Why is Brazil performing well in a downturn?

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

PMI bannerLast month saw project managers around the world taking part in events for International Project Management Day. Ricardo Vargas, past Chair of PMI’s Board of Directors, was in London to open and close Synergy, the UK PMI Chapter’s event to celebrate project management professionals.

Ricardo, who is from Brazil, delivered an opening speech about why Brazil had made the most of the downturn and was still a great place to be a project manager. He highlighted 3 things that meant Brazil was well placed to manage in a crisis.

1. Optimism

“If we only see problems, we won’t see opportunities,” Ricardo said. He explained that when he graduated, none of the students in his class got jobs. There were no jobs to be had. So, being optimistic about his ability to set up on his own, he started his own company.

He decided to sell knowledge, because knowledge is “free”. “It’s one of the cheapest things you can have,” he said. “I never imagined I could build a $1/2bn company during an economic crisis. Everything is possible.”

2. Work hard

Ricardo said that it was important to have a good work ethic and to work hard to prepare for adversity. “We need to be prepared for change,” he said. He explained that he had lived through every crisis in Brazil, every economic recession, since the 70’s. Brazilian people were used to finding ways to survive in tough times.

He said he had the skills in his “DNA” to be able to cope with difficult times. When he was Chair of the PMI Board in 2009, he addressed a group of about 3000, mostly US-based, project managers. Many of them were under 50 years old and many had never had to cope with the difficult economic situations that Brazil dealt with regularly. It was in the middle of the global economic crisis and the US had been hit hard.

He used the example of currency fluctuation as a way to illustrate how Brazilian workers and companies had always had to deal with change. The Real can fluctuate around 10% a month against the dollar. “You just deal with it,” he said.

3. Use ideas from others

Ricardo suggested using events like Synergy “to think something different that can bring and add value.” Make the most of events, conferences or even informal meetings with people to see the world of work in a different light and to be inspired with new ideas. It is ideas that will move you and your company to the next level.

“We need to be aware that most of the success we can reach comes from ourselves,” he said. “Don’t expect too much from others.”

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