SRi Helping to Transform Sports Down Under

January 3, 2018 – With two recent assignments in Australia, London-based recruitment firm SRi is playing a central role in changing the face of sports in that country.

In the first, the recruiters found a new CEO of AFL Women’s (AFLW), the Australian rules football league for women, which may lead to the female league eventually becoming completely professional.

In another, the recruiters are charged with finding three deputy directors to help transform the leadership team of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), a training organization that helps develop elite athletes for international competition.

SRi made a splash in recruiting Nicole Livingstone, a three-time Olympic swimming medalist, away from her role as an executive member of the Australian Olympic Committee to join the women’s football league. Starting with AFLW last month, Ms. Livingstone is responsible for growing and managing the competition and female football participation, said the search firm.

Since retiring from swimming in 1996, Ms. Livingstone has achieved success as a commentator, presenter and sports administrator. Among a variety of roles, she is currently on the board of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and is a director of Swimming Australia.

AFLW enters its second season this year, and Ms. Livingston hopes that the league is on its way to becoming completely professional. “When we’re comparing to the men’s AFL, it’s been around for over 100 years, and we’ve been around for one year, so let’s dream that anything’s possible and that’s what we want the girls to do,” she recently told “I completely understand being a semi-professional athlete where you are completely professional in heart, mind, training and commitment, but the compensation isn’t there yet, so that’s one of the big challenges over the next little while. We can dream that we can have the girls one day, fully professional.”

New Energy

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan praised Ms. Livingstone as “a champion in every sense,” and expressed excitement at having landed her for the CEO role. “It is fantastic to get a person of her quality to lead our new national league,” he said. “Our first season generated a groundswell of support, and I am thrilled that Nicole is going to join the team to turn that energy into a growing, sustainable and successful women’s competition.”

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On another front, the Australian Sports Commission has appointed SRi to lead a landmark project designed to remake the management of its high performance arm, AIS. SRi’s Sydney-based managing partner ANZ, Jonathan Harris, is charged with managing the search for three deputy directors to sit across sport strategy & investment, applied technology & innovation, and athlete welfare & engagement. Three other senior roles will be appointed internally.

Related: Executive Search Gets ‘On the Ball’ In Sports Recruitment

The move to transform AIS is being led by the commission’s new director, Peter Conde, who started last fall in delivering on a renewed vision and direction for the institution, said the search firm.

“Our mission is to lead and enable a united high performance system that supports Australian athletes to achieve podium success, and ensures that we continue to build national pride and inspire all Australians through great sporting role models,” said Mr. Conde. “We must be world best in everything we do. Key elements include transforming the system workforce to better deliver performance outcomes, increasing our capability to provide for athlete welfare and community engagement, and optimizing our applied research, technology and innovation to solve strategic performance problems.

Driving Change

“We have asked SRi to conduct a truly global search to secure the AIS the very best talent available and those who have the drive to be part of a significant transformation on a national scale,” he said.

Related: Recruiters Offer Sports Clients an Expanding Talent Platform

SRi’s Mr. Harris said the firm was excited about its part in driving change at AIS. “Over the course of the past decade we have built deep insights into the technical, elite and high performance sector on a global basis,” he said. “The three positions have already attracted a huge amount of interest from marquee talent both here in Australia and overseas, and I’m confident of helping the AIS find transformational talent.”

AIS is the central strategic leadership agency in the development and delivery of Australian elite and high performance sport, said the search firm. Its function is to lead and enable a united high-performance system that supports Australian athletes with the ultimate aim to win in international competition. It acts to build collaboration, alignment and effectiveness in Australian sports.

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Sports teams, from the professional level on down to college athletic programs, all now require a strong professional talent base. It’s not surprising that dozens of search firms compete hard for every plum assignment that surfaces.

International in Scope

SRi is an international executive search firm focused on the sports, media and entertainment sectors. It has wholly-owned offices in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Singapore, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

The firm has worked with some of the biggest brand names in media and sport to secure top talent over the course of its 20-year history. Among them: HBO, BSkyB, IMG Media, News Corp, Harvard Business Review, Taunton Press, F+W, Visible World, National Geographic, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Sunset + Vine, BBC America, Univision, Huffington Post, World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union, England and Wales Cricket Board, Wasserman, ESPN, Lagadere, Eurosport, Discovery Channel, BT Sport and the NBA.

SRi’s clients include international rights holders, professional clubs & teams, international federations, governing bodies, corporate sponsors, venues, major events, broadcasters, media owners, agencies and sporting goods brands.

Related: Executive Recruiters Continue Their Expansion into the Sports Industry

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

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