Brian Bell, Swamit Mehta, Erlangga Renggana, Kylie Sale, and Quinn Sure are full-time Haas students working on an IBD project with Embraer, the third largest aerospace manufacturer, in São Paolo, Brazil.

Fallin’ for Iguaçu – The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

We finished our finals, passed in our papers, and hopped on a plane to Foz do Iguaçu, the jumping off point for Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall chain in the world which straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina. Here, our team (along with a couple other IBD Brazil teams) experienced our first taste of Brazil; the friendliest of people, delicious barbeque, and the beautiful scenery of the rainforest. Brazil is vibrantly green; even in its more urban areas the flora and fauna of the rainforest is pervasive, giving the cities and countryside alike a unique sense of vitality. In the national park, we stared in awe at the thunderous falls and the multitude of rainbows shimmering in every direction. We even got up close and personal to the falls by taking a boat ride to the base of Iguazu and getting drenched in the deluge. For our first dinner, we sought out a churrascaria – where everything is grilled to perfection from cuts of beef we never knew existed, to cheese, and pineapple. What a welcome to Brazil!

Taking in Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side

Reaching New Heights – Embraer’s Innovation Team

Embraer is one of Brazil’s prized companies – a national success story and a well-recognized global aerospace manufacturer. Our IBD project comes at a fascinating turning point in the company’s history. Embraer recently sold its commercial division to Boeing and is being split down the middle, renamed, and re-envisioned. As the new Embraer emerges with its remaining defense, executive jets, and services divisions, leadership determined that innovation is critical for the company’s future ability to grow, especially in the competitive and rapidly changing global aviation industry.

Through the course of the project we’ve met with senior level VPs, Directors, and Project Managers to learn about innovation across the company and how different leaders believe the company should grow in the future. In our time here, we discovered that employees are enthusiastic about Embraer, passionate about their projects, and generous with their time – often our meetings and interviews run several hours long!

The Haas IBD Team at Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos


We are working closely with Embraer’s innovation team – a motivated group of intrapreneurs with a mission to bring Embraer into the future through radical innovation and culture change. The team exemplifies Brazil’s warm and friendly culture. On our first day in the Embraer global headquarters, Guilherme, Portfolio Manager with the Innovation Strategy Team, introduced us to strong Brazilian coffee and chocolate-filled cappuccinos. We’ve enjoyed happy hours and dinners getting to know the rest of the Embraer innovation team including Izabela, Leticia, and Thiago. Our project sponsor, Sandro, Director of Innovation Strategy at Embraer, welcomed us to his home for a true Brazilian barbecue experience.

Embraer’s Innovation Team and Haas IBD Team enjoying a BBQ








Embraer IBD team and Innovation Strategy Team following close of the 5 day Kaizen workshop

Keeping it Rio

While our three weeks in Brazil were largely spent in our clients offices, we also took advantage of our proximity to visit Rio, one of Brazil’s most well loved cities. Known for its beaches, favelas, and caipirinhas, Rio de Janeiro a city that moves at its own beat. Along with visiting Copacabana, we enjoyed the Rio Sunday farmers market, visited Christ the Redeemer, and hiked Sugarloaf.

We enjoyed two days swimming and snacking across Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro




Eating our way through the colorful fruits, pastels, and juices of the São Paulo Municipal Market

Pretty Fly – A Visit to the Airplane Factory 

Touring Embraer’s airplane manufacturing facility in São Jose dos Campos was a highlight of our experience with Embraer. Expansive factory buildings, several football fields in length and filled with dozens of line workers, held awe-inspiring assembly lines of commercial planes (capacity of up to 155 people) and executive jets, with wings being attached, engines installed, and designs painted reflecting top airline companies from around the world. The individual plane components are made on site, manufactured in massive metal machines, and later assembled into recognizable parts like wings, fuselages, and tails through both automated and manual processes. The coordination and organization required to turn tens of thousands of parts into an airplane is mind-boggling, and Embraer is one of the best in the world. They can turn out 20+ executive jets per month from a single product line!

Our work with the Embraer team is bringing our strategy, operations, design thinking, and other Haas coursework to life in the real world. Each day has been an incredible learning experience, and it’s our privilege and pleasure to be working with our client team at Embraer.

As we worked in our office alongside the Embraer runway, sounds of test flights overhead brought a constant reminder of what we were here to achieve, an Embraer ready for the future


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