A Partnership of Equals

Although Brazilian mining company Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) knew it had the potential to become one of the world's top three mining firms, it realised that it would need help aligning its infrastructure to achieve its goal.

CVRD was not afraid to be introspective: it assessed its strengths, counting a loyal labour force among them. However, it also realised that its management needed new knowledge and skills to support the company's ambitious mission.

CVRD relies on leading-edge technology, and its senior management team felt that a leading business school at one of the world's top technology schools was an ideal partner.

Marco Dalpozzo, CVRD's human resources and organisational development director, explains: 'We needed to think hard how to lead the business as a whole and oversee its strategic transition from a state-based company to a private, globally focused company.'


MIT Sloan worked closely with CVRD to design two programmes for the company's pivotal managers – the senior management programme for the top 100 managers and the transformational leadership programme for the next 150 leaders.

Each programme took place over six months, including a six to eight-day term at MIT, followed by teamwork on CVRD-focused action learning projects and concluding with presentations of the project teams' actionable recommendations to the MIT faculty and senior CVRD sponsors. Teams often built upon projects from previous cadres, resulting in the quick integration of change efforts.

Programme content was customised by MIT faculty teaching in the programme. Professors Rick Locke and Gabriel Bitran visited CVRD to understand the company's history, internal dynamics and short and long-term goals. They integrated what they learned into a curriculum designed to meet the needs of CVRD's leaders and wrote a CVRD-specific case study for the course.

With a strong emphasis on putting knowledge into practice, the customcurriculum comprised three major learning streams: leadership, global strategic management and integrated value chain management.

CVRD managers gained strategic global perspectives, enabling them to compete on a worldwide scale. They learned customised financial frameworks to assess the impact of risks and decisions and how to lead change and manage across cultures.


The MIT Sloan programme inspired CVRD to reassess critical decisions and processes, positioning itself for future growth. CVRD is now carefully analysing and revising its supply chain, shared services and internationalisation strategies using the frameworks and tools provided in the programme.

According to Bitran, the CVRD relationship has been as rewarding for MIT Sloan as it has been for the company's management teams: 'We can see that the programme has energised the company and its managers, generating new ideas and a higher level of investment in the direction and future of the company. Senior executives are now advancing new projects with a sense of ownership and motivation.'

Bitran notes that managers participating in the programme feel appreciated – a key goal for CVRD. In fact, all levels of management have placed such value on the programme that a seventh cohort is underway.

'The programme has grown to be so prestigious within CVRD that managers want to be included,' Bitran says. 'And that is a great measure of success.'

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As the largest diversified mining company in the Americas, the recently privatised Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) is one of the most important and productive corporations in Brazil.
MIT Sloan introduced an innovative learning programme comprising four components: an introductory module in Brazil, an intensive one-week residential module at MIT, a work-based team project and a three-day follow-up module in Brazil four months later.