2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition Winners Interview Series: Entrepreneurship

EFMD encourages and rewards innovative and impactful cases in management development each year. This year brought an exceptional variety of winning cases across various industries. EFMD decided to interview the winners to find out more about their motivation, inspiration and significant challenges.

The next interview is with Umesh Mukhi, FGV-EAESP, one of the winning authors from the category “Entrepreneurship”.

Nubank: Keeping Customers Captivated and Employees Engaged

The team of authors:

  • Suzanne Cordeau-Andrews, FGV-EAESP
  • Umesh Mukhi, FGV-EAESP
  • Beatriz M Braga, FGV-EAESP

Nubank is a Latin American neobank and the largest financial technology bank in Latin America. Its headquarters are located in São Paulo, Brazil.

Could you share with us what the greatest inspiration for your case was?

One of the questions which intrigued us was, “how can a bank run like a startup”. The organizational culture at Nubank goes against the conventional norms of the financial sector. Furthermore, we saw Nubank importing an organizational culture within the Brazilian context usually witnessed in technology companies. The fact that all this was happening within the emerging market context further inspired us to initiate the dialogue with the company, which eventually led to the Case Project.

The fact that all this was happening within the emerging market context further inspired us to initiate the dialogue with the company, which eventually led to the Case Project.

What were the major challenges in designing the case?

There were many challenges in thinking, conceptualizing, and writing about Nubank because there was so much to tell and do. One of the biggest challenges was to decide which topic specifically we were going to address within the case. So, we decided to start by telling Nubank’s amazing story and how it came to challenge the existing Brazilian banking structure. They did so subtly and aggressively by offering a different product and service experience for bank customers.

One of the biggest challenges was to decide which topic specifically we were going to address within the case.

Nubank’s founding story has a lot to do with the kind of organizational culture the founders chose; it would have to prevail in the day-to-day working environment and practices. In this way, a very strong culture was created and reinforced every day. And not only was Nubank successful with its customers, but within five years of its founding, it became one of the top 10 employers of choice for business students in Brazil.

Another challenge is that we wanted to write about people and how the management of people and sophisticated technology can form the basis for differentiation and competitiveness. We found out that it is not only about working in a nice environment and “having fun” but much more about having a clear purpose that is attractive to the people who work there and sustaining this vision in everyday practices.

We found out that it is not only about working in a nice environment and “having fun” but much more about having a clear purpose that is attractive to the people who work there and sustaining this vision in everyday practices.

In what ways could the case impact society and business in the near future?

Over the last decade, companies have shifted towards recognizing the importance of organizational culture as a driving force for their performance and success. Our case showcases a Latin American company whose founders placed an immense focus on their culture from day one and were consequently extremely successful.

We hope our work inspires students and entrepreneurs from around the world when choosing and building companies. If the leaders of tomorrow prioritize building a strong and sustainable company culture and come up with new and accessible business models that have a positive impact on society and the environment, we all win.

If the leaders of tomorrow prioritize building a strong and sustainable company culture and come up with new and accessible business models that have a positive impact on society and the environment, we all win.

The Sponsor’s Commentary

The category “Entrepreneurship” is kindly sponsored by emlyon business school. EFMD greatly values the sponsorship, the expertise and the effort of the sponsor to contribute to the Case Writing Competition.

Rickie Moore from emlyon business school shares more information about sponsoring the category.

Why is case writing & teaching on the topic of “Entrepreneurship” important?

Interest in both the theory and practice of Entrepreneurship has grown significantly over the last five decades. Entrepreneurial case studies are a powerful mechanism for illustrating the great diversity of entrepreneurial journeys.

As a teaching tool, the rich and often colourful content of the cases provides valuable insight into the impacts of the experience on all the various stakeholders individually and collectively and ultimately help others learn and benefit from the example.

What are the reasons that emlyon business school is encouraging case writing on the topic by sponsoring the category?

emlyon business school is one of the oldest institutions in Entrepreneurship education. Its distinctive academic signature, “early makers,” moulds learning into a lifelong endeavour to have an impact on the world and offers a real alternative in its environment.

It sees learning as not only a transfer of academic knowledge but also a “course of learning experiences” that equips students to forge a constant link between thought and action: “doing to learn, learning to do”. emlyon’s ambition is to train responsible managers capable of taking up the challenges of today and tomorrow. At emlyon, we have been educating entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial leaders since 1872.

By sponsoring the Entrepreneurship Case category, emlyon underlines its commitment to promoting entrepreneurship education at a global level. We are convinced about the role that entrepreneurship education plays in the development of society.

By sponsoring the Entrepreneurship Case category, emlyon underlines its commitment to promoting entrepreneurship education at a global level.

Through the entrepreneurship case category, we seek to provide a vehicle for promoting examples of developing the entrepreneurial mindset, skills and behaviours so that many can be inspired to do likewise.

Nubank was evaluated as a truly engaging case experience. It was an interesting example of the growth challenges of an innovative Brazilian fintech start-up. It perfectly illustrated the importance of culture, values and team spirit as factors of competitive differentiation.

About Sponsorship

Each year, more than 17 institutions sponsor categories in the EFMD Case Writing Competition. The choice of category, its exact definition and any specific conditions are the privileges of the sponsor. Sponsorships for the following categories are currently available – Continuous Improvement: The Journey to Excellence, Indian Management Issues and Opportunities, Supply Chain Management, and MENA Business Cases. If you are interested in sponsoring the mentioned categories or launching a new category relevant to case writing and teaching, please contact Hansol Park at hansol.park@efmdglobal.org.

More information about the 2020 EFMD Case Writing Competition can be found on the EFMD Global Case Writing Competition page.

Please visit the Case Centre’s webpage to access the collection of the winning cases.