The Professional Body of Sports Leadership has been launched to provide those working in the sector with the support, personal development opportunities and a voice on key issues which professionals in other sectors have taken for granted for generations according to founder Tom Sears.
Speaking at a launch webinar in association with SportBusiness, Tom Sears, managing director of specialist search firm Kinsey Sears, said the time had come for sport to catch up and provide the range of services needed by current and aspiring sports leaders to operate effectively and meet the challenges of a fast-moving industry.
Sears has worked in the sports sector for some 25 years and drew on personal experience to explain the need for the PBSL.
“I took my first CEOs role in my early to mid-30s and I was nowhere near prepared for it. I could have done with some support, some help, a mentor to speak to and some formal education. But there was nothing available,” he said.
“Later in my career I was made redundant and could really have used some support then. It’s a lonely place leading a sports organisation and having a go-to place where you can be signposted to the help you need is something we have been missing in this sector.
“The rate of change in sport is incredible and the industry was volatile even before Covid. Current or aspiring leaders have to be flexible and agile, but the question is how do they develop the skills they need? It is an industry where you have to be resilient under pressure. But where do you go for support?” he asked.
The PBSL will, he expects, help unite those working in a “fractured” industry and provide a range of services designed to maximise professional development and cater for the wellbeing of executives.
Members will benefit from alliances with Oxford University’s Said Business School, which will provide courses in professional development, and Value Alpha, a globally-acknowledged expert in governance and board level skillset development.
In addition, the PBSL will establish working groups and produce insightful and actionable reports on key topics including diversity and inclusion and high-performance culture change, as well as providing members with career guidance, legal advice and mindfulness and wellbeing services.
“We are setting up to provide the support and guidance our members need and, by getting together in groups, to help make positive change where it is most needed within the industry,” he said.
Membership of the PBSL, which will also organise networking events, is open to all aspiring leaders in the sports sector, from students to C-suite executives.
Tom Sears was joined in the launch webinar by members of the PBSL board including Zarah Al-Kudcy of Formula 1 and Sharon Fuller of Red Bull.
Liseli Sitali, founder of the In Her Corner podcast, said that the pace of change meant that sport had to become more diverse and inclusive in the boardroom in order to make the right decisions for the next 20 years and that the PBSL could play a key role in facilitating the process.
Jon Massie, global people director of SailGP, told the audience that the existence of a professional body would help attract professional talent with transferable and complementary skills into sport while Chris Brindley, Chair of the Rugby League World Cup 2021, said he would have welcomed the support of PBSL when he moved into sport from banking.
“It would have shown me where there were doors and where there were walls and how you knock on the doors and break down the walls,” he said.