Student Spotlight: Flavio Rodrigues

Flavio Rodrigues.

Flavio Rodrigues was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before moving to the U.S. at the age of 16. His father, who retired from the American Consulate General in Rio after serving the U.S. as a journalist for 28 years during the Cold War, convinced him to come to the U.S. at that time to learn English. He moved to Knoxville with his parents, choosing the new city in part because his uncle was pursuing a Ph.D. in engineering at the University of Tennessee at that time.

After two years of high school in Knoxville, Rodrigues began his undergraduate education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, majoring in marketing and logistics because of his interest in supply chain management. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2008 and moved to Atlanta to work for Expeditors International of Washington as an air export agent, a career he was always intrigued by due to his passion for airplanes. After over a year at Expeditors, he decided that although he was gaining valuable experiential knowledge, earning his MBA would be essential to help him develop critical business skills and broaden his financial background.

Rodrigues returned to UT to earn his MBA because of the College of Business Administration’s tradition of excellence in its supply chain management program and the strength of its finance program.

“During the MBA program, I met many smart young professionals with my same mindset,” said Rodrigues, “to grow professionally and increase our professional networks. Many of these young professionals are now great friends with whom I will keep in touch forever.

“During my first semester in the program, I interviewed for internships with global companies where I could learn a new skill while adding value,” he continued. “One of those companies was General Motors, a company going through many changes due to its bankruptcy. I liked what GM’s recruiter told me about the challenges that the new GM was facing and how the company was going to succeed, so I took on the challenge.”

“At GM, I worked as a global purchase supply chain intern performing internal analysis for products being imported into the GM North America market. I also was involved in a project that involved all 40 summer finance interns. We were divided into eight groups of five individuals to develop ideas and financial analyses for an innovative GM project that the company was undergoing. Each group of five would have at least one MBA candidate as a leader and the remaining would be undergraduate students. I was the only MBA in my group.”

After many hours of hard work, Rodrigues’s group won the competition; GM directors served as the judges. The team’s prize was having a private, two-hour lunch with GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. Akerson spoke to the interns about his personal and professional experience, his plans for General Motors, and the many opportunities GM offers to young professionals, including in Brazil, where Rodriguez plans to return to work for part of his future career.

“GM was an amazing experience for me,” said Rodrigues. “I built a strong network with key company executives, and, above all, I felt I added value to the organization while I was learning.

As his December 2011 graduation date approaches, he is evaluating his options on how and where to begin his post-MBA career.

“I hope to work for a leading and innovative global company where I can keep learning and adding value.”

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