STAGING Disruptive change presented at the conference - British Rowing

Disruptive change presented at the conference

Pulling Together – One Team with a Shared Purposed provided the platform for our sport to come together and talk openly about the ideas for the future.


Pulling Together – One Team with a Shared Purposed provided the platform for our sport to come together and talk openly about the ideas for the future. Nearly 200 delegates enjoyed two days of expert presenters, workshops, Q&A debates and networking. As Amanda Cobb, Chief Operating Officer, Scottish Rowing posted on Twitter: “..a great 2 days. Energy, passion & food 4 thoughts..#oneteam”

The over-arching theme of the conference addressed how we can align the rowing community and work to the strategic plan to ensure the development of the sport. Many from across our community vocalised their thoughts during the live sessions, and opinions also buzzed through social media, and then via considered feedback in the post-conference survey.


Day one of the conference kicked off by running through the aims of the strategic plans, including discussing our values of: commitment; teamwork; and open to all, then a special guest from outside the sport entertained the room delivering an innovative view from a successful approach to business for the sport to consider. As one rower commented about Humphrey Cobbold PureGym CEO’s session on Innovation and Disruptive Change it was “unexpected and his message was very motivational for some of us that feel we are swimming against the tide when choosing not to conform to the “old and established ways”.” We were delighted to hear that this was “Just the tonic I was needing to keep going – thank you to everyone at British Rowing for all your hard work!”

Sessions moved seamlessly from innovation to interaction with a panel discussion around how volunteers and staff can work together, it seems accountability is key to progress.

The session with the Young Person’s Panel encouraged our community to consider how young people (considered under 25) can support and shape our sport so how can clubs capitalise on the next generation. It was energising to hear the sport universally declare that it had to embrace the views and involvement of the young rowing community and provide the rowing leaders of the future.

On day two there was a different feel and pace, led by inspiration. Former Olympic champion Mark Hunter kicked off the sessions with a revealing and moving talk on his journey through the sport, a reminder of how top performance can shape future generations.

An important element of the conference was discussing the competition review and although to some the outcomes were not so clear cut, the message was; the sport has to innovate how we offer our competitive sport to the world, and offer multi formats and differing ways to compete and take part as the key to moving to a space where the sport is truly for all. The answers aren’t all there yet, but this is a journey and the enlightening case studies introduced by Guin Batten, Rowing for All Commission, FISA council member, offered pathways for the sport to embrace.

Pathways seemed to be a running theme with how rowing for life is unlikely to be the same for everyone, but that there are a few commonalities with how a pathway can optimise the chances of sustainable participation within our sport.

Coaching, business and how the sport can capitalise on the ‘Rio effect’ ‘were all discussed and debated. Although many possibilities and solutions were put to the forefront, challenges still exist but if we can unite in our purpose then we can support our own chances of success through #pullingtogether.

Andy Parkinson, CEO of British Rowing commented on the conference: “As the first time we have opened up a conference to the whole sport it was great to see how committed everyone was to moving our sport forwards”.