Team Sky’s Dave Callan putting CEO course into practice

Dave Callan

Dave Callan has immediately applied learnings from VSI’s MBA CEO of a Sports Organisation to his job with Team Sky.

As Head of Partnerships and Business Development with the elite-level cycling team, he has a key role to play with one the most successful outfits in world sport.

Having already risen to a senior position with a global sports brand, Callan had reservations over the concept of returning to university 15 years after graduation.

However, he was reassured by VSI’s innovative approach to learning and the way in which the course is tailored to suit professionals who are not necessarily used to traditional academia or, like himself, have not been in that environment for some time.

Not only that, he has been mightily impressed by the networking opportunities.

“That was really attractive because of the diverse nature of the cohort,” said Callan, who has multi-brand and multi-channel marketing experience, having started his career in the financial services industry with First Direct before moving into sport.

“We have people from sporting backgrounds and outside the sporting world from corporate backgrounds. We’ve also got people from governing bodies.

“For me that is really valuable, because it’s enabled me to mix with people who can offer me advice or provide a different perspective on something that I might not necessarily see otherwise.

“I’ve also been given the opportunity to network with top-drawer people who have delivered the content. For example, on the very first learning day we had over two hours with Rick Parry, the former Liverpool FC chief executive and the first chief executive of the Premier League. He offered real, honest insight and a deep dive into his experiences.

“At Team Sky, we’re always encouraged to think differently, scan the horizons for new ideas and look externally for anything we can bring back into the team. It wasn’t a surprise to me that I was immediately able to start doing that on this course.”

After leaving First Direct, Callan proactively steered his career into the sports sector and joined Manchester United, where he became Associate Relationship Director and developed a portfolio of commercial partners all around the world before moving to Team Sky.

He has enjoyed personal success with the team, which has dominated Tour de France since 2012, but will face a different challenge in 2019 as the organisation looks to enter the next chapter of their journey following Sky’s funding announcement in December 2018.

But after joining the first cohort of VSI’s new MBA in September 2018, Callan is convinced he will be even better equipped to meet the challenge.

“The learnings I’m able to take from this course and the skills I’m able to develop will definitely help me in my quest to build a bright future for the team,” said Callan, who was drawn to the course after carrying out some guest lecturing on the VSI programme.

“Thinking beyond that, one of the core reasons I wanted to do this course is because I know it’s going to make me a more valuable individual for Team Sky and allow me to build a better platform to follow future pathways in my career.

“Even after a few months, I can see it’s going to make me an even more well-rounded leader in the sports industry; I’m always inspired by working alongside people who have the ability to take a step back and view things holistically, and I hope the course will enable me to do that better myself.”


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