Meet Incoming Management Professor Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello
New faculty member Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello is scheduled to join Merrimack this fall to teach graduate and undergraduate strategy classes. While he was in college studying for a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he co-founded a software company. He has since received a Ph.D. in strategy from Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil and spent a year as a visiting Ph.D. student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
He discusses his career path, beginning with finishing high school in the United States:
What took you from high school in Georgia to college in Brazil?
In 1989, when I was 16, I decided I wanted to have an experience abroad and live the American way. So I went to the US to finish my senior high school year. I lived with the Kilgore family in Carrollton, Georgia, as a visiting student. I am still in touch with them. After graduating, I had good SAT scores but I decided to go back to Brazil for college.
Tell us about the company, D’Road Software, you started when you were a student at Federal University of Ceara, Brazil.
I co-founded this startup with a friend when I was a junior. We are talking about the pre-Windows era, 1992. At that time, very few small and medium-size organizations had any computational capability. We provided customized administrative software, like inventory control and hotel management. Although I sold my share to my partner when I left to go to graduate school, the company is still operating today as an Internet service provider.
You worked a year in construction management, then enrolled in graduate school. How did your path unfold?
The graduate program was in production engineering, but they had a very strong group in strategic management. I worked in a research group that studied the strategic adaptation of engineering firms and the consequences for managing their operations. At the beginning of my doctoral program, I realized I wanted to work as an academic in management not as an engineer. I became deeply involved in doing research in strategy and contributing to the education of future and actual managers. I felt I was doing something that had a clear impact in society, particularly for future generations. Moreover, I felt that the academic profession could fulfill my natural curiosity that question why managerial practice was done in a certain way and how to test alternatives to improve it.
You’ve worked as an Assistant or Associate Professor of Strategy for more than 10 years. Tell us about your current role.
I am an Associate Professor of Strategy at FGV Business School of Sao Paolo in Brazil, a leading school in Latin America. I teach strategy courses in the undergraduate, masters and doctoral programs, and in executive development programs. I have served as head of the International Business Research Forum, an applied research center, and as Director for the Doing Business in Brazil program. After working here since 2009, I’ll be leaving in August to come to the US to join the faculty at Merrimack. I am very excited about this new phase in my life and professional career.
How did you spend your time during the two sabbaticals you’ve had since becoming an academic?
My first sabbatical was in Paris in 2006. I wanted to learn a different culture in Europe and to learn another foreign language. Then I met a professor at Paris-Dauphine University who invited me to stay on for a year. Since then, every year they invite me to teach, in French, for their master’s program, the oldest and more traditional master in strategy in France. I am also invited every year to teach at the MBA in international management at Lyon III University.
The second sabbatical year was at MIT in 2014. I have a great research interest into how politics affects business strategy and how firms can favorably navigate the political environment. I believe this topic is highly relevant in every country in the world.
How will you relate your professional and academic experiences to students at Merrimack?
I think the Girard School of Business addresses a broad range of topics, from marketing and finance to operations and international business, in a practical way. This setting provides more room to make the students to think in a multidisciplinary way. This is precisely what I learned in my professional life. Managers need to build a broader set of knowledge and skills to succeed.
What interests of yours may surprise your students?
Maybe what will surprise them is that I do not know how to play soccer. For a Brazilian, this is really awkward. Actually, I was a basketball player and played on the varsity team when I lived in Georgia.