Florian Hagenbuch

Class Year: 

2010
Hometown: Sāo Paulo, Brazil

School: 

Colegio Humboldt

Language: 

German
I had no idea what International Business was until I took a class on Cross-Cultural Management with local students in China. The experience was unique, enriching and definitely eye-opening.

Why Huntsman?

Born in Germany, Florian moved to Brazil when he was only four years old. His father worked for a German multinational firm and originally intended to move for only a year, but fell in love with Brazil and settled there permanently. Growing up in Sāo Paulo, Florian was a very entrepreneurial adolescent. He used to sell things at flea markets for fun and even had his own small business for a time, unlocking cell phones! Business definitely interested him and when he looked into applying to Wharton, he found out about the Huntsman Program. Having been raised in two cultures and exposed to different languages his whole life, the Program sounded just right.

Florian hasn't been disappointed. He loves the fact that he is able to pursue many interests at Penn. Wishing to combine qualitative and quantitative skills, he has declared Wharton concentrations in both Finance and Management. He learns to value companies by numbers, but he's also learning people skills, which are so important in his view. He's also pursuing minors in Math and Chinese, and one of his favorite classes has been an Environmental Studies course! He says he probably would never have taken the course if he didn't need to fulfill a general requirement in the College, but he ended up loving it.

He also feels that he's free to pursue any activity that interests him. Florian has held summer internships at Goldman Sachs in Frankfurt and at Blackstone in London. He plays Club Soccer and is President of the Wharton Finance Club. He also helps organize a Model UN conference for high school students every year, which he says is definitely his favorite activity. As a member of a twelve-person team that manages a very large budget, Florian has learned a lot about teamwork and leadership, as well as administrative skills.

Florian says that what sets Huntsman students apart is that they are more balanced and well-rounded than the average college student. He loves being part of a small community within a larger university and says that "nobody else offers that, regardless of the subject matter."

Study Abroad in China

When he arrived at Penn, Florian already spoke Portuguese, German, French, Spanish and English, but wanted to challenge himself with a new language. He had no previous experience with any Asian languages, so he decided to begin learning Chinese. With a Huntsman Summer Language Grant, Florian spent his freshman summer in Beijing and later studied abroad at Fudan University in Shanghai.

The best class he took while abroad was called "Cross-Cultural Management," and he was one of only four foreign students in the class, all from Wharton. The most interesting thing about the class was observing the differences in Chinese and American business mentalities. Florian observed that the different governmental systems also affected how people from each country view management issues. Florian calls the eye-opening experience an "oh wow" effect. Despite the differences between the two groups, Florian says he made good friends and still keeps in touch with a few of his classmates from Fudan.

Florian says his semester abroad was "extremely difficult, but very satisfying…" China's increasing importance in the world made Florian's time at Fudan particularly interesting. Though he was still perfecting his Chinese when he arrived in Shanghai, he was able by the end to hold a thirty minute conversation with a taxi driver about Chinese politics, which he says was well worth the effort.