Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

First day in the office: Chronic in the Brazilian Public Sector

When Brazil was discovered in 1500 (at that time Brazil was Vera Cruz Island yet), several jobs on the Public Sector were given to people close to the emperor of Portugal, our discoverers. Over the time, such a tradition was kept and, in 1822, when Portugal’s emperor D. João VI moved in to Brazil, such a tradition was institutionalized in a way that, to work on the Public Sector, one must knew someone that could find him or her a job. This situation raised two main problems. First, there was no free competition for people trying to get jobs, which caused qualified people losing jobs that were given to under-qualified people that “knew someone in the government.” Second, such a situation created lack of efficiency on the Public Sector, with people not working hard, since they could not be fired, because they knew someone. Both problems were well solved by the President Fernando Collor de Melo around 1990 (168 years later). However, Collor, pushed by several sectors, had to protect the jobs for people in the Public Sector, making it almost impossible for people to get fired. Because of this “almost impossible to get fired” condition, several employees in the Public Sector did not work hard, which jeopardized institutions in Brazil. To solve this problem, several institutions have become bureaucratic, guaranteeing efficiency, but limiting innovation. Since it is impossible to survive in the XXI century without innovation, the Bank of the Northeast of Brazil created a department to spread an innovative mindset in the organization. And my internship was on this department.

When I came to work on the first day, my boss gave me a project to work on. He had explained to me the background I just described and said, “With that in mind, I want you to develop an innovation-based Organizational Culture to the Bank. I am here to help, but good luck.”

Basically, I would work to end a 500 years status quo not only in the Bank, but in the whole country. And that was just my first day.