product to the buyer from securing a distributor to having people on exporting side deliver the goods. If a company uses a distributor, they have to give up some control of their brand and if the company decides to pivot in another direction in later years, it might pose a problem with the distributor if the licenses are in the distributor’s name. If this happens, the exporting company has to start the license registration process again.

The advice from both Ms. Gurgel and Mr. Wilson greatly helped the class learn about the legal considerations one must consider when exporting to Brazil. Everyone enjoyed hearing the insights of both lawyers from the US and from Brazil because it gave us  unique perspectives from two different sides of the fish bowl.

David Wilson explaining steps to export a product to Brazil.

David Wilson explaining steps to export a product to Brazil.

The (Not So) Hidden Benefits of Studying Abroad

It’s no secret that when you study abroad you get to see a different part of the world and experience so many new things that you never expected. What I didn’t realize was just how much I would get to see when I left Ohio at the end of August.  Not only have I gotten the opportunity to explore Germany and the area around where WHU is located, I have been able to travel to places that I’ve always wanted to visit.

This past weekend I travelled to Amsterdam and was able to see the Anne Frank house, something that I’ve wanted to do since I was in 3rd grade. I’ve also been able to hike in the Swiss Alps, see where the Sound of Music was filmed, visit Oktoberfest in Munich, the Berlin wall, Westminster Abbey, castles in Cardiff and so much more!  I never dreamed of being able to visit so many cities in such a short amount of time or see things that I’ve been reading about for years. Next stop is a tour of Italy where I get to hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius!

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At the East Side Gallery in Berlin

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In the mountains of Engelberg, Switzerland

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Castle in Cardiff, Wales

Yet another benefit that I didn’t realize before I studied abroad was how much these experiences are helping me prepare for future jobs and interviews. Just the other day there was a huge train strike in Germany and I couldn’t get home from where I was travelling and ended up having to find an alternate route home. I used this experience as a positive example of how I could adapt to change and respond under pressure in a skype interview a few days later; the recruiters loved that I had such unique experience and that I was able to incorporate seeing different pieces of the world into my education.

The people you meet while travelling have also been so interesting and something that was completely unexpected. There is such a variety of people in the accommodations I used at all these different places, from people in their mid-20s who quit their jobs to travel Europe for 9 months, to fellow study abroad students, to people from half-way around the world. The diversity is endless and such a wonderfully unexpected part of study abroad because you get to hear the world views of so many people.

There are many more benefits waiting to be discovered and I can’t wait to find every one of them!

Déjà vu and Buttercup Pumpkin with Amaretti Cookies: EMGL Blog October 14, 2014

Everyone knows how unpredictable Ohio weather can be and how it likes to act up at the worst possible times. Yesterday evening the thunderstorm apocalypse decides to conveniently hit the Ohio State campus at 5:00pm right before the students of the EMGL give their second round presentations on a product they wish to export to Brazil. Everyone was soaking wet from the knees down, but luckily black business pants do not show wetness. A few forgot their umbrellas and looked like they had just been in the Splash Zone at SeaWorld.

Class VIsitor Scott KuehnWhile everyone was drying off, a special guest appeared in the room with a mysterious box labeled “Jeni’s.” Everyone within a 1000-mile radius of Columbus, Ohio knows what that means; the world’s best ice cream. The students perked up when they noticed that box and saw who was carrying it. Some recognized him from previous experiences in other classes and programs. It was the sales director from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Scott Kuehn. He came to the class to watch our presentations and provide us with feedback about what we did well and what we could improve upon. Some of the comments he made regarded the feasibility of exporting a product with dry ice or whether our products were actually manufactured and produced in Ohio. One would think that after presenting last week, the groups would say the same thing this week, but that was far from the case. Two of the five groups completely changed directions on the product they were exporting; one group went from Cheryl’s cookies to Abbott Nutrition’s Ensure shake and another group switched from Solar panels to Luna burgers.

Team Luna BurgersEach group touched upon a variety of topics they need to consider when exporting a product to Brazil like the present competitors, potential obstacles they will face as well as a regional market overview of Brazil. After the groups’ five minutes up, the rapid questions started again and the students were more prepared than last week with their knowledge about their specific product. There were not too many “gotcha” moments that stumped the students presenting. The audience was also not afraid to provide constructive criticism and advice for what could be approved upon. Some of the suggestions for improvement included maintaining more enthusiasm throughout the presentation to hold the audiences’ attention as well as not getting too hung up on the brand of the product, but focusing on the product itself. All of the groups took these comments in stride and appreciated the feedback on how they can progress in their presentation.

Team Baby Food

Class got out a little later than the designated time, but no one complained and everyone was very attentive the whole time. It did not hurt that Mr. Kuehn passed around Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for everyone in the room. We got cute little recyclable cups with three miniature scoops of Jeni’s latest and greatest creations; Buttercup Pumpkin with Amaretti Cookies, Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, and Lime Cardamom Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. No one grumbled about being a little damp from the rain while they were devouring these three delectable flavors.

Next week is round three of presentations, but instead of focusing on the market overview in Brazil, we are to look at the legal considerations of exporting our product to Brazil. We have special guests coming that are Kegler Brown Hill and Ritter International lawyers to offer us feedback on our legal considerations presentations. Hopefully, the students’ business suits dry from the thunderstorm apocalypse by next week so they can look sharp for round three presentations!

In the Shark Tank- EMGL Blog October 7th, 2014

Walking into the EMGL classroom on Tuesday evening was more like walking into the “Shark Tank” rather than a college classroom with desks, chairs and chalk boards. Shark Tank is a TV show series on ABC where hopeful entrepreneurs pitch their product ideas to wealthy venture capitalists such as Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary in hopes that the “sharks” will bite and invest in the product/company to help, grow or save the business. This sounds like an easy task; one goes in, pitches the product and then the sharks bite. Not so fast. After the pitch, the entrepreneur is bombarded with countless questions such as “What are your sales, plans for expansion, production costs etc. The questions come in like fireballs and many entrepreneurs cannot dodge the fiery flame. More often than not, the venture capitalists chew up and spit out the entrepreneurs, investing only in a select few that prove to be passionate, well educated and motivated. Watching the show in the comfort of one’s living room with a bowl of popcorn and feet propped up on the table is completely different than actually being submerged the in Shark Tank trying to dodge the fireballs of questions.

For this Tuesday’s class, the EMGL students were the ones in the “Shark Tank.” They were divided into groups of four to work on a group export project where the directions were announced orally two weeks prior. The main goal was to find three products that were manufactured in Ohio and could be exported to Brazil. It was fascinating that none of the groups thought of duplicate products; every group had unique ideas and this made listening to the presentations even more enjoyable. Product ideas ranged from candy buckeyes and Cheryl’s cookies to 3-D printing and single air – conditioning units. The groups presented for 5 minutes on the products they chose followed by a 10-minute question and answer session where the class actively participated and interrogated the group on everything from the logistics of getting the product to Brazil to how the group would differentiate their product from the already present competition in Brazil. Most groups realized that to answer these specific types of questions, they were going to have to delve deeper into the research of the products. The 15- minute hot seat was a valuable experience for all of the students involved. It pushed our boundaries and forced us to critically and objectively consider the complexity of exporting a product to Brazil.

Many might assume the “Shark Tank” simulation is a one-time experience, but in the EMGL one cannot escape the hot seat. Next week, each group will present again on the chosen product that the class voted for out of the three product options. One of the topics Mr. Sword urges the groups to consider when researching further is the market overview for the product in Brazil as well as the regionalized market overview to see where the best locations are for the product. We also need to investigate the market opportunities and challenges facing us on a regional level. To do this, we have to conduct market research and check out the competition for our product as well.

Next week the stakes will be raised because it will not just be the students and professor throwing the fireball questions at the groups, but actual business professionals asking the questions. This is an enormous opportunity for the students to learn and gather information from inside sources that cannot be found elsewhere. Shark Tank round 2 starts next week and hopefully the business professionals “bite” and support the exportation of the groups’ products to Brazil.

When in Milan

It is crazy to think I have already been in Milan for a month! Time has been flying and I have gotten to know so much about the city, the culture and Bocconi. It has been an uphill battle adapting to the European lifestyle and specifically the Italian style of life ( which is super laid back and slow paced). I am going to share 5 tips I wish I would have known before coming to Italy that would have made my life a whole lot easier upon arrival.

1. Bring your patience. I know from past experience that Europeans do things much slower than us in the United States but I was extremely unprepared for the Italian Bureaucracy. To do anything here you need about 3 hours of your time and most likely will have to go to 4 different offices. Make sure you leave plenty of time between appointments/ activities as I guarantee it will take you much longer than you anticipated to accomplish anything!

2. Bring lots and lots of photocopies of everything. I made multiple copies of my passport and visa as well as health insurance card. However I would advise you to make photocopies of all the documents you will need for your permit of stay (such as your proof of financial means and your acceptance letter). You will need to present many copies and it is much easier if you just bring them with you.

3. Do research on things to do in the area/ trips you plan on taking ahead of time. I did some research on Milan and destinations I wanted to visit while in Italy but am coming to realize I did not do enough! I can guarantee that the first few weeks you are here you will be stressing to plan trips with your new friends for your weekends and it is much easier if you research ahead of time. You will cause yourself less stress and that is so much better in the long run.

4. Learn basic Italian. Though many people say Milan is the most English-friendly city in Italy I would have to disagree. I know very little Italian and most people here know very little English making it quite hard to communicate. Usually if you know a little bit of Italian, the people will work with you but you need to make the honest effort. My advice would be to buy an English to Italian dictionary and look over key words and phrases.

5. Don’t forget to see Milan while studying here. I think most people are so focused on planning weekend trips and getting to Munich or Barcelona that they forget to take time to actually get acclimated to Milan. I advise that when here you get to know the city and experience everything it has to offer. Go to local restaurants and visit downtown as much as possible. There are so many amazing restaurants and activities right in Milan that always get overlooked because you are so worried about leaving! Make time to see the city!

The Class Structure in France

Never in my life did I think I would be able to sit still for 4 hours. The shock of the French system of classes is hard to take in when it varies so significantly from the American system. I had been used to taking a few classes a day for periods from an hour to two for the three years of my education. However, in France, the material is much more concentrated. We take one or two courses all day for 2 blocks of 3-4 hours. My easy days begin at 9am where I work till 12pm. Then, we have lunch for two hours, and class resumes from 2-5pm. We are usually lucky to get a 10minute break in this period, in which everyone runs to the coffee machine. The classes are mostly lecture based or group project based. There are a lot of group presentations throughout the class, and we are asked to evaluate one another on the spot. Our homework is generally reading chapters and cases, and I have yet to have any mathematical work. Additionally, my school, Audencia Ecole de Management, has a very special structure. For the first two weeks, we only take elective classes (1 or 2) and this tends to leave your schedule more open. However, afterwards the core or major classes begin. I am currently enrolled in the Consulting Major program which is one of the more rigorous and project oriented. The program is incredibly interesting, and I feel that I was able to learn a lot about the industry which I have never had much exposure to in Fisher. It is nice to apply the analytical skills we acquire throughout our classes at Fisher to the problems we are faced with. My class is composed of 2/3 international students and 1/3 French which also leads to a lot of interesting inputs and learnings. All in all, the Audencia classes have proved challenging but very valuable! We are presenting to a large consulting firm, Capgemini in just a few short weeks! I cannot wait for such an awesome opportunity.

This was my schedule for Week 4, within my Consulting Major

This was my schedule for Week 4, within my Consulting Major

Is Brazil the Next China? EMGL Blog October 1st, 2014

“Everyone always remarks on how Brazil is the next China, but now everyone is not so sure and there is a big question mark hovering over the country of Brazil.” This comment was made by Lina Vergara and Viviane Pereira from BMW Group Financial Services when they came and spoke with our EMGL: Brazil class about BMW’s operations in Brazil and their first- hand experiences conducting business in an emerging market like Brazil.

EMGL Photo1Ms. Vergara is originally from Argentina and Ms. Pereira is originally from Brazil, so they both brought differing perspectives regarding the status of Brazil. One gave an insider’s perspective while the other gave a perspective from the outside looking in. Not only did we learn the standard information about the BMW business in Brazil, but we also got to hear “less formal” stories that shed some light on how Brazilians behave and do business.
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For example, we learned that BMW came to Brazil in 1995 with 154 employees. In 2010, they started to produce/assemble BMW motorcycles in Manaus, Brazil. Motorcycles are popular in Brazil due to the heavy traffic; people can zip through the cars if they are on a motorcycle. Some might think Manaus, Brazil is an odd place to assemble the motorcycles, but the free trade zone in Manaus makes it a premium location. The motorcycles are then distributed to other parts of Brazil for purchase. Our two guests working for BMW financial services mentioned that the consumers in Brazil are much more traditional and prefer to own a car rather than lease it. It is these small differences that are fascinating to hear about.

Vergara and Pereira talked about the obstacles and opportunities to doing business in Brazil. Some roadblocks include lack of infrastructure, complex tax system and lack of trust in the legal system and some of the opportunities are favorable demographics, modern agriculture and large demanding consumer market.

On a less serious note, our guests elaborated on how important shopping in the United States is for Brazilians. They said when Brazilians come to the U.S. on business for BMW, they always block off an entire day where the Brazilians can go shopping at the malls and outlets. The people of Brazil like to shop in the United States for numerous reasons. One of them being that inflation is so high in Brazil that U.S. prices seem extremely low and cost three times less than what Brazilians are accustomed to. For example, the same pair of Nike tennis shoes sells for $500.00 in Brazil when it sells for only $60.00 in the U.S. Another reason shopping is so important is because “status” is highly valued by the people in Brazil. If they have the money to buy high- end consumer goods, they want to show that they can afford these luxuries.

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The students were also excited to hear from Pereira on her thoughts about the upcoming election. The three candidates running are Aécio, Dilma, and Marina. Aécio has a conservative and capitalistic platform, which favors the business sector. Dilma has a more socialist outlook and she focuses more on healthcare and social reforms. Marina took the place of Eduardo who passed away in a plane crash. She is new, fresh and the image for hope. She is different and potentially good, but also represents the unknown because her party has never been elected. Pereira also expressed her sadness about the outcome of the world cup. She said that Brazil was optimistic for the potential economic growth it would bring if Brazil won. The future of Brazil is still unknown, but Brazilians and businesses alike are hoping that Brazil can erase the “emerging market” title to become a force to be reckoned with in the global economy.