Brazilian companies willing to export to the U.S. don’t
have to spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars to study
the viability of introducing their products in America. Now
they can use the services
of California students
who are also American corporate executives.
How valuable is it for an overseas company to have a team of American executives give them a blueprint for
introducing their product into the United States market?
For some international firms it is an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many companies in Europe,
Asia and South America, however, have found a cost-effective key to a unique business resource by using corporate
executives enrolled in the Transnational Executive MBA program, known as TEMBA, at California State University, Hayward.
"It is a concept that is true out-of-the-box corporate thinking," said Shyam Kamath, professor of business at Cal
State Hayward who founded and directs the TEMBA program. "That is why our global MBA program is fascinating to
companies worldwide as well as to the American executives who become our students."
Cal State Hayward has more than 650 students in traditional MBA programs at its campus in the San Francisco Bay
Area and offers MBA programs overseas to students in Vienna, Moscow, Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore. The TEMBA
program is a separate approach aimed at business executives in the United States who have at least three years experience as
corporate executives. This 13-month program combines online course work with reading, research, and a four-day residential stay
each month for presentations by professors.
The TEMBA "cohorts" of up to 30 students also make three overseas trips, where professors from other countries
give them presentations in global business practices. While abroad, they form teams that meet with board members,
executives and front-line employees of international firms based nearby, which have commissioned TEMBA to develop a strategy
to introduce one or more of their products in the United States. The concept is called the Global Business Strategic
Consulting Project, and each study costs an overseas firm about $25,000.
"Frankly, I was amazed that there was an MBA program out there that would offer me this kind of international
consulting experience," said Sanjay Sharma, a TEMBA participant and business development manager of Optify Solutions of San
Jose. "Other programs I looked at were too traditional."
"I considered enrolling in international MBA programs in London," said Michelle Engelen, operations manager for
Hotovec, Pomeranz & Co. of San Francisco. "Those programs didn’t have the international consulting component or the
opportunity to work alongside students with the kind of executive experience they have in TEMBA."
In December, the newest TEMBA cohort to travel abroad spent six days in the state of Santa Catarina in southern
Brazil, about an hour’s flight south of São Paulo. Cal State Hayward has a partnership arrangement with universities in the
cities of Jaraguá do Sul and Blumenau.
"This is a region that strongly reflects the ideas of entrepreneurship of this country’s first European settlers," the
TEMBA students were told during an orientation session in Brazil by Pedro Kraus, who is a business professor and administrator
at Centro Universitário de Jaraguá do Sul. "Companies here are particularly strong in the manufacture of electric
equipment, food products and textiles and are looking to expand to global markets."
After four days of presentations by Brazilian economists and professors on the South American common market and
how to do business on the continent, the Cal State Hayward delegation formed teams that met at the local companies where
TEMBA directors had arranged for them to do consulting projects.
"The first step is for teams of four to five students to make presentations to each company’s management team to be
sure we’ll be giving them exactly the information they want and need," said Guido Krickx, a Cal State Hayward business
professor and TEMBA co-director. "Then, our teams spend several months doing research and developing business proposals
before returning to Brazil and making their reports. "Our students are already executives with specialties in fields such as
engineering, human resources, marketing, and finance, so these companies are getting the benefit of an incredible array of American
One TEMBA group of five "global research associates" met with Buettner textile company president João
Marchewsky and his export team at the firm’s headquarters in Brusque. The students toured the mill, which turns raw cotton into
high-quality towels with brilliant color designs and talked with the company’s management team about how to develop a
strategy to improve Buettner’s market share in America.
"With corporate partners such as Nordstrom, Sears, J.C. Penny, T.J. Maxx and the Spiegel catalog, we have a
growing business in the United States," Rudi Kuppas, Buettner’s export manager, told the TEMBA team. "About 42 percent of
our business now is exports, but we’d like to increase that to 50 percent."
As with many Brazilian companies, Buettner was affected by an economic crisis in neighboring Argentina that
drastically cut into its export volume. The company wants to help compensate for that loss by expanding its business in the United
States, where it already has a showroom on Fifth Avenue in New York City and is one of the leading sellers of beach towels in
Miami and Chicago. It has contracts for logo towel sales in Brazil and Europe for the National Basketball Association,
Universal Studios, and Disney.
Buettner’s managers want more sales opportunities in the United States but also have asked for advice on issues
related to product introduction and distribution. As with all TEMBA consulting projects, the specifics are kept confidential.
The Cal State Hayward team working with Buettner has members:
Romelo Elefante, a veteran executive of two high-tech startup companies and a former manager at Lycos and Yahoo!;
Andrea Girton, founder and owner of Opportunity Ink of Hayward, a courier business that delivers high-end
components to corporations;
Cheryl Lin, sales manager for the top-tier international customers of Delta Networks of Fremont;
Steve Schaefer, production manager for VA Linux Systems, Inc. of Sunnyvale; and
Morris Woo, senior director for quality and reliability at multinational Marvell Semiconductor in Sunnyvale, who
holds a doctoral degree in engineering from Stanford.
"What we want to make sure is that we bring back to you the best research and most realistic proposals based on
your management objectives," Schaefer said on behalf of his TEMBA team in a meeting with 11 Buettner managers. "We
already can see that there are opportunities in the U.S. you can build on."
One member of the Buettner export team is Felipi Lorenzoni, a 19-year-old Brazilian university student who runs the
company’s U.S. West Coast exports division.
"I’ll be in the San Francisco area in the next few months to meet with representatives of Pottery Barn, which is one of
our accounts," Lorenzoni said after meeting with the TEMBA group. "I’ve been in the export business since I was 16, but
there is so much to learn about the U.S. market. The Cal State Hayward group will really help us in what we hope becomes our
most important export market."
The Market for Brazilian Lace
Another Brazilian firm that has enlisted TEMBA participants as market consultants is Lepper Co., based in the
Brazilian city of Joinville. The family-run business of 800 employees, with its reputation for making fine lace and other textiles, has
supplied tablecloths to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. However, the international market is a fraction of its
business, and Lepper Vice President Maria Alves and Export Manager Oscar Schmalz told a team of TEMBA consultants that they
want to look for new markets in the United States.
"Our competitors come from Colombia, China, India and Western Europe," Alves said. "We are looking at every
possibility to expand in the lace market. We want to know what products will make us the most competitive and if we need more
specialization to be in the U.S. market."
The TEMBA team working on this project has members:
Kathleen Casey, director of human resources for the multinational Converge in Cupertino;
Juicke Chop, managing director of technology solutions at Charles Schwab in San Francisco;
William Huey, senior exchange counselor and tax and real estate adviser for Starker Services, Inc. of Los Gatos;
Huan Nguyen, senior manager for Agere Systems of Santa Clara, a leading opto-electronics and
communications manufacturer; and
Christopher Ranken, principal of Ranken Consulting and Development of Pacifica and chairman of that city’s
"There really is some potential here," Casey said during the TEMBA meeting with Lepper management. "Our team
will need to focus on the target products, the market, and distribution issues."
As with all TEMBA teams, as the Lepper group continues work on its project, it will receive additional manufacturing
data on the product as well as samples to use in its research from the corporate client.
Buy for Seven Cents, Sell for 75 Cents
The business problem for a consortium of flower and plant growers in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina was put
succinctly by one grower in a meeting with another team of TEMBA consultants: "I can sell a rose to a U.S. distributor for seven
cents and he turns around and sells it in America for 75 cents to a dollar. How can we see more of that profit on our end?"
It is a concern so acute that the agricultural department for the state of Santa Catarina agreed to underwrite the
$25,000 cost of a study by Cal State Hayward student research associates. A group of five public and private agencies calling
itself Flora Brasilis de Santa Catarina has turned to TEMBA to help solve an issue that involves not only the growers’
product, but economic issues such as the poor rate of exchange between the relatively strong American dollar and the devalued
"Our strengths are the weather, soil and low labor costs," Jordi Castan, the organization president, told the TEMBA
team during a meeting that included growers and state agricultural agent Carlos Karam, a Cal State Hayward alumnus. "We
have to find a market in the U.S., and we’re even open to changing our lines of production to do it."
Brazil’s main competitors in the market for flowers and green plants come from Ecuador and Costa Rica. During
discussions with growers and tours of greenhouses and fields, TEMBA team members developed information on those products for
which the Brazilian growers might have an advantage.
This is the TEMBA team that will explore the possibilities for the Brazilian grower group:
Wendy Anderson, employer and broker specialist in strategic marketing for Sutter Health of Sacramento.
Helen Choi, financial analyst in supply chain management for Kaiser Permanente of Oakland.
Martha Jiminez, project manager for the Rockefeller Foundation’s California Works for Better Health organization in
San Francisco, and an attorney with experience in litigation and public policy;
Ken Morris, sales manager for Cymbal Corp. in San Jose, a software services and systems integration company.
"Understanding your objectives and your products will be the key to the work we’ll do back in the U.S.," Jiminez
told the group of growers. "We will need to stay in close contact over the next few months." "Even if you come to the
conclusion that we can’t be competitive in the U.S. market, it is worth our investment in this project with you," Castan told the
TEMBA group. "Your recommendations will be valuable no matter what they are."
New Sofas for the States?
A Cal State Hayward TEMBA consulting team will tell the Brazilian furniture company Feelings Estofados if
American consumers are ready for the design concepts of their new products.
"When we met with the executives, they were anxious to get information, but they were reasonable in their
expectations," said Kathy Petrini, a member of the TEMBA team working with the Feelings company. "They told us they have the
ability to start shipping soon, so we’re aware that the timing of this project will be a challenge for us."
Members of the TEMBA team on the Feelings project are:
Robert Cousineau, senior design engineer at Abbott Laboratories in Morgan Hill;
Marvin Gomez, partner with the Elysian Group of Hayward, providing consulting to venture capital firms and
asset management funds;
Gideon Kim, executive sales director of the Asia Pacific region for iAnywhere Solutions, Inc., a Sybase Company in Dublin.
Kathy Petrini, acting CFO and corporate controller for Tegal Corp. in Petaluma; and
Yvonne Wilborn, enterprise backup and data manager for Electronics for Imaging in Foster City.
Processed Foods Challenger
A market entry study for processed foods will be the project of a TEMBA team working with Bretzke. While the
company exports to nearly a dozen countries, it is particularly interested in challenging some brand name products firmly
entrenched in American supermarkets.
"It is a relatively small company in the industry, but it is really interested in going after the U.S. market," said
TEMBA consultant Ray Asad. "They want us to tell them where the best opportunities are."
"They had a clear sense of direction, and our team enjoyed meeting them," said TEMBA consultant Ted Burns. "I
particularly enjoyed the way the CEO brought up issues that needed to be discussed. I’m a big believer in being up-front about
issues, and he brought up hard issues with a real sense of style."
TEMBA participants working with Bretzke are:
Ray Asad, director of global technology for Pegasus Solutions, Inc. of Phoeniz, AZ;
Ted Burns, senior staff project manager/engineering operations for Fujitsu/Amdahl Corp. in Sunnyvale;
Michelle Engelen, operations manager for Hotovec, Pomeranz & Co. of San Francisco; and
Sanjay Sharma, business development manager and co-founder of Optify Solutions of San Jose.
Return to Brazil
The student teams will return to Brazil in September 2003 to make presentations to company executives. It will mark
the last month of their course work with TEMBA, a program that will have taken them to Europe and South America and
exposed them to the teaching of dozens of American, South American and European professors, economists and international
"The College of Business and Economics has been arranging student global consulting projects for the past 13
years and we’ve now worked with more than 75 companies on 95 projects or products," professor Kamath said. "It’s a concept
we know well and it has a tremendous track record. That’s why we’ve incorporated it into the transnational executive MBA program. It’s another reason why TEMBA is one-of-a-kind."
Kim Huggett is director of public affairs for California State University, Hayward, and accompanied the TEMBA
delegation on its recent trip to Santa Catarina. He is a former reporter for
The Sacramento Union newspaper. He can be contacted
at email@example.com or by calling the university at (510) 885-2032.