“Despite only representing 7% of the world’s GDP, Latin America is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In line with this growth, Henley Research has seen over the years an increasing number of enquiries to undertake executive search and talent mapping work in the region.
Like others, the Latin American market has its own peculiarities. Let’s start with the language. Henley has always prided itself on having a multilingual team, to which Spanish language skills were added over three years ago. With over 450 million native speakers in three continents, Spanish has recently surpassed English as the second-most spoken language in the world, so its importance is not to be underestimated. Of course, many people will speak English, but this is not always obvious when, for example, you’re looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile. I have seen many senior executives whose profile is entirely in Spanish even though they are actually fluent English speakers. We recently helped one of our large pharmaceutical clients to find a senior commercial executive for their Spanish business. During the name identification stage, we would have missed many high-calibre candidates had we looked exclusively at English language profiles.
Apart from the language, the cultural differences also play a role when speaking with candidates. As you probably know, Latin Americans tend to be quite warm and effusive. It’s not unusual to spend the first few minutes of a conversation talking about anything but the role you’re recruiting for – in some cases they will even ask you personal questions as if you were chatting with an old friend. This will generally make for a pleasant conversation and make your job more enjoyable, although in some cases it can be a bit overwhelming, in particular if you’re used to speaking with, say, American or German candidates, who tend to be more straightforward and “to-the point”.
An important part of our job as headhunters is networking, that is, speaking with people that may not necessarily be looking for a move but can point you in the right direction, for example recommending other people. In my experience, Latin Americans are a great source of referrals. I recently contacted a Venezuelan lady based in the US, as part of a global search for a senior executive in the satellite industry. Although it wasn’t the right role for her, she was very flattered by my call and was able to recommend some of her ex-colleagues. She even called me the following day to suggest more people for me to contact!”
We look forward to continuing our work in Latin America. If you are interested in Executive Search, Talent Mapping or Talent Pipelining work in the region, please contact Mark Senior, Helen Davies or Jacobo Paz.