Alex Viva is a Certified Global Business Professional who received his dual-degree MBA/MED from IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. In addition to receiving a high quality education, Viva also received first-hand interaction with students from around the world as he lived in a foreign country. The experience offered a global perspective that would not have existed in a domestically-based MBA program.
Viva’s involvement in international trade, however, began much earlier than his MBA in Spain. It really began when he was 13 years old and had an early morning paper route. One morning while preparing to get started, he heard his father in the kitchen. He was on the telephone speaking in Italian. After listening for about 10 minutes, he finally hung up and Alex asked about the call. He was speaking with Carlo De Benedetti, CEO of Olivetti, in order to finalize a transfer of technology contract. Viva thought to himself: “that’s what I want to do!”
After undergraduate work and prior to departing to Spain for business school, Viva worked at a semiconductor company in Silicon Valley as its international sales support. He found this work to be stimulating and it energized him to obtain an MBA. After returning to the US after graduation, he began to work for an EMC owned by a Japanese company, who’s CEO he had met while working in the semiconductor industry prior to going to Spain.
After over 30 years in international trade, Viva can recall stories from around the globe all kinds of events that influenced his personal and professional paths in many important ways. “It is not only one incident; it is a compilation of many that truly develop your instincts and knowledge of how to do business internationally. It was all exciting (and still is): improving patience through travel, opening up cultural awareness, learning communication best practices, trial and error with export documentation, utilizing government resources, flexibility in financing, and many more.” All of Viva’s experiences enabled him to be confident and pro-active in his approach to global business.
Ultimately, however, there are a few experiences that stand out:
- Market research for a book on the worldwide semiconductor industry: this experience helped hone Viva’s communication skills because it required that he reach out to people from around the world in a short period of time.
- Building an OEM support for Fujitsu through an employer through channels that enabled the firm to win one of its largest accounts ever. This experience was priceless in coordinating and organizing details and contracts that covered multiple companies in differing disciplines.
- Selling machetes to a large co-op in Costa Rica: This gave Viva the perspective that sometimes you need to know the end-user and what they need although it differed from corporate standard operating procedures. If you are willing to listen and then think through the needs, you can achieve success.
Reflecting on these experiences and more, Viva believes that relationships are key, but knowing how to develop those relationships are critical. When dealing with businesses on the other side of the global, trust in your partner is the overwhelming indicator of success. Yes, contracts are important, but the best contracts are the ones developed with trust; sign the contracts, then they go into the file and you never see them again.
Viva likes to say that “I was a CGBP before there was a CGBP.” He officially encountered the certification in 2011 as it became a requisite for working with the U.S. Small Business Administration funding. Since that time, he has taken it upon himself to grow the knowledge of CGBP in all things. From teaching Masters in International Business courses to working daily with small and mid-size businesses throughout the state, the CGBP domains are evident in all his actions and teachings.