Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Brazilian tides, they are a-changing…
Summer Special: Tips for renting (and saving on) vehicles.
1) ABROAD PERSPECTIVES – The tides, they are a-changing…
Understanding cultural differences and customs is key to doing successful business in any country around the world, and Brazil is no exception. Particularly with its unique economy – a result of decades of rampant inflation and currency crises, which, according to some, have left Brazilians unaccustomed to long-term planning. It is just such elements which are now being explained to an ever-growing number of international business students, attracted by Brazil’s growing industries.
Along with the other “BRIC” countries – Russia, India, and China – Brazil is seeing an influx of international applications for its own MBA programs. Although the student numbers have traditionally moved the other direction (with more Brazilians leaving to study overseas), it seems an increasing numbers of international students are eagerly submerging themselves in the country they hope to one day work in, or form close business ties with.
At the top level of Brazil’s business and banking sectors, it’s not uncommon for leaders to be without MBAs or related degrees. But in today’s entry level job market, things are different.
“An MBA is now the standard. If you want to apply for a good job in a good company,” says Armando Dal Colletto, the academic director of Business School São Paulo. “[Y]ou probably won’t even be selected for the first interview without speaking English or having an MBA.”
For many, if they can afford it, the pursuit of an MBA takes them abroad.
“Brazil and Brazilians, especially youth, are opening up to the world like never before,” agrees Dani Zaretsky, a director of the Canadian University Application Centre, which has a recruitment office in Brazil. “[They appreciate] that an overseas higher degree is an ideal way to round out their education as well as advance their English-language skills.”
But along with searching out strong study opportunities, more and more Brazilians are also becoming increasingly interested in pursuing MBAs specifically. Brazilians, and, it seems foreigners – interested in studying in top Brazilian institutions. Last year, in 2010, the percentage of GMAT scores sent to Brazilian graduate programs by non-Brazilians rose to 20% – that’s up from 8.3% in 2006. Although many of these students were already living in Brazil, the number of graduate students going to the country specifically to master its promising economy is certainly on the rise.
At Ibmec, one of Brazil’s top business schools, around 600 of its 5,000 MBA students are international. Four years ago, explains Ibmec head VanDyck Silveira, there were just a handful of such students.
“These kids are really fast, they’re bright, they’ve already earned their stripes back in Europe or the US and now they want to venture into the wild a little,” he says. “We’ve detected a few of them but over the next few years these types of economic pilgrims should be flourishing. They’re taking a huge bet, thinking ‘Where would I see myself working or investing in the next 10 years?’”
It is also these types of students – and their growing interest – that are slowly beginning to change the nature of many of the nation’s MBA programs. Whereas many Brazilian MBA programs are still only 600 hours (compared to the 1,500+) hour programs common in the US or UK), and offered on a part time basis only (in order to allow Brazilian students to work and pay off their studies at the same time), a growing number of English-language courses and full-time options are starting to pop up. Brazilian employers are becoming more aware of the emergence of high quality local MBA programs, and foreign institutions are starting to build up exchange programs in the country. Institutions, such as the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania, which now sends students for 10-week study periods to the Coppead Graduate School of Business in Rio de Janeiro.
Although some international students remain in Brazil after their MBAs, others return home, looking to become experts on Brazil. Many end up working for multinational companies or international banks. And for those Brazilian students looking for an ‘international experience’ closer to home? The increasingly foreign-dominated English MBA courses offer a unique opportunity for gaining ‘international experience’, without ever leaving Brazil.
“Another Brazilian trait is this prejudice that whatever comes from abroad is always better – a legacy of colonialism,” explains Paulo Resende, the development director at Fundação Dom Cabral, another top school. “It’s taken these foreign companies to come to Brazil to finally teach Brazilians that this country may be the one that’s better off now.”
Source: “Brazil wins friends overseas”. FT.com , May 2, 2011.
2) GLOBE TIPPING – Summer Special: Tips for renting (and saving on) vehicles.
In the past decade, the car rental industry has exploded. Apart from the more traditional ‘airport renters’ – those who pick up cars to tour new destinations – there is also an ever-growing number of “home city” renters. These are people who are picking up vehicles from neighbourhood dealers, for any host of reasons; making a move across town, getting a more comfortable ride to transport the family on an extended road-trip or weekend vacation, obtaining a glamorous high-end cruiser for a fun-filled night on the town… For whatever the reason, renting cars around the world is becoming more and more popular a travel choice.
So for those hopping onto the rental trend this summer, here are some tips to help you keep the experience as pain-free (and inexpensive!) as possible.
1. Surf the Net. Besides offering the luxury of comparing car-makes, companies and rates easily, at any time of the night or day that you have the time to do so, internet searches are generally also the source of the cheapest deals.
2. Go weekend. If you’re planning a short break or one-day rental and have some flexibility in your dates, be aware that rates are (surprisingly) typically cheapest on weekends. According to a comparison done by Edmunds.com, for example, you could rent a subcompact on a weekday for $64.99. But when they looked up the exact same car with the exact same company on a weekend, the figure plummeted to only $22.99.
3. Weekly does it. Also according to Edmunds.com, a subcompact that went for a weekday rate of $56.99 could be rented for a full week to the tune of $252.99 – a savings of more than 30% if you used the vehicle for the full seven days, or more than 10% if you returned it after five days. So generally speaking – if you plan on using the vehicle for five days or more, choose a weekly plan.
4. Reconsider purchasing insurance. When renting a car, you’ll likely be offered two types of insurance: a collision damage waiver (CDW) and a loss damage waiver (LDW). The first covers you in the event of a collision, while the second covers any loss to the rental company. While both kinds of coverage are a good idea, they’re pointless if your own insurance policy already covers rental-car damage via comprehensive and collision coverage. So be sure to check your insurance (or travel insurance) policy carefully before signing up for any extra from a rental company. Also, if you’re using a credit card to pay, some card providers also cover vehicle damage associated with an accident – just check ahead of time to make sure. And also, be aware of this loophole; depending on where you live, your own auto insurance policy may or may not cover “loss of use” under your collision damage insurance – which refers to the charge levied by the rental car company to cover its lost income when the vehicle is out of service. In many places, personal auto insurance doesn’t cover this – so purchasing this coverage from the rental coverage may be a good idea.
5. For the best rates, book early.
6. Think twice about prepaid gas. Renters usually have two fuel choice: pay for a full tank of gas in advance and bring the vehicle back empty, or opt out and refuel it yourself just before returning it. Rental companies suggest paying in advance will add convenience and claim their low rates will save you money. The convenience part is right – but prepaying will almost always cause you to pay for more fuel than you’ve actually consumed. So unless you’re absolutely certain that you’ll use at least a full tank, opt out to save money.
7. Beware free upgrades to larger vehicles. Rental companies typically due this because compacts tend to be in highest demand. But unless a larger vehicle will enhance your rental experience, say no thank you – bigger cars burn far more gas.
8. Realize that airport pickups can be far more costly than picking up a car at a nearby neighbourhood location – due to special taxes and fees at many locations, particularly in the US. According to Travelocity, renting at an airport costs more than 11.5% on average than renting at a neighbourhood location.
9. Got kids? Consider bringing your own car safety seats, as many rental companies charge for such items per day. If you’re renting a minivan, however, some rentals do include integrated child safety seats at no extra cost – just be sure to check in advance.
10. If you’re a regular renter, think about joining a company club, in order to qualify for special perks and benefits.
11. If you’re leaving your home country, it’s also advisable to look into getting an International Driver’s License. In some countries this is mandatory, while in others it’s not – but either way, having one of these inexpensive items can often save you a lot of hassle, especially in countries where police corruption is rampant (where, even if you don’t need an IDL, you could spend an hour arguing this – or end up forking out a hefty bribe in order to avoid being escorted to the station).
12. And finally, if you’re hoping to really save some money, do a little searching on “relocation vehicles”, and scrap the whole rental idea completely. These are generally rental cars and campervans that need ‘relocating’ back to their home bases – many of which are either free or almost free to drive! If you’re looking to explore New Zealand, for example, look into http://www.transfercar.co.nz/, and let the adventure begin!
Sources: “Car Rental Tips”. 1000 Tips 4 Trips.com.
& “Top 10 Car Rental Tips”. Edmunds.com, July 9, 2009.