Posted by Editor on 02/20/05
Interview With New CCA COO
Stephen Lacelle joined the Canadian Cycling Association last Monday (February 14th) as Chief Operating Officer, taking on an Association that has had a fair degree of turmoil in the past few years. His appointment marks a shift in emphasis for the Association, since he comes from a business background, as opposed to the sport and administrative focus of previous COOs (formerly Director-General / Executive Director) for the previous 10-plus years.
Canadian Cyclist - First, can we start with some basic background information? Where you're from, school, work, and so on.
Stephen Lacelle - Sure. Well I grew up in Buckingham, Quebec, which is located north east of Gatineau. I went to Ottawa U after playing Minor Midget AA in Gatineau; I chose to go to university rather than pursue hockey because I wasn't quite good enough to go pro (laughs).
I worked at YMCA Canada as an administrator and from there I joined a small IT firm - Anjura Technology. It was run by some hard driving entrepreneurs - they started in a garage and we grew it to $40 million after 7 years. They're still going strong.
I realized at that point that I had some gaps in my skill set, so I decided to go overseas, refine my management skills. I went to the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and I spent 4 months at ESADE in Barcelona (Spain). When I came back to Canada, I went to Fisher Scientific, where I was essentially hired as a Change Agent, to turn around the National Contracts division. I was there for the last 2 years. When I was hired, I saw it as an 18-24 month project - turn things around, leverage some of their strengths.
CC - So why go from a Fortune 500 company to a Not-For-Profit Sports body? That's quite a difference!
SL - Yes, I realize it's a big change. I have a deep passion for sports and a desire to help build something meaningful and lasting for all Canadians to enjoy that simply outweighs my need to continue making money in the private sector. I want to make a meaningful change in sports in Canada. The opportunity (with the CCA) came up, and I have always seen it as a goal of mine. So, when the opportunity at the CCA came up I jumped at it. I always knew this would happen. .
CC - So what do you see as the strengths you bring to the CCA?
SL - I see myself as bringing entrepreneurial drive and management know-how. My goal is to build a mindset at the national office to increase the value expectations for our stake holders. I want to address some of the weaknesses I see in the (current) marketing function. I think that I can help take people with strong cycling experience and leverage their background with my management skills to make a better CCA. I want to make Canada a cycling nation, and it is long term development that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be looking at.
CC - What will you consider the key accomplishment to strive for in the short term, this season?
SL - To ensure that everything is okay for the upcoming season. I want to speak with the EDs (Executive Directors) of the provincial associations and hear their needs.
A priority will be to hire a marketing director early on, and a finance director. I think it is key to increase media exposure, generate new revenue streams, and to establish proper internal controls for better transparency and accountability.
CC - You mentioned revenue streams - what do you have in mind?
SL - There are opportunities for licencing and merchandising programs - I think we need to think big, think of the possibilities. I feel that I can help bring that mindset to the Association. I've been doing lots of research, but I need to get my hands dirty, get going in the office.
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