Nolan Partners Drafts CEO for British Swimming

June 7, 2017 – With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games on the horizon, executive search firm Nolan Partners has assisted British Swimming in the placement of Jack Buckner as chief executive officer. He succeeds David Sparkes, who retired after 23 years with the organizations. Partner Andy Taylor led the search.

Mr. Buckner, who is currently CEO of the British Triathlon Federation, will take the reins of British Swimming in the coming months to provide strategic leadership and build upon the organization’s best-ever Olympic and Paralympic Games’ performances in Rio de Janeiro. Previous to his role at British Triathlon, he worked as strategic lead for national governing bodies and market development for Sport England.

Global Search

Mr. Taylor said British Swimming sought an inspiring leader to achieve British Swimming’s goals of medals, influence and commercial success. Nolan Partners conducted a global search of international federations, governing bodies, high-performance institutes and universities.

”After a complex global search featuring a group of high caliber international candidates and some really tough decisions for the board, I’m thrilled for both British Swimming and Jack,” Mr. Taylor said. “Ultimately Jack brings lifelong global experience in the sport as a double Olympic athlete, commercial expertise from roles including marketing director for Adidas in the U.S. and leading Sport England’s investment across national governing bodies across talent and participation.”

Mr. Sparkes said he was impressed by the choice. “Jack will find himself leading a great team of people who in turn have some fantastic athletes,” he said. “I am sure under Jack’s leadership we will see British Swimming move on to even greater success. I shall now, as a volunteer where I started from in 1994, take an interest as we prepare for Tokyo and future challenges.”

British Swimming is the national governing body for swimming, para-swimming, diving, high diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and open water in Great Britain. It is responsible internationally for the high performance representation of the sport.


Sports Recruiting Enters Prime Time

Over the last 25 years, sports has grown into a formidable global industry. In recent years, teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid, and Manchester United, to name just a few, have seen their valuations soar into the billions of dollars, with no end in sight. Propelled by new digital platforms and technologies, these organizations now compete as global brands on a playing field strewn with entertainment choices galore ….. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

Sports Recruiting Finds Its Own Field of Dreams
Sports teams, from the professional level on down to college athletic programs, all now require the same professional talent base as IBM. It’s no wonder dozens of search firms grind it out for every plum assignment that surfaces somewhere every day.


Nolan Partners, founded in 2006, focuses exclusively on clients in sports and sports-related sectors. The firm has conducted more than 250 senior executive placements across 16 sports, including swimming, tennis, race-car driving, cricket, rugby and football / soccer.

The firm works with clients that include world renowned sports clubs, governing bodies, professional leagues, venues, broadcasters and major corporate organizations involved in sports. Among them: the NBA, Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC, Aspire Zone, beIN Media Group, the NFL, Rugby League International Federation, Mercedes Formula One, Wimbledon, and Manchester United FC.

Mr. Taylor leads the firm’s sports practice and conducts board level, CEO and managing director mandates. He has conducted significant work in the betting & gaming industry, including several executive board level searches at Ladbrokes and William Hill.

Sports & Executive Search

Nolan Partners recently placed former English Premier League executive Tom Fox as president of the San Jose Earthquakes. The firm also placed Jesse Fioranelli as the general manager of the team in January.

The San Jose Earthquakes hired us to conduct a search of North American and European executives with soccer expertise, strong commercial acumen and previous CEO experience,” said Chad Biagini, managing director of North America at Nolan Partners. “Tom Fox won the role, making him the first-ever president of an MLS team who has previously been the CEO of an English Premier League club. Prior to being CEO of Aston Villa FC, Tom was chief commercial officer of Arsenal FC, one of the most accomplished clubs in global football.”

Given the search industry’s knack for finding a need and filling it, it was only natural that recruitment firms would soon step to the fore in the sports sector, which has become a growth area for executive search businesses. Many C-suite focused recruiting firms are now active in the sector and some specialize only in the sports field itself. These include, in addition to Nolan Partners: SRi, Turnkey, CarrSports Consulting, Korn Ferry, Harvard Group International, Prodigy Sports, Marquee Search, DHR International, Hartmann Mason, College Sports Solutions, Egon Zehnder, Heidrick & Struggles, Ascension Sports Partners, Russell Reynolds Associates, Diversified Search, Odgers Berndtson, Eastman & Beaudine, Alden Associates, Parker Executive Search, Neinas Sports Services and Collegiate Sports Associates.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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