The former professional cricketer, Matt Rawnsley, carved out a successful career in business before returning to manage the club he played for and then switching sports to become the CEO of Edgbaston Priory Club
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
I was a professional cricketer for nine years for Worcestershire CCC. After finishing playing in 2003, I went into sales of capital machinery which eventually took me to Caterpillar. I had various roles in sales and account management, ending up being responsible for Caterpillar distributors across the Middle East, North Africa and the CIS. I got my first managing director position in Evesham at Barnes Group, who specialise in the manufacturing of automotive, aerospace, and medical components, before becoming a group managing director with the same company, overseeing businesses in UK, France, Spain and Germany.
Then I got the call from Worcestershire CCC to go back to the club as CEO. It was great to be involved back in sport again and while we had some significant success it was time to move on in late 2020 and take up the position at Edgbaston Priory Club. There have been challenges in the last two years in the shadow of the pandemic but being a members’ club has meant that loyalty has been very high and we are now at the stage of preparing our development plan for the future.
IT’S WHAT I DO
As chief executive I’m responsible for the delivery of the board strategy, while overseeing the day-to-day operations of the club. Our board is elected to serve the 3,300 members, working alongside the executive team. We have world class sports and racquets facilities on our 14-acre site and host international tennis, squash and racquetball tournaments.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
The club is seen as a prestigious venue but we need to do more to promote the impact we make in the community. That’s both in using sport to develop the younger generation through our schools and community outreach programmes and our work with the Heart of Birmingham Vocational College to provide workplace opportunities for young people with learning disabilities. On a personal level, I really enjoy sports and to be a bit better at tennis would be great.
I’ve obviously got a few highlights from my cricket career but if I think back over the last decade or so, hosting an event with the British Ambassador to Russia at his residence opposite the Kremlin was pretty cool. Also, setting up an engineering company in Germany, when I don’t speak German and I’m not an engineer was also something that pushed me to my limit. I completed an Ironman triathlon in my 20’s and have no desire to ever do that again!
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
I think it’s good to be in a state of ‘positive paranoia’ when you’re leading an organisation. It means you’re aware of the opportunities and the risks and the capabilities of your team to deliver. Also, trust your gut. It’s likely that you’re right, so don’t delay in making decisions.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
I grew up in Selly Oak and the city has changed a lot since the 80’s and 90’s. Birmingham has a big city appeal but in a more compact environment that larger cities like London.
I still play cricket at weekends, albeit slower and the recovery usually stretches to the middle of the following week! I’m a fan of never going somewhere twice. Travelling with work used to take me to the most wonderful places you would never go to on a traditional holiday, so I like to take my family to as many new places as much as possible – and that doesn’t have to be abroad.