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Meet Victor Cavalcante, '18, MBA Student
Meet Victor Cavalcante, '18, MBA Student

Originally from Brazil, Victor had been working in Spain for two years before coming to Oregon. Spain is where his employer is based: Iberdrola, one of the world’s largest energy companies. He had started his career with them in Brazil, and now moved to their Portland office.

When a friend referred him to the Portland MBA, he was intrigued. A coffee chat with Tichelle Sorensen, the program’s academic director, gave him the answers and assurance he needed, and he jumped in.

“The first few weeks as an MBA student felt like being part of one of those survival reality tv shows,” he says, “You are being dropped off in the wild, trying to figure your new situation. You need to work, study, make sure not to neglect your relationships, and also get some rest.”

Within about a month, Victor hit his stride, and so did his peers in the cohort. “You become more efficient, and then you don’t have to put in quite as many hours.”

We caught up with him just before his first term’s finals.

How did you decide to pursue your MBA?

I have been interested in the global economy and specifically in U.S. business since my undergraduate studies in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When my company transferred me to Portland just over a year ago, I thought it would be valuable to explore different components of business so I would be able to make more strategic decisions in my current role. I also wanted to better integrate myself into the culture in Portland, and to make new connections through the MBA program.

What has been your experience with the program so far?

What stands out to me is that there are so many group conversations. It makes the classes extremely dynamic. I find it fascinating that the professors constantly encourage us to contribute to the discussions and to share our critical opinions. Coming from a different education system, this is something I was not used to. I think it’s really valuable and energizing, in part because of the diversity of backgrounds among my cohort.

Working full-time and studying at the same time has not been easy. We are required to learn new things and complete assignments on an aggressive timeline, which has taken me out of my comfort zone. It challenges me to identify priorities and work efficiently.

What do you find helps you be successful in this program?

Some of the key strengths that I believe have been helping me are my commitment to my goals and to my cohort, as well as my determination.

I also found that I am receiving a lot of support here, especially from the other students in my cohort. Accounting is already hard, and even more so when you are a non-native English speaker. The same is true for a lot of the other subjects we study. But everyone is very helpful. I can see that we are competitive in the sense that we all want to get a win out of the program, but we want to win together.

Is there anything you have gained from the program so far that you think will be especially valuable for you going forward?

So far, I have been learning about leadership, communication, strategy, finance, and sustainability. These are all critical to any role in business. And as an international student, I am also learning more about how American businesses operate and about the organizational cultures here.

How do you like living, working, and studying in Portland?

At first having so much less sunshine was hard, but now I love it here. The scale, the friendliness, the focus on community - it’s a city where you can have a high quality of life. I think it’s a great place for international professionals.

How do you envision yourself applying the business expertise you gain in the program after graduation?

I work in procurement for Iberdrola, one of the largest energy companies in the world, with headquarters in Spain. After graduation, I expect that I will have a 360-degree view on the different components of business so that I can be more strategic. I also think that I will be more familiar with U.S. business models. Comparing those to what I already know will give me a more global perspective on business. And I expect my communication and leadership skills to improve throughout the program, which will help me in any future business setting.