Vivian Scalfi
Home Region

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Undergrad Education

Universidade de Sao Paulo, Management/Operations, 2013

Previous Experience

Diageo, General Electric, Nielsen

“This is the place to learn how to improvise.”

As a girl growing up in the countryside of Brazil, Vivian Scalfi had parents who were "overly concerned" and a conflicting ambition of her own to "dream big and leave the countryside." At age seventeen, she followed her passion to Sao Paolo where she went to school and participated in exchange programs that took her to Canada and France.

"I’ve always been interested in languages –I’ve learned to speak Spanish, French, and English, in addition to the Portuguese – and I want to use these to be in contact with different countries and cultures," says Vivian.

After a market research stint and five years with General Electric, where she progressed through the commercial leadership rotational program in health care, oil and gas, and power, Vivian shifted into consumer goods with a role at Diageo "to see if CPG is what I really wanted."

Embracing challenges

Vivian liked what she found at Diageo and decided to pursue an MBA to help her consolidation in the industry and her transition into leadership: "I wanted more management skills – how to lead, how to inspire people," she says.

HBS "made the most sense" to Vivian for its general management focus and its power to challenge. "The case method is different from the lecture-based education I knew in Brazil," says Vivian. "It forces me to participate, even when I’m not one hundred percent prepared for everything. I like to have control; this is the place to learn how to improvise. A friend of mine said about HBS, ‘If you want to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, this is the place for you.’"

"There is a mix of excitement and intimidation here," she says. "My first cold call gave me a weird feeling. I got nervous and then smiled, because I was invited to participate and realized I could handle this!’"

"Our discussions are in real time – you can’t be prepared in advance for everything. In my previous education, you had to memorize the ‘right answer.’ Here, there is no one right answer; there is not even a preset question; there could be a hundred outcomes or possibilities."

For Vivian, leadership begins now. She is currently the Director of Career and Academics for the Marketing Club, and has been selected to serve as Vice President of Events for the Women’s Student Association. "Next year," Vivian says, "I want to focus more on the leadership classes and on building community and social connections."

Vivian’s summer internship will bring her back to Brazil for sales role with AB InBev. "I know consumer goods is the industry I want," she says, "but I need to discover what form my participation will take."