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Volume 6 No. 214
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Hangin' With... New Zealand Football Chief Executive Officer Andy Martin

New Zealand Football CEO ANDY MARTIN took over his new role in February. Martin was previously the CEO of the London Irish Rugby Club where he oversaw a two-year project that led to the successful buyout of the club. Martin began his career working for Barclays bank where he served as a board member and managing director in the corporate bank. He is a passionate supporter of EPL side Liverpool.

On how frequently he has been able to watch or follow Liverpool since moving to New Zealand ...
Martin: It’s quite ironic that like many longstanding fans, I have waited over 20 years for the opportunity to see Liverpool win the EPL and now that it’s near, I’m on the other side of the world. That said, I’ve been tracking their progress closely and been getting up very early in the mornings to watch them. The football family in New Zealand is very aware of my close allegiance and will be the first to run for cover if we falter. Not that we will.

On what excites him about living in New Zealand and what he misses about the U.K. ...
Martin: As a Lake District boy, I was always going to go back to the outdoor life. It was just a case of where and when. Having only been here seven weeks, I am excited by the many beautiful places already added to my list to visit. New Zealanders seem to fully embrace outdoor living and all have a secret must-visit favorite place that they’re willing to share. It’s been a whirlwind first couple of months, everyone has been very welcoming and therefore I’ve had very little time to miss the U.K. to be honest.

On his assessment that New Zealand football is “at a potentially transformational point in its history” ...
Martin: Football is already the largest participant sport in New Zealand thanks to the introduction, several years ago, of the market leading Whole of Football Plan. The large numbers of junior players now coming through our development systems need enhanced pathways to ensure they are retained in the game and, for the best, developed even further. If we get this right, the result will be more New Zealand qualified players available for our national league, the Wellington Phoenix (our professional team), and the national teams.

On his vision for the future of New Zealand Football ...
Martin: We need to excite the nation much more often. We have seen with the previous World Cup playoff matches that there is a huge demand for football in New Zealand -- we need to try and satisfy that demand. We need to see our elite teams perform on home soil more often and also deliver on-field success with qualification for the 2018 World Cup at the front of our minds. We need to create homegrown heroes to inspire our children and the next generation of All Whites and Ferns starting with the hosting of the FIFA U20 World Cup next year.

On what lessons he took from working at Barclays that transferred to running a rugby club or football organization ...
Martin: Barclays was very focused on ensuring that customers and colleagues were at the heart of everything we did -- from product design to service standards. This remained the case regardless of the external operating environment, be it benign or volatile (as during the global financial crisis). Coming into sport, whilst winning is always the objective, as an administrator remembering the importance of the customer (supporter) and your colleagues is vital regardless of the result even though emotion can take over and, at times, try to steer you in a different direction. It’s fair to say that emotion plays less of a role in banking than it does in sport.

Hangin' With is a weekly feature that runs Fridays in SBD Global.