Brazil: the new frontier

Having worked in some difficult business locations I know the value of having somebody do some good upfront research which identifies not only the market dynamics but importantly the business culture or business philosophy likely to be encountered in a complex market.
Brazil, because it’s one of the world’s fastest growing markets, promises wonderful opportunities for Australian exporters but in saying that, it remains a very complex place in which to do business, with lots of unknown traps for the inexperienced exporter.
For five lucky Australian Institute of Export members upfront research into the Brazilian market is about to be the order of the day. In February 2012 five teams of students from the University of Sydney will be heading for Brazil to undertake a two week intense business project as part of their Masters’ degree. Each team comprising up to four final year students in Master of Management, Master of Marketing or Commerce will work with an Australian export company that has identified Brazil as a potential export opportunity.
From a university perspective the objective of the project is to provide students with real life business experience along with the opportunity to prove skills within a professional environment. From a business perspective the assignment will provide the five participating companies with a skilled resource to undertake research and provide solutions/outcomes by way of a professional consulting.
All that sounds pretty straight forward and exciting, but as Academic Advisor Professor Sid Grey puts it, “it won’t be a walk in the park or two weeks taking in the sights of Rio, it’s going to be full on in Brazil and during the lead up which essentially starts now”. Briefings in fact started this week. These briefings will be followed by visits by the students to all the companies involved, meeting  the key people and getting a thorough understanding of the company, the products, the competitive advantage and of course their financial ability to meet the likely demands of building a business in Brazil. At the end of the project, students will be required to deliver a presentation and submit a report for assessment.
As one would expect there was strong interest from Australian companies wanting to be involved. Submissions were assessed by key University personnel who will be involved in supervising the project from start to finish. On the final list is a really diverse range of companies all with great potential and all providing the students with a wide range of challenges. The five Institute members involved are, Flip Screen Australia, a Wagga Wagga based company in industrial screening, whose key interest is the mining sector.  Well known and highly successful coffee company from Castle Hill in Sydney, Gloria Jeans Coffees International, award winning and well know wine company McWilliams Wines, Taree based commercial boat builder Stebercraft, who design and build craft for the police, armed services and emergency services and surf and streetwear company Zanerobe.
What is really pleasing about this project is the value it adds to both parties. Students will get enormous benefit from working on real projects and delivering business outcomes. The companies involved will naturally receive professional research and between them I’m sure strong relationships will evolve.
And given the success of the Brazil project the University of Sydney is planning similar projects through the Australian Institute of Export in China and India in 2012.
With all the difficulties being faced by exporters, cut backs by Government for programs that drive our export growth, it’s really refreshing to see this sort of initiative from Sydney Uni. We wish Sid and his team a safe and successful trip to Brazil and perhaps we will see a few export winners a little further down the track.
Ian Murray
Executive Director
Australian Institute of Export