Ram Subramanian is professor of leadership in the management
department in the School of Business Administration, where he teaches courses in strategy both at the undergraduate and
at the M.B.A. levels. Dr. Subramanian’s academic background is in strategic
management. In addition, he teaches courses in a variety of areas in the broad
field of management including international management, family business,
entrepreneurship and organizational behavior.
His research interest is in examining various facets of the
organization-environment relationship and has published papers related to
market orientation and environmental scanning in Harvard Business
Review, Journal of Management, Journal of Business Research and Management
International Review, among others.
Ram makes extensive use of the case method in his classes.
In 2016, Ram was invited to serve on the editorial board of Case
Research Journal, after he won an award from the journal as its “Most
Outstanding Ad Hoc Reviewer.” He has
published teaching cases in Case Research Journal, Business Case
Journal and Asian Case Research Journal. He has more
than 15 cases in the Ivey Publishing depositary
that distributes cases worldwide.
In 2016, he was a Fulbright specialist scholar in case methodology and taught case writing and case teaching to faculty at Windescheim University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. His cases have won more than $25,000 in prize money in global competitions organized by Canada’s John Molson School of Business and by Oikos in Switzerland.
As our time in Portugal began to wind down, Cohort 16 enjoyed
two final cultural visits in Porto that continued to teach us new things and solidify
the impact of this international experience.
Located directly on the bank of the Douro River in the heart of Porto, the Sandeman wine cellars have attracted visitors for years. Like many successful Portuguese companies, this is a family-run operation, and they have focused on producing port wine and sherry in the Douro Valley for over 200 years. We began with a stroll along the river where we were able to enjoy the beautiful views and watch the boats maneuver the port waters.
After lunch, our
guide took us on a visual journey through the history of the company and the process
of making port wine. Even though it is a small operation in the global wine
market, Sandeman has been credited with many “firsts” especially in the
They were the first company in the wine industry to begin
iron-branding their barrels for easier identification throughout the trade
process. They were also one of the first companies to create and associate a
label directly with their wine, hence the creation of Sandeman Don, who is
still featured on their port bottles and recognized as their advertising symbol.
The cellars we toured are 100% operational and have been utilized since the founding of the company for storage for over four million liters of wine during the fermentation process. We were able to see three different fermentation methods for the various wines, as well as the required humidity ponds that allow the French oak barrels and wine corks to stay properly hydrated. Pictured are the extra-large barrels used to age the “young” port wines.
At the end of the tour we were able to sample a few of the
different port variations in true Portuguese fashion, surrounded with family
and friends enjoying priceless moments.
We learned insights from the businesses we visited, our cultural experiences, and the Portuguese people we got to know during this international experience. Throughout all of the visits, there were two key messages that were continuously referenced. One was an idea of connectedness through familial ties, which are rooted deep in the culture and displayed through the most successful Portuguese businesses and trades being passed down from generation to generation. The second was a feeling of hope for the future displayed in the focus on sustainability and future generations.
On the last day, we presented our final team course assignments to our professors. After, we joined together for a traditional Portuguese farewell dinner at eLeBe Entreparedes to celebrate the completion of another EMBA course.
However, during dinner it became clear that we were all celebrating more than just a great trip; we had inherently learned to embrace the Portuguese sense of connectedness. We were celebrating the bonds that were built and strengthened through this experience, the laughs that were shared, and the memories that were made. We were celebrating the risks we had taken, both individually and as a cohort, the challenges we had overcome, and the success we know is in our future. We were celebrating the “family” this EMBA experience has created.
Olá from the beautiful city of Porto! Situated along the Douro River and the second largest city in Portugal, there is a breathtaking view in every direction! After an evening of exploring the city, Cohort 16 traveled to AAC Textiles in nearby Vila Nova de Famalicão. With 30 years of experience in the textiles industry, AAC Textiles works with high-end luxury brands from all over the world to support the design, sampling, and production process of quality made Portuguese textiles. The textile industry accounts for 10% of Portugal’s exports with 95% of the industry located here in the northernmost part of the country.
What sets AAC apart from other manufacturers is their ability to work with companies specializing in specific aspects of textile production in order to create a high-quality product. They focus on delivering smaller quantities with a quick turnaround time and work with many high-end designers from all over the world. Products produced here are sold across the globe including Europe, Asia, and the US.
Paulo Pereira, CEO of AAC Textiles, gave the cohort a tour of the facility where we reviewed various aspects of the textile making process. We visited the sample library where all of the various fabric and embroidery samples are available for clients to review, met pattern makers who turn a designer’s sketch into real life, and visited the prototype department where articles are first created for clients to review. Clients visiting the facility can get a true understanding of the textile making process starting from their idea to the completion of a finished piece.
The textile industry is focused on how manufacturers and designers can produce quality products using sustainable materials, while creating less waste and reducing their carbon footprint. AAC Textiles encourages clients to use organic cotton and recycled plastic whenever possible and encourages eco-friendly printing techniques. They lead by example with their commitment to working in a sustainable work environment themselves. They do not use plastic at their office, and their space has been designed to minimize electricity using radiant heating and cooling in their floors. AAC Textiles operates with a belief that clothing brands and their producers should promote sustainability in a way that one day will become the industry standard.
In order to keep the textiles industry thriving in Portugal, AAC Textiles believes in investing in people and a continued focus on sustainability. From artists and designers to pattern makers and factory workers, hiring, training and keeping skilled workers is important to their business. Focusing on sustainability is not only a responsibility to them, but it is also a differentiator they have made for themselves in the industry. After today’s visit the cohort had a greater appreciation for textiles made in Portugal.
Did you know it took 43 years to make the cork top in, what is likely, your favorite bottle of wine? Today, Cohort 16 visited Corticeira Amorim, the world’s largest producer of natural cork. Our adventure began almost immediately upon meeting Ines who took us on a tour of the plant; she walked us through the entire process of how cork is made. Well, almost all! You see, cork oak (Quercus Suber L) takes 25 years before it can be stripped of its bark for the first time and then another nine years before it can be stripped again, but only the third time can it reach the high standard of quality required for cork production. That’s over 40 years for that one cork top you’re about to pull. Can you believe that???
Amorim, a fourth generation company, traces its roots back to the 19th century in the beautiful country of Portugal. It is the largest cork and cork derived company in the world, generating more than 763 million Euro in sales (2018) from more than 100 countries through their network of dozens of fully owned subsidiaries. With a multi-million Euro R&D investment per year, Amorim applied its special knowledge to this centuries-old industry as diverse and demanding as wines & spirits, aerospace, automotive, construction, sports, interior and fashion design. Amorim strongly feels that their responsible approach to raw materials and sustainable production illustrates the remarkable interdependence between the industry and a vital ecosystem – one of the world’s most balanced examples of social, economic, and environmental development.
After an amazing plant tour, we had the pleasure of meeting Carlos Jesus who treated the team to a fantastic presentation on Amorim’s history, corporate strategy, and global positioning as well as its perspective on the future of cork. As a cohort, this visit was very significant since we had come to Portugal having researched this company for our class project. This visit presented the opportunity for us to confirm our research, learn new facts, and explore answers to new questions to support the cases we were all expected to present in the coming days. You can guess the energy level of the group! Mr. Jesus was an incredible presenter who exhibited vast knowledge while providing candid thoughts of not only Amorim, but also the industry and its future.
So, the next time you pop one of the 31 million corks made every year in your favorite bottle of wine feel good about the responsible partner in Amorim fighting to support our planet and environment!
It was 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and our bus arrived at our final stop of the day, the headquarters of Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal (Brisa Portugal Highways). Two tall men in navy suits were standing outside ready to greet us as we approached the building. We were welcomed by Eduardo Costa Ramos, Head of Business Development, and Frederico Lobao Melo, Deputy Head of Brisa Business Development. They walked us into what seemed like a mini auditorium with stadium seating and a projection screen in front of a black-curtained wall. The presentation started almost immediately, beginning with the company profile.
Brisa played a key role in bringing Portugal’s once neglected transportation infrastructure up to date. The company holds the largest road concession granted by the Portuguese government, and it operates the country’s main network of tolled motorways.
Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal is a mobility company; however, the business model of Brisa is a combination of partnerships with other companies, including Via Verde, Colibri, and A-to-be Company. The largest segment of the company is highway management, overseeing six concessions, road services, and vehicle inspections. They operate in the United States, India, and Holland in addition to Portugal. Their focus now and in the future is on their customers and efficiency. Eduardo stressed the importance of continuous talent development and the workforce challenges transportation and the mobility industry face. The IT segment is in need of programmers, developers, and technology orientated individuals. Talented IT professionals tend to go to Silicon Valley and/or other industries, and it has become a challenge to attract talent to the automotive industry.
According to Eduardo, Brisa is using predictive analytics via A-to-be tech business, and leveraging their artificial intelligence tools to improve and safeguard road safety. In addition, their angle for future deployments is “Smart Cities”. They want to continue their transportation model in which they integrate buses, trains, and highways, but it’s imperative that both auto manufacturers and mobility companies collaborate. Consequently, smart transport infrastructure and smart transport are key components of the “Smart City”, and more knowledge is needed concerning those issues.
After their PowerPoint presentation, Eduardo asked that we put away our phones for a behind-the-scenes look. The projection screen rose up and the black curtains began to slowly open. A command center was revealed with multiple TV screens where their highway operations team was actively monitoring and identifying any accessibility issues or accidents. They relayed as much of this information as possible to the people of Portugal for commuting purposes. Fredrico stepped in to speak on the operations, given that this was his wheelhouse. According to Fredrico, there are 70 vans on continuous routes monitoring the highways specifically in their blind spots from the cameras. There was one representative, known as the ‘voice of command’, a police officer who had the authority to divert traffic and make the decision to close highways. It was so interesting to see this command center and learn how they will continue to push sustainable mobility in their market areas. Eduardo made a great point during his presentation in that cars will continue to exist, whether or not they are called something else in the future, but this form of transportation will continue to occur and so will the need to improve the mobility canvas.
Homeless people lost to our society, children living in extreme poverty, plastic overfilling landfills and oceans… issues facing our society.
“Social Impact” is the act of taking deliberate actions to create a significant change that positively alters a social issue impacting our world.
Today our cohort started our day with a volunteer organization, CAIS, which was established to help people of extreme poverty or those socially excluded. This group has trainers who lead a team of people they serve to compete in the Homeless World Cup of Street Futball. We had the opportunity to play soccer with this group of amazing people. It was fun, insightful, and humbling. I loved that our cohort and professors jumped right in and played street futball. While playing, I realized that this sport is a great equalizer; it didn’t matter if you were a Senior Vice President, a volunteer trainer, or a homeless person; all were equal on the field.
Following futball, we visited the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on its beautiful campus in Lisboa, Portugal, which serves to elevate humanity through Art, Science, Education, and Charity. The foundation was created in 1956 and has served the people of Portugal ever since. The foundation identifies significant issues impacting socially excluded groups, solves them in a localized manner, and then works to institutionalize the solution within the public sector. Some of the foundation’s projects include Art for Inclusion, Hip-Hop for Underprivileged, and Hack for Good. The foundation currently has three key areas it is working to address: sustainability, knowledge, and cohesion & social integration.
In 2013, the Calouste Gulbenkian foundation developed a program called Maze, which is a company established to aid entrepreneurs committed to making a social impact as a result of doing business. Maze assists qualified entrepreneurs with market intelligence, strengthening ventures, and advising on capitalization. To be eligible, the start-up needs talented teams with solid technical and managerial skills, a unique and innovative product, tech-enabled solutions and a strong and clear business idea with impact potential.
Maze has an acceleration program known as Maze-X and a venture capital company known as Mustard Seed: Maze. Mustard Seed: Maze is an Impact Capital company that serves as an investment group for venture capitalists with the goal of reorienting capital toward impactful incomes. Mustard Seed: Maze wants to use social investments to help solve the most pressing social challenges of our time. They have two endgames: government adoption and corporate adoption. Mustard Seed: Maze is working to have 1.4B (euros) in annual contracts between Portuguese government and impact entrepreneurs and between 250M (euros) and 400M (euros) in annual funding for impact entrepreneurs with private capital.
The cohort enjoyed learning more about the potential of impact investing and the role of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in making lasting, socially impacting changes.
A long day exploring sunny Portugal can work up quite a thirst. Fortunately, there is no shortage of refreshing soft drinks, teas, and juices to rehydrate, while experiencing a part of Portuguese culture at the same time. We met with Julio Gomez, Regional Manager, and Rodrigo Costa, Marketing Manager, at the Sumol + Compal Lisbon offices to learn more about the company’s strategy. Sumol + Compal were two separate Portuguese beverage companies (Sumol, focusing on carbonated beverages, and Compal, juices) that merged together in 2009. They are the largest non-alcoholic drink company in Portugal, amassing even more market share than Coke. In 2018 their EBITDA was 41.9 million euros. The company is divided into three segments: Nutrition – comprised of juices, Refreshing -comprised of soda, waters, teas, and beer, and Other. In addition to uniquely Portuguese products of Sumol and Compal, they are also the exclusive distributor in Portugal for PepsiCo and Lipton. Currently, Compal can be purchased in 62 countries and Sumol in 45 around the world.
The company is currently
revamping their marketing strategy due to declining sales and a rapidly
changing Portuguese market. In order to expand, they need to target the Saudade
Market- Portuguese emigrants in the United States and elsewhere that account
for more than 50 million people. It is a nostalgic brand for them and a taste
of home that they can pass on to the second generation.
Sumol is also trying to target tomorrow’s consumers today. They create digital marketing campaigns with influencers and micro-influencers to drive engagement and brand awareness. Their new message celebrates authenticity and is lead by a team of co-creators through Instagram posts and sponsored trips such as Sumol Snowtrip.
Compal is also uniquely
positioned to target the African market through its Portuguese-speaking
nations. They started local production in Angola and Mozambique in 2013, with special
editions of Compal made with local African fruits. They also developed new,
smaller packaging and cans to make the product more affordable for
less-developed nations. In the nine months after they launched in Angola, they
had sold more than 52 million cans, thanks in part to Compal’s regard as an
essential source of vitamins and nutrition or even a meal replacement.
Another issue Sumol + Compal will face in the coming years is the gap between sustainability and convenience. How will they leverage the responsibility to protect the planet while respecting consumers’ wishes for a cheaper product in plastic bottles? We hope to follow their successes in the future.
Thank you again to the team at Sumol + Compal for sharing their
story with us. Saúde!
Bom dia everyone! It’s day four in Portugal and MadGrad16 is still rolling strong. This morning we were introduced to a wonderful company, Startup Lisboa, that opened for business in February 2012. The company was founded in 2011 by the Municipality of Lisbon, Bank Montepio and IAPME, but it is a private non-profit association. Office Manager, Nuno Moreno, filled us in on how big his company’s “heart” is. The company’s mission “is to support the creation of companies and entrepreneurs in their first year of activity, to promote job creation, and aid the urban, social, and economic vitality of Lisbon.” Startup Lisboa has helped entrepreneurs from over 35 countries which generated over 2,000 jobs. They help set up residence in Lisbon for those who want to enter the program, and they facilitate meetings with professionals from specific areas of interest in workspaces they created in two historic buildings and a section of the business lounge at Lisbon Airport. For our knowledge and to illustrate how they work, we were presented with four companies that used Startup Lisboa to start their business. We were able to see how the company works, ask questions as if we were entrepreneurs starting out and network, while also sharing our perspectives about how we viewed their company.
The first company, Argeo, could not physically be present, so their representative, Giovanni Spiller, presented to us by a virtual call, showing the commitment that is made when one joins this family. Argeo is an Italian based company that created a community inside a “Pokémon” style app available in both Google Play and the Apple store. Their tagline, “Augment Your World” describes their augmented reality and GPS Geolocation app. When one pulls up the desired items on a smartphone, the app shows a location where the item can be scanned. Upon reaching the location, the camera on the phone turns on to scan the area until the item is found, and then the person is granted with a reward, such as a discount coupon, that can be saved or gifted to friends or family. Argeo would also like to focus on more personalized app ads. For more information, visit http://www.theargeo.com/engindex.html .
Next, Kristina presented about Secretcitytrails, an app she created with co-founder Wendy because they believe traveling is broken. Kristina explained that one may download apps when on a vacation or a tour that doesn’t share enough information or expose the great hidden spots worth visiting. Secretcitytrails is a game one can play alone, with a team or to compete with others. Solving riddles in the game takes one off the beaten path and leads to the good local spots. The games are created by locals, tour guides and staff. The games are then reviewed and if found worthy go live for purchase and play. This is an interactive way to take a tour of the city and see some of the not so advertised sights and places of a city. For more information go to https://www.secretcitytrails.com/ .
The third presentation was made by Sention CEO Zan Bridi. Sention developed a new way to see advertisements on live or past sporting events. Advertising at sporting events takes a lot of time and equipment to ensure what is being advertised appears like it was placed on purpose by the sports venue. Bridi’s program uses modeling, programming and cloud server technology to put the advertisement in the best viewing or hard to place areas. This is all accomplished remotely, which reduces the price of using a high-end broadcast booth. For more information go to http://www.sention.co.uk/ .
Carlos led the final presentation on a company called BoxToLife. This product is meant to “provide meaningful experiences to visitors who attend museums, archaeological sites, parks, monuments and streets.” A visitor does not need an internet connection to access the box. The information is uploaded to the cloud and the information is broadcast in whatever language one selects. Its artificial intelligence learns and creates more powerful experiences for visitors. For more information, visit https://www.boxto.life/
There are still more days and more fun to come so keep stopping by to learn about our next adventure. Until then, obrigado Ate Logo!
On the heels of an incredible weekend exploring Lisbon and learning about its rich culture and history, Cohort 16 of Stetson’s EMBA program kept the momentum going with an insightful visit to AICEP. AICEP is a government agency in Portugal focused on trade and investment, whose mission is two-fold: to encourage foreign companies to invest in Portugal and to aid Portuguese companies abroad with their internationalization processes.
It was fascinating to interact with diplomats like Francisco Calheiros Manezes, Sebastiao Silva and Frederico Batista, as they shared insights about Portugal’s current economic revival, evidence of which appears to be everywhere we look. From innovation hubs and incubators like Hub Criativo do Beato and Startup Lisboa, to the mass influx of tourists and local tour providers like Keep It Local Tours (Lisboa), and the plethora of new, trendy shops and restaurants like those found at the LX Factory, there’s no denying that Portugal, and Lisbon in particular, is experiencing a major boom.
Given my particular proclivity for technology and STEM advocacy, it was also incredibly encouraging to hear that more than 26% of degrees in Portugal are in STEM…and that number is growing. It was equally exciting to hear that the Web Summit, one of the most coveted technology conferences for Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, will be hosted in Lisbon for the next decade. This is a huge win for the city and for Portugal’s economic future.
All in all, it was a great start to the official ‘work’ week, with AICEP formally kicking-off our business visits in Lisbon. Thanks again to the AICEP team for taking the time to meet with us. Muito Obrigada!!
According to our tour guide Miguel, Fado represents the culture of Lisbon and Portugal, always nostalgic and full of pride. With a sense of longing and pride in the past, the people want the present to be more than what it is. Today we got to see the historical beauty and innovation of the country, but we were always brought back to earth with a sense of truth and honesty. Our day started on the shore of the Rio Tejo in Belem (Bethlehem). We were able to spend some time learning about Lisbon. With 500,000 inhabitants, Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal. Including the outlying areas, that number grows to 3.2 million inhabitants. As a country that only boasts a population of 10.5 million, one can easily see how Lisbon, a city older than Rome, can be full of excitement and intrigue.
After our brief lesson, we were able to stop at the Belem Tower. Miguel pointed out the ornate structures and with pride talked about the construction of the tower. He highlighted that Belem Tower, in its original state, was only meant as a safeguard against unwelcome ships, but the Portuguese king wanted to show off his vast wealth and pride, adding extra towers which then became customs and created the look of the area.
We then traveled to the Monument to Discovery. The idea was to showcase the people that led Portugal to innovate and strive for the unknown, bringing them out of the dark ages. Leading the way at the top was Henry the Navigator, known not for his navigational skills on the water, but for navigating Portugal into an age of exploration. It was here, when talking about the nations that Portugal traveled to prior to anyone else and the grandeur of what once was, that we got our biggest insight into the Portuguese culture. Miguel shared his personal feelings about how prideful he was, despite longing for better present-day conditions. The new museum located next to the Monastery of St Jerome was built using the same limestone used in the monastery and essentially added that feeling of nostalgia to a present-day building.
After seeing the Monastery, we stopped for Pasteis, a local favorite pastry, originated from monks. Pasteis are a delicious treat made with Filo dough, custard and egg, topped with either cinnamon or powdered sugar. As we left, we passed by Pasteis de Belem, noticing the long line of patrons waiting to get one of the local, handmade, historical treats.
We spent another hour exploring areas of Lisbon, and talking about the rich, prideful culture of the people who always yearn for more. It was heartbreaking to hear that the inhabitants of such a beautiful, welcoming, and forgiving culture often do not extend that same notion to themselves, but nonetheless it was an honor that we were given a glimpse of what truly is, extremely Portuguese.