In this interview, we speak with Marcio Coimbra, who graduated from IWP with a Certificate in International Politics in Fall 2014.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am a Brazilian attorney, and I have worked in politics my whole life. In Brazil, I first worked with Governor Franco Montoro, one of the Brazilian icons during the return to the democracy. After that, I worked in Congress for a long time as a Political Advisor for congressional representatives. In 2005, my career took its first steps outside Brazil.
I moved to Spain to work with President Aznar in Madrid. At the same time, I pursued my Master’s degree in Political Action. That experience took me to France to work with the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) as one of the strategists for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign for the presidency. Shortly after that, as a member of The Mont Pelerin Society, I moved to Austria to be a political manager for the Hayek Institute in Vienna. In the United States, I worked closely with the GOP and acted as an advisor for Senator Fred Thompson during his presidential bid in 2008.
Now back in Brazil, I currently work as Chief Political Advisor at the Federal Senate for Senator Lasier Martins, from my home state, Rio Grande do Sul.
As a Professor of Constitutional Law and Politics, I worked at the Catholic University of Brasília and now I am the Manager of the MBA program in Institutional Relations at Ibmec Business School. Our program in Brazil works with IWP; there is a training program at the end of their Ibmec studies in Washington, D.C. with the Corporate Statecraft program at IWP.
Please tell us about your current professional work.
My current professional work as Chief Political Advisor for Senator Lasier Martins consists of coordinating the entire political team that supports the Senator’s agenda for his 8-year term in Congress. I apply the experience and knowledge I have acquired at the IWP in our meetings and strategy. When I am in meetings with other Senators and at the Presidency, I constantly remember Professor Wood’s experience and advice.
How did you become interested in international affairs/national security?
International affairs has always been part of my job. When working with Governor Montoro, I acted as his international affairs advisor. I always found it important to have an international agenda. The world is connected, and it is a fact that countries cannot isolate themselves anymore. The international arena is like a chess game, and we need to be prepared to face that challenge.
What attracted you to IWP?
First, I wanted to be involved in the place founded by Dr. Lenczowski, who, in my perspective, is a visionary. He understands national security and international affairs more than anyone that I know, and he saw how important was to put together a group of intellectual minds to prepare our next generation of leaders. IWP became significant because of its vision. I am truly glad I am part of this story.
What have been the most interesting things you have learned at IWP?
The most interesting thing I learned at IWP was the perspectives and strategic vision of the country that became the most powerful and admirable nation on earth based on democracy and freedom. The United States is unique because of places like IWP. I felt inspired by these visions and brought back home these values that are the basis of our modern society.
At IWP, I focused on Latin American affairs. Most of my papers were written with focus on the political arena, evaluating populism and how freedom and democracy can prevail against the neo-populism of different leaders of the region.
Has studying at IWP changed your thoughts about international affairs?
I would not say it changed, but reinforced my views and gave me the instruments to defend the values I stand for.
Have your studies at IWP impacted how you approach your profession?
It deeply influenced my approach, since I understood how much of a difference we could make in the world. Because of my time in Washington, I was invited by Senator Martins to coordinate his political team, and now I am in Brazil working in Congress during a very special political period; we are discussing the impeachment of a neopopulist President. I am seeing history being written, and I am a part of this process.
What do you feel is the way that you have made the biggest impact so far in your career?
I believe the biggest impact in my career is happening now. Being part of such an important political process in my home country, having the opportunity to influence and discuss policies, and working with the opposition in order to end 13 years of a neopopulist government by a constitutional process is an experience of a lifetime.
Additionally, I was able to put together a program at a business school that is preparing a new generation of political leaders in Brazil. This is unique. No doubt that at the end of their program I will take them to IWP so they will also have this unique experience.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to work as the best Chief Political Advisor I can be, bringing good ideas and strategies for Senator Martins. After that, I plan to join an international organization to make a difference in the international arena. In addition, of course, I plan to have more students at my program at Ibmec Business School; work as a liaison between my two institutions, Ibmec and my alma mater IWP; and give the opportunity that I fortunately had to future Brazilian leaders to be trained in Washington, DC.