Staff Spotlight: Fernando Junji Ishi

Co-founder and managing partner
Fernando Ishi is a 25-years-old entrepreneur, and has participated in cultural and professional exchanges in 4 different countries, speaks 6 languages and holds a degree in Business Administration from UFPR, the oldest university in Brazil. Currently studying an MBA at Febracorp University, he has solid work experience: owned a digital marketing agency, worked in China and at 2 of the biggest companies in Brazil (Ambev and Natura). Co-founded and is the managing partner at Intern Brazil.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Olympics in Rio

I remember one time that I was in southern Brazil and I only spoke Portuguese and English at that time. I was probably around 14. I was flirting with a girl and she asked me my “apellido” (in Spanish). I was mumbling some Spanish and said that my “apellido” was “Nando”. “Apelido” in Portuguese means nickname and “apellido” in Spanish means last name.

At that time, I felt that this girl from Argentina was the dumbest person on the planet because she couldn’t believe me. Later that night, I told that story to my aunt who spoke basic Spanish and she started to laugh out loud and explained me the difference. I couldn’t believe it.

From that experience, I developed a passion to start learning languages and really understand and communicate with others. It opened up my eyes to the greatness of the world and an interest in globalization in general.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I changed a bit in the past few years. I can say that I grew a lot in terms of communication and understanding. Working at Intern Brazil gave me the opportunity to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them, but at the same time understand that with different cultures, you can misinterpret things and you have to constantly confirm if you have understood something.

You have to put yourself in the participant’s shoes in order to really feel the way he/she is feeling. Sometimes it’s not the vocabulary, but the way people act and talk to you that can be totally misunderstood if you are not open minded. Running a growing company with my business partner, Marcio, has been a challenge. We’re facing a lot of challenges that I didn’t encounter in the corporate world, such as lack of resources, tracking results, and many others.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

The best story that I've heard from a return student was from Ryan Hu. He is a Chinese participant that was studying in the U.S. After the program ended, he came back to the U.S. to finish his degree. After graduation, he got a position at the Royal Bank of Scotland Citizens Financial Group in Boston.

The interesting story is that he had a great position, but he quit after a few months. He moved back to China and started his entrepreneurial venture, opening up a yogurt factory there. We’re still in touch and he always give us a perspective on how China and his business/himself are doing. It is pretty interesting how the passion to be an entrepreneur got into the dream of the corporate career.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I could do any program that my company offers, I’d do a 4-months-internship program in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo at manufacturing, international trade, logistics or commercial area. I would try to work at a hands-on position, probably at a factory, a distribution center or with sales.

I’d love to become part of the local network from the company, since I’d be a foreigner. I’d try to go to as many events as possible and to meet as many people as possible. The main reason I would do the program would be to get a view of the working environment in Brazil and how is it different from where I’m from (assuming I’m foreigner), and develop capabilities that are specific from Brazil that could be incorporate in my own personal and professional culture.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What makes us unique is our special care to the participants. I went to China to do an internship. It was a wonderful experience and I had some difficulties, so I always put myself in the position of the participant and I can say that our team does it as well.

We want to make each and every experience remarkable.

Being there to support one of our clients that was having a hard time at the bus station was one of our proudest moments. He was having an awful customer service experience and was returning from Florianópolis to Curitiba.

He had a flight to Rio. If he missed the bus, which was delayed, he’d miss his flight to Rio. I called their customer service and got to resolve his problem, he embarked on the bus and got there in time. It was such a relief and I felt proud to make it happen.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

A successful company can be defined in so many different ways. I think that by having a capable team that is autonomous and can run the company with the same or better care that the co-founders had would be truly rewarding.

A place for development. Getting customer feedback saying that those experiences that we provided were probably one of, if not the most amazing experiences they had in their entire life is a synonym of success. Being able to facilitate them for all parts involved is great.

And I think that the final definition of it, would be to have a sustainable company that follows the triple bottom line, which has 3 pillars: financial, environmental and society. If we can be sustainable looking at these 3 factors, we will be considered and feel like a successful company with a great environment for people to work with us.