Brazil's World Cup and Olympic Talent Needs

“The Games have hit this country like an extra-strength dose of mood enhancing drug,” wrote David Segal of The New York Times at the close of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. “The question being asked here now is whether this national euphoria can last or, better yet, lead the country out of its recent economically driven malaise.”

Major sporting events provide the potential for a boost in the way a nation perceives itself and is perceived by the rest of the world. The convergence of sport and economics allows countries to demonstrate a global mindset and openness to foreign investment. Through teamwork, discipline, stamina and competition, sportsmen and businessmen alike realize their potential. This year Brazil host the FIFA World Cup and follow that with the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For many years hosting such events has been thought to provide an economic boost to the host country, beyond the preliminary investment and increase in tourism revenue. But that notion is beginning to be questioned. For example, following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China did not benefit from the extent of foreign investment it had anticipated, although it is unclear how much that was related to the Global Financial Crisis. Since 2011 Brazil’s economic growth rate has slowed to less than two percent, so as the world’s best football teams arrive at the Mecca of Latin American football this summer, the word will also be watching to see whether there is a re-ignition of the country’s sluggish economic growth.

Candidates motivated for the right reasons

The mood within Brazil is not entirely one of excitement. Many Brazilians have begun to question the amount of investment in building new stadiums in remote areas, while rising rates of inflation eat into their own personal finances. Internationally there are concerns about how much work is still left to be done in preparation for both sporting events. In spite of this, Denys Monteiro, chief executive at FESA, says: “It has not been difficult to attract talent to Brazil.”

With significant infrastructure development, an anticipated boost in short-term tourism revenue and the world’s media arriving this summer, has there been a noticeable difference in the range of search work available? “We have recruited executives across a range of industries: sports and entertainment, infrastructure, hospitality and transportation, for example,” Monteiro says. “Our business has seen double-digit growth since 2008 as the salaries have sky-rocketed in Brazil.”

The hosting of such events puts a magnifying glass on the performance of the individuals tasked with delivering the competitions as much as it does on the athletes competing. Search consultants have a responsibility to identify candidates who are motivated for the right reasons – there is obviously a significant prestige attached with contributing to a major sporting event, particularly if it successful, but that shouldn’t be the primary motivation for an individual’s involvement. A candidates’ commitment to presenting a host nation in a favorable light and creating a long-lasting feel-good legacy should play a significant role in hiring decisions. 

This article was originally published in the second issue of Search Magazine. now renamed Executive Talent Magazine.