"An idea only comes to life once someone puts the effort to implement it. Of course, usually you realize that the idea you had in mind will not happen exactly as you once imagined. Sharing knowledge and experiences with other people is always important in the process."
Daniella Bianchi: In the last five years, Insper went through the process of creating and building its new brand. Its brand management approach serves as an example to many other Brazilian brands. Please tell us a little about it.
Claudio Haddad: The history of Insper began in 1999, when we first established our school in São Paulo. At that time, we were called IBMEC, since we were part of the IBMEC Educational Group. In 2004, the school was donated to a nonprofit institution. Because our goal was to create our own identity, we changed our name to IBMEC São Paulo. But that was not enough, as there were other schools under the same name, so we decided to create our own name. Insper comes from “inspirar and pertencer” in Portuguese, which translates to “to inspire and to belong” in English. These two words, along with “to transform,” represent our brand values.
DB: In your opinion, what is the key to building a successful brand?
CH: A truly renowned and admired brand is built on a strong foundation. One can have a beautiful logo and name, but if the brand fails to offer true value, it will fail over time.
DB: What challenges are you expecting to face in the future?
CH: Educational institutions will always face great challenges. Our goal is not only to maintain our level of quality, but also to improve it everyday. We are working on our Doctorate’s Program and want to create more international awareness.
DB: How is this internationalization process going?
CH: This is a process that is not only inevitable, but also desired. Brazil is an enormous nation that has sometimes had difficulties communicating with other nations. In addition, it’s geographically isolated. For instance, if you look at our universities, you will notice that the vast majority maintains minimal connections abroad.
DB: Education is one Brazil’s toughest struggles. What is the role of educational institutions in the building of the Brazilian brand both here and abroad?
CH: We play a very important role. As you said, education is one of Brazil’s toughest struggles, if not the toughest. If we had tackled this issue 50 years ago, we would be in a completely different situation today. Unfortunately, we had other priorities back then. But today we have many indications that things are improving, though at a slower pace than we hoped. Insper plays a very important role in this process. We are at the top of the pyramid and we are letting the world know that Brazil offers excellent business schools.
DB: How is Insper developing digitally? Do you believe online education is an alternative in a country as big as Brazil?
CH: Great question. We have been working with some initiatives and are also observing and evaluating what other institutions have been doing both in Brazil and abroad. Although we have already entered the digital education world, we have not yet offered free online courses but have plans to do so in the future.
We are also working on some online models for both our Executive Education and for our Grad School program. We believe in the combination of digital and traditional over 100 percent online courses. The former is much more in line with what we believe in as an educational institution.
DB: Do you believe that people become more engaged with Insper because it is a nonprofit institution?
CH: Certainly. And I am not against for-profit organizations. I truly believe there are opportunities for both. The non-profit model presents some advantages to us, as Insper is a center of education and research. We also want to generate knowledge. Research cannot be directly financed by tuitions because its benefits are not tangible. Research helps to improve our image and our brand, and may influence students to come to Insper, but this is not easy to measure.
The fact that we are a non-profit institution grants us some tax exemptions. These resources allow us to make great improvements. We can also create a more engaged group of alumni, who are always willing to contribute, financially or with their time.
DB: As the visionary, founder and chief idea generator at Insper, what is the role of someone who is constantly rethinking the business?
CH: An idea only comes to life once someone puts the effort to implement it. Of course, usually you realize that the idea you had in mind will not happen exactly as you once imagined. Sharing knowledge and experiences with other people is always important in the process. As such, I know that at some point I have to start thinking about my succession plan. I do not believe in an organization directed by a few people. We want to make Insper eternal. Harvard, for example, has existed for 400 years. So it’s very important to be a visionary who rethinks our organization. Nonetheless, my goal is to make sure other people are ready to take over and lead Insper into the future.