News & Highlights

  • January 2022
  • MBA Experience

MBA Perspectives: Thomaz Galvao, MBA Class of 2021

A collection of community perspectives on this blog provide prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this interview, Brazilian student Thomaz Galvao, MBA 2021, shares his experience and what led him to HBS.
  • November 2021
  • Events

Environmental, Social, Governance and the Challenges of the Food Service Industry

In an event co-hosted with the HBS India Research Center, Professor Forest Reinhardt interviewed Woods Staton, Executive Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of Arcos Dorados. They discussed the impact of the pandemic in the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) segment, main challenges experienced by the sector that were turned into growth opportunities, the adoption of sustainability-related initiatives, and the ESG-related challenges of Arcos in Latin America.
  • OCTOBER 2021

Gustavo A. Herrero (MBA 1976) honored with 2021 HAA Award for Extraordinary Service

The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has announced the six recipients of the 2021 HAA Awards including former Latin America Research Center Executive Director, Gustavo A. Herrero, (MBA 1976). Since 1990, the annual HAA Awards has honored alumni for exceptional service to Harvard University through leadership and engagement activities. Gustavo of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has dedicated his career to building international collaboration across Latin America, generously sharing his expertise in institutional development and management with businesses and institutions of higher education. Devoted to expanding the global reach of Harvard Business School (HBS), Herrero was instrumental in founding the HBS Latin America Research Center (LARC), serving for over 14 years as its executive director.
  • SEPTEMBER 2021

Funding his Purpose: Leonardo Letelier (MBA 2002)

About five years after Leonardo Letelier (MBA 2002) graduated from HBS, he found himself at a career crossroads. He enjoyed the work he was doing as a consultant, but something was missing. He didn’t have the word for it. “Today, everyone talks about purpose,” he says, “but that wasn’t a common discussion back then.” He thought about his work, about the projects he had undertaken around the world that had left him satisfied and about those that made him proud; and, finally, he thought about a meeting with Vera Cordeiro, a Brazilian social entrepreneur for whom he was doing pro bono work. “I left each meeting feeling like a better person,” Letelier recalls. Letelier left his consulting career to help mission-driven nonprofit and for-profit organizations in Brazil access the financing they need to flourish

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
  • 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