Whitecaps Confident New CEO Will Bring Needed Strategy Change
New Whitecaps CEO Mark Pannes beat out 39 other candidates who officially matched for the position. Club co-Owner Jeff Mallett said that in the latter stages of the interview process with four remaining candidates, he appreciated Pannes' openness with actually voicing his desire for the role. "Mark proactively said, 'I want this job. I can be successful,'" Mallett said. The Whitecaps worked with Nolan Partners on the search after having operated for roughly seven years without a CEO. Mallett said in order to take the club from good to great and "own the next decade," it needed a chief executive. Mallett referred to Pannes as a "student of the business," one who cut his teeth ascending up the ladder at the Knicks in '90s to CMO, while also spending time as CEO of Serie A side AS Roma, among other stops. He also admired Pannes' initiative attending night school at Fordham Univ. School of Law as he worked for the Knicks. Mallett said ownership's mandate to Pannes is to asses all facets of the business -- ticketing, merchandise, sponsorships, analytics, digital -- and determine if the team is appropriately staffed. A second priority is how Pannes can adequately prepare the Whitecaps from a tactical standpoint ahead of their home opener on Feb. 29. That could be how to improve the fan experience and game presentation, Mallett said, to assessing ticketing procedures.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS: Pannes, who joined the Whitecaps amid the club's seven-year plan leading up to the '26 FIFA World Cup in North America, said that a key learning from his tenure overseas with AS Roma was that any soccer fan base wants its team's leadership to speak directly with them and have a constant dialogue. For the Whitecaps, that starts with improving their on-field performance but also listening to fans to better understand their wants and needs for the in-venue experience. "The city is really hungry for the club to become hyper competitive again," said Pannes, adding that the Whitecaps will focus on leveraging their position within a diverse market like Vancouver. "There's a lot of robust ethnic communities here. This city has so much of an international cache."