Brazil That Works

Recently, the Economist put America That Works on its cover. In Brazil, the news magazines often get tired of reporting on the latest scandals and do the same thing. In fact, my namesake, Stephen Kanitz, used to have a blog called O Brasil que da certo. (The Brazil that comes out right.)

Curitiba (capital of Parana State with around 2 million residents) is often used as an example for forward-thinking urban planning and transportation thanks to the ideas of Mayor Jaime Lerner (Curitiba’s former mayor who went on to become governor of the state of Parana) and his well-oiled PR machine. The 60-plus mid-size cities with population of more than 250 thousand but less than a million are pointed out as the destination alternatives for those overburdened by traffic jams, noise, pollution and reputation for violence in the larger metro areas. Florianopolis (capital of Santa Catarina, with about 500 thousand people) is well known as a tourist destination and for having good beaches and a reasonable standard of living.

In terms of education, USP (University of Sao Paulo) is ranked in the top 200 best schools of higher education. More specifically, USP and other universities have top level professors and researchers in myriad fields. Google, for example, looked at the productivity of my alma mater UFMG (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), especially its Computer Science and decided to establish its main Latin American engineering center there. Likewise FAAP (Fundacao Armando Alvares Penteado) and FDC (Fundacao Dom Cabral) have top-rated management and business programs.

Brazilian agriculture excels in certain areas and EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria) has had perhaps its most notable success in doing the basic research that has transformed Brazil’s center west into a major agricultural region in just the last 25 years. This has propelled Brazil into a leadership position in the production of soybeans and other agricultural commodities. Brazil’s forest sector has also grown into the world’s fourth largest producer of pulp for paper, tissue and other uses from planted eucalyptus stands.

Business wise, major privately owned Brazilian corporations are successful internationally. Odebrecht and its Braskem subsidiary stand out for their successful operations in many countries around the world, including the United States. Brazilian construction companies build major roads, dams, and civil works in both the developing and the so called developed world.

Given the complexity of doing business in Brazil, successful executives forged in Brazil find management positions with relative ease outside of the country. Brazilian executives, such as Eike Batista, have gained fame and notoriety but other executives, less prominent in the press have been perhaps more successful. Examples include Jorge Paulo Lemann and his partners Marcel Herrmann Telles and Carlos Alberto Sicupira who purchased Burger King, Heinz, and Budweiser as well as purportedly teaching the ropes of Brazil to Warren Buffet.

There are many more examples of a “Brazil That Works”. In fact, I like to say that Brazil has at least one paragon of excellence in every field. Roberta Close is one of the best examples…haha!

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