Our trip started on Monday in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s business and financial hub. Over 18 million people live in the greater Sao Paulo area, making it one of the largest cities in the world. On Monday evening, we attended the Top MBA fair, and met with prospective students from all over Brazil. Most students were very familiar with the University of Illinois, as Illinois has a strong reputation in Brazil. Students were excited to learn about our flexible curriculum, diversity and how the Illinois MBA is a great value.
We were joined at the fair by Frederico Zornig, an Illinois MBA alumnus from the class of 1999. Mr. Zornig currently runs Quantiz, a pricing consultancy firm located in Sao Paulo. According to Mr. Zornig, a pricing class he took at Illinois inspired him to start what is now a very successful organization. Mr. Zornig has very fond memories of his time at Illinois and told us his daughter (who was born in Champaign) mentioned on a recent visit to campus that she wants to attend Illinois for her college education. After the fair, Mr. Zornig showed us around Sao Paulo and treated us to an authentic Brazilian meal at Vento Haragano, a traditional Churrascaria, or steakhouse. It was a truly fantastic evening and we are very thankful to Mr.Zornig for his hospitality.
On Tuesday morning, Ben and I met another exceptional MBA alumnus, Eduardo Wurzmann (MBA ’92). After graduating from Illinois, Mr. Wurzmann worked as a venture capitalist for over 10 years before starting his own for-profit higher education company, Veris. Mr. Wurzmann started Veris to provide additional educational opportunities to young working professionals. Today, Veris has over 20,000 enrolled students throughout Brazil. Mr. Wurzmann has maintained strong ties to his alma mater, as several Veris students attend Illinois each year as part of an exchange program between the two institutions.
After our meeting with Mr. Wurzmann, Ben and I left for Rio de Janeiro, aka the Cidade Maravilhosa (marvelous city) as it is known locally. Rio is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful beaches (there are over 20 of them), and will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.
We will be attending another MBA fair tonight, and will be heading home tomorrow. It’s been a short, but wonderful trip! We enjoyed meeting with prospective students and visiting our alumni. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Brazil is changing every day and Illinois alumni are helping with all aspects of the country’s modernization.