Gustavo has a rich history working in football. His career has found him as the Head of Marketing at Figueirense Futebol Clube, UCFB’s programme leader for International Football Business and now an International Engagement Manager at The FA. This interview discovers how Gustavo’s career journey started, the values of diverse roles, what his position looks like daily and more.
Question 1: Gustavo, it’s excellent to have you on Ash’s Sports Talk. Let’s kick this off by understanding how your career in sport began?
Since my childhood, I have been passionate about playing and watching Football. Having grown up in Brazil, I tried to become a pro. Eventually, I went to University and graduated in Advertising. Over ten years, I built a respectable career in Marketing & Communications agencies; however, Football was always utterly present during this time. At a specific day, I just realised: “I need to do something with that”. So I quit my job, moved to the UK and got my Masters in Football Industries, granted by the University of Liverpool. It was when my career in Football started.
Question 2: You’ve worked in multiple settings. A football club, sports education institute and The FA. How did these diverse organisations enhance your skill-sets?
Having worked in different settings has made me always focus on skills, not solely in job titles. Also, I always concentrated on building success cases for each of the organisations, experiences that I could later recollect and present as evidence of my capacity to do future jobs. I believe that combining these two – a skills-set and a portfolio of achievements – were my primary credentials to carry with myself when intending to take the next step in my career.
Question 3: Most of your positions have surrounded management and leadership. What makes an effective leader in sport, and how does this differ to management?
I have been lucky to have encountered good leaders in the organisations I worked for most of the time since I worked in Advertising. I have also found a few bad leaders too, and they were essential to take lessons on what not to do in leadership positions. I firmly believe in a direction based on a common objective, a dream goal dreamed together, and this makes a committed and self-organised team.
Question 4: Your current role at The FA looks fantastic. What does the day in the life of an International Engagement Manager look like?
It is indeed a fantastic role, and I am thrilled where I am. It involves a mix of geopolitics, project-management and relationship-building. My day-by-day is to establish and maintain positive relationships with other national associations and confederations across the world. It goes aligned with the FA’s overall strategy, and the whole organisation benefits from our work.
Question 5: With any successful sports career, there comes an array of challenges. Would you mind touching on some of the adversities you’ve faced in your come up?
Obviously, Football is a career like the other ones and therefore presents challenges and adversities daily. To climb up a career ladder is not easy, and like with other professions, we only see the tip of the iceberg. Behind everything, there are many studies, preparation, hard work and personal learnings with frustrating episodes that make you evolve as a human being, professional and of course, strengthening your resilience skills.
Question 6: Gustavo, reflecting on this discussion, what is your killer piece of advice for someone wanting to work in sport?
Be persistent, study, learn how to improve your relationship skills and always work hard, no matter where you are. Stick to your goals, and your efforts will undoubtedly reward you.
Amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Gustavo about his sports industry adventure. Something that stood out to me was his ability to reflect on each position and create case successes. This has been essential for my self-development, and it allows you to keep your experiences fresh. Plus, regardless of whatever situation you find yourself in, there are always skills you can take away from any environment to serve you leverage in your career progression.