Salford Staff Channel : News


We host the VSI Global Summit & meet the three former GB athletes who'll be studying here

Sep 18, 2017

(L-R) Diane Modahl interviews Goldie Sayers, Beth Tweddle and Kelly Sotherton
(L-R) Diane Modahl interviews Goldie Sayers, Beth Tweddle and Kelly Sotherton

Last week (12 September) Salford Professional Development hosted the VSI Global Summit for Executive Directors at MediaCity UK. The event attracted sporting directors from around the UK, as well as industry power brokers, northern powerhouse business leaders and politicians.

Sport is very much in Manchester's DNA and the daylong conference showcased world-class examples of strategic leadership sport, business and politics. The event explored real world case studies of strategic leadership across the global landscapes of sport, business and politics.

James Cooper from Sky Sports opened the conference and was shortly followed by an impressive lineup of keynote speakers. 


Sir Howard Bernstein was interviewed by Frank McKenna on how Manchester’s economy has grown on the world map through its sport organisations and business community. There was specific focus on the regeneration of east Manchester through the commonwealth games & Manchester City Football club and how sport, business & politics can continue to drive sustainable growth for Greater Manchester.


Salford Business School Professor Chris Brady delivered a keynote speech around the financial impact sport and business has on Manchester and surrounding cities, delivering case studies that evidenced the drivers thriving cities and communities and how this impacts sport, business and life.

Panel discussions dominated the afternoon’s agenda and involved Global President of Teneo Sports Andy Anson, former GB heptathelete Kelly Southerton and former GB javelin thrower Goldie Sayers.

Along with former GB gymnast Beth Tweddle, Kelly and Goldie will both be in the 2017 cohort studying for the VSI Masters in Sporting Directorship at the Centre for Sports Business, accredited by the University of Salford in partnership with VSI.

Speaking at the event the trio described how athletes approaching the end of their playing career can find it difficult to transition into the boardroom. 

Former Team GB javelin thrower Goldie Sayers said: “There’s a real brain drain in sport. Athletes finish their careers with so much knowledge and experience but then there are no full time jobs for them to go in to. 

“The VSI course is great because it’s upskilling the athletes to understand what’s going on at board level as well as educating board members to have a better understanding of the sporting product that’s being produced.”

VSI Chairman Andy McIntyre explained that the majority of sports organisations, from global football teams to regional athletics clubs, struggle to find executive level employees who can act as a vital link between the commercial ambitions of the board and performance on the field. 

He said: “A sporting director needs to have a performance background tied with commercial and strategic leadership background. What we found is that many organisations want to appoint someone like that, but they just can’t find them. We want to create that talent pool.

“We set up this course to end the brain drain in UK sports, we believe that there aren’t enough elite sportspeople at boardroom level.”

British Olympian Kelly Sotherton is among those hoping that the experience will help her make a positive impact on her sport. “I’m doing this to make myself credible,” she said. “Being an athlete opens doors and creates opportunities but people will still ask ‘what do you know about strategy and implementation. I want to be a CEO and make my sport the best it can be and I think you need the academic qualification to make that happen.”

Bronze medallist gymnast Beth Tweddle hopes the course will help add to a skill set she has developed throughout a career in elite level sport.

She said: “I think the leadership, perseverance and resilience we have built up over the years will really help us going forward.”

VSI co-founder Tony Faulkner said: “VSI have created a course which focuses on the need for strategic leadership in sport. When high profile jobs become available I think the sporting world will be looking to VSI and the Centre for Sports Business to produce the leaders of the future.”