News & Highlights

  • June 2022
  • Creating Emerging Markets

Creating Emerging Markets Interview: María Emilia Correa

María Emilia Correa is co-founder of Sistema B, a Latin American organization promoting new economies and B Corporations. In her interview, she recalls how after returning to Colombia in 1985 after finishing her masters in New York City, she took a job with The Nature Conservancy and the Natura Foundation where she pursued her interest in biological resource conservation. After attending United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Correa became inspired by the idea that the business sector could be a positive agent to build a balanced and sustainable society. After working with in several civil society organizations focused on helping business to become more sustainable, in 1999 she became the first sustainability vice president at Grupo Nueva, a multinational investment holding company specialized in forestry and wood derivatives. This experience enabled her to acquire expertise in many key business functions. This interview is part of the Creating Emerging Markets project which provides a unique research and teaching resource on business leadership in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East over recent decades.
  • JUNE 2022

Creating Emerging Markets Interview: Erling Lorentzen

Erling Lorentzen relates his experience growing up in Norway as part of family of shipping magnates and industrialists, his service during World War II, his educational experience at Harvard Business School, his marriage into the Norwegian royal family, and his eventual move to Brazil in 1953. There, he pursued a career in the petroleum industry and in shipping. In 1968, he founded the Aracruz Celulose company, which became a massive manufacturer of pulp and paper. Lorentzen oversaw the construction of the largest pulp mill in Brazil and the acquisition of large forestry operations. He describes the difficulty of growing the business amid periods of rapid inflation, the challenges of raising money overseas (including by becoming the first Brazilian company listed on New York Stock Exchange), and by facing and confronting issues of sustainability. This interview is part of the Creating Emerging Markets project which provides a unique research and teaching resource on business leadership in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East over recent decades.
  • May 2022

Discussion on Sustainable Development and Climate Adaptation in the Amazon Basin

In celebration of the HBS Case Centennial, this May the Latin America Research Center hosted an event with Professor John Macomber on “Sustainable Development and Climate Adaptation in the Amazon Basin”. Topics included new HBS research about climate adaptation and finance in the face of perils like flooding, wildfire, and drought. Professor Macomber also discussed how and when these and other perils might impact the environmental and economic stability of the Amazon region, the participants, their strategies, and how global carbon mitigation and sustainability efforts will play out. The panel included a Nobel Peace prize winner, a Brazilian academic expert, a local entrepreneur, and VP of Sustainability of a global company. More than 80 alumni and friends of LARC joined the event.
  • March 2022

What They’re Made of: Secrets and Stories of Leaders on the Edge: Interview with David Velez

In this latest installment of “What They’re Made of: Secrets and Stories of Leaders on the Edge,” Professor Ranjay Gulati speaks with David Velez, Founder and CEO of Nubank, the largest financial technology bank in Latin America. Throughout the conversation, Velez explains how his own entrepreneurial spirit and core values motivated him to take on the behemoths of banking in Brazil by creating a new customer-obsessed digital banking platform. Through its core values of challenging the status quo and fighting complexity to empower people, Nubank has completely disrupted the largest industry in Latin America, and, in doing so, changed the lives of over 40 million Brazilians.
  • February 2022

How the Pandemic Changed Case Development in Latin America

At HBS, research and case development are tightly intertwined. Cases provide the opportunity for faculty to develop ideas, gain insight into nascent research questions, and illustrate theory in practice. In addition, case writing provides a vehicle for faculty collaboration and helps faculty develop research ideas across disciplines and across institutions. In this dynamic case development process, faculty may be supported by a team of researchers and case writers based at HBS Research Centers around the globe. In this article, LARC discuss how the pandemic impacted case development in the region.

New Research on the Region

  • April 2022
  • Teaching Material

Banorte Móvil: Data-Driven Mobile Growth

By: Ayelet Israeli and Carla Larangeira

In mid-2019, Carlos Hank was deliberating over the results for Banorte Móvil—the mobile application for Banorte, Mexico’s most profitable and second-largest financial institution. Hank, who had been appointed as Banorte´s Chairman of the Board in January 2015, had overseen Banorte’s transformation (and multi-million-dollar investment) from a product and client volume-focused bank into a customer-centric, technology and data-driven organization with a radically new focus. Beyond investing in a new technology platform and deploying new digital channels, Banorte also invested in the development of internal capacities to convert data intelligence into profits. Spearheaded by José Antonio Murillo, an economist with a Ph.D. from Rice University, Banorte’s Analytics Business Unit (ABU) kicked off early on 2015, reporting directly to upper management and focused on increasing customer lifetime value. Over the course of its four-year trajectory, through data analytics and experimentation, which involved both experimenting with client incentives and tailored communication strategies through multiple channels, the ABU had successfully achieved higher product placement rates, particularly under Banorte Móvil’s platform. Yet, with 2.25 million active users, Banorte Móvil was still far from reaching its 4-million-user target by 2020. Adoption picked up, but Banorte Móvil was still losing many potential adopters along the mobile customer journey, particularly in its activation phase. Furthermore, 81% of app activity was for account balance or transaction views, with financial operations, such as card or service payments or acquisition of new bank products, accounting for a minority of the activity. If Banorte wanted to remain a top player in Mexico’s financial sector, it was clear to upper management that growth in mobile banking needed to be a priority. How could the bank successfully achieve its target? And, even if Banorte Móvil’s adoption numbers increased, would it be possible to get more value and engagement through this channel? As Banorte Móvil took off, Hank dwelled on the strategic decisions he had to make, especially considering what client segments to focus on for mobile adoption and use and how to effectively reach out to them. Furthermore, Hank knew they could not afford to neglect other banking channels, which still accounted for the bulk of Banorte’s operations.

  • March 2022 (Revised June 2022)
  • Case

El Salvador: Launching Bitcoin as Legal Tender

By: Laura Alfaro, Carla Larangeira and Ruth Costas

In June 2021, Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s president, surprised the world with the announcement that the country would adopt bitcoin as legal tender, becoming the first nation to do so. Bitcoin was mostly used for trading and had one of the most volatile track records among assets. Yet, crypto adoption as a medium of exchange was starting to gain pace worldwide. Bukele claimed it would be a boon for financial inclusion, investment, innovation, and economic development. El Salvador´s $27 billion economy suffered from persistently low growth, high public debt, and a strong dependence on remittances, which could potentially become cheaper and faster to access in bitcoins. The Bitcoin plan was met with both enthusiasm from Bitcoin supporters and skepticism from credit agencies and multilateral finance institutions, which believed it could bring macroeconomic instability to the local economy. Was bitcoin a viable currency for Salvadorans? Or, as some observers pointed out, was Bukele's plan another sign of weakened governance in his administration?

  • March 2022 (Revised May 2022)
  • Case

Winning Business at Russell Reynolds (A)

By: Ethan Bernstein and Cara Mazzucco

In an effort to make compensation drive collaboration, Russell Reynolds Associates’ (RRA) CEO Clarke Murphy sought to re-engineer the bonus system for his executive search consultants in 2016. As his HR analytics guru, Kelly Smith, points out, that risks upsetting–and maybe even losing–some of the “big billers” (rainmakers) who were heavily rewarded under the current system that motivated individual, ‘entrepreneurial’ efforts to win business. Frustrated by the current system’s shortcomings, including failing to provide clients with the teams they needed for increasingly advisory work and affording junior consultants an opportunity to adequately apprentice, Murphy was worried that the current compensation system was holding RRA back from executing on his growth strategy intended to help RRA–a top 5 search firm–recapture market share lost to its competitors since the great recession. He had tried many attempts, over multiple years, to change the culture through other means, but only with tepid success. Now he had to decide whether to pull the trigger on a large-scale effort to adjust RRA’s discretionary bonus system after hearing concern–and even anger–over the proposal from some of his top 20 consultants. To permit students to analyze the situation, they have access to detailed, real performance and compensation data for all RRA consultants in 2015 (in the supplementary (C) case spreadsheet), along with the modeling RRA did to forecast the effect of the compensation system changes on each person. Students can therefore analyze how a more collaborative approach to compensation might positively impact some consultants and adversely impact others, assessing the benefits and risks of the dislocation. By asking students to decide whether Murphy should move forward with the new compensation system, or whether an alternative might be better, students will wrestle with the role of compensation systems in driving intended behaviors, such as collaboration, and thus in supporting or warping organizational culture, performance, and growth. By analyzing the dislocation to employees’ variable compensation due to a change, students will learn the challenges of changing and calibrating compensation systems. Finally, by exposing students to the various tradeoffs involved in designing a compensation system and the “zero sum” nature of their implications, students will internalize the complexity involved in attempting to drive organizational change through changes to a compensation system (i.e., “align incentives” is not as easy to do as it is to say). For faculty members seeking to expose students to the internal functioning of professional services firms (and/or specifically executive search firms), the case context permits an uncharacteristically transparent look inside one firm, although the lessons about compensation of the case discussion extend to organizations more generally. The (A) case describes the dilemma faced by the firm and its CEO in 2015, and it concludes by asking students to make a decision about RRA’s compensation system design going forward. The (B) case describes the decision the firm made, how the changes were communicated and rolled out, the impacts (both intended and unintended) on consultant behavior and results, and reflections on what worked and didn’t work (updated as of 2021). The (C) case supplement is a spreadsheet that provides real performance and compensation data for all ~350 RRA consultants at the time the decision was being made (in 2015), and comparable performance and compensation data for those consultants in 2018 (to pair with the (B) case) is available to faculty separately as part of the Teaching Note.

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Buenos Aires Staff

Fernanda Miguel
Christopher P. Torto Executive Director
Mariana Cal
Assistant Director, Research
Jenyfeer Martínez Buitrago
Senior Researcher
Maria Martha Ruiz Melo
Office Manager

São Paulo Staff

Ruth Costas
Senior Researcher
Patricia Thome
Brazil Office & Regional Program Manager
Pedro Levindo
Senior Researcher

Mexico City Staff

Carla Larangeira
Senior Researcher