We recently caught up with RBN Swansea’s leadership and change management expert Kevin Gould, who told us about their recent launch event with Jonathan Davies OBE and his own experiences with business and rugby.
What is your background in rugby and business and how do the two overlap in your life?
Coming from the South Wales Valleys, it was inevitable that I would have a love of rugby, both as a very average player and as a keen supporter of the Welsh and British game.
Long-term friendships and connections with rugby people have proved hugely important in my personal and business lives. In rugby, even guys at the top of the sport tend to muck in, so it’s no surprise that Phil Davies, the current Namibia head coach, is on the RBN Swansea organizing committee. Phil is from the same village as me (Seven Sisters) and is helping us with his expertise and fantastic connections at all levels of the game.
What inspired you to bring the RBN to your city?
I’ve seen that the worlds of rugby and business can learn from each other through a shared value system and the similar processes and structures required to achieve success, so the RBN made perfect sense to me.
Also, having grown up in a community united by a passion for rugby, I observed how it can provide structure, discipline and a community for young people who may not have had the best start in life. If I needed any more reason to get involved, that was it.
I’m glad I did, as we invited the School of Hard Knocks (who work with disadvantaged kids) to the launch event and have chosen them as our charity of choice.
How do you think RBN events are contributing to rugby or to people passionate about the game?
Our events offer those with a love of rugby the chance to meet like-minded individuals, to learn more about the game and its characters and to put something back into rugby in some way.
It’s our ambition to bring high-quality speakers to the events to continue to attract strategic level business people who are often well placed to help our sport and are more likely to do so if rugby is adding value to their work and/or private lives.
Describe the experience of organizing RBN events?
It takes time and energy to properly organize an event so you have to be fully committed, but it’s definitely worth it.
For our launch event, we had over 80 attendees enjoy a wonderful speech by Jonathan Davies OBE. He was a massive hit with the members and has set the bar very high for future events. We’ll continue to concentrate on lining-up very high profile speakers from the worlds of business and sport as they add so much to any event.
The choice of venue and the timing was also critical in making the launch a success. We chose the Liberty Stadium, home of the Ospreys and Swansea City FC, and a lunchtime slot. The feedback from the attendees suggests that it worked well and we will continue to listen to our members going forward.
We marketed the event by using our personal networks, social media and word of mouth, while getting support from the central RBN team.
What were the highlights of the evening?
The main one was the high number of professionals who attended and their genuine enthusiasm for the game. The format of the event meant that there was a great deal of interaction between the audience and Jonathan, with some very insightful dialogue as a result. It was fascinating to hear how rugby had helped forge his value system and his approach to life after rugby.
An important element of the group is the desire to support the good work rugby can do in the community, so the attendance of The School of Hard Knocks and the obvious support for their cause was a real boon.
Can you remember any nuggets from Jonathan’s speech?
I was particularly interested in his repeated use of the phrase “happy team” in the context of success. ‘Happy’ is often seen as a soft word in the business world and there was an interesting discussion about how it shouldn’t be. Jonathan also spoke on the resilience required to be successful in two rugby codes, with obvious implications for the business community.
Could you give me 3 reasons why people should attend the next RBN Swansea event?
There are many more, but here goes:
1. To forge mutually beneficial friendships and partnerships based on the values of rugby.
2. To support a rugby charity that is having an impact on young people in Wales and across the UK.
3. To learn and gain inspiration from high-profile speakers.
Do you have any tips for our other organizers?
Get the best quality speakers you can.
Keep members involved in the evolution of your group.
Expect to spend more time than you thought on making the group a success.
Choose a charity to support.
Do it for the right reasons – “How can I help you?” is not just a slogan.
What lies in the future for RBN Swansea?
We are keen to develop the charitable and educational elements of the group. We are an ambitious team with a real desire to make RBN Swansea one of the most successful within the network, whilst being open to working with other RBN groups to promote the values and community spirit of the game we all love.