The football industry offers insightful examples of complex managerial situations and how these can be navigated. Learnings can be taken from these examples and applied throughout all sectors.

Drawing from my time in leadership positions at Manchester United and Inter F.C., as well as at Cirque du Soleil and the Jim Henson Company. I will look at the importance of ensuring that the leadership team around you are appropriately skilled and incentivised correctly, and that the organisation’s mindset is able to make the right staffing decisions at the right time.

Secondly, driving growth – through geographical expansion, the extension of customer bases and the development of new products, whilst seemingly obvious, is fraught with pitfalls, and I will look at how to avoid these whilst maintaining growth.

This of course leads onto the elasticity of a company’s, or/and its products’, brands. Can that elasticity be safely stretched?

Thirdly there is the importance of forging effective relationships between the sporting, creative & innovation-driving sides of a company, and the business, corporate & sales sides. Dealing with the egos & demands of individuals who regard themselves as critical to a business is also a major challenge, and forging effective working relationships between these key people and a company’s fundamental business functions is often the key to success in the sports & entertainment industry.


Senior Executive in Leisure & Sport

Michael Bolingbroke was the former CEO of Inter Milan Football Club, a role he held from July 2014 to November 2016, when the Club was sold to new ownership. As CEO, Michael was based in Milan where his scope of responsibilities spanned the entire business, both on and off the pitch. He was charged with revitalising one of the jewels in the crown of Italian football, and oversaw the sale to Suning two and half years after joining.

Prior to this, Michael was COO at Manchester United FC, a position he held for seven years, and Chairman of the Club’s charitable Foundation. His remit included the Club’s corporate management, the operations and revenue generation at Old Trafford, operations at the Club’s training complex and club secretarial functions. He was the Principle Financial Officer in their NYSE listing in Summer 2012.

Prior to working in football, Michael spent six years as Senior Vice-President, Shows, at Cirque du Soleil, where he managed strategy, profitability and operations for the global business. Earlier in his career, he was a Senior-Vice President at The Jim Henson Company. Michael’s first role was as an audit manager at PwC and he is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. His BA degree is from Reading University, and he has an MBA, awarded with Distinction, from the London Business School. Michael has lived and worked in Canada, the U.S., Holland, Italy and the UK.