Conference on Business in/with Brazil

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Sixty members of the local business community gathered at Webster Geneva Campus for a half-day conference to exchange on insights, experiences and common interests for business in—and with—Brazil, in a conference organized by Dr. Dominique Jolly, Head of the Walker School of Business and Technology.

In the opening remarks, Ambassador Susan Kleebank, Consul General, Brazilian Consulate in Geneva, highlighted that it is indeed a high priority for Brazil to enhance bilateral relations with Switzerland. Echoing those sentiments, Mr. Vincent Subilia, Directeur général adjoint, Chambre de commerce d’industrie et des services de Genève (CCIG), validated that for the roughly 2,500 companies that the CCIG represents, they aspire to support firms in building closer relations with Brazil.

Bilateral Relations and Cross-Border Challenges

In the day’s first session by Webster professor Joseph Marques, panelist Mohammed Kazmi, Portfolio Manager at UBP, led with an impressive, global overview of macroeconomic situation. Kevin Keinast, Country Officer South- and Central America, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) cited figures of bilateral business activity, highlighted opportunities for growth, and Benedikt Schwartz, a Senior Consultant with Switzerland Global Enterprise demonstrated the organization’s support to Swiss companies in exporting products and services to Brazil and to promote Switzerland abroad.

The second panel, led by Pedro Da Silva Neves of Neves Avocats, was about SMEs working between the two countries. Lawyer Leandro Barros Pereira gave a legal framework for how to begin working or establishing business in Brazil. On a related topic, the Brazil-Switzerland Double Tax Treaty (DTT) was discussed, with insights from Eric Duvoisin, Senior Manager, International Tax Services, Ernst & Young, who gave inputs about how it will have a great impact within a few years’ time when it becomes activated.

Discussions shifted gears to explore some of the challenges of cross-cultural relations in Business. Mariana De Carli, Global Hair Care Sales Associated Director at Procter & Gamble, spoke on concrete tips to negotiate with Brazilians, exploring the common pitfalls of when big companies work with Brazil – and the specific remedies that can help to overcome these challenges. Mr. Yves Lagier, Consultant, spoke further on these aspects of intercultural management, with a look to the importance of relationships and social intelligence.

Learning from success stories

The day ended with an entrepreneur’s panel led by Professor Thomas Straub of the University of Geneva. Kicking off the panel, Alexandre Dusmao, Managing Director of Bouledor, showed how a Brazilian company can successfully enter the Swiss market. He gave an inspiring story of their company, from concept to introducing the product in the Swiss market.

Mr. Philippe Ryser, General Manager Brazil, CEPTIS, spoke about business relations with the Brazilian government, and with producers in the agro-business sector, and how actors in the sector can ensure their product’s value chain through strong government affairs.

Finally, Nicolas Merckling, Founder of Dumato, which sells products made in the Amazonas, shared his firms’ approach to value through sustainability, promoting the native Amazonian culture and supporting communities where they source unique products.

Dr. Dominique Jolly, on behalf of the entire Webster community, extends our gratitude to guest speakers, panelists and event collaborating organizations, including the Brazilian Consulate in Geneva, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Geneva (CCIG) and the Brazil-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce. Special thanks go to panel leaders, Joseph Marques, Thomas Straub and Pedro da Silva Neves, and to Ambassador Kleebank for joining us to launch the event. As article on the event was featured in the French newspaper, Le Temps.

Six of the presentations from the event can be viewed here.