The chicken that is still trying to fly
Tuesday 10th Oct, 2017
As an analyst (rather than an on-the-ground consultant), it can be easy to dismiss a consulting market when it seems so troubled that there appear to be few prospects of things going right. Brazil is one such market. The volume of consulting work barely grew at all in 2016, having contracted in 2015. The economic situation is dire—the economy has shrunk by more than 7% in the past two years—and is also beset by high unemployment and a crippling budget deficit. Well-documented political shenanigans have been hugely destabilising—with impeachment followed by meatpacking scandal followed by further impeachment worries—and have hit investor confidence hard. Bear in mind, too, that this is the country that gave us the delightful (at least to the disinterested observer) notion of the “chicken flight”—the idea of a hopeful surge in economic performance, swiftly followed by a fall to earth—and that was when times were relatively good, with Brazil proudly occupying its position as one of the then-fabled booming BRICS.
The Brazil chicken has been grounded for a while now, yet there are some hopeful signs. Consultants there are encouraged by indications that the economy is detaching itself from the still-volatile political situation and finding a path to growth nonetheless. They also note that commitment to economic reform is a top priority, regardless of corruption scandals. These factors, in turn, are helping to calm the fears of foreign investors, who are attracted by the opportunities in Brazil for both acquisition and joint ventures.
Brazil is also proving to be good at reinvention. Once the destination of choice for disaffected and under-utilised Iberian consultants, it is now enjoying a new role as prime jumping-off point into growing markets elsewhere in Latin America. Its size and relative maturity as a consulting market, not to mention its geographical position at the heart of Latin America, make it an attractive choice for consulting hub. This is proving to be to the benefit of consultants in Brazil, too, who are enjoying new experiences in other parts of the region and gaining learning from elsewhere.
Given the wild ride the Brazil chicken has been on over the last few years, it’s hard to predict what might happen next in this market. Yes, her feathers are ruffled, and she’s looking a bit beat, but she remains a fighter, and even in her diminished state, she’s undoubtedly committed to solving the mysteries of flight. Let’s certainly not count her out.