Paul Blanchard (Economics and Econometrics 1986)
Paul graduated from the University of Leeds in 1986 with a degree in Economics and Econometrics. He is now Chief Executive at Commonwealth Games England (CGE).
Paul has happy memories of his time in Leeds, he had a keen interest in music and attended many events in The Refectory, Riley Smith Hall and the Tartan Bar. On a recent trip back to the city he commented on the ‘who played here’ boards in The Refectory, saying, “I was at that gig, and that one and that one! Between 1983 and 1986 I went to all of the gigs and saw a lot of bands!”
After leaving Leeds, Paul joined the Sun Alliance graduate development programme, which he says was a great starting point for his career. The organisation made an exceptional investment in its graduates and Paul got the opportunity to move to different parts of the business during his four years there. It was his next move, however, where his passion for sport began. Paul joined Ladbrokes as Marketing Manager at a time when the racing industry was changing, reinventing itself to appeal to a wider audience with the help of professional marketers.
Paul’s career in the sports industry has gone from strength to strength. Paul says that part of his success is down to luck; being in the right place at the right time, for example, he was involved with American Football just as the sport was being introduced to Scotland. During his career, Paul has covered a huge range of sports, from his role of Marketing Director at Scottish Premier League, Head of Sales and Marketing at Southampton FC to Sales and Marketing Director at the Brit Oval.
Paul’s first Chief Executive role saw him move to Rugby League, where he worked with both Hull Kingston Rovers and Harlequins RL. Paul’s career took a slightly different turn in 2011 when an opportunity arose to be Chief Executive of Surrey Sports Park, an elite training venue at the University of Surrey. Paul oversaw the successful development of the £36million facility into a new venue which could cater for students, the public and Olympic level athletes.
On what makes a successful athlete, Paul says:
Of course there must be a base level of skill but it is the training programme and mental stability that allow athletes to win. An athlete will turn up on race day in peak physical fitness, but winning is about whether they can turn it on, on the day. The mental side of sports and competition is so important.
Team England recently topped the medal table at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas and Paul also lead Commonwealth Games England’s bid, in partnership with Birmingham, to host the Games in 2022. Paul joined CGE in 2015 and secured an investment of £4million from Sports England. They are now able to take a prepared and dedicated team of 650 athletes and staff to the 2018 games on the Gold Coast, Australia.
We wish Paul and Team England every success Down Under and we look forward to seeing The Games in Birmingham, UK in 2022.