“Amazing potential……but you have to work around the hassle….”
That was the conclusion British businessman Jamie Macdonald-Murray gave tonight during his guest lecture at our client strategy seminar in Taiba.
The Dark Side of Doing Business in Brazil
Engage // Innovate invited Jamie up to Villa Vista Taiba for an informal keynote speech on the “other side” of doing business here in Brazil. “The Dark Side of Doing Business in Brazil” was the topic we challenged Jamie to discuss.
With six years of business experience in Brazil, Jamie has started, closed and developed a range of companies across industries. In the process he has made a series of invaluable experiences, experiences other foreign companies can learn from. Tonight he shared some of his stories with our Norwegian oil & gas client.
It’s who you know
Like in large parts of the world, personal relations rule supreme. Your ability to get in the door. To meet the right people and network with them is key. Without the relations, your project timeline can extend well into the horizon. According to Jamie, this requires a lot of facetime, long dinners, late night ‘meetings’ and the occasional vacation spent together. For our client, this was a clear message that investments in Brazil will require management to spend significantly more time than they are already doing.
Not one of the world’s top 200 universities
Education is a strategic area for Brazil’s future growth. But for the world’s fifth most populated country, education has long been a challenge. Today, significant investment is being done in the national educational system. But Brazil has a long ways to go. Private schools are growing quickly. And the last few years have seen a boom in privately run language schools teaching English. Jamie highlighted this trend by showing to the rise in private schools, where all subjects are taught in Portuguese in the morning and English in the afternoon. Compare this to the most recent “Times Higher Education” ranking, showing not a single Brazilian university in the world’s top 200, and Jamie’s conclusion, “it’s going to take a generation to get the education system right, but it’s coming”. Our Norwegian client got a reality check in terms of the level of competence they can expect when they start staffing up projects. The human capital challenge Brazil is facing is significant, and will limit economic growth for the next two to three decades.
Amazing potential….but learn the lingo
As Director of MDMY Jamie is heading up the development of real estate projects across Brazil. Following the economic growth over the last six years, Jamie sees amazing potential for the country. “The people at the top are genuinely interested in and open to attracting talented foreigners”, he believes. But, as always, adapting to local business culture can be challenging. “Knowing how to work around the bumps, all the hassle, is key to being successful in Brazil. Spending time here, investing in truly understanding how to get business done in the growth market Brazil is key to success”, according to our guest speaker.
And yes, learning the language is essential.
If you want to learn more about the recent and future economic development in Northeastern Brazil, we recommend “Catching up in a hurry“, from the Economist’s May 19th issue.