Position: CEO of Rowing Ireland
Hamish, can we start at the beginning and back in New Zealand – did you set out to have a career in Sports Management?
I have always been heavily involved in sport initially as a player , then from the age of 20 as a coach whilst in University and then as a School teacher in Palmerston North Boys’ High. Coming from a farming background a career in sport wasn’t high on my career list. However, coaching came naturally to me and an opportunity abroad playing and coaching presented itself. My real passion was in sports management and through completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Management whilst playing rugby professionally and later a Masters in Business Studies from Massey University more doors opened up in my career.
What brought you to Ireland and specifically to Dolphin RFC and on the Munster Academy?
My wife who I met whilst playing rugby in England is Irish and she was keen to return home. Whilst working for the New Zealand Rugby Union as a Rugby Development Manager I applied for a job in Cork as Head Coach of Dolphin RFC and we are still living in Cork now with three Munster daughters!
From the outside your appointment as CEO looks like a natural and deserved career progression. Yet your sports mangement had been in the rugby sector. How easy is it to move between sports in a management role?
Modern sports administration crosses all sports and many of the systems and structures in rugby are similar to rowing. Rugby however is fortunate to be a much larger participation sport that has really benefitted from professionalism and gone from strength to strength. All sports learn from each other through bench marking and comparison and I am sure rowing will benefit from my time in rugby.
What attracted you to the role and to Rowing Ireland?
The opportunity to be involved as a leader and major decision maker in a traditional Olympic sport like rowing is a privilege. I sincerely believe Rowing Ireland has huge potential to achieve on the international stage, we have committed passionate rowers and some of the best water and facilities in the world.
There has been plenty in the media about the reduction in funds to many sports including rowing, what impact is this having on a daily basis and on your plans for RIO 2016?
Yes we are operating on a very limited budget and the challenge is to develop alternative revenue streams. We have to ensure every euro is invested wisely to maximise gains.
As a new CEO what challenges do you face?
I am still on a very steep learning curve and the biggest challenges are Financial, HR and Communication. Probably similar issues to many businesses.
On a more personal note what sportsman/woman do you most admire and why?
I respect all elite sports people as at the highest level everyone has to work especially hard and be totally committed, natural talent runs out quickly!
What is the most memorable sporting event you ever attended and why?
I have been to many great events from Heineken Cup, Lions to International cricket matches and was recently at Henley Royal Regatta. Probably the most memorable was the last Munster v All Black match at Thomond Park, this was most memorable as it was the only time I really didnt want the All Blacks to win!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into sports management?
Listen, learn, work hard and be prepared to travel.