Inaugural Alumni Conference: Day 1

Today marked another turning point in the evolution of Godolphin Flying Start with the inception of its Inaugural Alumni Conference at the Moller Centre in Cambridge, UK. With 130 graduates spread across the world to date, Godolphin Flying Start is again investing in the future leaders of tomorrow by bringing its network of graduates together and giving them a two-day continuing education opportunity. Over 40 graduates from Europe and America are attending this conference, titled Masterclass: Reputation and Brand, which is taking a progressive approach by looking outside the Thoroughbred industry box to other world class organizations in order to enhance the personal development of its graduates and, through them the fortunes of the greater racing industry. While education has always been one of the defining hallmarks of Godolphin Flying Start, a portion of the conference will also be dedicated to its other defining legacies, promoting and facilitating leadership, via harnessing the collective brainpower of the alumni to discuss and address the global horse racing brand.


In the first section of day one, some of the best and brightest of Godolphin Flying Start look to entrepreneur Philip Turner of the Chestnut Group, Barbara Clancy legal counsel of World Rugby and Chairman of Irish Sports Council Kieran Mulvey on how to build their own brands and manage crises in today’s dynamic and fast changing world. One of the topics covered in depth by the speakers was the challenges relating to brand that today’s up and coming generation are going to face as they move through their careers in an increasingly connected and shrinking world. To paraphrase the MC of the day Jocelyn Targett, you can spend a lifetime building a reputation and brand but in today’s world, all of that can be lost in 140 characters. As such, one of the key aspects that Phillip Turner highlighted was understanding the currency of individual or company brand. Essentially, what is it that customers or clients truly find valuable when a service or product fails to meet expectations? Another challenge our panel discussed bringing in Kieran Mulvey and Barbara Clancy’s experience of working in the professional sports industry was the importance of reputation on an industry wide scale and how other international sports and their governing bodies are facing tremendous scrutiny and investigation worldwide because of their tarnished reputations. It is clear from the response in the room from the alumni that it is this generation’s responsibility to maintain and collectively lift even higher the Thoroughbred industry brand and reputation through both their business and personal interactions.


Following the lively panel discussion, the conference moved into its second phase where Godolphin Flying Start Manager, Clodagh Kavanagh, presented the alumni with a case study titled Global Horseracing: What’s Our Brand? and opened up the floor to discussion before breaking up into small groups to brainstorm the topic before reconvening and presenting their collective findings to the group. Listening into some of the group discussions it is clear that the answer is complex and that the racing industry needs to look inwards with an eye on the horizon in searching for the best way to brand and market itself. One of the comments that was consistent in the various group discussions was that ethos of racing, regardless of how it should be branded on a global or national level, moving into the future is one that needs to be steeped in a reputation of integrity in both business practices and horse care.


With day one wrapping up, it is certain that based off of the positive reception and active engagement from the Godolphin Flying Start alumni that there will be even more to come tomorrow as the conference moves into day two.