Claudio Vinicius Coutinho Macedo
Two-year MBA '16
Hometown: Belo Horizonte/MG - Brazil
Education: Business Administration
Prior Employment: Odebrecht (Real Estate)
Why I chose Johnson
I chose Johnson because I was looking for an experience that would broaden my perspectives as an executive and develop my knowledge in a global, diverse, creative, and fun environment.
Distinctions and Awards
September 15 2015
How “Un-needed” Skills Became Essential
Have you ever had the feeling that you are studying something you will never use? After working for seven years in real estate in Brazil and transitioning to a summer internship in the petrochemical industry in Houston, TX, I realized the importance of all types of learning.
Prior to Johnson, I worked in a Brazilian multinational company named Odebrecht. I was fascinated by its corporate culture so I decided that Odebrecht was where I would pursue a career with the goal of becoming the CEO of one of the company’s branches. Therefore, I applied for a summer internship in one of the group’s branches, Braskem, and received an offer.
Braskem is the biggest polypropylene producer in the world as well as one of the biggest producers of polyethylene, representing more than half the value of the Odebrecht Group. The company is well known for its innovative culture and concern for the environment. Its strategies for sustainability and profitability are strongly correlated. The history of the organization illustrates its leadership in the environmental movement in Brazil through its numerous awards, green patents, and nominations. All these attributes attracted me to Braskem and made me decide that this should be the next step in my life in order to keep growing and learning.
The application process was conducted completely off-campus. After two interviews, one by phone and one in-person in Sao Paulo, I received an offer to join the International Feedstock Team at the Houston office. I accepted the offer and followed up with a meeting to become acquainted with my new supervisor. I was surprised to discover that the Houston-based team would consist of only my boss and me, with the other members being based in Rotterdam and Sao Paulo. It seemed like a great opportunity to get a global view of the operation in a small and very efficient team.
The International Feedstock Team’s main goal is to supply our plants in Brazil with products, such as Naphtha, Ethane, and Propane from international suppliers all over the world. This was facilitated by either long-term contracts or spot cargos, with the expectation that all logistics costs should be equalized on the deals. My initial goal on the team was to find ways to make deals and trading decisions more structured and accurate, as well as to find an optimal solution to measure the team’s efficiency by proposing new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to compare our results with the market.
Here is where the title for this article comes in. During high school, I would frequently complain that I would never use chemistry and therefore there was no sense in studying it. During college, post-graduate courses, and the MBA, I complained that I would never need to run a regression and that I was wasting my time on it as well as some other courses. Well… life is full of surprises.
The first few weeks during the internship I worked very hard gathering information about how these professionals make their decisions, what matters to them during the decision process, and how those markets work. I had never worked in petrochemicals before as previous career had been in real estate and construction; therefore, all the technical aspects of the industry and market mechanics were completely new to me, forcing me to understand basic chemistry, the very thing I had never imagined using.
By the seventh week I finalized and presented a new model to the directors and traders to help them compare different proposals with completely different basis and qualities of products. This new tool unified within the same model uses market information in real-time and efficiency data from Braskem plants for each kind of Naphtha, allowing them to make decisions by adjusting the price of Naphtha to a profitability index which was related to the relative quality of the product in each plant. And guess how I got the results? Among other things, by running lots of regressions that could help me predict forecasted curves for some of the products. Yes, Data Analytics can be very useful and the book might help you with more stuff than the Z and T tables.
A few days after my presentation, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a new project which consisted of defining and structuring a new operational method for Braskem purchases within the US in order to increase flexibility and decrease costs, thereby making American feedstock prices more competitive globally. This is the kind of project that really excites me, one in which I can use both the skills that I gained during my first year at Johnson and the knowledge I acquired from my Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion in order to create this new business with a broader perspective and to tackle the project with a structured consulting perspective.
I hope to join the company after graduation to see the implementation of this amazing project. With any luck it will push me to use all the skills that learned at school both the ones that I knew I would use and the ones I thought I wouldn’t. Once again life proves to me that you can never have too much knowledge.