|Steve Vaughan - CEO, Gloucester Rugby|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 28 July 2014 12:15
Stephen Vaughan joined Gloucester Rugby as CEO on December 17th 2012 with a wealth of experience in the sport, leisure and travel sectors.
By Ismail Uddin
How did working your way up at Thomas Cook help you prepare for a role at a Premiership rugby club?
It was a large sporting role during a showpiece event. At the time I was Managing Director of Thomas Cook’s London 2012 business. I had been at various directorships at Thomas Cook and this role came up at a time when I was actually looking at exiting the business but then the London 2012 role was offered to me and I couldn’t turn it down. The opportunity to work on something that could be on our shores once in a lifetimes was too much to turn down. I had a wonderful time, met a lot of new contacts and a lot of people, really enjoyed getting back into sport and therefore when the natural end to my 2012 contract came I had a number of different options to stay within the business or to move to different industries but I think the taste of sport made me more interested in the sporting options I had.
What the Olympics gave me was a lot of great contacts, it gave the real taste again in working in an environment with really defined timelines. We had a mountain of work to do to make sure we were ready for the opening ceremony for example. That timeline was never going to move, never going to change and it’s a little bit like that in sport whether its transfer dealings, commercial activity or improvements to facilities. They are all got to be done at certain times and the timescales will never move.
I think it was a good learning experience for setting me up in this role and the ability to be leading an organisation that people have opinions about. What I mean by that is if I was running an insurance company or selling shoes then I could probably go home at night and not care too much about what people think but when you are running a sports club like Gloucester especially with our supporters, owners, shareholders and sponsors there are always people who have opinions on whether you are doing a good job or bad job and that is quite unique in sport. I think doing what I did then put me in good stead with regards on how to handle the extra responsibility and pressures you have in running a sporting club.
What challenges did you face when you stepped in as CEO?
I have faced challenges most people have faced after going into a new environment from a different industry. You have to very quickly get up to speed with what the challenges are within the club. The club was well run and the team was doing ok on the pitch but I came in and reviewed the business from everything from a playing department perspective to through to the commercial angles, finance angles, how we operate on a match day, engage with our supporters and how we will potentially engage with our supporters of the future.
From what I found there was a lot of things we do very well at the club but there are a lot of things that I felt a fresh pair of eyes could challenge and that led us to the last two years where we have had record profit. Also we have introduced a number of new initiatives into the club both commercially and from a personnel perspective, so there was normal challenges in there. What I’ve tried to do is set parameters and objectives that the whole club can work towards around how we work with people, profit, longevity and our customers to make sure all our objectives are aligned with our four key principles.
We also try and have a review process with all staff so everybody knows exactly what they are doing, what needs to be tracked and measured and we know the rewards and recognition are against those. It’s not rocket science and we are in a better place for doing that piece of work.
Last year the club posted a record financial profit for the second year in a row. What is the situation this year?
This year we won't be announcing our numbers until the end of August as we're subject to an audit but the numbers are in line of where we expected. It will be a record year for the club in terms of profit which is a real great effort considering that we had a difficult year on the pitch this year (finished ninth). Our core revenues of ticket sales ad season ticket sales didn't grow in fact they shrunk ever so slightly but our growth came from real robust cost management so ensuring we are really spending money as if it's our own. We brought about a lot of change when it came to suppliers and partners that we were using to ensure we had the best costs out there that we could physically get.
Also we brought on over a dozen new partners and sponsors to the club to increase new revenue streams that we got coming in as well including things such as new betting apps for the club, Gloucester Rugby lotto, brand new main sponsor and a number of other key sponsors so despite having a tough time in terms of our core revenues we've managed to bring in a lot of new revenues to the club and manage our costs very well therefore we managed to have a very sensible year financially despite a tough season on the pitch. Next year, going forward we will have invested the most we have ever invested into the playing department to give us the best chance of getting our team and playing department back to where we want them to be. We brought in a host of new coaches and players. We're hoping over time given the guys time to gel off course as we have a lot of new personnel coming in, we will get ourselves back to one of the best clubs in the Aviva Premiership.
The 2015 World Cup is fast approaching and Kingsholm Stadium is hosting matches. Are there any adjustments that need to be made to the stadium or pitch for the World Cup?
There are a number. Firstly we have to ensure that we execute the minimum standard of criteria that have been put into place by England Rugby 2015 around the Rugby World Cup and that means we have a number of things standardised. We need to ensure the pitch is the right size and then we have to make sure we have all the right facilities in place whether that be from a media and supporters perspective, even making sure we have the floodlight reaching the right level.
Also making sure we have the right amount of corporate facilities versus non corporate facilities while also factoring in the security and making sure we have enough car park facilities. We have got 57 projects in play at the moment that are just around the Rugby World Cup and getting ourselves organised around the event so there are many things we are doing at the moment. There are a number of things we will be doing this closed season and there will be a number of things we will be doing next closed season. Some of the things will be very small and some of them will be larger such as building structures to house media and medical facilities. Small things would be like how we would offer our catering as we will have to offer our corporate catering to larger numbers than we used to on a normal match day in Gloucester. There are numerous projects going on at the moment but they are all being meticulously planned and carried out.