Mark Dodson - CEO, Scottish Rugby Union Share PDF Print E-mail
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Mark Dodson was appointed to the role of chief executive in September 2011.

Mark began his career in 1979 working for the Guardian Media Group and then moving on to Reed Regional Newspapers. He then returned to GMG in 1988 to work in the Advertisement Department of the Manchester Evening News, becoming Advertisement Director in 1992. In 2000, he was appointed as a non-executive Director of GMG Radio, which grew to become one of the top five radio companies in the UK.

In October 2005, Mark became Chief Executive Officer of Guardian Media Group Regional Media, and was also appointed to the Guardian Media Group Board the same month. Mark departed GMGR following the successful acquisition of GMGR by Trinity Mirror in 2010.

Mark is one of Scottish Rugby's representatives on the IRB. 

By Steve Moorhouse

What attracted you to working in rugby after so long in the media?

There was an opportunity there and I was looking to try something different really. I have always been interested in rugby, as a player and a supporter so when the opportunity to work in Scottish Rugby and their turn around I thought it was an extremely exciting place to be.

How have those experiences gained whilst working in the media helped you in your current role?

There is a lot of parallels between media and sport. Both are high profile and result driven, whether that is circulation or performances on the field, and they are both businesses. Even though we talk about sport and winning trophies, it is also about making sure the foundations are underpinned by secure finances, so there are a lot of parallels.

When you joined the SRU as CEO, what was your biggest challenge and how have you overcome them?

The big challenge was to try and make Scotland successful, both at professional club level and international level. I think we have gone through a period where the pro teams had not been successful since the 90s and the national team was also going through a bit of a flat spot. We had to look at first principles and how we would change that around.

The SRU was founded in 1873, how do you ensure the organisation continues developing almost 150 years later?

Like all businesses, we have to change and we have got to move with the times. We were carrying too much debt for a company with our turnover so we had to make sure we generated enough income to service that debt without damaging our investment in the game. One of the first things I had to do therefore was make a plan to increase revenues and make sure our debt was under control.

Do you think you have achieved that?

Yes we are well on our way to doing that. We are paying off debt faster than the banks are asking. We are also growing turnover and investing more and more into the grassroots and professional game.

murrayfieldportraitGlasgow Sevens takes place next month, how are you marketing this event and what are your hopes for it?

We had a very successful year in 2012, when we moved it from Edinburgh to Glasgow. We had 25,000 people there and 30,000 people including the pro game. That is unheard of. This year we are going to build on that success. I think people now know what to expect what with the venue being far more intimate to Murrayfield. There is also a lot of room around the stadium for people to have fun and meet friends. This year we are doing a movie theme so people can come in fancy dress and I think fans will have a terrific day.

Do you think that interaction and making a day out of the event is important rather than just showing up, watching the game and going home?

The Sevens is different to the fifteens. It is a festival over two days and brings people who have never seen rugby before and brings them to the stadium for six or seven hours. For those hours they want to have fun for the whole day. If you put on a theme around the rugby, which all successful events do, like Dubai and Hong Kong, then there is an extra dimension to the day.

Last year you announced a four-year plan which included winning a Six Nations Grand Slam and the World Cup by 2016. Are you on track to achieve those targets and how do you plan to do so?

We are planning to make ourselves more successful year-on-year. We did not have a successful Six Nations last year and this year we won two games. We have also got Glasgow Warriors at the top of the RaboDirect for the first time in their history. We are also widening the pool of players to play for Scotland and we sign up and coming youngsters from counties like Stuart Hogg. What we are doing is making sure our coaching is world class and the talent pool is widened. If we do that we should be on course to be as successful as we ever have been, both in the World Cup and the Six Nations.

So what sort of work do you do at grassroots level to nurture young talent and ensure they stay in the game later on in life?

We do huge amounts of work at grassroots level. All our clubs run junior sides across the country. The biggest problem is that you do lose players as they get older and go through the maturing curve. What we have to learn is that we cannot afford to lose any talented players in Scotland. We have got to make sure we keep all the best talent in the game and upstream to the higher echelons of the game. So we are working very very hard on that.

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