Interview with Andy Korner, HR Director at FIFA

Andy Korner is the Human Resources Director at FIFA, football's world governing body. The federation was recently named The Most Attractive Employer in Sport by a report published by iWorkinSport. This is one of many interviews with top recruiters in the industry featured at the publication.

The study surveyed more than 1,000 people from all continents, with the majority already working in sport, and asked them a simple question: “If you could choose to work anywhere in sport, where would that be?” 

Initially, the respondents chose organisations divided into nine categories, and at the end, they indicated one single preferred choice, overall – the “Employer of their Dreams”.

The publication features rankings of the most attractive employers in sport divided in the following categories:  Football Clubs, Sports Teams (other than Football), Sports Teams in the USA, Sports Leagues, Sports Governing Bodies, Event Organisers, Sports Marketing Agencies, Sponsors, and Sporting Goods Companies.

Additionally, the report presents the aspects that candidates rate as most important when deciding where they would like to work.

To download the full report for free, click here.

Enjoy the interview with Andy Korner:

Why do so many people wish to work at FIFA?
The first reason is simple, football is the most popular sport in the world. For many applicants, working at FIFA represents the ultimate fusion of passion and profession. In addition, we get numerous applications from people who want a job with a true purpose. The FIFA vision is “making football truly global, accessible and inclusive, for the benefit of the entire world” and that resonates with a lot of people. Apart from governing world football and organising first class tournaments, FIFA is also active in areas like equality, diversity, education, development and sustainability – topics that are increasingly important for a lot of applicants.

What makes FIFA a great employer?
Our employees have the opportunity to work on the global stage and create something that matters – joy, health, hope. That’s the foundation of what makes FIFA a great employer. But it’s more than just that, we are a diverse team where people from all over the world feel at home, and this diversity of origins, experiences and ideas fosters an innovative, respectful and dynamic company culture. Beyond that, we offer a modern workplace, competitive salaries and good social security. And, of course, as a football organisation, we have an emphasis on health and sports, through our in-house football teams, the fitness rooms, healthy food and/or the free mental health app.

How can FIFA become an even better employer?
Like any ambitious football team, we know that we can still improve in many areas. For example:
Diversity: We have more than 60 nationalities working at FIFA, but are still not diverse enough due to non-Europeans being underrepresented in our team. 
Equality: Women comprise 42% of our workforce, we have a very balanced gender mix within top management, but clearly lack women on the second management level. 
Mentality: As a governing body, legal and administrative matters are very important. On the other hand, in today’s challenging world, a start-up spirit with entrepreneurship, innovation, courage and speed is just as important. This is a balancing act we try to improve every day.

What are the changes caused by the covid-19 pandemic that will remain in the workplace, once the crisis has passed?
Thanks to our quick-thinking and agile colleagues in technology, we were able to switch to remote work without any issues.  We were actually surprised to discover just how productive (among many other benefits) working from home can be. As a consequence, we’ve adapted our team rules and offer – whenever possible - 40% and sometimes more remote work per person. We had a virtual FIFA Congress, virtual site visits of future host cities and virtual gym sessions with 200 colleagues participating at once – all things that were totally impossible just over a year ago. As with all organisations, our culture has made a huge ‘tech-jump’ in the last year. Despite this progress, I should add that the FIFA team still likes to meet personally. At the end of the day, nothing compares to that pleasure - on and off the pitch!     

What advice would you give to someone who dreams about working at FIFA?
I’ve had the chance to be in some great stadiums in the world. But the smell of the pitch, the excitement before kick-off and the pleasure to play with friends is just the same as when I coach my son’s junior team. Being a coach or a referee in any sport, at any level, teaches you so much, and is a great way to learn about life in general. And who knows, perhaps one day, it could lead to a job combining your professional ambitions and your great passion for sports.