Marcelo Lisboa de Castro Reis is a naturally curious person. It’s what spurred him on to pursue and earn his mechanical engineering undergraduate degree from Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa (São Paulo, Brazil).
“Engineering would help me understand how the world around me works and learn about different subjects,” Marcelo explains. “However, I wanted more than just the regular curriculum so I decided to explore other fields and majors. I took electives in data science, business, accounting and entrepreneurship.”
Toward the end of his final undergraduate year, Marcelo’s curiosity took hold—but looking far beyond his own campus. Having always wanted to study abroad for a semester, this was the time to turn that curiosity into a reality.
“I was not going to settle for just any university,” Marcelo enthuses. “I wanted to study at one of the best in the whole world. I wanted to find a program where I could relish engineering and explore more about other areas, such as business and entrepreneurship. Berkeley fits exactly this desire.”
So in August 2021, Marcelo joined our vibrant BHGAP community—an experience that has since opened up new doors for this aspiring entrepreneur.
He’s leveraging all that Berkeley had to offer in his new role at Accenture, where he’s working on a telecommunication real-estate project for Telefonica Vivo, a market leader in Brazil. As the Business Operations New Associate, Marcelo is part of a team that manages all 70 stores in São Paulo state, finding opportunities to increase service level by automating systems and identifying efficiencies in order to maximize profits and minimize costs.
“I’m learning about new industries, mastering problem-solving skills, and identifying gaps and opportunities in this specific market,” Marcelo adds.
Marcelo also brought home the entrepreneurial spirit that infuses Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area. His personal project is developing an algorithm to minimize vehicle emissions while someone is searching for an open parking space. “If everything works out,” he says, “it has the potential to become a new venture!”
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Marcelo about his BHGAP experience and advice for incoming students.
What were your highlights during your semester in BHGAP?
The international aspect of it. I was learning and interacting with people from different cultures and we became good friends.
Learn by doing—there were a lot of practical activities.
The access and close relationships with my professors and GSIs.
Which courses did you take?
I took classes from the program's curriculum as well as from other majors.
From BHGAP, I took Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Opportunity Recognition: Technology and Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, Blockchain, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Thriving at Haas and Beyond and Leadership Communications. From other departments, I took Energy Engineering Seminars and Energy and Civilization.
How did those classes fit in with your major?
They fit like a glove! The courses I took in Berkeley added to my background to become a more complete and generalist person. They helped me to potentialize my work opportunities.
How were your Berkeley classes different from or similar to those at Insper?
The practical part of the classes and learning by doing was very similar to my home university's method. The infrastructure available to the students and the availability of professors were also very alike.
Nevertheless, the classes' dynamics were completely different. Although it was a bit overwhelming sometimes, learning and studying before the classes was advantageous so that you could take your doubts, discuss and deepen your knowledge during class time.
Moreover, I was exposed daily to people from different countries and backgrounds in Berkeley. At Insper, this is not the case.
Did you participate in the career coaching opportunity?
Yes! Jennifer Davis’ coaching circles helped me self-reflect on my previous experiences and where I want to go. I also learned the importance of building a deep and wide network and following up with connections.
After the coaching experience, I understood my strengths and started developing a new network of contacts. I recommend everyone to take this program.
Did you have time to do any sightseeing or campus activities?
I had a lot of great experiences outside of the classroom.
I joined the BERC Undergrad club, where we discussed energy and environmental trends and subjects once a week. It was very interesting!
I did the soccer tryouts for the UC Berkeley team and passed the two first tests. But, I injured my nose during one of the matches before the last tryout. Once I got better, I joined a soccer team to play in the intramural championship. I also bought a season pass for the football and basketball home games! It was a lot of fun to watch them.
I also traveled a lot with friends from BHGAP and the International House where I lived. We did a lot of sightseeing and visited many wonderful places, including Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Yosemite, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and others. It was amazing!
You got quite involved during your time at Berkeley! What were your top 5?
I've actually written a guide to help fellow students!
It recommends good places to visit, eat and party, along with some fun facts about Berkeley, San Francisco and other destinations.
You have a great opportunity to learn with the best and meet amazing people who can become close friends or work partners.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their visiting-student program?
Don't waste your time! You have a great opportunity to learn with the best and meet amazing people who can become close friends or work partners. Study a lot and achieve outstanding grades. Travel and discover the beauties of California and the U.S.!
In addition, I would also recommend you stay at the International House. It is super-close to the Haas campus and offers a good environment to connect with many students from all over the world.
Where can we find you five years from now?
I hope you can find me doing an M.B.A.!