Conversation with Pat Howard

Executive General Manager of Team Performance, Cricket Australia

December 2016

Partner Langton Clarke chats with Pat Howard, Cricket Australia's Executive General Manager of Team Performance, former Australian rugby union international and ex-head coach at Leicester Tigers, about his days at Cromwell Property Group and the challenges involved in "earning his stripes".

LC With a wide and varied business career outside sport, including Chief Operations Officer at Cromwell Property Group, pharmacist and real estate licensee, what is your overall go to approach?

PH I have gathered a large collection of experiences throughout my career and I believe everything you learn along the way you bring to the next role. Working at Cromwell was both fascinating and challenging and that experience came to the fore when one of my first challenges at Cricket Australia was finalising the build for the BUPA National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

Each role offers diverse and different learnings you can apply in the next opportunity and the ones after those. There are far more similarities between roles than you might think.

LC You have signed on as Cricket Australia's Executive General Manager of Team Performance until 2017. What do you see as the key challenges for the game of cricket in Australia?

PH Scheduling is the greatest challenge for our sports - cricket along with rugby league and AFL - with having to balance strong domestic competition with a complex of international events. For example, the Australian Cricket team has had limited breaks since August 2014, when you consider most players head over to the IPL during their break, and there's no break scheduled until July 2017. This creates a real challenge on a number of levels. Most Australians see cricket as a summer sport but it needs to be balanced with the demands of the international season.

LC As a former Wallaby and rugby union coach, you had to "earn your stripes" when you made the transition to cricket. How did you approach that transition and what has been your greatest achievement?

PH Any new role demands adjustment and adaptation. I've changed pathways a few times throughout my career, and moving from pharmacy to join Cromwell Property Group was a big change. I try not to look backwards too often. It's far more fascinating trying to deal with what lies ahead.

The goal has always been to be the first team to be number one in all three forms of cricket in men's and women's cricket. During 2016, we achieved five of the six number one rankings, and missed the opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal. I am probably most proud of some of the changes which are about the overall system which don't make the headlines.

LC What are the synergies and differences between successfully managing sports people and people in business?

PH People are usually very similar, whether it's sport or the corporate world. However, sportspeople are perhaps exposed to public pressure more than those in the corporate sphere, and that's often the differentiator. The thing is to find a way to be tough, compassionate and work the common ground.