Our latest Industry Insiders sees us venture in to the world of Basketball as we sit down for a chat with the British Basketball League’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Webb!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Andy Webb and I’m the Chief Operating Officer of the British Basketball League (BBL). I’ve been at the BBL since 1994 and when I first started it was as the Competitions Administrator. I moved to my current role in 2004.
Other than a brief stint in the banking sector and then with British Gas, I have dedicated my entire working life to date to BBL since leaving education.
What do you do in your current role?
In a nutshell I oversee the operation of the League, which is quite a varied and all encompassing role ranging from oversight of the competitions, event delivery, TV and streaming production, financial management along with interactions with the clubs and other stakeholders in the game. Whilst we currently have a small team of people at BBL, we’re extremely fortunate at how committed and dedicated each of them are to the sport.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
This can vary tremendously from week to week depending on the needs of the business. During the season, which runs from September until May, there are games taking place every weekend (and some midweeks) so that provides some consistency of tasks. Whilst not being directly engaged in the delivery of the games, as this is managed by the home teams, every game day colleagues and I are working on other elements around the game and are on call should any serious issues arise. Interactions with clubs away from game days also take up some of my time each week.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
A family member was undertaking an internship with BBL and mentioned that they were looking for a Competitions Administrator. To be honest, other than a boyhood dream to be a professional footballer (for which my two left feet held me back somewhat!) it never really crossed my mind back then to chase a job in sport. I have however always had a keen interest in sport generally, although Basketball perhaps only for six or seven year at that point, so I took the decision to apply and managed to get the job. Since then I have never looked back.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Quite simply doing everything I do to the best of my ability. I was brought up with what I consider to be highly valuable but simple principles.
- If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well
- Deal with people/issues fairly, respectfully and with integrity – regardless of what has gone before.
- If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
One of the problems of working somewhere so long is that over the years there are many examples of where I will have failed. I like to think the application of the above principles have materially reduced what the possible number could have been (as by applying those you certainly can’t be accused of a lack of effort – but of course effort doesn’t always equate to success).
I think however you use those failure to help drive future success, this by using the feeling that you got from that failure as the drive to ensure you don’t repeat it. Obviously reviewing why you failed and learning lessons from that is fundamental also.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Whilst the BBL has been on an upward trajectory for a good number of years now, that growth has been slower than we would have liked. The primary reason for that has been due to a lack of funding and related to that therefore resources.
Excitingly we have recently closed a major investment deal with 777 Partners, which has enabled us to develop an ambitious new 5 Year Business Plan to further develop many key elements of the BBL/the sport. The investment, along with expertise that 777 Partners bring to the business, we firmly believe will propel BBL/the sport materially forward.
As such it feels a really exciting time to be part of the BBL, with the future looking much brighter than ever before.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I honestly don’t think that sport is materially more hectic than many other professions. I think part of the perception issue here is when you work in sport, spectator sport in particular, you tend to be around a large number of people who aren’t working (whilst you are working).
However when not working I enjoy spending time with my family and are perhaps fortunate in some ways to have a wife and two daughters who have little to no interest in sport (although in reality I think I have failed in this regard, particularly in relation to my daughters) .Thus it’s a hard slog to suggest anything sport related in family time – which I suppose at least means I get a break from sport when not working.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
I think that given the limited number of opportunities and high interest you need to remain as flexible as possible as to your route in to sport. I was very fortunate to almost fall in to it, but these days I think you have to be prepared to look at things like volunteering or internships to prove your worth to organisations just to get through the door
How to follow Andy Webb and the British Basketball League…
Twitter – @BBLofficial
Instagram – @bblofficial
Thanks for reading our chat with Andy Webb! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.