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BSM Week 1: Rio de Janeiro

Despite the busy schedule on the Business Study Mission in Brazil, Philipp took some time to answer our questions about the first week in Rio de Janiero:

1) Why did you sign up for the study mission?
I decided to participate in the study mission, because it was a great opportunity to get key insights into Brazil. St.Gallen has partnered with one of the most reputable universities in Brazil, organised respected guest speakers and lined up numerous insightful company visits, all of which made the study mission very attractive. Specifically I wanted to understand how Brazil had developed from an agricultural hinterland to become the world’s fifth largest economy. I realised that better insights into the cultural, political and economic landscape of this country will be vital as the BRIC nations becoming increasingly important in our world. In addition I was hoping to identify possible investment and expansion possibilities and build networks which might be useful, depending on my job after the MBA.

2) What is your first impression of Rio?
The city is much larger than expected. The latest oil & gas discoveries have added new dynamics to the economy and in combination with the upcoming Olympics and World Cup contribute to the already buzzing city. Apart from the economic side, the city offers amazing beaches and night-life but also plenty of cultural and social challenges. Together this makes the city a vibrant and exciting place.

3) What was the perspective given by the Police Pacification Unit on their role in their Favelas?
There has been much discussion about the way the policy reclaimed Rio’s favelas from drug lords and gangs. The Police Pacification Unit is now tasked to bring back normal life to the favelas, guarantee safety and encourage entrepreneurship. It seems like government has taken many measures to improve the lives of people living here. It is no wonder that Brazil has been one of the few countries able lower its GINI coefficient, as income levels for the poor have grown at China-like levels.

4) What’s next?
Next week we will be in Sao Paulo – the largest city in the southern hemisphere with an economy larger than that of Argentina. Here the economic power of Brazil is concentrated and I am curious to see how it differs to Rio de Janeiro.