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Real Humans of AmBev: Marcelo Goncalez, Cornell ‘18, Plant General Manager

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Brazilian brewing company, AmBev, currently operates in 14 countries in the Americas and is the largest company of Brazil by market capitalization and the third largest in the Southern hemisphere. With notable products including beers such as Bogotá Beer Company, Brahma, Bohemia, Skol and Stella Artois, it is also the largest PepsiCo bottler outside United States. AmBev’s parent company —  AB InBev — is the world’s largest brewer with over 200 different trademarks. Formed following the acquisition of American brewer Anheuser-Busch by Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev, which is a merger of AmBev and Interbrew, AB InBev today owns renowned beer brands such as Budweiser and Bud Light, Corona, Michelob Ultra and many more. Known for more than just it’s products, the company is also widely recognized for its fun yet productive culture. Marcelo Goncalez always dreamed of working at AB InBev because of its excellent culture and chose Cornell Johnson with the hope of landing an internship at this international company. After winning the company’s case competition across all business schools in the U.S., Marcelo was awarded his dream internship, which turned into a full-time position at AmBev

Beyond pushing his strategic thinking and global mindset, the Cornell MBA provided many leadership opportunities, and Marcelo Goncalez’s experiences as a Johnson Leadership Fellow and a Career Work Group leader prepared him for his current role as Plant General Manager at Am-Bev. 

See how else the Cornell Johnson MBA helped Marcelo Goncalez to achieve a fruitful international career in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni

Marcel Goncalez
Marcelo Goncalez, Cornell ‘18, Plant General Manager

Marcelo Goncalez, Cornell ‘18, Plant General Manager at AmBev

Age: 33
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Insper Learning Institution: Specialization in Business Administration; Mackenzie University: B.Sc Mechanical Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Cornell University, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management Class of 2018: Semester in Strategic Operations
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 6 years, operations at L’oreal and Gerdau

Why did you choose to attend business school? I wanted to further my strategic thinking, global mindset, and leadership skills. Having worked in great companies was important to have a solid foundation, however being in a cosmopolitan environment with top-notch faculty and students was the step I wanted to take towards having a fruitful international career.

Why Cornell Johnson? Which factors influenced your decision? I chose Cornell Johnson because of its well-balanced curriculum, great academia, and global networking opportunities. Most importantly, the smaller class size allows for a more personal and customized experience. Every student is treated with a distinct attention, enhancing his or her growth.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice? My internship was at AB InBev, which I was awarded by winning their case competition across all business schools in the US. I was somewhat biased when applying since I joined Cornell with the dream of landing an internship at AB InBev due to its excellent culture. So, when the time came, I placed all my effort and with the great company with my colleague Matt Costa in mind and we both received offers for the internship in Manhattan.

Why did you choose to work for your current company? It was always about the culture. I wanted to be in an environment that promotes meritocracy and I believe AB InBev’s 10 principles is designed to uncover the best in a professional — individually and collectively. We are always looking for growth opportunities, which puts people positively out of their comfort zones, so it is also mentally rewarding. Plus, working in the beer industry is fun. We have the opportunity to attend some of the best happy hour events in the industry.

How did your MBA experience prepare you for your current career? The Cornell MBA has a complete toolkit to develop future leaders. In my current role as a Plant General Manager, I oversee 150 people, including subcontractors. The experience I had as Johnson Leadership Fellow, coaching first years on navigating team dynamics while also being coached to further my own understanding, was unparalleled. In addition, as a Career Work Group leader, I had a chance to mentor several students on designing and helping to maximize their career options. These learnings regarding giving and receiving feedback have been beneficial in my career journey. 

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans? The pandemic created an opportunity. Since I was able to work remotely in my home country, I was able to be closer to my family during this time of need. The flexibility extended from the company was important because there were several challenges involving supply chain shortages. Regardless of the business dynamics, we cannot forget that the main priority is the health and safety of our people – and nothing is more rewarding than positive testimonials from our front-line employees towards our actions.

What advice would you give to a current MBA student? Explore different classes. It’s your time to rethink your career options and the MBA is a safe place to navigate uncharted territory. No great idea is good enough without the proper communication and collaboration. Learn to balance your hard and soft skills to deliver the best impact.

Learn about more business school alumni like Marcelo Goncalez by exploring our Real Humans: Alumni series.

To see what current students from Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management are up to, visit their Real Humans: Students profiles.

Maggie Fedorocsko
Maggie Fedorocsko is a freelance writer and editor who recently graduated from Drexel University. When she’s not wordsmithing, she enjoys reading, hiking, camping, cooking, and buying far too many antiques and plants for her quaint Philadelphia apartment.