Bikinis not Burqas

I’m at the Brasscom Global IT Forum 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.

I was talking a couple of days ago to a very senior figure in the Brazilian technology industry and he listed all the benefits of working with Brazil, including the deep domain knowledge, heritage of the IT industry, and the flexibility of the people. But then he said that often the reality is that an executive will end up with two or three possible locations where they can work and so it’s soft benefits that will help influence the decision. On that note, he waved his arm at the winter sunshine and pretty girls around us in a cafe and said, would you rather be visiting Brazil or Bangladesh?

It’s a serious point. I have heard rumours in the past of one company that invested in a back office in Sri Lanka just because the wife of the CEO wanted the ability to regularly visit the beaches there.

And in terms of lifestyle, Brazil has to be one of the most favourable locations in the world – particularly here in Rio de Janeiro. As I write this blog I am in a major hotel conference centre, yet I am also about 10 metres from the golden sand of Ipanema beach, with waves crashing onto the shore as the only noise disturbing the conference speaker.

It’s winter in Brazil at present, yet it’s still 20c. In northern Europe, that’s quite a nice warm day. To many Brazilians it’s chilly, though the joggers on the beach are in shorts and T-shirts. The whole city screams work-life balance because offices can be just metres from the beach – like my hotel.

I was enjoying a drink on the rooftop bar of the hotel last night and I mentioned the ‘Brazil or Bangladesh’ comment to another leading Brazilian tech player. He immediately said: “It’s all about our business plan B – are you interested in bikinis or burqas?”

It’s not culturally sensitive or politically correct, but both commentators are telling a real truth in a humourous way. If you are an executive and you are choosing a place to invest, once basic competencies and price are all compared and a short list is created, the soft factors are going to play a major role in helping you choose where you want to work.

And it’s very hard to beat Brazil as a nice place to do business.

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One response to “Bikinis not Burqas

  1. Bikinis not Burqas could be viewed as sexist but it really represents a closed or open society. Where would you rather do business? Brazil will happily host both forms of dress but few places in the world would…

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