Jean-Francois Pinto Saghaard (M.05)
Tudo Bem

Sao Paulo. Jean is the type of Brazilian you have always wanted to meet: he is nice, cool, he loves football and the culture of his country. Whether he speaks English or French – his father is French – he always has his delicious accent. Discover what it means to be a marketing professional that has experienced various industries and companies in this fascinating country, where the life is as sweet as it can be dangerous.

Read full transcript…

HU: Hi Jean-François! Tudo bem? We are going to start this interview by our little Chinese portrait. So, if you were a color?

J: Maybe red.

HU: An animal?

J: A horse.

HU: A meal?

J: A good barbecue.

HU: A song?

J: A song from the Beatles, for sure… We Can work it Out, from the Beatles.

HU: A movie?

J: The King’s Speech.

HU: A sin?

J: Scoring goals! (laughs)

HU: An object?

J: A table.

HU: A book?

J: Benjamin Franklin’s biography. I love biographies.

HU: A sport or a game.

J: A sport??? Football!

HU: a (super)hero?

J: Martin Luther King.

“I used to work in a huge bank but today I feel closer to the Board of Directors, to the managers, to the strategy, the results. I feel happy when we do a good job, or terrible when we don’t.”

HU: Thank you! Let’s talk about your story now. Can you sum up your professional background in just 30 seconds?

J: I got a Bachelor’s degree in business administration. I started my career doing marketing at Credicar, the leader in the credit card segment in Brazil. After that I went to HEC for my MBA. During my MBA program I did an internship at AXA. Then I came back to Brazil and I worked for 3 years at Itau, the biggest private bank in Brazil, always in marketing. Finally I have been at Insper, a business education institution in Brazil.


HU: What is Insper?

J: Insper is a not-for-profit institution that has a very singular proposal: teaching business, economics, law and engineering in a very specific way, engaging students a lot in the classroom.

We also have a second mission, which is to generate knowledge for our country, our companies and our society. We want to make things change in Brazil by bringing ideas and knowledge in the areas I mentioned.

HU: Before working with Insper, you occupied marketing positions in the banking industry. Why did you want to change?

J: To me, the banking industry is like a second school. Brazilian banks have very good practices regarding strategy and marketing, so I learnt a lot. But I wanted to change for 2 reasons. First, because I wanted to work in a sector that has a bigger purpose than the banking industry for instance, and second because I wanted to work in a company that was not too big. I used to work in a huge bank but today I feel closer to the Board of Directors, to the managers, to the strategy, the results. I feel happy when we do a good job, or terrible when we don’t. I feel more engaged with the company I am working for than before.

HU: As Marketing Manager, what is your job at Insper?

J: Insper changed its name 7 years ago. We used to be called IBMEC and to be part of a larger group. In 2004, we became an independent not-for-profit organization and we had to change our name. My big challenge was to develop this new brand, both in education and research and both in undergraduate programs and graduate programs. We had to do this very fast in a very sensitive business, because students, alumni and professors are very attached to the brand of their school.

“We are a business school, but we want to become a real university.”

HU: How do you improve the awareness of a brand? Very concretely, what have you done with Insper?

J: The first thing in a branding strategy is to define a clear positioning. Then, we worked a lot on the digital aspect of marketing, using social medias and our website to share our content, the experience of students and alumni as well as the knowledge provided by our centres of research. Additionally we organized many events such as seminars or conferences in our campus.

HU: What is your typical working day?

J: Everyday, I am working on the planning of a big event on our campus. I look at our social media presence to see if you are engaging our community. I am also looking at all the issues of the school: are we attracting the students we want? Are we closer to our alumni? Are we doing well with fundraising? What has been the impact of a specific conference? Because the marketing department is involved in all these topics.

HU: What are the specificities of the business education industry in Brazil? In France, we know the FGV, but how did you differentiate from the existing players?

J: In Brazil, the best business schools are public and have been there for more than 60 years, so Insper is a new player, but we have some competitive advantages. This organization was designed to answer the needs of the 21st century and we decided to have a different approach in terms of pedagogy (engagement of students in classrooms) and research (focusing on concrete issues of our society). We are connected to the problems of companies.

HU: Can you tell us a bit more on Insper’s strategy?

J: In the short term, we would like to leverage our capacity to share our knowledge in order to reach more people and to share the knowledge provided by our 4 research centers with the whole country. We also want to reinforce our branding in business, economics, law and now engineering: we recently launched 3 new courses in engineering.

In the long term, Insper plans to open new programs, like an undergraduate course of law, or public policies courses. We are a business school, but we want to become a real university.


A classroom at Insper

HU: What makes you happy to go to work every morning?

J: I deeply believe in Insper’s mission that aims at developing people, companies and Brazil. We are here to educate future managers and leaders. I am also very proud of our professors and their research and by sharing it with, I feel like I am helping my country, as part of this great team.

HU: Can you give us an example on the way the research at Insper is helping Brazil?

J: We have a very strong expertise in public policy, which is a huge problem Brazil is coping with right now. We have experts in education policies, health or transport who give lectures, who write articles in newspapers, who appear in television.

Let me give you an example. We have a professor called Ricardo Paes de Barros who’s a specialist in the fight against poverty. Recently, he was invited to a TV show during which he explained that the Brazilian government was not spending a lot of money to help poor people compared to others sectors. He said that we should do more to help those very poor people who really need the help of our government.

“There are many things to be done in Brazil because we are developing country facing many problems, especially now, and I think that Brazilians should really work hard.”

HU: Let’s talk about Sao Paulo now. Were you born here?

J: Yes. I was born in Sao Paulo, that makes me a Paulistanho. The city is in the state of Sao Paulo, that makes me a Paulista. And I support the Sao Paulo Football Club, that makes me a San Paulinho. I am very close to Sao Paulo! (laughs)


Jean’s religion: the Sao Paulo Futebol Club

HU: Where do you hang out on Sunday afternoons?

J: I am either going to the Ibirapuera Park for a jogging or watching my football team playing in the stadium or on television.


Ibirapuera Park, a jungle in the middle of a concrete jungle

HU: What are your favorite places in Sao Paulo?

J: I like the neighborhoods where I used to live. I was born in Butanta, a very green residential area, where I used to play football in the street. Going back there brings back good memories. As an adult, I lived in Paraiso and I live in Moema now. I get easily used and attached to a new neighborhood.

“We need clean politicians who could think about the Brazilian people instead of their own bank account.”

HU: If you had only 24 hours before leaving Sao Paulo for ever, what would you do?

J: I would go to my parents’ house, where I have many good memories. After that, I would need to see the stadium of my football team one last time. I would have lunch in Moema and go to a bar for the happy hour in Jardins or Paraiso to have a drink with my friends.


SPFC Stadium. Corinthians and Palmeiras fans not allowed

HU: What do you like about people from Sao Paulo?

J: People from Sao Paulo work hard and play hard. There are many things to be done in Brazil because we are developing country facing many problems, especially now, and I think that Brazilians should really work hard. Everyone has to get involved and must try to make things better instead of just complaining about the president. People in Sao Paulo do that.

But they also know how to enjoy life! At night or during the weekend, we have good restaurants, good concert halls, good samba houses… We were able to strike a balance.

HU: What is Sao Paulo’s issue that matter the most to you?

J: I think we have two main issues: security and traffic.

Security in Sao Paulo is a real problem as there are many places here where even we, Brazilians, avoid to go to. Concerning traffic, Sao Paulo lacks a good metro system that would replace many of the cars and that is a huge need in a city where more than 20 millions people are living.

HU: What is Brazil’s main challenge in your opinion?

J: The biggest challenge of Brazil is education. Over the past 20 years, we have succeeded in bringing all young children to school; the problem is that we don’t have enough good schools. The future of Brazil goes through a better education and it would help us fixing many of our current problems.

HU: Are you confident this can be achieved?

J: Education is a long-term issue. We are not addressing it as we should. We are too focused on economic growth indicators such as GDP or our performance on the financial markets. The Brazilian Minister of Economy is well-known, the Minister of Education isn’t.

HU: There is a huge economical and political crisis is Brazil. What do you think about it?

J: The crisis is about the bad management of our economy, about corruption and about the poor quality of our political leaders.

We have a huge fiscal problem because of public expenditures that are not very efficient. We have around 20 political parties in the Brazilian Congress, which makes it too difficult to take decisions. Each and every law project triggers endless debates and that’s where corruption starts. Almost all politicians are involved in various scandals, including Lula and Dilma Roussef and the State is stuck. Nothing is happening.

We need clean politicians who could think about the Brazilian people instead of their own bank account.

“I can give you 4 reasons to go HEC.”

HU: Let’s talk about HEC now. When did you do your MBA at HEC?

J: Between 2004 and 2005.

HU: Why did you want to do an MBA?

J: After 5 years working in the banking industry, I was starting to have a good professional background and I realized that when I was in the university, I was too young to benefit from my business education. In business, theory and practice should be inseparable. I wanted to come back to classrooms in an international program.

HU: Why did you want to go to France?

J: My father is French, half of my family is French and I am very attached to this country. I always say that I am 51% Brazilian and 49% French. When I was thinking about an MBA, I thought about France.

HU: What is your best memory from your MBA at HEC?

J: The quality and the potential of my classmates. When they were debating or doing presentations on a specific topic, I felt proud of being part of this group. It was a privilege to study with them during a year and a half.

“Being close to alumni is being close to knowledge.”

HU: What was your favorite place on the HEC campus?

J: Like many MBA students, I really liked the Piano Bar. We could relax and talk about business there, but sometimes we were just talking about life, we enjoyed life. We even watched many games of the Euro Cup of 2004 there.

HU: 2004 was not France’s best Euro Cup… Would you advise someone to go to HEC? Why?

J: Yes and I can give you 4 reasons to go HEC.

First, the quality of teachers. I have very good memories from professors Garrette, Stolowi and others. Second, the quality of students. Third, the campus, only 20 kilometres away from Paris in a very nice spot. From France you can go wherever you want in Europe and you have many places to see. And fourth, the very strong alumni community. All in all, I think it can give your carer a new dimension.

HU: Which advice would you give to a young graduate from HEC?

J: Be connected with your community as a whole. Stay aware of what is happening on the campus, take a look at the research and make connections with other alumni.

HU: You’re also the president of Sao Paulo’s HEC alumni chapter, meaning that you are in charge of the local HEC community. For which reasons would you like to be contacted by an HEC alumnus?

J: You learn a lot with an alumnus and you need to be updated. I am working in the business education sector but I am interested in other sectors and meeting with HEC alumni allows me to learn new things, regarding Human Resources, Strategy, Real Estate or Finance for instance. Being close to alumni is being close to knowledge.

As chapter’s president, I like to promote the interactions between alumni and I like to see what it creates. Everyone is welcome to be part of our community, as it will only increase the amount of accumulated knowledge.

HU: As Marketing Manager of a business school, what do you think HEC should do to improve its brand, which is not well-known outside Europe?

J: I think HEC should work closer to alumni chapters. It would be very interesting for HEC to send teachers every year to give conferences in different countries. We would love to welcome the Dean of HEC here in Brazil, so that he can share with us his strategy and his plans. This would value the local HEC communities, the alumni and it would be easier to raise funds. We need to work together!

HU: HEC’s motto is “The more you know, the more you dare”. What would be your motto?

J: Can I pick two?

HU: If you want, yes!

J: Well, I love football…very much… Je vais finir en français.

HU: Allons-y !

J: J’aime beaucoup le football et notamment deux devises. One from Liverpool, which reminds of HEC: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. The other one, although I support Paris Saint-Germain, is from the football club of Marseille: “Droit au but”. Dans la vie, il faut avoir une idée claire de ce que tu veux, et se battre pour y arriver.

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