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Revista Veja
December 11th, 1996

 

 


Veja Magazine Cover

 

Jose Alexandre Scheinkman

"The scientific education is becoming, steady and slowly the most important cultural baggage that a youth may bring to the working market. Learn very well mathematics and statistics. Have, at least, notions of how the natural world functions, the Darwin's theories , the physics, the cosmology. Without this, even a chat becomes difficult nowadays."

José Alexandre Scheinkman Head of the Department of Economy at the University of Chicago

 

Soraya Bittencourt

"It is good that one learns to like work as one likes sports and vacations. This is the only way to achieve total dedication and without total dedication one only reaches half the way. The competitive enterprises want to hire only those persons whose main objective in like is the work."

Soraya Bittencourt Director of the Interactive Media Division at Microsoft

 

Arminio Braga

"Some Brazilians will have to compete with foreigners, in Brazil, for a job. This is a natural consequence of the economic opening. In order to succeed, study English, mathematics, learn to express yourself clearly and in a logic way when talking and writing as well."

Armínio Braga Director and Partner of the Soros Fund in New York

 

Ciro Batelli

"Forget the Brazilian (jeitinho) way of doing things. This does not work. Use the Brazilian warmth and gentle way of being to get closer to people and to learn. Millions of Brazilian youths soon will be joining foreign well-succeeded enterprise structures. Those structures do not change. Adapt yourselves to them."

Ciro Batelli President of the Multinational Sodak In Las Vegas

 

Marcello Povoa

"Prepare yourself for a hard test every single day. Your abilities will be verified on a daily basis and whatever you have learned in school will be worth, at the most, during your first year as a professional. Request multidisciplinary curricula from your University. I could never imagine that one day I would need to know engineering, psychology and marketing. It was fundamental"

Marcello Póvoa Director of New Media at the Broadway Interactive Group, in New York

 

 

Global Brazilians
Some super professionals tell us how to succeed in the United States

By Eurípedes Alcântara, New York

The globalization requires from Brazil much more than just producing merchandises as good and cheap as those made in Malaysia and Germany. The global competition also implies a human aspect: that the Brazilian professionals also are able to command operations in large sized companies in any country. This theoretical possibility already is a reality.

The 50 year-old Brazilian Engineer Henrique Meirelles, born in the State of Goiás, for instance, was recently promoted to the world presidency of Bank Boston. Between salary and fringe benefits Meirelles is earning above 1 million dollars per year. This places him in the club of the 100 executives best paid in the United States. In that country there are other six Brazilians that, each in his specific area, are becoming more and more known. They are José Alexandre Scheinkman, Soraya Bittencourt, Armínio Fraga, Ciro Batelli, Ivo Perelman and Marcello Póvoa.

"Globalization is another opportunity given to Brazilians", says Scheinkman, a carioca, born in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, who lives in the United States, where he has built a first level academic carrier.

The School that he directs, the Department of Economy at the University of Chicago is the institution that has more Nobel Prizes on Economy in all the history of the prize. Two winners of the Nobel Prize work in the Department headed by Scheinkman. These six Brazilians left the country to work abroad, throwing themselves in a strange soil as if they were leads of the Brazilian culture exploring the conditions of life in another planet. Their success is also the success of Brazil or, at least, of certain islands of excellence within the Brazilian education system. They are the human proof that the super-exposition of the Brazilian economy to outer ambiences is not to be feared. Even though their carriers cannot be copied, they are the evidence that being Brazilian is not an obstacle, and in many cases, it may be a shortcut to success in an open and competitive economy. Soraya Bittencourt, a 35-year-old carioca, born in Rio de Janeiro, who is today one of the Directors of the Interactive Midia at Microsoft, in Bellevue. Washington, has built all her academic life at public schools in Rio de Janeiro. Soraya studied at the Centro Tecnológico, a technical high-school, prior to graduating as an electric engineer at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Scheinkman, studied at Pedro II School and afterwards at the Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada-IMPA (Pure and Applied Mathematics Institute), also at Rio de Janeiro. Both of them realized they had had a top quality education when they left the country. "Education is the gold pattern in the modern world", says Scheikman "The difference in salary among those who have only a high-school degree and those who have a college degree surpasses 50% and this is a world tendency that will soon reach Brazil." Scheinkman recalls that at IMPA he was submitted to the same tests as students of the best schools throughout the world. "Professors such as Manfredo Perdigão do Carmo, Leopoldo Nachbin and Silvio Machado had, by the end of the 50's, already globalize that School", he recalls.

Soraya, an young engineer helped to launch Brasilsat (the first Brazilian telecom satellite), at the beginning of the 80's. "I arrived in the United States 9 years ago, during the winter, wearing knickers made of tissue and 10,000 dollars in my pocket. I went to work and then I found out that here, the education I received in the Brazilian Public Technical Schools was pretty good", recalls Soraya. Leading a team of 100 programmers at Microsoft, Soraya recently has put in the net an electronic travel agency that can be reached at http://www.expedia.com/ "

. "You don't do a project like that alone. Here in the States you learn to work in team. A team only succeeds when all members work towards the same goal. In Brazil, the idea that you can do everything by yourself still persists. Forget it. Nobody is going to give you credit for trying to do everything alone and, consequently, receive all the merit and pay alone either. The credit will come naturally to the group", says Soraya. Prior to coming to the top of her carrier at Microsoft, Soraya faced a brilliant trajectory at Lotus, where she developed all the multimedia programming for the Lotus 1,2,3, such as Freelance Graphics and Lotus Notes programs . Soraya lives comfortably in the US West Coast, playing sax at her leisure hours, and she gives a hint: "Don't stop studying, ever. Understanding the commercial, technologic and industrial ambiences, means to understand the type of business the enterprise you are working for, does. The enterprise will be interested in the contribution you can give to its global business, your contribution for the gross income of the organization. By this time your University Certificate is forgotten inside a drawer."

Former director of the Banco Central (the Brazilian "Fed"), Armínio Fraga, born in Rio, 39-years-old, is director and partner of the Soros Fund in New York, the most profitable fund for investments in the world, usually says that he was educated, along with "2000 years of inflation". "This is the period would take Americans to accumulate the same inflation rate I had to live with in Brazil", says he. Due to his incomparable experience in economic crisis and instability, Fraga rapidly outstood at Soros Fund, where he has been for 3 years. During his second year, he received 25 million dollars as a bonus for his performance, "I have faced in Brazil almost any turbulence a country may suffer" says he, who arrives at his work in Manhattan at 6:30 am driving his car from the elegant suburb where he lives in New Jersey. Before 10 am he exercises at a private academy at Soros Fund. Due to his confidence in the destiny of the Brazilian economy he was nicknamed "Patriot". His advice: "Brazilians will face an increasing competition from abroad. The enterprises that are going into Brazil are taking along a list of requirements most of the Brazilian youths are not accustomed to. English, mathematics, computer programming are the "ABC". Besides that the young professional has to learn how to communicate, in writing, in a clear and logic way". To climb his way to the top at the Las Vegas Caesar's Palace Casino, where he became a vice-president, the 60-years-old Brazilian, born in São Paulo, Ciro Batelli, started by dismissing the two sons of the President of the company, "I am Brazilian and I tend to temporize, but when you work in a large organization it is necessary to obtain results. Those two did not produce and that was the reason for their dismissal. As a result my promotion came faster", recalls Ciro, who, last week, was named President of Sodak, a multinational enterprise dealing in the construction and administration of casinos. Pioneer of the lobby of the casinos in Brazil, after the experience in Las Vegas, he thinks it is hazardous to legalize the game in Brazil. " Game is only destruction. Casinos nowadays are thematic parks, where the gambling tables are complemented with first line amusement. The American Casinos belong to banks and pension funds and their accounting is transparent", says Ciro, married, father of two sons who lives like a sultan in Las Vegas. A white convertible Rolls-Royce, a Testarossa Ferrari and a BMW share the space in the garage of his house. "At Christmas I will give myself an yellow Lamborghini", rejoices Batelli. "There are no gamblers in Brazil. Our millionaires are poor", says. The advice of Batelli: "Forget the Brazilian (jeitinho) way of doing things. This does not work. Use the Brazilian warmth and gentle way of being to get closer to people and to learn. Everyday Brazil is more and more exposed to foreigners and this will place millions of Brazilian youths in contact with the most well-succeeded enterprise structures. Those structures do not change. We have to adapt ourselves to them". The professional life in the lead of technological and commercial competition is a constant bet. Less than a year ago, the 30-years-old Carioca designer Marcello Póvoa who started his career at the Globo Television Network, working with Hans Donner, used to use the Internet services only to exchange electronic messages with his family in Rio de Janeiro. A few days ago, he was the star of a notice at the New York Times concerning new talents of the on-line multimedia and was referred to as "one of the best-prepared and expert designers to face the challenges of the cybernetic space". In a year Póvoa - who illustrated this review - became a heavy user of the electronic nets and one of the most searched for builder of web pages, the then blooming multimedia area of the Internet. His customers are all highly qualified people of the electronic industry starting with Microsoft itself. He made the project of the Internet page in which Sony shows its most recent product, a computer without keyboard and disks designed only to access Internet using as video the conventional TV set. Prior to that, Póvoa had made an anthological CD-ROM for the British Band The Who, in which the story of the famous rock-opera of the 70's - Tommy - is told. Póvoa who arrived in the US five years ago, considers himself an alive example of what is nowadays called the broken "interdisciplinary boundaries." He is not only a designer and his pages are not simply attractive. "Nowadays we produce real information machines, where the aesthetic beauty is merely a detail", says Póvoa. His advice: "Whoever is annoyed by the MEC's test please be aware that in real life, a test going on every single day. Change the rules of the game. Instead of being checked and put to proof by the School, require more and more from the school. The Brazilian University needs to adopt a real multidisciplinary structure in its curricula. Design, Engineering, Psychology and Marketing seem quite distant and quite diverse disciplines. They are not. Their combination is vital." There has always been successful Brazilians abroad, what makes the difference of the present generation of stars of Brazilian origin in the United States is simply the fact that this time they are seeing the Brazilian economy to transform and to become more similar to that of the Country in which they work. "In the 80's the law that made difficult the entrance of foreign computers in Brazil restrained several centers of excellence in the country. The computers at IMPA were worse than the one my 6-years-old son had", recalls Scheinkman. And now, "there is too much talk about what Internet can do in the next two years.

However, all of us are underestimating what it will do in five years not only here but in Brazil as well", says Marcello Póvoa, whose profession has put him in the center of the most radical technological transformation. No new technology on information comes about without his knowledge and immediately he updates his working style. As alert as he may be, however, he is always vulnerable to the changing winds. The sensation of instability, that nothing is definite in the profession and even knowing that no company owes them a carrier from beginning to retirement is a common one among the Brazilian professionals of success in the United States.

"Together with the foreign concurrence this sensation has already reached the leading sectors of the Brazilian economy", says Armínio Fraga. Several things have changed. In the professional world there is no place for those who do not have a solid formation in mathematics, sciences and a genuine curiosity about the laws that rules the natural world", says Fraga. "These knowledge are vital for one to feel more comfortable in the world. Nowadays, to read and understand the newspaper articles about life in Mars, the destiny of the universe, the fight of medicine against diseases, the financial information, a person has to have a basic global information", agrees Scheinkman. According to the Chicago Professor, there was a time when one could build an academic carrier based on ideology and passion alone, "Nowadays, much more is required. To have a sharp logic mind as well as knowing statistics and mathematics and to be very curious are a must. The borders between the disciplines are dissolving", says Scheinkman. He recently concluded a research in which he tried to explain certain types of violence that occur in large American cities.

We were able to mathematically prove that the small robberies are an almost direct result of family disintegration. Having no examples at home, the youths end up by copying the culture of the streets", says Scheinkman. Hardly someone, in the past, would imagine that an economist of Chicago, where the world top finances are more intimately treated, would be searching the violence. This is part of the global phenomenon of trying more universal explanations for local phenomena. A mathematical model to measure the violence in a ghetto in Chicago has theoretically more ample applications than traditional sociologic research. The mathematical model can also be used in a Rio de Janeiro slum or in the periphery of the São Paulo city. It also is a strong suggestion that the actual globalization is quite diverse than the previous ones. It makes the countries more equals. In the book The Economic Consequences of Peace, the British economist John Maynard Keynes describes the wonders of the globalized world of the beginning of the century, situation that lasted until the end of the I World War, in 1914. Keynes tells that a finance professional in London could invest his money where it better suited him, without any barrier or forbidding rates. A British citizen could also purchase foreign products in stores at quite low prices. There was, however, a serious problem. The globalization at the beginning of the century only existed if the focus of the observer was London ad the money in your pocket was sterling pounds. "Nowadays it seems more advantageous for the countries to open their economies exactly because other countries are also doing it. When the world is in a protectionism mood there is no point in opening borders", explains Scheinkman. He believes that Brazil can take advantage of this moment and loose what he call its complex of originality, the mania of imagining itself a singular country, driven by particular economic laws which only work in Brazil. "It took us an entire decade to come to a consensus in Brazil that the inflation was related to the fiscal problem. Nowadays nobody seriously doubt it. There was no need for so much suffering. It would have been enough to observe what the other countries throughout the world were doing", says Scheinkman. For those who saw Brazil win a medal at the judo in the morning during the Olympic games in Atlanta, and to loose the football game to Japan in the afternoon, the idea of globalization does not seem so theoretical. The 35-years-old sax player Ivo Perelman, a white Jew born and raised at Bom Retiro in São Paulo also carries with him a bit of this symbolism of the modern times, in which the distance seem to have been abolished.

Ivo was recently photographed by Life magazine, together with the most expressive players of the American jazz - and with the Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias - in front of an old mansion at Harlem, the black ghetto in New York. The magazine redid with today's musicians, a famous photograph made 40 years ago in the same place, with the original geniuses of the great music of the black Americans. Ivo Perelman one of the exponents of the avant-guard of the jazz-afro, a style of music that intends to free the jazz of the harmonic limits and that resulted in a sound that could well be used as sound-track for the paint "O Grito" , by Munch, that was exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial of Arts.

His advise: " The discipline of a global life will not kill the talent and the creativity of the Brazilian artists. On the contrary, it will allow new adventures to our natural style. Take advantage of this moment in which Brazil is getting near the world The globalization may be a most profitable way out for the Brazilian music!"

 

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