Marcio Oliveira, WG’22, began his professional life at age 14. After his father passed away, Marcio supported his family by working full-time as an apprentice electrician and attending school at night in his native São Paulo, Brazil. By the time he earned two associate’s degrees in Mechanics and Electronics and a bachelor’s degree in Mechatronics Engineering, Marcio had accrued a considerable amount of professional experience. At age 19, he was already an established Quality engineer, landing an international assignment for Bosch in Germany and soon taking on progressively more advanced roles at companies like Philips, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group, and Enersys.
Having spent 22 years of his career in highly technical roles, Marcio started feeling the “itch” to shift out of operations and engineering positions and into the business and finance sphere. “Every time I sat in a business meeting, I felt that I was an outsider,” he said. “I began to think, ‘How can I expand beyond my technical knowledge to develop business skills that meaningfully fuel the strategic growth of the company?’” Marcio sought to broaden his business acumen and advance into more impactful positions; to get there, he knew he needed a formal business education.
Marcio started his Wharton EMBA in August 2020 and is preparing to graduate this summer. He credits the program for helping him take the next step in his career as Peloton’s Senior Vice President for Safety, Quality, and Product PMO. “WEMBA takes this group of exceptionally talented professionals with diverse backgrounds who otherwise would never have crossed paths and puts them together in a room. The amount of learning that takes place from your peers is astounding,” said Marcio. He also found value from WEMBA’s world-renowned faculty, as well as the Career Advancement Team.
Marcio points to Professors Allon, Pottruck, and Hernandez as influential faculty members in his journey, noting their expertise on supply chain management, leadership for change, and global strategy. He expected to learn from the best inside the classroom but was surprised by how accessible the Wharton faculty proved to be in the real world as well. “The exchange you get with faculty even outside of class is what really makes this program stand out,” he said. “There was a point where I needed some coaching with a situation not specifically related to school, and my professor offered to talk it through with me over dinner. The power of that relationship and network is way beyond what you get in class.” Marcio knows that the faculty support won’t end once he graduates, either. “I’m taking entrepreneurship courses now because that’s an interest that I may explore at a later point in my life. I feel confident that in a few years I can reach out to any faculty member for a refresher and get advice on how to achieve my goal,” said Marcio. “When you need to make a decision, the professors are there.”
WEMBA’s Career Advancement Team was a huge help to Marcio throughout the program as well. When he faced a crossroads in his career, he turned to them for support. “The Director of Career Advancement helped me with anything and everything,” he said. “I’d even talk to her about whether I should stay at my current company and move into a different function, or take a new position in a company that is very different from what I’m used to. She never explicitly told me what to do, but instead asked me the right questions to help me figure it out myself.”
New Role at Peloton
After just a year in the WEMBA program, Marcio’s executive potential began to get noticed. He was recruited for a new position at Peloton, taking on the role of Senior Vice President for Safety, Quality, and Product PMO in 2021. “They brought me in as part of their transformation process to focus on Quality and Safety at a higher level, and to be the face of the company for any type of product safety issues.”
Today, Marcio leads a team of 200 people, with 6 direct reports and a significant budget. He is certain that the business skills he gleaned from the first year’s core curriculum helped him hit the ground running at Peloton. “They didn’t need or want someone with a purely technical background. They needed someone who could connect the technical with the business and who had the ability to map strategy, financials, and profitability, and execute at a high level. I doubt I would have had the skills to tackle this challenge without the foundation I got at Wharton. For example, before the program, I didn’t even know how to run a cash flow analysis of a company; a basic skill that you need to truly understand how a business runs and make smart decisions for the short and long-term.”
Advice to Prospective EMBA Students
When Marcio applied for the Wharton EMBA in January 2020, he had welcomed a newborn daughter into the world just one month earlier. “It was really important to have my family support,” Marcio said. “This is not a one person decision. My wife and my older daughter were key players in this journey. There’s never a “right time” to start your MBA, so if you’re thinking about it, take the plunge and do it. Yes, Wharton is a ton of work. It doesn’t matter how much work people tell you it is; you will only understand when you get there. But it’s 100% worth it.”
— Kendra King
Posted: July 20, 2022