Making Sport Work for Business

Business breakfast 1“It was the best business breakfast briefing I have ever been to, anywhere in the world.” So said one of those who packed out the Hibernian Club on St Stephens Green to hear how the power of sport can be harnessed in many different ways to improve their organisation.

The morning event was full to capacity 15 minutes before the scheduled start time and kicked off with a presentation by John Hennessey-Niland, Charges d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Dublin on how he had witnessed at first hand the benefit of corporate involvement in schemes of social responsibility that had made a life changing difference to those on the receiving end and very close to the same for the giver as well.

He spoke of the “universal language of sport” and of how “an involvement with each other through the physical and psychological realms of sport is a key element in making a good team of people working together great.”

Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business gave a 1-2-3 of ideas to take away from yesterday.  He revealed that 53% of workers in Britain talk about sport at work every single day and a straw poll in the room suggested the figure in Ireland would be considerably higher.  This is the universal conversation that employees are having.

He spoke of how Sport for Business is bringing groups coming together across multiple disciplines in Sports Tanks or think tanks on how sport can work within a particular business, and of how this was was having lasting impact on morale and relationships in a number of major Irish companies.

He also focused on the ability to use sporting talent and metaphor as a means of cut through for business goals.  Microsoft’s launch of Youthspark, an initiative to upskill 10,000 young unemployed in computer use was fronted by boxer Bernard Dunne who completed a course himself and drew the attention like a business presentation or even a glossy brochure never could.

Finally he spoke of how companies are supporting staff in running clubs and Triathlon training programmes like at PwC and Vodafone, or in tailored staff outings such as to the Dublin International Water Polo Cup at the National Aquatic Centre last year or to the Ireland England Cricket international this September.  These activities are drawing staff together in an environment where they were healthier, happier and more committed to their place of work.

Business breakfast 2Omar Hassanein ran through IRUPA’s proven and ever developing means of preparing players to make a valuable contribution in business at the end of their first career.  Mentoring programmes and skills training were two of the programmes built with player welfare off the pitch at their core and the association had achieved real success in enabling players to bring what they learnt from the playing pitch and training ground into the work environment.

The first part of the session saw Pamela Gilpin of Think Tasc outline in simple but effective terms how the New Zealand All Blacks had built a programme of continuous improvement and excellence into their training and how the same scheme could be introduced into business teams through the mi-plan training programme.

The second half saw a high powered panel of Bernard Brogan, Reggie Corrigan and Richard Sadlier give real life examples of how they had developed their post sport careers both during and in the latter two cases after their playing careers.

“The focus, the determination to work through a plan and the ability to think on your feet come naturally in the coaching of sport but they are equally relevant in business,” said Brogan.  He spoke highly of former Dublin Manager Pat Gilroy’s ability to bring the best of his business career as boss of Dalkia into helping Dublin to All Ireland glory and how the return path from that success was able to benefit business now.

Business Breakfast 3Reggie Corrigan had valuable points to make on the different skills of management and leadership he had learned from the best sports managers of the last near two decades and of how captaincy had prepared him for the different dynamics that come with building and developing a team.

Richard Sadlier spoke openly about his own career and of how, on the eve of his first appearance on the Premier Soccer Saturday show on RTE Sport, John Giles had met with him and given over nearly three hours of his experience in front of the camera and of how the debutant might handle some of the challenges that would face him.

Mentoring in a real life situation that had a greater value for the beneficiary than the donor might ever imagine and a fitting testament on which to end the day.

There were many more gems delivered in a Q&A session but as the old saying goes, ‘you really had to be there.’

The Business Breakfast Briefing was hosted by Sigmar Recruitment, Sport for Business Correlate and Think Tasc. Such was its popularity that we may well be running similar events in the future and if you would like to register an early interest in attending please contact us today including Business Breakfast in the message box.

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