U.S. and European multinational corporations are raising their bets on booming emerging markets. The trick is finding the right executives to play their hands. In rapidly growing countries such as Brazil, China and India, tapping expatriates is becoming obsolete. Instead, global businesses are looking for leaders who have the ability to move easily between different cultures and have deep local roots as well as international operational experience.
Finding such executives “is very challenging,” said Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants. “The talent pool is very small.” China, India and Latin America will see the greatest shortage of executive talent this year, according to a December poll of 210 AESC members. It marked the third straight year that China and India landed on top of that list, though the first time that Latin America has ranked No. 3.
New hires with coveted backgrounds can command rich pay deals in hot emerging markets, recruiters say. For instance, a Brazilian executive joining a multinational there earns at least 15% more than his or her counterpart managing greater revenue in a developed market, according to recruiters. Competition for talent can be fierce, which promotes a lot of poaching. Earlier this year, social-networking giant Facebook Inc. hired Alexandre Hohagen as vice president of sales for Latin America, based in São Paulo. He created Google Inc.’s operations in the region and managed them for almost six years, Facebook said in a Feb. 14 announcement. Facebook and Google declined to comment.