|Chris Daniels- Head of London 2012 Activation, Lloyds Group|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:15
Chris Daniels is Head of London 2012 Activation for the B2B Division of Lloyds Banking Group.
An Oxford mathematics graduate with an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona, Chris has spent the last 10 years in the Banking industry, in a range of roles although predominantly covering the banking needs of major corporate customers.
Prior to joining the Banking industry Chris was an Officer in the Parachute Regiment for 5 years, an Expedition Leader for World Challenge, which focuses on leadership and teamwork in 16-18 year olds and a youth development team leader for the Prince’s Trust and subsequently served on the Prince’s Trust Board for the South East London Region Development Awards Board.
Chris also served as Athletes Services Manager for the Modern Pentathlon Event at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Chris will be attending the Think!Sponsorship conference on the 29th May taking place at the Rich Mix London.For more information on the event, visit our events page or go to www.thinksponsorship.com
By Marc Sibbons
What influenced your decision to enter into the world of sports business and sponsorship following your education in Mathematics at Oxford University? Was it something you always wanted to do?
I’ve always maintained a healthy interest in sport. At secondary school I captained the running team, while at Oxford I sat on various committees’ and competed in various tournaments. However, in hindsight I never thought I’d actually get paid for working in sport. I initially saw sport as a hobby, and just something you enjoyed doing, not a possible career option.
Even when working with Barclays capital, I met various sporting figures like Barbara Cassani who was organising the London 2012 bid, but it never really crossed my mind as I was on the trajectory of being successful in investment banking.
I suppose I really started to consider it as a career when Lloyds first announced their sponsorship and I pitched to the group head of marketing the following day. I basically persuaded them how much I wanted to be part of this project and where I can get involved, and the rest is history, as they say.
Your time working as the Athletes Services Director at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 must have whet your appetite in becoming involved in sports business. Has the experiences you learnt from Sydney helped your role for the London 2012 project, even though the job requirements somewhat differ?
It gave me a real understanding of a major event, which was crucial into identifying yourself within a host city at an Olympic Games. The fact everyone in the community becomes friendlier, and it seems like the world is becoming a better place is an obvious side effect of when an Olympic Games touches down on a city. It’s almost like magic dust is sprinkled on a city for a short period of time and it’s a terrific feeling to be part of something special like that.
Being on the sports side, and dealing with the athletes is what many believe the Olympics are all about. Understanding the athletes and what they are going through was particularly vital. Looking around the London 2012 sponsorship community, I often wonder that some sponsors forget this and focus on sporting personalities rather than the sport itself, which should always be the main emphasis in my view.
Understanding however cynical people are from right up to the opening ceremony, people always manage to find a pride in their nation and there is a very atmosphere once the Games have begun. Even the cynical Brits won’t quite know what’s hit them once the wait is over.
How has your experience in the financial world helped you with your involvement in sponsorship in the sports industry?
I personally feel my experience with finance has been crucial. For me, sponsorship has to be about building a business. In the short term, it could relate to selling more products, whilst in the long term your strategy could be directed towards brand awareness/loyalty. But from all this business acumen, having an understanding of finance is vital because all business is to do with revenue and numbers. Also, having a good feel for numbers allows you to make quicker decisions and grants you a better understanding of what feels right and what feels wrong.
In a bank, the most difficult audiences are the more commercial, corporate businesses, which give you a sense of credibility when you are dealing with these ‘high fliers.’ When you are pitching your sponsorship ideas as a banking group, you really get a feel of what deals might work, and what ventures will generate a decent return for your company. This is important.
Your second and current spell at Lloyds started in August 2000 where you were appointed Head of London 2012 B2B Activation. Were you excited by this opportunity to combine a love of sport with your home country?
Of course I was extremely excited and proud to be handed this role when I initially heard the news, and I simply couldn’t wait to get started on the project. However, my motivation wasn’t only based around a love of sport, but instead centered on the idea of being given a blank piece of paper and building the foundations for a successful sponsorship programme. Bringing all these ideas together and integrating these key strands of business allowed us to achieve value to my work, where we were able to explore new business around the platform of the Olympic/Paralympic Games. The business side of my work always comes first and acts as the foundation to my goals, whereas the sporting side of what I do acts as the icing on the cake as it were.
What are your job responsibilities? What are the most challenging and, equally, rewarding aspects of your job?
I’m in charge of three sectors within the Lloyds group London 2012 activation. My primary role is business development, and then I look at customer engagement, which is basically events hospitality, marketing etc. Furthermore, I also head around 18,000 people in the B2B division, which is a very large organisation by any standards. That is the very simple outlook on what my role consists off, where I aim to deliver in all of those areas with the help of my fantastic team. It’s all about great organisation within a team environment and reaching specific goals within your job that motivates you, and almost defines you within your company.
The biggest challenge is arguably dealing with the multiple stakeholders, both internally and externally. Everyone has a slightly different view of what sponsorship is all about and how to go about strategy, but the reward for me is building a sponsorship that is powerful enough to change the bank for the better and alter people’s attitudes both internally and externally. By this I mean, improving our reputation through society and community by supporting poor businesses through our sponsorship for example, where we are allowing small companies to flourish & expand through the exposure we utilise. This is important in the global recession we now live in, where we are giving a second chance to communities/small companies whilst it allows us (Lloyds) to become more prosperous in the process.
How are Lloyds planning to bring London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games closer to your customers and communities across the UK?
We have 3 main components that we aim to bring our sponsorship to life. One is our ‘Local Heroes’ programme that is courting over 1,000 up and coming athletes where we mentor, train and invite to corporate events, which they find to be very inspirational and rewarding. We also provide funding and recognition to the athletes on their journey to London 2012 and beyond where we enjoy a healthy & symbiotic relationship.
In a similar way, we also have an International School Sport Week, which inspires school kids across the country to take part in different sports each year. This programme also teaches the kids to learn about the values of the Olympic/Paralympic Games, which is important to their general education, as well as their physical participation in sporting events.
The final sponsorship programme we have in place is the Olympic Torch Relay, which is arguably our biggest programme. The torch is due to arrive in the UK on the 18TH May, before starting the Relay at Land’s End the following day. This will continue around the country towards the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games in Stratford, London on 27 July 2012. We’ll be there helping to share the excitement and inspiration of the Olympic Flame with millions of people and it will be a terrific event for us and the general public.
The Torch Relay really branches out the Olympics to the community, which is want we want to achieve through this programme. We consider this to be a very important part of our Olympic sponsorship make up. Another initiative, and one that I’m particularly proud of, is that every time the Torch stops we are going to donate and support a couple of local community groups in the region of £5,000 each. This process has been conducted through our employees nominating certain community groups/sports clubs that they feel a particular affinity with, where it then goes to a public vote to round of proceedings.