Q&A: EMBA Students Travel to Brazil for Global Business Experience to Explore Market Entry for Electric Aerospace Vehicles
Students in the Executive MBA (EMBA) program at Georgetown McDonough spent a week this summer traveling to Brazil as part of their Global Business Experience trip — an opportunity to partner with multinational organizations, immerse themselves in the local culture, and address a complex global business challenge.
We spoke with two team lead communicators who worked closely with Brazilian aerospace manufacturer, Embraer, and its subsidiary, Eve Air Mobility, on entries into the emerging global eVTOL aircraft market. Learn more about Jon Sargent’s (EMBA’23) and Grant Hallmark’s (EMBA’23) takeaways from traveling to Brazil to present their project, their future goals, and overall highlights from the trip.
Please tell us about your time working with Embraer. What was the objective of this project?
Jon: The objective of the project was to provide recommendations for a partnership model to take Eve Air Mobility’s new aircraft to market with the most significant total revenue per aircraft, and doing so, ideally, as part of a revenue-sharing partnership with an operator. The experience working with the Eve team was great. They were extremely engaged and interested in the research we provided as well as the resulting revenue models.
Grant: Eve Air Mobility is focused on opening new markets around electric vehicle opportunities. Jon’s side of the project was focused on going to market or directly to consumers. Our part of the project, the part that my team led, was around service and operations and understanding how to build the infrastructure necessary to support these new markets, and finding opportunities for revenue growth within that infrastructure.
What was the outcome or result(s) of the project, and how will it impact the aviation industry moving forward?
Jon: The outcome of the project covered two main areas: multiple partnership models aligned with the various customer personas Eve was expecting, and a framework for evaluating target cities for global expansion.
Grant: We made a 30-minute presentation to vice president-level stakeholders at Eve Air Mobility and what resulted from that is a conversation that is still ongoing. They were very intrigued by our ideas, they are continuing to ask questions, and we are actually going to present to a larger group this fall. I think the way that Embraer or Eve Air Mobility thought about this is that they’re learning from us and we’re learning from them.
In terms of being a team communicator, what have been some of the most rewarding aspects of the role?
Jon: As a team communicator, I had the most direct contact with our Eve partners. I took from this interaction a better understanding of the Brazilian business culture. Learning how the team preferred to communicate and discuss goals and objectives was a valuable experience.
Grant: Working with such a talented team was a lot of fun and it was very rewarding. Everyone leaned in 110%. I thought it was kind of extraordinary that after just two or three months, it felt like everyone was a subject matter expert in electric-powered aircraft, which is pretty amazing. Also, getting to know the people who are working on the Embraer side was highly rewarding. It felt like making friends with a group of really talented, interesting, entrepreneurial Brazilians who were or are aeronautical engineers. That’s unique and unusual, and it was a lot of fun.
What were some of the highlights of the trip to Brazil from both a professional and cultural perspective?
Jon: I have traveled to many locations throughout my career, however, this trip to Brazil was my first experience in South America. The exposure to the Brazilian market was very interesting. The opportunity to meet with many business leaders from finance, entrepreneurs, large business, and a small business incubator gave us a great cross-section of doing business in Brazil. Meeting with the U.S. Department of Commerce officer also gave us insight into the support available for taking a company into the Brazilian market. From a cultural perspective, the opening football match was something I will not soon forget; the enthusiasm from the crowd was extremely contagious and quickly had us all cheering along. Also, the dance and music experience was extremely memorable as well.
Grant: From a professional standpoint, seeing Embraer’s operations was incredible. It was very cool to see how they are building these vehicles — planes and all that stuff — and we were being let into their operations. It also was an opportunity to bond with classmates and to go out to dinner in a beautiful new place that we’re all going to for maybe the first, second, or third time. Being exposed to another culture and developing friendships there was awesome.
How do you believe the EMBA Global Business Experience will influence your career moving forward?
Jon: The global perspective of the Georgetown EMBA was one of the reasons I chose this program. Expanding my understanding of global markets, and specifically, the Brazilian market, from strengths and weaknesses should open additional career opportunities going forward.
Grant: I’ve spent the past 12 to 13 years in political tech — building predictive analytics around political outcomes, donor behavior, voter behavior, etc. This experience, plus frankly having the Georgetown name, next to my soon-to-be degree, has opened up many doors.