Ser Brasileira (Being Brasilian)


Amanda Wu, MBA ’14, writes about her summer internship with a high-tech firm in São Paulo, Brazil.

Amanda Wu, MBA ‘14

By Amanda Wu, MBA ‘14

The opportunity to be independent, to learn about a new culture, and to push yourself beyond boundaries are important lessons that prepare an MBA student for the future. But encountering them during a summer internship was something I did not expect. What I had in Brazil was a life changing adventure that was beyond any imagination, and, thus far, the best decision in my life.

I arrived into São Paulo, on June 1 in the beginning of winter. The concept of winter in São Paulo is similar to that of Ithaca summers (75 degrees Fahrenheit/ 24 Celsius). Brazil gave me a sense of comfort. During my initial visit on the Brazil trek six months prior to my internship, I was instantly intrigued. The typical perception of Brazil is one of beautiful beaches, samba, futbol, and caipirinhas. What most people fail to think about is that Brazil is on the path to becoming an international powerhouse—a country with an abundance of natural resources, a real that is getting stronger, and a country that is slated to host both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Through the trek in January 2013, I saw how Brazilian companies are shaping the world and how an emerging market can better enhance the efficiency of a developed market. While I was inspired to pursue an internship there, the true turning point was receiving an opportunity through on-campus recruiting to join a major multinational bank—and turning it down. While many MBA students may call me “louca” for turning down the offer, I was following my heart to Brazil. Three weeks later, hard work and luck played its part. I received an invitation from the nonprofit organization Endeavor Global to become part of the “eMBA program” and to work onsite for 10 weeks with one of its high-impact entrepreneurs, Acesso Digital. I immediately knew this opportunity was tailored for me.

Acesso Digital is a B2B technology solutions leader in document digitalization and offers a solution to scan, organize, and store digital documents. Initially, I thought Acesso was just like any technology company, but little did I know that they had a bigger dream. That dream is to become the “most admired company in Brazil” and I am inspired to help Acesso achieve it.

Acesso Headquarters

My project was to bring a new perspective to the company’s entrepreneurs and develop new business opportunities. During the course of the project, it became evident that the courses I selected at Johnson had well prepared me, especially Management Cases and Competition in Emerging Markets. With the skills acquired in these two classes during my spring semester, I was able to methodically think through Acesso’s business development challenges, in the context of an emerging market landscape.

Acesso understands the importance of digitalization and partners with its clients to help streamline internal processes and to revolutionize the corporate culture away from paper. But, with the rapid pace of technology advances in Brazil, this process will become obsolete, and thus the challenge. Through hosting client conferences, brainstorming sessions with the leadership team and employees, and meeting with industry leaders, it became evident that the next path for Acesso is to restructure its product offering. In the end, the result presented to the leadership team consisted of five innovative product ideas, which included business opportunities in new industries, repackaging the current product offering, and a completely new perspective of how Acesso can market its product.

To top it off, I was interviewed by Brazil’s news television station, Globo News for the Conta Corrente segment! The segment discusses how students from outside of Brazil are being hired to foster innovation and organizational changes within Brazilian companies.

Looking back on my experience in Brazil, I think about the lessons I learned and the impact on Acesso. While I may not be able to predict the future, what I do know is that I will lead everyday with three goals: passion, purpose, and change: work because I am passionate about it and for what it stands for; do with purpose because it will benefit the greater good. And change, because I can make a difference. Muito obrigada Brasil. Eu vou pensar do Brasil todos os dias, grande beijos!