April 2014 – The labor market is extremely dynamic and its changes seem slow. But, if we provide an overview over the last two decades, it is possible to notice how much this market has changed. The expectations of companies are not the same anymore, as well as the behavior and background of executives. In agribusiness, such reality also applies. According to figures released in December by the Brazilian Agriculture and Livestock Confederation (CNA), the industry’s GDP should grow 3.56% in 2013, compared to 2012, totaling R$ 1 trillion. The market not only grew and continues to grow, but also has been transformed in the last few years. A decisive factor for such evolution was the adoption of more advanced technologies, not only in the field, but also in the companies that operate outside the farm gates.
Today, the agro market searches for a multi-skilled professional. Academic background is still very important, but knowledge that is limited to agro may present difficulties for the career evolution of an executive in the industry. More than a broad view of agribusiness, big companies look for professionals with differentiated knowledge to perform strategic roles in their respective areas. Evidently, for some careers that is not the norm, such as genetic engineering, but they are exceptions. Professionals in this area are still scarce in the country, and, because of that, the more experienced and knowledge-focused in this specialty, the greater he is worth in the market.
One needs to understand that agribusiness has grown, professionalized itself and evolved substantially technology wise. To fulfill a new demand as a result of these factors, companies are creating new positions and, now, search for executives who not only possess a solid technical background in traditional professions, but also talent that is able to aggregate different knowledge and skills that are applicable to agribusiness. An example is the Farm Management position, in the grain and ethanol areas, which requires executives capable of searching and acquiring new land at lower prices, preparing them physically and legally for a future sale or use for precision agriculture. For the agricultural risk manager position, the professional is required to be technically capable of mapping areas for reinsurance and be knowledgeable of agricultural underwriting and insurance market legislation.
With very attractive salaries, the difficulty companies face in recruiting executives perhaps comes not from their lack of interest, but from finding a professional who possess all competencies required for these new positions. Only now Brazil is becoming aware of this and giving more emphasis to administration and finance courses. Engineers, agronomists, zootechnicians, vetenarians, and other professionals with degrees linked to agribusiness need to search for differentiated specialization, be it in the finance, people management or supply chain area. For these professionals, mastering English language is not enough anymore. Just as important as being qualified, are strong learning and adaptation abilities, and a global view of issues. The labor market requires more and more from professionals and still has not discovered a magic trick that adds the knowledge each one lacks. It is necessary to keep your feet down to earth, hands-on the job and your head on technology, searching for new specializations to standout among the crowd.
Jeffrey Abrahams is Managing Partner at Fesap, the holding company of Fesa, Asap and Fesa Advisory