2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Emerson Ronaldo Bersaghi, Purdue University (Krannert)

Emerson Ronaldo Bersaghi

Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management

Age: 47

“I am an achiever and I work hard. I love being productive. I am inspired about the future and I am passionate about challenging the status quo and spearheading turnarounds. I love developing, engaging, and inspiring talents.”

Hometown: Saint Joseph, MI

Family Members: 3

Fun fact about yourself: Back to my early days in the US, every time I went to a restaurant, I heard servers saying: “Super salad?”. My answer was always ”YES”. Of course, they didn’t get it and repeated the question, and I repeated the answer. I finally understood it after some time that they were asking “Soup or Salad?”.

Undergraduate School and Degree:  

BSc in Mechanical Engineering

Master of Business Administration (FGV-EASP, Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Master of Business Administration (Purdue University Krannert School of Management

Where are you currently working? I am working for Whirlpool Corporation as a Global Director, Engineering Product Development. In my role, I manage global, multicultural, remote teams with 500+ reports in total. I am also the co-founder of Fast Racer, an online store specializing in high-performance, cutting-edge motorsports racing gear.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I love playing the guitar. I had a band called “Cla” and we were playing Classic Rock, which it my favorite music style.

I love racing go-karts and watching car races — Nascar, IndyCar and Formula 1.

An award: I was ranked first in my Mechanical Engineering class. Curious is the fact that I was only accepted at that university because I was on the waiting list and six other candidates decided to decline their admission. It was a great recovery.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The ALP (Advanced Learning Project) course was an opportunity to, together with my team, act as a consultant and propose a solution to a problem a company was facing. Our project was aimed to identify top heath concerns from the US population and propose a product that could help address some of these health concerns. It was very challenging to start with, as it required a lot of research in an area where I was not familiar. We then proposed a solution/product and respective business plan. Overall, we completed the project on time and provided great insights to our client company, which made me proud of what we had accomplished.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While I was still working for Whirlpool in Brazil, I was invited to lead a cross-functional team at three product development product groups to achieve Project Delivery Excellence. It was a special assignment and was executed in partnership with Porsche Consulting Firm over a five-month period. It was challenging, as I needed to lead peers and other cross-functional teams without having any authority on their processes, while keeping my own function running well. In the end, it was a great success, and everyone was pleased with the results we had achieved in such a short period of time. We reduced project execution lead time from 53 to 38.5 weeks, project mortality rate from 41% to 5% and annual saving losses from $5.5M to $0.3M with 11.4% resources optimization by streamlining processes, restructuring project teams and roles, managing work-in-progress and adding a new managerial system. Definitively, a great learning opportunity for me and the team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Ashley Gangloff. She teaches the Corporate Governance course, something I thought I was going to hate. It ended up being one of my favorites, thanks to a skilled professor. I am considering serving on a board of directors in the future, thanks to what I learned from her about the director’s role and overall corporate governance.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I think I evaluated about ten different programs and I am glad I chose the Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management EMBA. It is a very well-designed program and all pieces fit perfectly. The preparation for the residency is online. Then every quarter there is residency at the university for one or two weeks. The class size is relatively small (25-35 students), much smaller than many programs, which allows for enhanced relationships across the cohort and really getting to know everyone. The program has also electives and allows for some focused learning, which was also a factor of differentiation in my opinion.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I cannot think about a single lesson, but I saw a tremendous growth overall. I am a better leader and I have a much better business perspective now. The EMBA is enabling me to make better decisions and to get the best performance out of my team.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I will not say it was an easy task. I was able to manage, but it required a strong discipline in setting time (and sticking to it) for work, studying and family. At the moment I was admitted in the program, my wife told me we would be on it together and I am happy she gave that additional push. She supported me through the program, even though it required me to focus on the studies during many weekends.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? I think the best piece of advice is to plan everything in advance. You need to understand that your success will depend on being more efficient to handle the additional workload the Executive MBA will bring you on top of everything else. It affects other people around you, so, they also need to be onboard. In the end, it is not a project you execute alone.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? There are many myths but one of them is “I am too old to return to school”. Being 35, 45 or 55 will not affect your ability to learn. In fact, going back to school after having good work experience will be a tremendous advantage as it provides more practical context and different perspectives. This will also allow for more learning from your cohort and not just your professor.

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets but unfortunately I feel I couldn’t get the full benefit of the program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One residency was moved to ‘virtual’ instead of ‘on site’ and the international module was also cancelled due to it.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Tough one. I feel like each classmate brought a different set of skills, experiences, and knowledge to the class, which added tremendous value. However, if I need to pick one, I will pick Brian Cronin. He has great communication skills and articulates his ideas clearly. He offers broad context on any business-related aspect from his experience and from working closely to CEO and board of directors. He was also a great classmate.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? When you choose an Executive MBA program over Weekend MBAs or other part-time alternatives, you know you will have classmates with more years of working experience. This is key for extracting the most value of your program. You will learn a lot from your classmates as much as you learn from the professors.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Looking at about 10 years timeframe, I want to dedicate time to grow my own business and also serve on a board of directors.

What made Emerson such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“When Emerson introduced himself during initial introductions and stated he is a native of Brazil, plays guitar in a rock band, has a Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification, and is a race car driver, we knew he would be someone great to get to know.

Right from the start of the program, Emerson raced off the starting line displaying his eagerness to learn from others and his desire to nurture, challenge and build trust among his peers. His attention to detail, critical thinking and solid technical expertise has been noticed by his peers and made him a well-liked and highly-respected colleague.

Emerson has remarked that he admires people who are willing to take risks. That’s no surprise as he recently launched his second entrepreneurial venture, a motorsports e-commerce company, which became the subject of a marketing class project. He credits the Purdue EMBA with giving him the tools to create and execute a strategy to beat competitors already well-established in the market.

Some may have viewed the global pandemic as a red flag in their EMBA education, but Emerson regarded it as simply a necessary pitstop, keeping his foot on the gas and eye on the prize.

Now that the EMBA checkered flag is in sight, he has realized his own tremendous growth during the program, crediting experiences with classmates of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in making him a better leader.

We congratulate Emerson on this well-deserved honor!”

Donna Steele
Senior Program Manager, EMBA Program

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