Hollie Bees view of The Sporting Director Summit

I enjoyed a fantastic evening at The May Fair Hotel, London this week for this year’s VSI Sporting Directors’ Summit. Leaders from across the sporting world gathered to discuss strategic leadership and the growing importance of the Sporting Director role.

Sky Sports compered a panel discussion featuring key influencers from rugby, cricket, football and cycling, including Rod Andrew and Andrew Strauss. The panel highlighted the challenges of leadership in elite sporting environments and the importance of equipping leaders with a comprehensive range of skills across areas of high-performance sport, people management, strategic decision making, innovation and cross-industry knowledge.

Guests included well-known names from a variety of sports including former head of British Tennis and Sport England, Roger Draper, currently CEO of Warrington Wolves Rugby League side, Malky Mackay and Steve McClaren were amongst numerous high profile guests from the footballing world, and Andy Harrison represented the highly successful programme at GB Cycling. Diane Modahl chaired a section of the discussion panel bringing a voice from the world of Athletics.

Many of my fellow students from cohorts one and two of the VSI Masters in Sport Directorship, delivered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, were in attendance, including Ashley Giles, Director of Cricket at Lancashire CCC, Mal Brannigan, formerly MD of Sheffield United Football Club and Mark Bitcon, Director of Performance at Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club and IoD Director of the Year, Yvonne Harrison, recently recognised for her excellent contributions to community sport leadership in Greater Manchester.

The evening was a perfect opportunity for us, as students on the Masters programme, to discuss the emerging role of the Sporting Director with experienced and proven leaders from Britain’s most successful sporting institutions; we gained a first hand perspective on the impact of the role within elite UK sporting organisations and beyond.

A highlight of the Summit was the brilliantly entertaining keynote from Dr Kevin Dutton centering around the research from his groundbreaking book The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success – a fascinating and provocative read recommended for any current and aspiring executive leaders.

For me, the event highlighted the innovative and illuminating discussions that can take place when we bring leaders from a broad range of sports and industries together. The significance of the Sporting Director position in all sports is rapidly gaining momentum and it is a very exciting time for those of us involved in defining and shaping the future of the role in the UK and internationally.