23 May 2018

Claudio L. Haddad, OPM 12, 1987

2018 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient
by Susan Young


Chairman, Insper Institute of Education and Research

Claudio Haddad is a dreamer with a unique ability to temper his idealism with practicality. Having served as economics professor, government leader, and bank CEO, the modest Brazilian is now committed to the lofty goal of improving the lives of the people of his homeland. His tactical blueprint for doing so centers on broadening educational opportunities.

“I’ve never had a long-term plan. I always wanted to participate and be present.”
“I’ve never had a long-term plan. I always wanted to participate and be present.”

When he set about building Insper, a for-profit school until Haddad and a group of investors purchased it and transformed it into a nonprofit, it was not simply a matter of implementing proven ideas within a Brazilian institution. Haddad was committed to crafting a university that would reflect, work within, and celebrate the culture of Brazil.

Walking the halls of Insper, which now enrolls 10,000 students, one sees that Haddad has harnessed the vitality and creativity that is so prevalent in São Paulo: There are vibrant photos in the hallways and modern, modular classrooms where students are engaged in animated discussions. The unique and growing institution is clearly changing education—and society—in Brazil.

Haddad and his handpicked advisors also borrowed working practices from institutions around the world. “I wanted to bring the best ideas in education to Brazil,” says Haddad, the son of two teachers, who spent several years in Rio as an academic after earning a PhD at the University of Chicago. HBS is one of the schools that inspires Insper’s business school, for example, and it uses the case method to teach students in classrooms that were designed using HBS architectural drawings. Yet there are practices that Haddad did not adopt, such as tenure. Insper’s honor code, subsidized dorms, and robust fellowship programs may be co-opted from other schools, but they are designed for the Brazilian students to whom they cater.

Creating Insper may be Haddad’s proudest accomplishment, but it is by no means his only successful undertaking. His career path includes serving as director of the Central Bank of Brazil and building Banco Garantia into one of South America’s most prestigious banks before selling it to Credit Suisse First Boston in 1998.

“Claudio has had very successful experiences in many different areas: academia, government, and the private sector. He aims for excellence and sets the bar high,” says his longtime friend Pedro Moreira Salles, a Brazilian banker who is on the board of Insper. “What he has accomplished is nothing short of amazing.”

Haddad’s ability to be frank and straightforward, compassionate, and kind is apparent in his deep friendships as well as in the roles that he cherishes most (especially now that he’s passed the baton to a successor at Insper): husband, father, and grandfather. His wife of 47 years, Rosalie, is a scholar of George Bernard Shaw who supported him by working as a secretary at the University of Chicago. She admires his optimism, curiosity, and humility. “He’s proud but not boastful,” she says simply, adding that they’ve made a life together that is focused on helping their country succeed.

In raising their two daughters, the Haddads stressed hard work and independence, but as grandparents, they’ve loosened the reins a bit, giving in to the joy that comes from indulging young children. In addition to gathering regularly on Sundays and spending holidays together, Haddad and his wife and daughters work together on their family foundation.

When Haddad first arrived at HBS for the OPM Program in 1985, he was skeptical of what the School could offer. The case method in particular did not appeal to him, a fact he now admits with a laugh. That skepticism quickly dissolved as he saw how effective the discussions were at fueling deeper learning. “You think you are right, and then you find out you are wrong,” he says. It is a typical response from Claudio Haddad, who has channeled his own enthusiasm and open-mindedness into remarkable accomplishments that improve the lives of Brazilians.

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1946 Born, Rio de Janeiro
1969 Earns BS, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Military Institute of Engineering
1974 Earns PhD, Economics, University of Chicago
1974 Named Professor, School of Business Administration of Fundação Getúlio Vargas
1976 Appointed Chief Economist, Banco de Investimentos Garantia S.A.
1980 Named Director, Central Bank of Brazil
1983 Appointed Partner, Banco de Investimentos Garantia S.A.
1987 Completes OPM Program at HBS
1993 Appointed CEO, Banco de Investimentos Garantia S.A.
1998 Banco de Investimentos Garantia S.A. is sold to Credit Suisse First Boston
1999 Acquires Ibmec with other investors
2004 Through a donation, Ibmec São Paulo becomes a nonprofit institution
2009 Ibmec renamed Insper
2010 Insper accredited by AACSB
2015 Steps down as President of Insper, remains Chairman

Photo by Susan Young

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