From Brazil to France: A Student Profile

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Audencia Nantes

A Student Profile: Finding the Right MBA Program


Business schools around the world are teaching degree programs in English to enable local students to gain fluency in this important “global” language—and to attract the best international students.

Claudia Arezio Ricardo, a 33-year old telecommunications solutions architect from Brazil, spent a year searching for the right MBA program. Looking at technology- and innovation-based programs in a number of countries—particularly the U.S., a popular destination for Brazilians—Ms. Ricardo could not find one that offered everything she wanted.

It took her some time before she considered an MBA course in France, as she didn’t speak French. But when she finally discovered the Audencia Nantes MBA program, it exceeded her expectations. All the teaching is in English and the multinationalism of both faculty and students gave her the confidence that she would feel at home as an international student. Living and studying in France enriches the MBA experience, she feels. It adds something that would not have been available from programs in the US. Although the Audencia curriculum is focused on international business challenges, living and studying in France enriches the MBA experience—giving students a taste of “the French way of doing things.”

The clean air, convenience, and easy travel in a city like Nantes is also very welcome after years spent negotiating the crowded streets of Sao Paolo.

Ms. Ricardo gained a deep understanding of the technological challenges facing the telecommunications sector during her time with Alcatel, Nokia, and Eriksson. Her goal with the MBA program was to add a high quality business education that would open up new career opportunities. She has already lined up an internship with the Thales Group either in France or back home in Brazil as part of her degree program.

While all the companies Ms. Ricardo worked for in the past had clear policies against sexual discrimination, she was always one of very few women in a man’s world. At Audencia Nantes, she is enjoying the respect women are given. “There are a lot of women working in positions that would be occupied by men in other schools,” she says. “At Audencia, there is no special treatment because you are a woman, but there is respect for everyone.”

Ms. Ricardo has found the workload a challenge since starting the program, as students are expected to do both pre-class study as well as post-class assignments. But she finds she gets more out of classes because of this careful preparation. Class discussions are at a higher level, says Ms. Ricardo.

There is a practical, career-focused slant to the Audencia program that Ms. Ricardo, now halfway through her 12-month program, really appreciates. The students are helped to evaluate their ideal future career path, drawing on their aptitudes and interests, using tools such as psychological profiling.

“It gives you insights into how and why you behave,” says Ms. Ricardo, “and it provides the kind of skills that are really useful to any manager.”

Ms. Ricardo is also conscious that this MBA provides more than an understanding of business systems: “Because of the personal growth I am experiencing here, I will not be the same person and I won’t have the same expectations as I had when I came here.”


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