Laureate Leadership Perspectives – Jose Roberto Loureiro, CEO, Laureate Brazil
This month, Jose Roberto Loureiro, CEO, Laureate Brazil, shares important lessons from his leadership journey, his vision of Laureate as a movement that is bringing about significant changes in Brazil and the world, and the importance of putting students at the center of everything we do.
What were some of your major career milestones and highlights before joining Laureate?
Jose Roberto Loureiro: I began working at a young age. At 18, I entered the insurance business as a clerk and in four years became a manager. At the same time, I attended business school and went on to specialize in insurance management, strategic leadership and innovation, and market growth and intelligence. I worked in insurance for over 30 years and held CEO positions in large companies such as MetLife Brazil and Citigroup. Although I did not graduate from a top-tier institution and only learned English when I was 35, my studies played a key role in my life. Key throughout these years was the unconditional support of my wife and my family, as it is not always easy to balance family life with a demanding career.
What drew you to Laureate? What has kept you committed through the years?
JR: I was drawn by the defined purpose of our company and the nobleness of the educational sector. I joined Laureate Brazil in 2010 as Vice President of Operations and was promoted to CEO, Laureate Brazil, in 2012. Leaving behind a successful career in insurance was not easy but I was encouraged by the importance and potential of our mission, realizing how much a country can change through education, and the serious gaps that existed in Brazil in this area. I am deeply committed to economic activities that contribute to solving pressing issues for society, and in Laureate I have found the perfect business environment to achieve this.
Laureate’s operations in Brazil presented a wonderful opportunity to build our model and reputation and change the lives of thousands of students through education. Since 2010, our student base has almost tripled from nearly 100,000 students to almost 300,000, true to our mission of expanding access to quality higher education.
Today, the Positive Leadership Movement is an important force across Laureate. What does Positive Leadership mean for you, your region and our network at large?
JR: The Positive Leadership Movement is a powerful tool that can have a positive impact on our work environment and coworkers, our family and friends and, consequently, our communities. Throughout life we are conditioned to always see the negative side and think about what might or has already gone wrong, without properly appreciating what is already working. As adults, we need to relearn how to see the world from a positive perspective.
Within the context of our work, we need to adopt three basic premises in our relationships with one another and to expand those attitudes beyond Laureate: manners, politeness, and praise. By adopting a more optimistic attitude we can be more deeply and transparently connected to everyone in our network. As this movement grows and we adopt it as our daily standard, it will become an unbeatable recipe for success.
You’ve been a successful leader for many years – what guiding principles or lessons could you share with our 60,000+ colleagues across the network?
JR: I would like to take this opportunity to share some principles that have guided my career from the outset. The first lesson is prioritizing truth above everything else. This thinking is how I conduct myself, always prioritizing transparency and not forgetting what is right. Under no circumstances in life should we fail to do what is right.
Second, we must be prepared for the decisions that we have to take in life, bearing in mind the long-term vision of the organization and not being shortsighted but focusing on the horizon. A difficult choice should never be put off or avoided, especially if this only benefits the short-term and does not take into account the macro situation for the organization.
Finally, understand the mission of your business, the power of education to transform people’s lives and transform nations. Purpose is the most powerful motivational tool that should be used by you and everyone in your organization.
How is Brazil using technology to improve student experiences and outcomes?
JR: Overall, the education market worldwide is still lagging behind in the use of technology to improve student experiences and outcomes. One of the reasons is that technology is a mobile target, which advances 100 years in 10 years, and education is always trying to keep up while doing the opposite (10 years progress every 100 years). There is a huge revolution yet to come in education. For the time being, we are using the technology available not only to attract or serve students, but also to provide a differentiated academic classroom experience.
In Health Sciences for example, the medicine program at Universidade Anhembi Morumbi (UAM) offers a modern infrastructure, composed of high technology laboratories with a three-dimensional environment, robots and virtual reality equipment, as well as a Human Simulation Center. The main feature is SimMan 3G, a wireless mannequin that can be used for practice. It is a computerized doll, programmed to simulate various human reactions: crying, convulsions, perspiration and altered pupils.
We are also totally disrupting distance learning in Brazil to bring about real transformation in digital education. Laureate Brazil plans to lead this movement in two ways: both in access and in methodology, because distance learning (EAD) is still replicating the face-to-face teaching model. In an ever-changing world of highly connected people, it is increasingly necessary to adapt to a new reality of innovation. To move forward, we are creating a structure based on three pillars: rapid growth, student experience, and customer satisfaction. In the future, this model will serve as the basis for operations in other regions.
What does being Here for Good mean to you? What is your vision of Here for Good in Brazil?
JR: The Here for Good spirit must be evident in our actions and in everything we do in Brazil. The most important thing is to have the synergy of three elements in our mission: students, faculty, and staff working together to solve problems in society. An example of this commitment is the Quere Bem project, developed by UniFG in Recife, which was honored as the winner of the 2017 Here for Good Awards in the Faculty/Staff category. The project aimed to address the urgent medical care needs of babies born with microcephaly following the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil in 2015.
Involving the entire FG Community, including the university’s Community Clinic and the Legal Practice Center, the initiative offered physiotherapy, nutrition and psychological support for the children and provided psychological and legal assistance for families. A true community effort behind a social cause.
What would your final message to Laureate colleagues worldwide be?
JR: I would like to wish everyone good luck on this journey to transform our communities into better places to live, by practicing the Here for Good spirit, expanding access to quality education and employability, and by helping our students at the outset and throughout their careers. I take this opportunity to tell Laureate colleagues worldwide that Brazil is available to everyone who wants to learn a little more about the importance of education to our country. This exchange of knowledge within our network is fundamental. At the end of the day we must always ask: what am I doing for the students? If you know, you are on the right track. If you are not sure, you’d better think about another route.