Corvinus Executive MBA

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The Focus Award: Carlos Brito

2015. május 26. - Kevin Jackson

Brazilian born Carlos Brito is the CEO of AB Inbev and has played a significant role in the transformation of the entire global beer industry. Some say Brito looks like he works in a hardware store, as he likes to wear jeans with his shirt tucked in. He is a no frills guy who does not believe in flying business class unless the flight is over six hours and thinks there should be no special privileges for executives. Despite his down to Earth demeanor, he is not an easy boss to work for and demands top performance. The results are quite clear, however, as Brito has created the world’s largest brewing company (AB InBev), and is still focused on building a whole lot more.

He became the CEO of AmBev in January of 2004, the same year AmBev merged together with Belgium based Interbrew to form the world’s largest brewing company called InBev. One year later, Brito was elected as CEO of InBev due to his reputation as being a master at cost cutting. In 2008, he engineered the hostile takeover of Anheuser Busch for $52 billion in cash creating AB InBev, displacing SAB Miller as the largest brewing company in the world. Finally, AB InBev acquired Grupo Modelo in 2013 to further cement its position as the world’s number one.

When asked about how he has managed to unify 150,000 employees in 24 countries to produce and distribute more than 200 beer brands, he will always say “people are the most important factor in a company.” In particular, he gives the following advice:

  • Be Fair: If younger employees outperform their seniors at AB InBev, then they will be the ones who are promoted.
  • Be Informal: Create an environment to facilitate communication across all corporate boundaries. Brito does not work from his own office, but rather a large table with his key members of his team close by.
  • Be Candid: Always say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • No Sugarcoating: Never take bad news and spin into something positive. Address all bad news openly and honestly.

Carlos Brito is now at it again and exploring a $122 billion takeover of SAB Miller. Many industry analysts believe this will happen by the end of this year. Why? The reason is related to Brito’s relentless pursuit of efficiencies that can be realised from consolidating the production and distribution of premium beer brands. He believes it is his personal duty to deliver the best products at the best prices to consumers all around the world and the highest returns to AB InBev shareholders. Carlos Brito is award the Focus Award for his incredible ability merge together different companies into a world leader with a focused vision.

For more information on Leadership, please refer to the following articles:

Carlos Brito: (Brew)master of the Universe, Fortune, Daniel Roberts, August 15, 2013,

The Plot to Destroy America's Beer, Bloomberg, Devin Leonard, October 25, 2012

Carlos Brito: “You Have to Treat People in Different Ways”, Insights by Stanford Business, Bill Snyder, July 24, 2014


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