As the clock ticks down to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, one of that country’s own is keeping fellow planners focused and inspired. Marcelo Sa ’01 is assistant to the CEO of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee.
“Being part of a project that will mold the city I live in for generations to come is a unique opportunity,” says Sa, who lives in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, Clara, and daughter, Helena. “Two words best describe what the Rio 2016 Games will be about: passion and transformation.”
The Games (both Olympic and Paralympic) will be the first held in South America, and more than 10,000 athletes from 205 nations are expected to compete. Sa is a proud carioca – native of Rio – and welcomes the global exposure for his hometown.
“We have a rare opportunity to better every aspect of the city: transportation, accessibility, environment, public safety, and more,” he explains, noting that the country expects to invest more than $11 billion (USD) in such improvements.
Sa is no stranger to ambitious goals. His determined pursuit of an international business education led him to Bentley in 1997, where Sa majored in International Studies and took on campus leadership roles that included resident assistant, men’s soccer team captain, and intramural sports supervisor.
He credits Bentley for providing a “multicultural environment where ethics and meritocracy were the norm. That’s the kind of environment I regarded as the ideal for my career and the foundation of the legacy I want to leave behind.”
After graduation, Sa returned to Brazil and worked first for Cemusa, a global designer of street furniture such as bus shelters. His next post was at Vale, the second-largest mining company in the world.
It was through Vale that Sa met Leonardo Gryner, marketing director for the Rio 2016 Bid Committee. Gryner liked Sa’s experience supporting Vale initiatives on a global scale, and recruited him for the organizing team when Brazil landed hosting duties for the 2016 Olympics.
As assistant to the CEO, Sa has a hand in managing almost every aspect of Rio 2016.
"There are high expectations that the Rio 2016 Committee and the government must live up to," observes Sa, who aids the cause by assisting Gryner in government meetings; helping to implement procurement, communication and administrative policies; and serving as the CEO's internal spokesman, particularly in keeping staff dedicated to priorities.
The committee is in a planning phase until 2015, when it begins hosting test events for the Games. Its current crew of 100 will swell as that date draws near, growing to more than 4,000 staff and 70,000 volunteers by 2016.
True to his carioca roots, Sa promotes Brazil at every turn. The mission includes serving as an ambassador of sorts, welcoming Bentley students who travel to Rio for study abroad programs and other academic pursuits.
“The opportunity to promote an equal – or even better – Bentley experience for today’s students is what motivates me to stay involved,” he explains. “As my 10-year reunion approaches, I want to thank Bentley for the most important legacy it left me: great memories and true friends.”