Where are we going? (Part 2)

The Santander mission to Brazil has moved on from business capital São Paolo to cultural capital Rio de Janeiro. So what have been the key moments from the second half of my visit?

First of all, it’s clear there’s more to Rio than tourism, though football, beaches, caipirinhas, churrascarias and samba do figure highly. There’s a lot of business to be done here: apart from the big oil and gas firms, Rio is also home to Brazil’s asset-management industry. It’s largely based in the Leblon district, which is a high-end mix of residential, retail and office space near Ipanema Beach. We met the team at ARX Investments (owned by BNY Mellon Asset Management) in their office – unlike any asset manager in London, they are based in the top of a shopping centre. Imagine Blackrock based in Westfield, and you can see the unusual picture.

What else struck me about Rio is the obsession with fitness. Levels of obesity are far lower than in the UK and the US. All along the Copacabana, people of all ages run, cycle and rollerblade from morning to night. Your roving correspondent was shamed into joining his mission colleagues on an early-morning run. When in Rio..!

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Some of the Boys from Brazil on an early-morning recce. Source: Deano from Huub – for all your triathlon needs.

Other notable observations from Rio are: it’s very expensive (more so than in São Paolo, I reckon); it feels far safer than we were led to believe; the locals are unerringly helpful and friendly; and the views are even more spectacular in person. It’s a beautiful city of beautiful people who take pride in themselves and pride in their country.

So after a week of never-to-be-forgotten experiences, what do I take away from Rio and Brazil from Copylab’s perspective? The list is long: a new angle on our global strategy, an exciting opportunity to network globally with clients of Santander and UKTI/Scottish Development International; a clear idea for how to enter the Brazilian market; definite interest in our proposition here; and, contrary to the claim of the cultural guru who said “You’ll never get an order in your first meeting with a Brazilian company”, an order.

So where is Copylab going? Before this week, I would’ve said the UK, perhaps Brazil and probably the US. Now, I’m more confident in saying the world is our oyster.

Finally, my thanks go to Mark Collings, Steve Nichols and Paula Kemp from Santander UK, who hosted us so well and introduced us to so many interesting people. Also to business guru John Holmes for his coaching and perspective on our business strategy. To the companies, trade bodies and government representatives who gave up their time to share their wisdom with us. And finally, to the other five guys on the trip, who absolutely embody what work, business and life should be all about – work hard and play hard. I salute you all and look forward to seeing you next year. Saúde!

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The mission team – an inspiring bunch.

Ross Hunter

18 November 2014