Global Ambassador: Lucas Clarke Explores Cross-Cultural Business

CGB Insights
7 min readApr 14, 2021

From Argentina to the United States, Lucas Clarke is sure of one thing: his multinational background and intercontinental work will create global impact.

Lucas Clarke in Marfa, Texas

“Dar um jeito,” a popular Portuguese phrase that means “give me a chance”, this phrase is Lucas’s favorite and embodies his experiences at UT Austin and Brazil. It reminds him that it is possible to create opportunities for yourself rather than following pre-established paths. His studying and work in Brazil have proven this to be true. As a fourth-year student at the McCombs School of Business, Lucas’s academic endeavors in cross-cultural business and navigating international business environments truly mirror the goals of the Center for Global Business at The University of Texas at Austin. His ambition and curiosity are why Lucas was chosen to be a part of the Global Ambassadors Program, a program created to recognize exceptional students with unique backgrounds to promote the work of the center.

Cultivating unique perspectives

Lucas knew that selecting the right university was important. After coming to the conclusion that business aligned with his curious personality and skills in analyzing and conceptualizing ideas he chose McCombs School of Business for its strong business program and interesting culture. His love for adventure sparked a desire to study abroad and pursue international business.

It was not just his thirst for adventure and passion for business that led Lucas to major in international business. The International Business major allows for customization to a student’s specific needs. According to Lucas, “When you think of IB, there is not a specific type of student, there is no exact job path but rather a long-term career perspective.” While Lucas was given the opportunity to build his major from the ground up, this came with some challenges. While not always exciting, every McCombs student needs to partake in the required courses. Those courses gave him a solid base for the unique skill sets he developed in building his major around his personal needs. The international business major has set him up for success by allowing him to focus on networking for global companies and engaging with other cultures in a business context. These skills aren’t about preparing Lucas for entry-level work but rather opening doors for exponential growth in future employment opportunities.

Born in Argentina, Spanish was Lucas’s first language and raised in Texas, English was his second. When deciding on what language area he wanted to focus on, he didn’t want to go with what he already knew. Instead, he wanted to learn something new. Lucas chose Portuguese, as a Romance language this meant that he already had a solid starting point but would still be expanding his verbal-linguistic intelligence. He worked hard at learning Portuguese, making it his minor, and building fluency. Lucas’s passion for learning business concepts combined with his interest in discovering new languages led him to explore international business and Latin American culture through the study-abroad programs offered at UT.

Paving his own path

One of the study abroad programs Lucas partook in was the renowned Portuguese Flagship Program (PFP), which is “intended for UT Austin undergraduate students with a unique commitment to reach the highest levels of Portuguese and apply those skills in a professional context.” As a participant of PFP, Lucas had the opportunity to travel to Brazil and build a great support network of warm and friendly native Brazilians, pushing him to learn Portuguese at a professional level and eventually becoming completely fluent in the language.

Another program Lucas got to be a part of was the Portuguese Overseas Flagship Capstone, which is an immersive experience that requires one semester of coursework as well as an internship the following semester. After completing the coursework, he was able to go to Salvador, Bahia for seven weeks to study abroad and raise his proficiency to the next level alongside Brazilian students. Unfortunately, the program was cut short due to the covid-19 pandemic. Lucas had to return to the United States to finish the semester. Even with the challenges of having to cut the program, short Lucas appreciates that being an international business major is what led to these remarkable study abroad opportunities.

While there are many happy and impactful memories of these trips, Lucas also had some hardships. “Living abroad and having to take care of myself certainly taught me a lot about the realities of day-to-day life abroad,” he says of his experience in Brazil. According to Lucas, there is not as much support for a college student in Brazil as there was at home. Some of the obstacles he faced included finding housing, getting groceries, and paying bills. For instance, dorms are not incorporated in the student housing system in Brazil, so this made finding stable housing more difficult to obtain. The basics of life are very similar between the U.S. and Brazil, however, it is severely exacerbated due to the lack of infrastructure.

A memory of Lucas’s trip to Brazil

An experience that Lucas particularly loved was participating in Brazil’s annual Carnaval. It is an annual celebration of food, music, and fun and it is held for a few days before the start of Lent. Lucas reminisces on how “warm and friendly” the Brazilian people are. Another highlight for him would be the time he spent in northeast Brazil and being able to see how African and Latin American cultures, religions, and food collide.

Reframing interests in economics and politics

Lucas’s time in Brazil reframed his interests and made him question certain concepts that he would not have thought of otherwise. Fascinated by value creation, business structure, and political capacity for well-intentioned philanthropic capitalism, Lucas found his passion for business operations and capital during his time abroad.

Studying in Brazil as an American gave Lucas a new outlook. The experience shifted his thought process by giving him the chance to experience the differences and similarities between Brazil and the U.S. “Brazil is very similar to the U.S. in terms of struggles and material complex,” Lucas notes. “Struggles regarding race, education, and income are mirrored, but the difference is, Brazil is less developed, so said struggles are magnified.” His experience in Brazil made him realize that the struggles Brazilians face on a cultural and national level are the same struggles Americans face; the difference is financial. Viewing these differences resulted in his reframing of questions regarding economics and politics in Brazil that he would have otherwise thought of more casually and academically rather than understanding the reality.

His studies while in Brazil shaped his global perspective, allowing him to apply the macroeconomic tools that he has learned into business concepts, which is the ultimate goal for an international business student. Most of the courses Lucas took while abroad pertained to Brazilian culture and business, which has helped him learn more about how businesses operate internationally. These courses allowed him to learn more about what living in Brazil would require.

Past, present, and future

As a freshman, Lucas was uncertain about his future and himself. Over the last four years, he has surrounded himself with people who have helped him to be more confident in who he is. Organizations such as Cinema Club and Capital Community in addition to the courses he has taken over the past four years have provided him with his best friends and supportive mentors within a large university. Despite all of his academic achievements, reaching out to people and putting himself out there is his proudest achievement as an undergraduate student. Lucas appreciates that college has given him the freedom of self-exploration, and he has truly learned the value of authenticity while at UT.

Two years ago, Lucas began working with a small company as a debate coach, and now he is a co-owner. Before reaching graduation, he has the honor of calling himself a business owner. He explains that he has a deep love for academic debate and enjoys coaching it. Over the years, he began to see debate as a market with great potential to help develop the skills of students who are struggling to improve. Their website, Debate Drills, states that they aim to “provide world-class resources to accelerate the growth of learners interested in argumentation, logic, public speaking, and interscholastic speech and debate.” Lucas has been able to watch how a company he has invested his time and energy into has blossomed over the years.

Upon graduating from UT Austin, Lucas is generally looking forward to working abroad for a while, likely in Brazil or another Latin American country. He enjoys the fast-paced, disruptive nature of the technology field, and aims to find his place in a technology-focused company with hopes of obtaining a management position.

His words of wisdom? “Pay close attention to the people around you because they push you in the right direction,” Lucas says. “Appreciate the free time to meet people who will forever be a part of your life.”

  • The Global Ambassadors Program at CGB was created to recognize exceptional students who help promote the Center for Global Business’s work.

Written by Elsie Akaduh, Business Student at McCombs School of Business Edited by Jordana Hoffman

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