|Ivan Khodabakhsh - CEO, Ladies European Tour|
|Profile of the week|
Sunday, 12 May 2013 23:19
Ivan Peter Khodabakhsh is Chief Executive Officer of Ladies European Tour Ltd, the governing body of women's professional golf in Europe.
Having assumed the role of CEO in January 2012, Khodabakhsh is responsible for the day to day management of the Tour, overseeing the commercial, financial, operations and marketing departments. He works closely with the Board of Directors to develop and implement long and short term strategies whilst also developing the international tournament schedule, which currently features 23 events worldwide.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, on March 26, 1967, Khodabakhsh trained as a mechanical engineer before devoting his energies to the sports industry and gaining a Masters degree in Sports Science, Economics and Law. With over 15 years’ experience in the sporting world, Khodabakhsh has considerable skills in sports event operations and management.
As an Event Director for the European Athletics Association (EAA), Khodabakhsh was responsible for more than 50 European athletic events, notably the European Athletics Championships which attracts approximately 320,000 spectators with more than 1,400 hours of worldwide television coverage broadcast to 400 million viewers globally.
As Chief Operating Officer and later as Chief Executive Officer for World Series Boxing (WSB), Khodabakhsh created a global league of boxing and the formation of its headquarters. Owned by AIBA and recognised by the IOC, it sold multi-million dollar franchise licenses and central commercial and TV rights worldwide.
In addition to sports management, he is also a keen sports fan and enjoys basketball, alpine skiing, golf, ice hockey, scuba diving, triathlon and windsurfing.
He is a certified ski instructor and basketball coach with 12 years’ coaching experience and has acted as a referee since 1984.
By Ismail Uddin
You recently moved from the World Series of Boxing to the Ladies European Tour. What prompted your move? How do you compare each roles?
I moved on from the World Series of Boxing (WSOB) because I felt the cycle had closed, so it wasn't going from one job to another. On behalf of AIBA WSOB I was supposed to get through two seasons. We had our professional boxers competing at the London Olympics and so I felt after four years I had achieved what I wanted, the cycle was closed and I wanted to move on. I was lucky this opportunity came along so that there wasn't a gap between leaving WSOB and then taking this position.
In terms of similarities and differences, there are many things as a chief executive that are similar including leading the headquarters and business. Secondly if you are moving in the sports industry while Golf and Boxing are very very different sports at the end of the day you more or less speak to the same broadcasters, same sponsors and commercial programs. Everything that is outside the ring or outside the ropes, the businesses are not so different.
Have you found some tasks difficult since you took over?
No, it's been very exciting. Of course it's only been four months I've been on the job. The first four months are more meeting people, creating new relationships, auditing our operations and learn what LET is. Now it's starting slowly to move on to build new structures and use commercial properties.
Since you came to the organisation, where do you see the areas of growth?
Beyond LET I think women's golf has a huge potential for growth. This having said, also LET is a very solid tour, which is very diverse and involves many countries around the world and I think it has a huge commercial potential. In fact this year we started to take our television distribution to a new level using a large number of broadcasted events and signing an agreement with a television production company. These are all the steps we are taking to improve the organisation itself.
You have recently strengthened ties with South African golf. Is there plans for further expansion in the region?
We have one tournament over there. I was personally down in South Africa, we discussed a number of opportunities with the South Africa's sanctioning body Women's Professional Golf Association (WPGA) and I think there is a potential for additional tournaments. We have to make sure that also our tournaments make sense for our players, so if you're flying down 10-11 hours to South Africa it will be good to have a cluster of tournaments back to back.