Global Head of Sport, Entertainment & Culture at EssenceMediacom &
Non-Executive Board Director at European Sponsorship Association (ESA)
David Shing (Shingy), who at the time I saw him speak had the coolest job title of Digital Prophet for AOL. What immediately stood out to me was the way he carried a room of a thousand people. We all go to conferences and events, and rarely do you have speakers on whose every word the audience is hanging. This guy had an incredible gift of storytelling, and you couldn’t help but admire his gift of public speaking. He was funny, interesting, engaging and self-deprecating, managing to connect with everyone in the audience. It really was a masterclass and I’ve never seen anything like it.
Best sports marketing campaign (that wasn’t yours):
Nike, Dream Crazy. Talk about a campaign that literally moves you. I remember watching it over and over and it brought me to tears every time. Now that’s powerful!!
Best agency (that isn’t yours):
Wieden + Kennedy. There are creative agencies and then there are these guys. Big admirer of their work!
Best young industry talent:
This is difficult as I see so many talented and impressive young people coming into the industry. But if you push me, I’d say keep an eye on Maria Hasler at Nike. I remember meeting Maria when I gave a guest lecture to Global Institute of Sport and having met her then, I knew she was going places. It was no surprise to see that she graduated with distinction and has since done incredibly well. I have absolutely no doubt
that she’ll do big things.
Best sporting event attended:
I’ve been very fortunate to attend some unbelievable events in person, from Superbowls to World Cup Finals to Formula 1 races but nothing compares to being at Wembley to see the Lionesses Win the Euros in front of 90,000 fans. It wasn’t just an unbelievable sporting experience, but you felt like you were witnessing a defining cultural moment which will be talked about for generations to come.
Best sporting event on TV:
Manchester United v Bayern Munich Champions League final in 1999. I was in a packed bar in the US, and it was full of United fans. They all looked a bit deflated with the time running out and Bayern winning 1:0 but I’ll never forget what happened when United scored twice in added time to win the game. The madness in that place will live with me forever. Is there anything else that can give people so much joy?
Best brand ambassador:
George Clooney (Nespresso). I don’t think there has ever been a better fit between an ambassador and a brand. Nespresso completely redefined the most commoditized category and they couldn’t have picked a better ambassador to sell a lifestyle. Because let’s be honest, the most successful brands in the world sell a dream, not a product.
Best industry event or conference:
Tough call but I would have to say Cannes Lions. It didn’t used to be a big get together for the sports industry and I always thought that was a missed opportunity. Now you’ll see some of the biggest sports stars heading down and why wouldn’t you. You can meet everyone from Netflix to Coca-Cola and to Tik-Tok – all companies that are shaping our evolving industry.
Best film containing a scene depicting the sports business:
There is only one for me – Jerry McGuire. I love how Tom Cruise takes a chance on himself and it all works out for him. I think there is an important lesson there.
Best book recommendation:
How to make friends and influence people. I’ve read so many books over the years but if I had to choose one, it would be this one by Dale Carnegie. So much of our success, be that professionally or personally, comes down to our ability to deal with people. It’s impossible to succeed by yourself so the sooner you learn how to effectively navigate relationships, the better off you’ll be.
Best bar or pub:
The Pineapple. This place, nestled in the middle of a residential neighbourhood in Kentish Town is a must if you’re looking for a truly authentic experience. The pub was built in 1868, so has literally been around for 150 years.
La Patagonia (Camden). I’m a huge fan of steak and this place is an absolute gem. Forget fancy, high-end chains and head to this family own Argentinian spot. It’s as close as you can get to being in Buenos Aires.
Best holiday resort:
We’re not big on resorts but we love Menorca for a holiday. You get all the best parts of Mallorca or Ibiza but without the madness.
Best box set:
Fauda. It’s not for the faint hearted but if you like drama, especially one involving Israeli’s and Palestinians, this is a great set. It goes without saying that this is one of the most complex conflicts to portray without some bias, but Fauda does a great job of making you understand the complexities of both sides. I don’t recommend this before bed!
Best influence on your career:
David Dein. I was fortunate to meet David when I was doing my masters in Liverpool almost two decades ago. David has since become like a father to me, and I’ve learned so much from being in his company. What I’ve realized being in David’s company is the importance of keeping high standards. Whether it’s being on time, being prepared or dressing the part, never ever let your standards drop.
Best dinner companions (min 4, max 6):
Elon Musk, Serena Williams, Pep Guardiola and Angela Merkel. I know it’s a bit random, but I’m fascinated with all these people for very different reasons. I hope they would enjoy being around the same table together.
Best job in the sports biz:
Sporting director. I think there is something very intriguing about being in position to build the team. You define the strategy and culture, recruit, negotiate, manage internal and external relationships.... sounds like all the things I enjoy wrapped into one.
Best professional regret:
I joined Rangers FC to lead international development in 2011 and 3 months later the club went into administration. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a regret as I believe ups and downs are all part of a journey, but I would have liked to have spent more time at the club.
Best skill you most covet:
Focus. I’m always juggling 10 different things.
Best trait you admire in others:
Executing a plan. I love seeing people lay out a vision and then execute.
Best overrated virtue:
Treating others, the way you would want to be treated. No, you should treat others they way they want and expect to be treated.
Never having to compromise spending time with my kids. That means always seeing my own world and ambitions through that prism.