‘Paris can always surprise you’

A native of Brazil, Marcio Mendes ’98B spent a year as an exchange student in California when he was in high school and decided he wanted to attend college in the United States.

“In Brazil, there is no such thing as a liberal arts college–you decide between specialties such as law, business administration, or medicine,” he says.

Because his father was a microbiologist who traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention two to three times a year on business, Mendes accompanied him to Atlanta several times and became familiar with Emory.

“I took the campus tour on one of my visits, and that’s when it clicked,” he says. “I started to read about the University and its programs.”

He was accepted to the College in August 1994, and began his studies in the company of many other international students. On an exchange program in Barcelona, he met his future wife, Isabelle Heude.

“It’s tough to be an international couple,” says Mendes, who speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. “She was in Spain, and we would meet in France.”

He returned to São Paulo after graduating with his bachelor’s degree in business and got married, first in a civil ceremony in Brazil, then at a church wedding in France in August of 2001.

Mendes decided to pursue an MBA from the Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) School of Management in Paris. HEC is considered one of the “four aces,” the French equivalent of the American Ivy Leagues.

“I felt that it was important to get to know the French style of business. Companies are much more bureaucratic here. You really have to follow the hierarchy to work on certain projects,” says Mendes. “In American companies, you can show initiative–you have that liberty. Here, you have to be careful not to pass someone above you.”

Having recently completed his MBA, Mendes is interviewing with companies throughout Europe, although he hopes to stay in France.

“What I really like here is just walking, without an objective. Paris can always surprise you. You can always find a nice boutique, a nice bar, a nice restaurant,” says Mendes, gesturing around him at the white linen tablecloths and elegant ambiance of the historic La Brasserie Lipp. “If it weren’t so expensive, it would be perfect.”–M.J.L.



© 2005 Emory University