2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Thaís Carpenedo, IMD Business School

Thaís Carpenedo

IMD Business School

Age: 35

“A person who has less and less convictions and more curiosity every day.”

Hometown: São Paulo, São Paulo

Family Members: Originally from a family of 3 children: an older brother a twin, and myself. Currently married and expecting our first daughter (I am in the ninth month of pregnancy and looking forward to Sophia’s arrival).

Fun fact about yourself: In my spare time, I love to arrange orchids and dance. Being in touch with nature and my artistic side helps me keep my mind at peace and stimulates my creative side.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Law Degree at Faculdade de Direito Milton Campos (2006-2011)

Where are you currently working? Vicat Group – Ciplan – Deputy CEO

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Merit honor at Colégio Marista Dom Silvério from 1995 to 1999.

Volunteer work in a day care center for children from 1999 to 2005.

Member of the Board of Directors of Instituto Mora Davi. Entity that renovates homes to provide greater safety and quality of life for children with special needs.

Member of the Fiscal Council of the National Union of the Cement Industry since 2017.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Even with the academic and professional challenges, I managed to generate a life and perhaps this is my greatest achievement. Getting pregnant during the course allowed me to better prioritize my activities, taught me to deal with more issues, and at the same time, helped me deal with the unpredictable and certainly contributed to my maturation. Being pregnant, completing my EMBA, and being promoted to Deputy CEO in the cement industry, which is mostly male-dominated, sends a very positive message to other female leaders in the industry. I believe that motherhood has the power to transform us for the better and makes us more inspiring leaders.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I believe that one of the projects I am most proud of was the creation of a loyalty program for retailers in the construction industry. This project created synergies between different construction industries (cement plants, tubes and connections, steel, paints, finishing materials, among others), allowed the creation of a marketplace, boosted sales, generated value for customers, and was extremely innovative. As nothing like it existed at the time, we had to be very creative and technical to make the partnership viable. This project culminated in the creation of an independent company named “Juntos Somos Mais Fidelização S.A.”, that resulted in a joint venture held by Votorantim Cimentos, Tigre and Gerdau, approved by Brazilian Antitrust Authority with no restrictions.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Vanina Farber. She was the Dean of our course and I always felt represented by her. Not just because she is a Latin woman, but because she brought an empathetic look at the need for change, especially in the ESG pillars. I believe that because we are originally from underdeveloped countries, we live with the social, environmental and corruption impacts in a very present way. As we expand our horizons and knowledge, we realize how much the lack of a good education, the economic gaps, the environmental problems, and the corruption are harmful for the development of society and for a sustainable economy. Having the opportunity to expose this reality to such a privileged cohort, and with so much ability to make a difference in the world, it is an excellent legacy that she leaves for the world.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose it for the cultural diversity of the classes, the possibility of interacting and learning in discussions and group work with my colleagues, the self-development part, and for the school’s reputation.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? What I learned the most is that there are no absolute truths and there is no idea that cannot be improved with the contribution of different people. Diversity of generations, cultures, gender and background can be extremely useful to deliver better results. This is only possible if we have leaders who are open to listening, reflection, and evolving. I have been trying to relativize my ideas, listen more to my colleagues, and co-create value. I am increasingly aware of how important it is not only to hire different people, but also to give them a voice and space so that we can learn from each other.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I asked myself this question many times and doubted if I – if we – would make it through this journey. I say we because I have not juggled alone. I had my bosses, my team, my cohort members, my friends and family by my side. We had to adjust, compromise, and believe that there was value in this academic project. I had to learn to fail and move on, not before learning from every mistake I made.

There were many tradeoffs. I could not attend some social events. Instead of books about motherhood, I could only read books about business. I could not do everything and had to learn to be more efficient and focused. The days got even longer and I never needed more time before. I could see that my colleagues were going through the same challenges and it was inspiring to see each managing and doing their best.

The expectation of acquiring technical knowledge proved to go much further. At the end of the day, I learned much more than I knew about resilience, I strengthened my relationships with everyone who helped me on this journey and I gained very good friends.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Do your best and keep an open mind. It is precious to have the opportunity to learn, especially about ourselves, at a later stage of our careers. Own and cherish each moment, especially the bad ones, because it is the perfect timing to grow and evolve.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Thinking we are going to learn a magic formula to solve all our business problems. It is clear that EMBA brings a lot of knowledge and it provides several tools to structure and solve problems. However, it is the people who will bring the greatest impact to the business. We do nothing alone and it is very rich to realize that the leadership role is the greatest one that we can exercise.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Having shed so many tears. I went through obstacles that seemed unreachable and that brought me a lot of suffering. On the other hand, I was learning to deal with my failures and insecurities. I leave my EMBA stronger and more empowered. I am owning my choices, doing my best and dealing with the consequences of mistakes and successes more lightly.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Rebecca Kaumann. She has a solid career in technology, along with being a mother and an inspiring leader. She is Chief Operating Officer in the Data, Digital & Technology segment and does everything with passion, commitment and professionalism. As a leader, she gives space for the team to contribute, is a good encourager, and fosters a collaborative environment. It was a pleasure to work and learn from her on this journey.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? It was for the possibility of dedicating some time exclusively to learning in face-to-face modules, the flexibility of being able to continue with my work, and the chance to connect more closely with my colleagues.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to be able to become CEO of a company in the Vicat group, in Brazil or abroad, and inspire other women to grow professionally and reconcile motherhood with corporate life.

What made Thais such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“In today’s ever-evolving world, what we truly require are leaders who are brave, can navigate complexity, inspire their teams, adapt to change, embrace diversity, make difficult decisions, and lead with integrity and responsibility. Thais has consistently demonstrated all these remarkable traits. Her ability to question the status quo and ignite visions of what could be has added tremendous value to her class as well as faculty and staff.

Thais wholeheartedly embraced every facet of the program. She consistently pushed her own limits and those of her peers, deliberately stepping outside her comfort zone to derive the utmost value from her EMBA learning journey. This dedicated approach is a testament to her professional growth, particularly as right after completing the program she is embarking on a challenging career transition. Transitioning from her role as Head of Legal & Compliance to Deputy CEO at VICAT. This is no small feat, and we couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishments.

We hold great admiration for Thais, as she exemplifies remarkable tenacity, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to pursuing a rigorous, global EMBA program while simultaneously caring for her family. Her ability to achieve a well-deserved promotion and actively engage with the IMD Executive MBA community is truly inspiring. Beyond her flourishing career, Thais serves as a beacon of inspiration for young women seeking to strike a harmonious balance between their professional ambitions and the values and dreams, they hold dear. As she embraces her new role as deputy CEO, we also extend our warmest congratulations to her on her journey into motherhood, celebrating this joyous milestone alongside her tremendous accomplishments.”

Maria Schmitt
IMD EMBA Cohort Director


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