Photo: Leyton Orient chairman, Nigel Travis
Photo: Leyton Orient chairman, Nigel Travis

‘Change happening fastest in sport’, Dunkin’ Donuts and Leyton Orient boss tells Sport Director Convention

At a packed Sport Director Convention at Manchester Metropolitan University Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins executive chairman, and the new owner of Leyton Orient Football Club, told delegates that he believed sport was changing faster than any other industry.

US-based Travis, keynote speaker at the third annual Sport Director Convention, organised by the university Business School’s Master of Sport Directorship (MSD) course, was born in Essex and has supported Leyton Orient since he was a boy. In June 2017 he headed a consortium to buy the East London club and is part of an ownership team that is committed to restoring the previously Italian-owned club to glory.

Travis, 68, is the author of a new book, The Challenge Culture, which argues that an organisational ethos that empowers employees and stakeholders at any level to challenge the way things are done will succeed in reacting positively to rapid change. His ‘positive pushback’ theory is based on a career in senior roles with brands such as Papa John’s and Blockbusters.

Explaining to delegates how he planned to implement thinking from The Challenge Culture to improve Leyton Orient’s prospects, Travis said: “The club was in a dire state under the previous owners. In 2017 it was relegated from the Football League for the first time in more than a century and in a catastrophic financial situation.

“But we are determined not to just be an average small club – out strapline is ‘real football in the capital’ and we will deliver that with a diverse board and taking on the views of the people who are invested in the club, especially the fans. We are being challenged constructively from all angles and that is great and will enable us to make the changes we need to for the long-term success of the club.”

The convention also included a question-and-answer session with Manchester City’s managing director of City Football Services Brian Marwood; BBC director of sport Barbara Slater; Warwickshire County Cricket sport director Ashley Giles; Keith Wyness former CEO of Aston Villa, Everton and Aberdeen football clubs; and Jon Dutton, CEO of the Rugby League World Cup 2021.

The Business School’s Dr Sara Ward, who heads the MSD course, said: “It is testament to the traction that the MSD has gained with both business and sport that we have attracted such high profile speakers to this year’s convention.

“We launched the MSD in 2014 to address the need for qualified candidates for the growing sporting director role, and the course is both world-leading and an authority in its field. Our graduates and current students are working in a host of leadership roles and have forged a unique network of elite sports industry contacts that continues to build on excellence and professionalism.”

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