By Helen Soulsby, Director, Asia
If you look at the statistics, London 2012 is bucking the trend. The world's biggest sporting events are gravitating towards the emerging nations of Brazil, Russia, China, Japan and Korea according to a study by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies.
Looking at 5 major events (Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Soccer Men's World Cup, Athletics and Swimming World Championships) the study showed an unmistakable trend. In 1990 – 1999 these events were hosted 16 times and 14 of them were held in ‘traditional’ western nations. From 2000 – 2009, the look was similar with the 12 out of 16. But fast forward to 2010 – 2019, and there is a clear shift in this trend.
Brazil will host Soccer World Cup 2014 and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Russia will host the 2015 Athletics World’s and the 2014 Winter Olympics. China held the 2011 Swimming Worlds and will host the 2015 World Athletics Championships and South Korea the World Athletics Championships in 2011 and the 2018 Winter Olympics.
That’s a clear trend and it is likely that in this current decade over half of these major events will have been held in emerging nations.
Outside of the events in the study, Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan in 2019 and there is also a push towards emerging economies for the professional circuits like Tennis, F1 and Golf (the men's tennis tour recently agreed to relocate a US based tournament to Rio).
In the article ‘Big Events find New Frontiers (IHT 25/4/12), independent consultant Michael Payne is quoted as saying:
"The big prizes offer the chance to re-define a country’s image – but not so much for those that are established. London 2012 will not change Britain, it will be a catalyst for development, but ‘Brand Britain’ will not be transformed.”
The article goes on to suggest that the impact of the Olympic Games in Beijing was major (and is still having an impact) and the same will occur for Brazil.
Which begs the question, what does the move towards emerging host nations for major events have for sports industry talent and career development?
Firstly, there is a need for expertise in these new markets but at the same time emerging nations are up-skilling their local work force to be able to compete strongly for roles in the industry. In China and many South East Asian countries, young people are travelling the globe to study in the USA, Australia or the UK to ensure their language fluency is up to scratch and they can learn from sophisticated markets in relation to sport.
Combined with the background of weaker economies across Europe and the United States, competition for global assignments is heating up. Sports Recruitment International has seen a dramatic rise in interest for international relocation for new and established candidates over the last 12 months and a significant increase in candidates from emerging economies returning from their overseas experience to take up leading roles.
For ex-patriots operating in new and foreign environments and cultures, the move is both challenging and exciting. They require a whole new set of skills to navigate the opportunities, challenges and pitfalls. Candidates armed with relevant language skills will clearly get a head start but so will candidates who have a proven success of performing effectively outside of their own territory.
Any exposure that prospective candidates can get to international markets, even on a project basis through their current role, helps an individual's case when seeking to move. For more junior candidates; exposure to a variety of markets, even if only through leisure travel, stints working voluntarily overseas and that all important second (or third) language will certainly help move them to the top of the selection list.
Anyone approaching an international assignment with a ‘one size / one approach fits all' mentality will fall at the first hurdle. Rather than assume this approach, the candidate should be able to apply skills and knowledge at the right time and in the right way. A hefty dose of humility and respect for new cultures and new ways of doing business is essential. Candidates also need to have their eyes wide open to the inevitable differences; be they administrative, resource related or indeed social and political elements.
Lisa Johnson worked as Director of Sponsorship Services for SMAM at Delhi 2010 and is now based in Singapore. She has previously worked in Qatar and regularly works across China and Japan as Asia Lead for GMR Marketing.
“Working internationally opens you up to a whole range of opportunities. It is exciting, interesting, challenging and sometimes frustrating in equal measures. My one piece of advice would be to take time to get to know the culture, understand the people and the way of doing business. Whilst you may have to stop and make a tough decision at times – doing that with a background of respect and knowledge means the decision will last –and so will you!”