Best pitch presenter you’ve ever seen:
Kevin Vandrau. He has the ability to read a room half way through a pitch and adapt to change the direction or narrative of a pitch in a moment! The volume of successful commercial deals and pitches that have been completed speaks volumes here I think.
Best sports marketing campaign (that wasn’t yours):
Much of the mischief that Lee Price used to get up to at Paddy Power could fall in to this category, including the ‘Save out Shirt’ campaign. However, and it may be down to nostalgia and the assembled cast, but I would say Carlsberg’s ‘Old Lions’ campaign caught the attention of the target audience perfectly. Having Sir Bobby Robson, Peter Reid, Peter Shilton & Bobby Charlton turning up and playing a pub football team.
Best agency (that isn’t yours):
Phoenix Management. As a talent management agency, Neil Fairbrother seems to strike the perfect balance between care, personal development and commercial profile when it comes to his clients. He’s managed some of England Cricket’s leading names from the start of the careers through to winning Ashes Series & World Cups, and leads the way from my experience in management of clients.
Best young industry talent:
If I could be allowed two, for different reasons. Debs Scott-Bowden (below, and yes, we’re still young!) is someone who identified esports as a commercial opportunity way ahead of the curve and her work with Excel at Twickenham Stadium is a good example of this. She has an unrivalled network of contacts within the industry, and her passion for and knowledge of esports has brought a real focus for CSM, and it’s an opportunity for the agency moving forwards.
Secondly I’d pick Olivia Jackson. Fantastic attention to detail, she’s brilliant with all stakeholders, from clients, to colleagues, from rights holders to suppliers. Her event management experience has been immediately transferable at CSM, and positive impact on accounts has been recognised.
Best sporting event attended:
Would have to be the England v New Zealand double bill of 2019. Either the ICC Cricket World Cup Final 2019 at Lord’s or the Rugby World Cup semi-final in Tokyo six months later. THAT Monday at The Oval in 2005 comes very close though.
Best sporting event on TV:
A European-hosted Ryder Cup, or The Open Championship broadcast by Jason Wesseley’s excellent team at Sky Sports.
Best brand ambassador:
Stuart Broad with Hardys Wine. Combined his profile and performances during 2015 Ashes Series, with a genuine passion for wine. He gets the commercial industry and expect him to be the face of Sky’s Cricket team within the next five years.
Best industry event or conference:
Slightly out of the core industry spotlight, but I would go with any of The Professional Cricketers Association’s networking events, or Chance to Shine’s ‘Chance to Dine’ event at Lord’s.
Best film containing a scene depicting the sports industry
I thought Ballers (TV show rather than film, admittedly) with Dwayne Johnson & Rob Corddry had many scenes on how industry life can be. In particular, some of the interactions with media!
Best book recommendation:
Not many words in this book (which works for me as many will know!), but I would say The Colours of Cricket by Phillip Brown (Getty Images chief cricket photographer).
Best pub or bar:
Sports Bar & Grill at Victoria Station. It’s provided too many debriefs over the years.
The Dunvegan Hotel, St Andrews.
Best holiday resort:
I’m not sure it would count as a ‘resort’ but Machrihanish on the west coast of Scotland. Two great golf courses, endless beaches, great pubs and minimal phone reception! Dreamy.
Best box set:
Best influence on your career:
Buzz Hornett and Georgie Thornton (below) at IMG Media. Buzz was a stalwart of the sports broadcasting space at the time, and Georgie was the trailblazer coming through. They gave me opportunities at both Wimbledon and The Open Championship where I learnt some of the basics that still apply today. Seeing Georgie’s career progress to where she is now is no surprise!
Best dinner companions (min 4, max 6):
Hosted by Andrew Cotter (with his dogs)
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill
Mark McCormack (who would sign them all up at the end of dinner).
Best job in the sports biz:
Chief Executive of The R&A. The current perks (best view from an office in sport, attending golf’s greatest events together with a place in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship!) combined with the opportunity to make the sport more accessible and appealing to a younger demographic. The journey has certainly started, but I think the opportunities are endless.
Best professional regret:
Not trusting my instinct or gut in a piece of activation that came back to haunt me! I won’t mention the client, but it taught the lesson to try and have a bit more confidence, given the experience and learnings gathered over the years.
Best skill you most covet:
I wouldn’t say I’m good at it, but being able to stand up and speak. I’ve been lucky to meet people I wouldn’t have done otherwise through public speaking and interviewing some great names.
Best trait you admire in others:
Those who can think on their feet and react in the moment of ‘crisis’. Whether it’s making an operational decision or crafting a com
Best overrated virtue:
Empathy. In an industry where people are at the centre of it, I think it’s something that’s not considered enough. Having compassion and being able to feel the suffering of others is so important.
To find the perfect balance of work and play! Looking to make a difference for current and perspective clients, whilst being able to really enjoy my oldest passion - sport - for what it is (rather than worrying about a LED system going wrong or a contract renewal falling over!).