January 24, 2019 – With the assistance of Egon Zehnder, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has named Manu Sawhney as its new CEO. Current leader David Richardson is stepping down this summer. Partner Neil Waters, who is based in Hong Kong, led the search.
Mr. Sawhney, the former CEO of Singapore Sports Hub and managing director of ESPN Star Sports, will join the organization next month to ensure a smooth transition of leadership before assuming control in July following the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
The appointment was ratified by the ICC board following a global search and appointment process led by Egon Zehnder, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and the nominations committee.
“I am delighted to confirm Manu’s appointment,” Mr. Manohar said. “He brings 22 years of outstanding commercial experience to the ICC and will lead the delivery of our new global growth strategy for the game. Our search produced a host of excellent candidates from around the world, but Manu stood out as the man to work with our Members and take cricket forward.”
“He has proven success in a number of leadership roles in both sport and broadcasting,” said Mr. Manohar. “He is a strategic thinker and understands the cricket landscape and its complexities. The decision of the nominations committee to recommend Manu to the board was a unanimous one and I and my fellow directors are looking forward to working with him.”
The Dubai-based governing body wanted an executive who can oversee the delivery of a new global strategy for cricket that is focused on the growth of the game in both traditional and non-traditional markets.
The Right Fit
Mr. Sawhney fit that bill. He has been with ESPN Star Sports for 17 years. During his tenure as managing director, he was responsible for scaling the business and doubling annual revenues while delivering an innovative content and digital growth strategy and building strong partnerships with stakeholders across 24 countries in Asia, said the ICC. Additionally, he led the global broadcast partnership deal with the ICC that ran from 2007-2015. He is also a non-executive director and member of the audit committee of Manchester United.
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“It is a great privilege and responsibility to serve the global cricket community as CEO of the ICC,” Mr. Sawhney said. “The sport has more than a billion fans and an ambitious growth strategy so it is a very exciting time to lead the organization.”
Founded in 1909 as the Imperial Cricket Conference, ICC is the international governing body for cricket. The group is responsible for organizing and governing the sport’s major international tournaments, including the Cricket World Cup. ICC is made up of 12 full members that play test matches, 37 associate members and 56 affiliate members. The organization presides over the ICC code of conduct, playing conditions, the decision review system and other ICC regulations. It also appoints all match officials that officiate at all sanctioned international matches. Its anti-corruption unit is charged with coordinating action against corruption and match-fixing.
For boards, the task of selecting a new CEO is fraught with more risk and uncertainty than ever. It is no longer a matter of simply choosing a successor based on past performance or current readiness, said Egon Zehnder. The decision is a complex study in forecasting the future, assessing possibilities and mitigating risk.
Egon Zehnder’s global CEO practice works closely with boards to identify, develop and appoint CEOs equipped to meet the challenges and define the opportunities organizations face, both today and down the road. Over the last five years, the firm has led more than 1,000 CEO placements making it one of the preeminent leaders in C-suite recruitment. The firm’s CEO practice includes senior consultants from across the globe, with cross-sector expertise in business and industry, government and the non-profit sectors.
A Veteran Recruiter
Mr. Waters is regarded as a respected advisor to boards on CEO and board succession. His clients include governments, community organizations and private sector companies in numerous industries. He is active in Egon Zehnder’s CEO and board consulting practices. He has also played a senior role in professional development of the firm’s consultants globally.
Previously, he was a consultant and engagement manager with McKinsey & Company. Earlier in his career, he was a systems engineer and marketing representative with IBM Australia.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media