After FIFA: Lessons to keep the economy moving forward

It is time for business owners and leaders to embrace some of the lessons the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup phenomenon delivered, write Michelle Allbon and Auriga Martin.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup created something too seldom seen in New Zealand. The nation was gripped by the excitement of watching a womens athletic event – a sport traditionally overshadowed by entrenched male-dominated and promoted sporting spectacles.

Not only this but also an uncanny unanimity of support and belief despite the result on the scoreboard.

Game after game held viewers in such suspense that one almost felt as though they were on the pitch, putting in their all. At the final whistle the win or loss didnt even matter.

This phenomenon felt like a tide of momentum, a movement or support and belief that does shift mountains and mindsets.

We embraced a plethora of trivia about never-before seen athletes and emerging football programmes as the FIFA sporting month delivered a record return on investment by generating four times more sporting event revenue than the previous month. Ticket sales were double original projections while city centre foot traffic quadrupled and hospitality buzzed just from proximity to the spectacle.

Globally, twice as many people saw the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup than the 2019 tournament.

The event could, given the number of firsts’ it notched up, be reasonably called unprecedented.

Given this impressive milestone in our countrys return to the worlds post-Covid stage, many of us in the business community are now asking: should this turn of events be considered an outlier or, could it signal a better mindset?

It seems to us that, both locally and globally, we are witnessing a growing cynicism and burnout in the professional world, particularly when presented with opportunities to challenge the status quo and pursue new avenues for progress.

It is time, we believe, for business owners and leaders to embrace some of the lessons the FIFA phenomenon delivered.


Will leaning into high stakes ambition deliver widespread economic success?

For example, dont automatically criticise those who try big and fail, default instead to rallying around them – as with these sports teams – and embrace the proposition that leaning into high stakes ambition will more likely deliver widespread economic success. The FIFA Cup outcome suggested, at least in large part, that the apparent gamble of investing in societys underdog’ can indeed be the winning strategy.

Of all the comparisons that can be drawn between the FIFA success and a game plan for better future business performance and outcomes, gender equity provides the most vivid example.

First and foremost it was a mostly woman-led event in which women athletes, coaches and referees took centre stage instead of yielding to their default male counterparts, and it was an outstanding international success.

Notwithstanding women excelling as political, judicial and every other social sector leaders, gender equity looks more like tokenised distraction in New Zealand.

Our lack of functioning gender balance is illustrated by the reality that 89 percent of NZ venture capital startup funding will go to men in 2023 and 75 percent of New Zealands private board directors are men.

In an event follow-up survey, questions such as what do you think of women as referees” still somehow made the cut; [so] we are evidently still facing a problematically large unconscious bias in sports, business and, at times, everyday culture.

Society is grappling with the idea that female performance can exist without being the underdog’. Women who lead in their profession are still differentially stereotyped despite the fact their participation in the workforce is now at a record high, with more women than ever before in the workplace.

The FIFA phenomenon provided an invaluable reflective moment together with an accompanying sense of pride and feeling of awe at what incredible togetherness we felt.

The trick now is to keep and convert the positivity of togetherness and goodness generated by the successful reality of the components of the games.

We believe we should start practicing a few things with each other until they become normal responses in all work interactions.

Could this investment of continuing the mindset of FIFA togetherness also be considered as a fundamental economic and business performance exercise that may just contribute to New Zealands economic recovery?

If you think this sounds like a good social experiment, we suggest you can spread awareness by following some fundamental principles. Visit this article for more information.

Michelle Allbon comes from a successful career at high-growth companies like Cisco, Oracle and Salesforce where she creates digital transformation products by empowering teams, as well as predictable revenue models.

Auriga Martin is a high growth start up advisor and traditional sector intrapreneur working on high margin people and planet-first business models. Auriga is in the process of building an AI native venture studio in NZ.

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