2019 MBAs to Watch: Reinaldo Caravellas, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Reinaldo Caravellas

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“I’m naturally inquisitive, perseverant and positive, and try to go out of my way to help someone.”

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fun fact about yourself: I have a distinct laugh that usually alerts other people about my presence even before they see me.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • IBMEC – Rio de Janeiro
  • Bachelors in Economics
  • Advanced Studies in Administration
  • Master of Business Administration (part-time)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

Institute of Performance and Leadership – Operations/Finance Manager

IBMEC RJ – Basic Statistics Professor

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? McKinsey & Company, Sao Paulo

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Chicago

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Kenan-Flagler Fellowship
  • Member of Dean’s Fellows Steering Committee – Honor reserved for select fellowship recipients.
  • President of UNC Kenan-Flagler Pride Club
  • Kenan Scholar Researcher on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
  • VP of International Community Service
  • Community Service Leader: Salvation Army Thrift Shop
  • Admissions Advisory Board
  • First-Year Vice President of Careers with Impact Conference
  • STAR Project Member – Nonprofit Client
  • Nonprofit Board Consultant
  • Career Mentor
  • Tutor: Operations, Statistics, Finance and Managerial Accounting
  • Teacher Assistant: Finance I, Finance II and Business Plan Analysis
  • Case Competitions: DCC (regional finalist), Chamber of Commerce and Everyone’s Business

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am really proud of being an MBA Kenan Scholar for the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. The Kenan Institute is dedicated to “putting the private sector to work for the public good.” What made this experience so valuable was the opportunity to work with well-recognized names in the diversity, inclusion, and belonging sectors, such as Dr. Jim Johnson, Lingmei Howell, and Gabriela Melo. Together, we studied (through focus groups) the different affinity groups at UNC Kenan-Flagler and collected feedback from students, which resulted in a diversity roadmap that was fully supported by the school administration. This project taught me how to navigate difficult conversations, engage my classmates, listen attentively, and, most importantly, align the interests of major stakeholders (in our case our students, staff, and professors). I have a more well-rounded perspective given this research that will serve me well in my future career.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud to have successfully conducted a bottom-up cultural change. I was the operations coordinator for my university and my responsibilities included the logistics of coordinating over 100 courses for companies per year across over 10 states in Brazil. Because of the complexity of this operation, the team was not achieving the agreed service levels.

My exposure to the various companies in Brazil taught me how to apply best practices from different industries. The reason why I chose this achievement is that I was able to learn and transfer my skills to a specific situation in my department. After applying this knowledge to my daily operations, I achieved a 10 percent yearly cost savings while maintaining course quality. This efficiency completely modified how our team was being perceived and helped enhance our cultural shift.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Michael Jacobs (Corporate Governance) was my favorite professor because he made me think about how complex it is to balance the interests of the various stakeholders within a firm. In today’s business world, it is expected of us to know how to consider and evaluate the multiple consequences of our actions. His course made me reflect deeply about how to create mindful company values and culture that constantly work to generate value for our shareholders.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite course was Pricing taught by Sriraman Venkataraman. The inner geek inside me is fascinated by numbers, but this course’s hands-on experience with thinking about pricing from multiple perspectives surpassed all my expectations of what is possible.

Companies are requesting and now expecting MBA students to have a deeper understanding and comfort with data analytics. For that reason, not only I was able to apply this acquired knowledge in multiple situations (e.g. case competitions and group assignments), but also developed a deeper interest in big data, and specifically, conjoint analysis.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to be in a program that would be flexible enough so I could achieve my career goals while building my personal brand. UNC Kenan-Flagler is an amazing place where people know you by name, and where I was encouraged to apply my business education background to collaborate with staff, students, and professors. This was my first time in the USA, so it was important to me to be in a community that would care for me and where help from all stakeholders would be not only encouraged but expected.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Connect with current students and get a sense of our culture. If you can’t come in person to campus, try to attend a webinar and schedule an informational call with one of the students. You will realize that it is very easy to reach out to any of us and it is part of our collaborative culture to answer all questions prospective students have. After making those connections, it becomes much easier to portray your past achievements and future plans in school applications.  

What is the biggest myth about your school? UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for its Leadership Excellence, and I can confirm it is true. What I found out is that our culture and environment transform us into natural leaders by hands-on experience and academic curricular with courses like Managing the Professional Service Firm. Students have so many opportunities to step up and engage in different activities that it is almost impossible to graduate without being a leader in a project, club or event.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I had trusted my instincts more and not worried about stretching myself too thin, being the introvert that I am. At business school, while I have been thoughtful about my commitments, I have flourished by being highly involved. To everyone considering an MBA program, know all these experiences will make you become a more robust professional.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Through the business school, I learned how to become an LGBTQ+ leader. Although I was out during my entire career, I was navigating a totally new environment. At UNC Kenan-Flagler, since day one, I have been involved with the Pride community, formed by LGBTQ+ members and allies. After speaking in multiple panels and hosting over 10 events as President of the Pride Club, I feel UNC empowered me and I was transformed into an LGBTQ+ leader.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I admire the most is Libby Parsons. She has a very unique background, coming from the nonprofit sector and transitioning into investment banking. This achievement is not surprising when you meet her in person. Libby has been involved in so many different activities ranging from professional opportunities (e.g., Invest for Impact case competition) to community building (e.g. diversity and inclusion initiatives). Eloquent, intelligent, funny, kind, helpful, friendly, team player — there are not enough adjectives to describe Libby’s importance in our community as a true representation of Carolina leaders.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I come from a very entrepreneurial family that built everything from scratch. My father always knew that the only way to ensure our family would break the circle of poverty would be by studying hard. There is a saying among the Caravellas that I will strongly believe in: “We never say no to studying.”

What is your favorite movie about business? My favorite movie about business is Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. In this movie, we can see Enron’s famous story and how the lack of corporate governance affected a huge and successful company. It is a very current example of how my favorite MBA course can affect the outcomes of huge companies.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? MECE – Mutually Exclusive and Completely Exhaustive. This acronym is the nightmare of everyone recruiting for consulting, but, at the same time, it is a very good representation of our MBA experience. We need to learn how to prioritize mutually exclusive events while making sure we are being completely exhaustive with the tools and skills learned.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working for a Brazilian business school, so I guess there was no way to run away from it!”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? Priceless. (I hope the finance office doesn’t read this.) I changed my career, my country, made countless friends, learned how to become an LGBTQ+ leader, and gained deeper self-knowledge. It is just impossible to put a tangible price on that.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Buy appropriate winter clothes before going to Chicago and lose some (ok, a lot) of the extra pounds that I accrued during my MBA.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as the guy who wasn’t afraid to ask difficult questions, get involved or help friends make connections.

Hobbies? To play and watch volleyball, discuss Brazil’s politics with friends, cook new recipes and listen to almost every type of music.

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

“Reinaldo Caravellas arrived on campus ready to effect amazing change: intelligent, personable, driven, and with an inexhaustible energy level that leaves us in awe. He succeeded: He has cemented his legacy at UNC Kenan-Flagler as an active member of the Consulting and Net Impact Clubs; a Career Mentor who shares his time, officially and informally, with scores of classmates; President of the Pride Club; and as a go-to student for anyone seeking (too often at the last minute) a speaker, panelist, advisor, idea generator, sounding board, instigator, collaborator, someone to get things done or to just pass the time as a pal.  Central to all of these endeavors are Rei’s abilities to support, critique, challenge and motivate with equal measures of optimism and authenticity.

As Pride Club president, Reinaldo built bridges across our communities with his focus on the broadest interpretations of inclusivity. Specific to the MBA Pride Club, he increased club membership by almost 20 percent. He then partnered with the Undergraduate Pride Club and LGBT Center on UNC’s main campus, a collaboration that fostered the creation of LGBTQ+101, an educational and interactive enrichment opportunity now available across campus.

Reinaldo led the MBA Pride Club to co-host 10 major events with ROMBA (Reaching Out MBA), the MBA Student Association, the Undergraduate Business Club, and MBA Admissions. Under his leadership, attendance at each of the club’s events increases on average by 47 attendees including an outreach and community-building event attended by 75 percent of his classmates. Now add the staff, faculty, and alumni with whom Rei has worked, and his qualitative value-add is incalculable.

His list of volunteer activities would fill too many pages, including when someone else volunteered him. He has hosted at least two webinars and over 20 coffee chats (informal calls) with prospective students, acted as a student leader for our diversity recruiting weekend and created specific connections to Brazil to improve our recruiting efforts. The number of times someone here has said “What about Rei?” is equaled only by his familiar refrains of “Of course I’ll be there!” As part of a plan or at the very last minute, Reinaldo is famous for stepping in, stepping up and never sitting on the sidelines.

Such is Rei’s gift: resonant impact.”

Kara Cupoli
Director of the Full-Time MBA Program

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