São Paulo

The View From São Paulo

Brazil’s energetic metropolis is a hub for Booth’s South America–based alumni.

Fly into São Paulo’s sprawling business hub, and expect a cadre of close-knit Booth alumni to help you get acclimated. Whether they’re wining and dining or simply making time for a last-minute meet-up, the dozens of alumni in the city maintain close ties with fellow graduates, no matter the industry: though Paulistanos with a Booth degree often go into consulting or investment banking, private equity and venture capital roles represent a growing portion of the alumni base.

The São Paulo Experts 

Daniela Alcaro, ’06, Founder, Stima Energia

Leonardo Alves, ’12 (XP-81), Strategic Development and Marketing Director, SCR-Sibelco

Tiago Andrade, ’13, Assistant Vice President, Partners Group

Tiago Dias, ’12, Senior Manager, Bayer Latin America

Fabio Torres, ’05, Principal, 2bCapital

Since arriving in the city five years ago, Leonardo Alves, ’12 (XP-81), has become part of a growing number of alumni attending events—both formal and informal. Recently this meant going to a U2 concert with a handful of alumni; other nights Alves joins former Booth students to experience some of São Paulo’s excellent Japanese cuisine. A Rio de Janeiro–based Booth graduate’s monthly business trip has turned into standing dinner plans.

It’s critical to come together to discuss issues.

Leonardo Alves

“We are getting together to share experiences,” said Alves, strategic development and marketing director at SCR-Sibelco, a global material-solutions company based in Antwerp, Belgium. “It’s critical to try to come together to discuss issues that most of us are going through at the same time.” In the past two years, there’s been an uptick in formal opportunities to connect with other Booth graduates, he added.

As the recently nominated head of the Chicago Booth Alumni Club of Brazil, Fabio Torres, ’05, is looking to create even more instances for alumni to cross paths. New this year: a Chicago Booth and Chicago Law poker tournament, an angel investment network, and intimate dinners with prominent graduates working in the region.

“Our alumni network in São Paulo and the rest of the country is great,” said Torres, principal at private equity firm 2bCapital. “Our challenge is to make more prolific and meaningful connections.”

“Many of us started in consulting and now we’re migrating to different fields,” said Tiago Dias, ’12, senior manager for pharmaceutical company Bayer’s in-house management-consulting wing in Latin America.

He shared that he recently attended a Booth networking event and was surprised to meet a fellow alumnus working in Brazil’s small but growing movie industry. With so many different opportunities to connect, Dias said he’s been able to learn about post-MBA career paths that he never knew existed.

For most of São Paulo’s alumni, the annual dinner for Booth graduates from across Brazil is not to be missed. “It’s always the biggest and most important to attend,” said Daniela Alcaro, ’06, founder of energy trading company Stima Energia, who added that the high-profile event makes it easy to catch up with many alumni at once.

Alcaro sees fellow Booth alumni every three months. Some events, such as wine tastings and happy hours, are more casual, while others include more-formal discussions with Booth professors or alumni experts. This year, she hopes to get together with other female graduates from top US-based MBA programs for a large women’s networking event. “We have a lot of things in common professionally,” Alcaro said.

But it’s also about future Booth students. Tiago Andrade, ’13, assistant vice president at Partners Group, a private equity firm, finds chatting with business school applicants just as rewarding as reconnecting with alumni. Each quarter, Andrade interviews two or three applicants on behalf of Booth. “It’s one of the nicest ways to get involved in the [Booth] community,” Andrade said.

Booth Selects

São Paulo For a scenic workout, Tiago Dias recommends renting a bike and cycling down the 21-kilometer path that borders São Paulo’s Pinheiros River. Photo from Getty Images.

The Workout with a View: Pinheiros River Bike Route

No need to hit the hotel gym. Many city residents burn off calories biking the recently expanded 21-kilometer path along the city’s Pinheiros River, said Dias. For visitors, bike rentals make it easy to hit the road.

The Rooftop Drinks: Skye

For one of the best views of the city, Andrade heads up to Skye Bar & Restaurant, at the top of São Paulo’s Hotel Unique, for an after-work cocktail. “Skye is not only top quality, but also it has a great view of the São Paulo skyline and the Ibirapuera Park,” he said.

 The Coffee Break: Octavio Café

Octavio Café on the historic Avenida Brigadeiro Fario Lima was established in the late 1800s, but the coffee shop’s vibe is totally modern. The large space is good for enjoying a midday bite or people watching, and there’s privacy if you need to take a business call. Using your laptop is also acceptable. “They don’t rush you to eat and leave,” said Alcaro, who added that the tables are spaced far enough apart to accommodate an impromptu meeting.

The Business Dinner: Bio

Bio, from superstar Brazilian chef Alex Atala, is a standout option, said Torres. The all-day eatery, located in the Itaim Bibi neighborhood, opened last May to great fanfare and focuses on all things organic—perfect for the health-focused foodie. “It’s a little crowded, but the large windows along the facade and the clean decor assure a very pleasant environment,” said Torres, whose office is nearby.


São Paulo Leonardo Alves recommends Tan Tan Noodle Bar, part of the city’s expansive Japanese food scene, for its hearty ramen bowls. Photo courtesy of Tan Tan Noodle Bar.

The Quick Meal: Tan Tan Noodle Bar

With the world’s largest Japanese population outside of Japan, São Paulo has Japanese food options that go far beyond sushi. Alves recommends Tan Tan, which offers hearty bowls of ramen in the café-filled Pinheiros neighborhood. “It’s a small, informal joint where you want to go for some great noodles.”

The Evening Out: Sala São Paulo

Whether you attend a concert or simply take a tour, visiting this renowned classical-music hall inside a restored train station is a must, advised Torres. It’s one of the world’s top venues for classical music and known for its superior acoustics. “Every time I go, I leave feeling better than when I arrived,” he said.

—By Alina Dizik