Insper, San Paulo, Brazil

Through Olin Board Member Howard Stevenson, Claudio Haddad first heard of Olin’s revolutionary approach toward engineering education. A successful entrepreneur and banker turned education leader, Claudio converted one of Brazil’s first for-profit business schools into the highly regarded, non-profit Insper, which reaches 5,500 graduate and undergraduate students as well as business executives. Haddad decided that Brazil needed more entrepreneurs with technical expertise and has signed an agreement for Olin to assist Insper in the creation of a new and innovative engineering school to complement its business program. The new engineering program is scheduled to open in 2015.

Claudio Haddad, Insper Founder and President

In San Claudio HaddadPaulo, Brazil’s largest city with more than 11 million people, we don’t see too much activity in entrepreneurship. We are a big industrial city that has lost its economic base. We are missing the ecosystem you see in places like Boston, San Francisco and Tel Aviv where academia, business, investors and startups pull together to drive innovation in the economy. The most important universities are public and they have always been hesitant to form partnerships with the business community for fear of losing their academic integrity. On the other hand, private schools have not located themselves at the top of the pyramid in terms of the quality of their education. Similar to Olin’s early beginnings, my partners and I founded Insper seeking to innovate, rather than just repeat the status quo.

Both my parents were educators and I taught Economics for 5 years in Brazil. However, I decided that I did not want to pursue an academic career and joined the financial markets where I stayed, in different positions, including three years as director of the Brazilian Central Bank, and after that partner and CEO of an investment bank, until 1998.  This business and managerial experience has been very important in my new life, since then, as educator.

At Insper, we have a strong commitment to continuous quality improvement. In 2010, after a six-year process, we received the most important international accreditation for business schools from The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The current system of engineering in Brazil is rigid and only 30% of students make it to become engineers so we needed to look internationally for best practices, which is why we turned to Olin.

Olin’s approach to engineering education is innovative, but with proven results. Everybody I met there, from Rick Miller to other faculty and students, is highly motivated and able to articulate a clear vision and a narrative, consistent with the values and the problem-based and interdisciplinary approach of teaching and learning adopted by the school. I am sure that the partnership with Olin will be fundamental to the success of our engineering program. 

Olin’s pioneering work in this new way of teaching is an inspiration to us and to others. We have exceeded by more than double our Phase 1 goal of raising $40 million to support the new engineering school.