1. How did you get your first opportunity in sport?
It was an opportunity when Manchester United were looking for talent from the financial services industry to help maximise their new sponsorship with Aon and grow the sponsorship revenues in different categories. I was a season ticket holder at the time and a fan of the club, but I was equally lucky in the sense that they were looking for someone of my profile.
2. What is the best sporting event you’ve ever attended?
Working in the industry, you get access to events and sporting contests which you might not get access to otherwise. Going to a Champions League Final with United, for example, was an incredible experience, travelling with the team to European away games, going on pre-season tour. The Tour de France is a great event to attend too, watching the team win the tour from the Champs-Élysées has been incredible. All in all, I’d probably pick Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game as United manager at Old Trafford again Swansea, it was a very emotional day.
3. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Influence is probably defined – in my world anyway – as leadership. I’ve been lucky to be in the presence of some of the world’s best leaders. I think the first ever interaction I had with Sir Alex Ferguson was something that I will always remember as being quite inspirational. I guess in my current role at the minute, Fran Millar and Sir Dave Brailsford are people that I take inspiration from on a daily basis, both are incredible at what they do. Fran is the most driven and focussed individual I’ve worked with and Dave’s ability to view things differently is amazing.
4. I’m a big brand with a hefty sponsorship budget – what sport or event should I invest in?
Everybody in the industry knows now that it would boil down to what the objectives of the brand were. I might be a bit biased, but as a local lad from Bury I think for someone to come in and take ownership of Bury Football Club would be something that I’d love to see, there’s a community and a narrative there that could be owned and make a real impact. Besides that, you probably look to esports as a growing area. Brands could probably get quite a lot of value in that space, which is a bit of an untapped area particularly for non-endemic big brands to get involved and an area that can offer a level of direct engagement opportunities that some traditional rights holders can’t.
5. Who are three people from the sports industry you’d invite to your dinner party?
I’d like to spend a bit of time getting to know people in the UFC. I think what Dana White has done with that business has been incredible in terms of how you take a sports property and grow the value of it significantly over a relatively short period of time – he’s also a really interesting character. I’d say, maybe throw an athlete in there. I’m a big fan of endurance sports and so maybe throw in Alistair Brownlee, who is a hero of mine, but that might be a little harsh on his brother. I’d give Chris Froome the final seat as knowing how much of a nice guy he is and how much these guys sacrifice it would be good to see him getting a decent feed!
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I thought recruitment agencies were all the same but The Executives In Sport Group proved me wrong. They are warm, professional and genuine. They really cared about my needs and what I was looking for. I’m over the moon with my new role.