2019 MBAs To Watch: Manoela Brito, Western University (Ivey)

Manoela Brito

Western University, Ivey Business School

“An energetic and caring person determined to be the best she can be.”

Hometown: Brasilia, Brazil

Fun fact about yourself: My family and I enjoy riding our motorcycles together. We have traveled a lot around Brazil and are planning soon on doing a road trip crossing Canada.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil – B.Eng. Electrical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked at Schlumberger for four years as a Field Engineer in Well Testing Services. In that role, I was responsible for acquiring and analyzing data from exploratory oil and gas reservoirs to evaluate feasibility. Having worked for weeks confined in offshore rigs and in the Amazon jungle, I could clearly see how impactful people can be for the team’s development and success. I had the opportunity to work with and learn from amazing people in the most extreme conditions, which intensified the experience and accelerated my own professional development.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Not applicable, Ivey has a one-year MBA program.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining TD Bank as part of the Graduate Leadership Program. I am really excited about the opportunity to experiment with different areas with different challenges through my rotations in the bank.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Ivey Pride Club
  • Forté Foundation Fellow
  • Volunteer, ROMBA (Reaching Out MBA)
  • Volunteer, ReForest London

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being the first president of the Ivey Pride Club had its challenges, but I am really proud of what we accomplished.

With support from the school, we were able to start with the right foot. Our first achievement was to show our classmates how important it was for them, as future leaders, to also join the club and learn about the LGBTQ+ community. Surely enough, 35% of our class enrolled as members of the club, even though only 4 of our students identify as part of the community. Together, we had educational workshops and showed support to the community by participating in the Pride Parade. The next big step was becoming the second Canadian school to be a ROMBA (Reaching Out MBA) affiliate.

Our last milestone to be completed before our program ends is to finish the implementation of the “Coming Out Over Coffee,” a place in our website where undergrad students can reach out to MBA students and Alums for mentorship and support. Hearing from our incoming MBA and undergrad students that they feel supported and fearless of being out in school thanks to our club is extremely rewarding.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of being one of the few people in the world capable of running the Muzic* technology, developed by Schlumberger. Muzic* is a wireless telemetry system that enables real-time data transmission in exploratory well tests. With this system, we were able to monitor and adjust operations as needed, optimizing deep-water operations, saving costly rig time and increasing overall safety. Because it was such a new technology, there was no training available and I had to learn on the job, where mistakes were extremely expensive (daily rig rate could go up to US$ 1M). I was able to not only learn and operate the system, but also trained people on the technology later.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Looking for a broader perspective in my MBA program, I decided to take Larry Plummer’s New Venture Creation course. In the midst of ideation and pitch techniques, Larry enabled me to learn a lot about myself and my creative side. In addition, outside of the classroom, he was the one giving me the support I needed to successfully lead my club. Larry is smart and demanding, so he pushes his students to challenge themselves, but he is also a warm and genuinely nice person that I know I can always count on.

What was your favorite MBA Course? The Sustainable Finance course, taught by Diane-Laure Arjaliès, was enlightening. The course allowed me to understand how to merge my wide range of interests in business, investments and social development. The Vox Capital case, about the pioneering impact investing firm in Brazil, was especially interesting to me. It was the first time I understood impact investing. To make it even better, it was in the context of my home country. We often hear about the triple bottom line, but it was never that clear to me how companies could actually perform better in the long-term by focusing not only on profits and growth but also on social and environmental factors. It was a great learning experience and certainly provided a different perspective when contrasted with the core courses of an MBA.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Ivey for two main reasons: the alumni network and the case method.

I moved to Canada planning on staying in Toronto for my MBA. However, when I visited Ivey and watched a case being taught I knew this was the right school for me. It was different than any other class I have been and it made me excited and nervous at the same time. I knew it was going to make me get out of my comfort zone, but it was also going to help me improve my public speaking, reasoning and communication skills.

I was also impressed with the generosity of our alumni. Before I was even accepted into the program, I had the opportunity to connect and speak with alumni and current students who were always willing to answer all of my questions and share some of their experiences. That same “give back” culture has been demonstrated over-and-over again throughout the program. During the recruiting period, alumni were donating their time, conducting mock interviews and case interviews, and giving feedback. Having this support system made the difference when applying for jobs.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Ivey is looking for leaders. It doesn’t really matter what your background is, different perspectives are extremely valuable in class discussions so do not feel intimidated. Make sure your leadership skills are showcased in your application with solid examples, but most importantly, make sure you are not trying to be someone you are not just to get in. Show who you really are; it is your personality and experiences that will add value to those around you. Inspiring leaders are authentic and not afraid of being themselves.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth I have heard was that Ivey was not as inclusive and diverse as other Canadian schools because it was located in a smaller city – London, ON. I was pleased to see that the situation was the complete opposite. The school and my classmates were extremely open and actively supporting myself and our Pride Club from day one. In addition, we have people from all around the world, with the most impressive and interesting backgrounds and cultures. The school really places diversity and inclusion in its priority list.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I knew I would be able to accomplish everything I wanted while still learning a ton. Then I wouldn’t have felt so stressed in the first few months. I had no idea I would be able to improve my time management skills that much and didn’t imagine I would have such amazing friends to always push me forward through the challenging periods of the program.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? This MBA was transformative in many different ways, I learned a lot about business, but I truly learned a whole lot more about people. I was lucky enough to become friends with people from all around the world, each one with a different story, ideas, beliefs, and political views that were completely different than mine. I think that the most important lesson I learned here was to let myself be vulnerable to another’s point of view: allowing myself to be convinced by someone with whom I completely disagree with. One can only grow when you are open to listen and learn. Learn from and with others, that was the very best part of the program.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Marika Marty, our class president, is one of the peers I most admire. She was the first classmate to support and incentivize me to start the Ivey Pride Club. She was always there for each and every one of us whenever we needed while also dealing with an overwhelming and busy program. She voluntarily donated her time and energy to make this one of the best years of our lives. Marika and the MBA Association team will always have my appreciation and admiration for everything they did for us.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My biggest role model is my mother. She was the Secretary of Treasury of the municipality of Sao Jose do Rio Preto, the city where my family lives in Brazil. Under her leadership, the municipality went through a major turnaround and its finances started to look healthy. Several investments in education and health were made because she and her team were able to manage properly the municipality’s finances. I watched her accomplishments with admiration and was always impressed about how she was able to use her skills to improve people’s lives. After working for a couple of years, I realized that a better understanding of business would help me put into practice all she has taught me over the years.

What is your favorite movie about business? I am more of a series person than a movie person, so I’ll talk about Netflix’s Black Mirror. In the midst of technology revolution, this series really makes me think about the consequences of all these technological advancements. Even though it can help improve our lives in different ways, we need to be mindful about the challenges and risks it brings to the table. Overconsumption and changes in social interactions are some of the impacts of the series portrait. I think the biggest lesson I gained from the show is to try my best to understand the consequences that might arise in the future with every business decision; new ideas or new products can largely impact society and the world for better or worse.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? The “blue ocean strategy” is when your business has such an amazing new product that you leave all competition behind and navigate peacefully in that ocean by yourself. It seems to me more like a dream than a business strategy. “There is no free lunch” and “Cash is KING” are also great technical business terms.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…backpacking around the world.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It was certainly more than worth it. The lessons I learned in this school went beyond academic knowledge. Having that many high performers around inspired and motivated me to be my best performing self. I am convinced that wouldn’t have had this opportunity if I didn’t come to Ivey.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Take a year off to backpack around the world. Help found an NGO in Brazil to support and provide quality education for people living in the favelas.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A friend they know that they can always count on, no matter what.

Hobbies? My biggest hobby is to travel. I have a natural curiosity, I like going to places I’ve never been and learning about cultures, history, and traditions. The best part of going to a new place is trying the local food. My favorite are the ones not recommended for tourists, the more different and “weird” the better. Have had some terrible experiences with spicy food, but also some very pleasant surprises. You can never say you don’t like something it until you have tried it.

What made Manoela such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Manoela Brito’s impact on Ivey’s culture has been profound and far greater than even she may realize. Her leadership of Ivey Pride and her role in helping faculty and staff understand and appreciate the issues, challenges, and needs of our LGBTQ+ students has helped spark nothing short of a revolution at the school. Because of her commitment and efforts, Ivey’s leadership from the Dean’s office on down is directing and supporting programmatic changes in diversity and equity programs at ALL educational levels from HBA (undergraduate) to Ph.D. The school owes Ms. Brito a great debt of gratitude. While everything I have said is true, it is my experience that Ms. Brito is so humble and unassuming that she is unlikely to believe this herself or take credit for inspiring so many to act on behalf of our students.”

Larry Plummer
Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship
Donald G. and Elizabeth R. Ness Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship

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