Time on board - September 2019 - present.
Why I joined the GreaterSport board - The main aims of the charity and its partnerships were really impressive and I felt they could if achieved (or surpassed) make a huge difference to many people’s lives. The benefits of sport to people have always been of interest, and the Manchester connection is exciting as I have been a Manchester fan since I first arrived in the city as a student. Sport is ingrained in the local area and its feels like the perfect fit.
I am sure it will be a hugely rewarding and inspirational role. I hope it will also bring a real sense of purpose and a different type of (positive) challenge. It will I suspect take me out of my comfort zone and make me focus in a different way to my day to day focus at work. This would be my first major out of work commitment, but I am looking forward to getting started.
Professional Background - I have been a qualified lawyer for 19 years, 3 of which were spent in private practice (as a corporate lawyer at Halliwells). I was a trainee before that in Manchester (at Eversheds). Since then I have practised as an in house lawyer at a major FTSE listed Manchester retail company called N Brown Group plc (whose brands include Jacamo and Simply Be).
Skills I bring - I hope that some of the experiences gained from working in house for so long for an ever changing retail Group (with all the unpredictable challenges that can bring), and running a small team would be of benefit to GreaterSport. Much of our work is commercial and regulatory in nature. There are some significant compliance challenges as the company has a financial services arm. Retailers are being challenged from many different threats including regulatory and economic challenges and from the dominance of online retailers like Amazon and require advisers who are adaptable and understand the bigger picture. In reality we can and often do get involved in a huge variety of different projects, queries and issues which can from the most unexpected places and keep us on our toes. Everything is time critical and change is constantly happening but at least that keeps all of us honest. We are trying to innovate and use AI and other ideas to ensure we meet these challenges.
I enjoy working with senior management and board members to ensure the legal team have a positive impact on the growth and success of the business. This is by no means an easy thing to achieve when you are still trying to ensure consistent and comprehensive advice is provided. Being in house requires all the usual legal skills, an analytical mind, understanding risk mitigation and the importance of compliance. However I have had to develop and apply other skills including adaptability and empathy to ensure our legal expertise is effective in the challenging world of retail. Having a commercial and pragmatic approach is a must.
Areas of Expertise - I hope that I will be able to add value and assist the Trustees in areas like accountability, good governance, prudence, risk management. I will also aim to use my local contacts in the legal profession to provide support and guidance to benefit the Charity.
Greater Manchester is an exciting and dynamic place to live and the aims of the company I work for and GreaterSport fit with this. I can see how GreaterSport working with its wide ranging partners could make a difference. I have had a lot of experience managing change and external relationships in my current role and hope this experience will help GreaterSport. Systematic change is a tough ask but its benefits are obvious. Embedding change on the scale aimed for by GreaterSport could have a huge lasting impact for all. Implementing strategies is something I have had to learn as a lawyer working in a challenging environment. This sort of skill and experience would I hope be transferable to GreaterSport. One of N Brown’s main mantra’s which is something that applies I think to charities like GeaterSport is “putting the customer first”. This is something that has to be central to everything and ingrained culturally and is similar to some of the aims and values GreaterSport has.
Personal interests/facts - Sport. In particular skiing, running and cricket. I will watch almost any sport but really enjoy football, baseball, cricket and athletics. I have always enjoyed the big sporting events like the Olympics, world cups and major championships. For my sins I follow Sheffield Wednesday FC (a painful experience). I am interested in all usual cultural pursuits (including reading, movies, music, concerts, theatre and Netflix!).