Many businesses in the BayBrazil community have inquired about the impact of the globalized market on Brazilian professionals. Our member Belisa Amaro, a Brazilian journalist living in the Bay Area, spoke with some experts about the topic and wrote this special report.
The appetite for Brazilian businesses professionals in the U.S. has grown exponentially in the last five years, especially in the high tech industry. Corporations like Google, Apple, LinkedIn, Trulia, Salesforce.com have been increasing their footprint in Brazil and, at the same time, realize the importance of hiring native or bi-cultural talent (professionals who lived in Brazil). They know that having this kind of talent onboard adds to the cultural, economic, political, and linguistic dexterity they need to compete in a foreign market.
This hiring trend is also being followed by start-ups, particularly in the technology, media, and telecommunications industries. Some of them are owned by Brazilian entrepreneurs who come in search of venture capital and new opportunities to settle in Silicon Valley or Miami, where the hunger for professionals with expertise in digital and cloud based services is ever increasing.
“The demand for top technology talent from overseas in Silicon Valley has been high,” states Ben Holzemer, co-leader of North America for Spencer Stuart, a leading executive search consulting firm, which opened an office in Brazil in 1977. “In recent years, U.S. companies have been interested in the long-term growth opportunities in Brazil,” says Holzemer.
Sales, business development, product and marketing are the hot positions for professionals with understanding of our language and culture, according to Brazilian Roberto Machado, Senior Manager Director at Michael Page, a British-based recruitment firm with an office on the East Coast. Having an academic degree from an American school or an MBA, as well as the capacity to culturally adapt and transfer knowledge from one market to another with agility, adds seasoning to the profile of the ideal candidates.
The growing economic crises in Europe led American companies expanding globally to look for other markets. Simultaneously, the Brazilian economy boomed in 2009 and 2010, setting the stage to make the country a promising market. Doing businesses with Brazil offers yet two other advantages to the United States: a more aligned culture and a smaller time zone difference than, for example, countries like China and India.
Other factors motivating business relationships between the two countries are the expanding access to technology and to the Internet occurring in Brazil, as Fabio Coelho, president of the Google Brazil, pointed out in his presentation during BayBrazil’s annual conference Brazil in the 21st Century, last Sep 12, at Stanford University. According to Coelho, 50% of Brazilians are now regularly connected to the Internet via their computers, tablets, and smart phones. With an ever emerging middle class, some optimists believe Brazil has yet 100 million potential new consumers waiting to be seduced.
The trend does not stop there. “American companies with operations in Brazil are also increasingly searching for local senior leadership talent here instead of bringing “expats” from other countries,” observes Spencer Stuart consultant Marcelo Marzola, speaking from the company’s office in São Paulo. According to Marzola, in the past, multinational companies that moved to Brazil sent Western executives to head their offices and integrate the business model and culture to the local business and its employees. Now, these American companies understand the advantages of hiring locally.
Destination #1 for Brazilians
If, like me, you are a Brazilian living in the U.S., you probably know that high tech professionals, especially CEOs and professionals in leadership positions, are not the typical immigrants living in Uncle Sam’s land.
In her master’s graduation thesis at the University of San Francisco about Brazilian-centered organizations in the Bay Area, scholar Caroline Rehill states that “the majority of Brazilians in the U.S. holds jobs such as house cleaners, dishwashers, nannies, or cab drivers.”
Rehill writes that, although researches show that most of the Brazilian immigrants in the Bay Area completed secondary education or have university degrees, as immigrants in the U.S., they end up with low paying jobs in the informal economy.
Looking at the history of migration in Brazil, we notice that we have been primarily a country of immigration — receiving Portuguese, Italian, German, and Japanese people. In the last decades, however, Brazil became also a country of emigration, with the United States being its main destination.According to the last census of the IBGE, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, completed in 2010, 23,8% of Brazilians living outside Brazil are in the United States. Portugal follows with only 13.4 %, then Spain with 9.4%, Japan with 7%, and England with 6.2%.
George Torquato Firmeza, with Brazil’s Ministry of External Relationships, says that official studies conducted by the Itamaraty (jargon used to refer to this ministry) show that the number of Brazilian migrants grew from 610,000 in 1995 to almost 1,2 million in 2005. Read more at “Brazilians Abroad”.
If the number of Brazilians living in the U.S. has doubled in the last 10 years, it follows naturally that the percentage of successful entrepreneurs, academicians, and qualified professionals emigrating here has also increased. So, if the demand for Brazilian or bi-cultural talent has been growing, the offering of qualified professionals has also been on the rise. “In my 12 years working in the U.S., I never saw so many qualified Brazilian professionals, even businesses owners and CEOs, looking for opportunities in the U.S. as I see this year,” says Machado, from Michael Page.
“They want to move here for several reasons: they fear for their personal security in Brazil, they are unhappy with the macro-economic and political environment there, and they see new attractive opportunities opening in the U.S.,” adds the consultant.
The future of the trend
Is this just a fleeting trend of the fast paced globalized market? Curious, I asked my sources. Without hesitation, Holzemer responded: “With the growth and business opportunities between Brazil and Silicon Valley, the need for talent that understands both markets and can operate in both is likely a long-term reality, not a short-term trend.” Holzemer and other Spencer Stuart consultants explored this topic in the 2012 article: “Expat 2.0: The Global Executive”.
If you meet the profile, prepare to satisfy the U.S. market’s growing appetite for Brazilian professionals. If not, it looks like there is still time to prepare for, and invest in, it – the experts assure the hunt for qualified Brazilian professionals will continue for some time.